Matt Goss of HTC-Highroad will be celebrating with his team mates with a bottle of the local wine tonight after narrowly avoiding a crash to cross the line first in a dramatic finale to Stage 3 of Paris-Nice in the Burgundy wine-growing town of Nuit-Saint-Georges, moving into the race lead by two seconds from Vancansoleil-DCM’s Thomas de Gendt.
Geraint Thomas of Team Sky, who had yesterday led out team mate Greg Henderson to perfection, for the third day in a row again powered to the front of the race in an attempt to deliver the New Zealander to the line.
However, with the Kiwi unable to grab his wheel in a twisting approach, Thomas went for the win himself, but was overhauled with the line metres away, coming home fifth. Arsenal getting past Barcelona at the Nou Camp in the Champions League tonight will presumably provide some consolation to the Gunners-supporting Welshman, who so far during the race has proved himself to be in terrific form.
There was drama unfolding behind as Thomas made his bid for the line, with Peter Sagan of Liquigas-Doimo apparently suffering a rolled tubular with the finish in sight. Goss managed to weave round the Slovenian rider, but others weren’t so lucky as they crashed into his bike, sending several into the barriers.
Today’s 202km stage had got under way amid gorgeous weather in Cosne-Cours-sur-Loire, and almost immediately an escape group of five riders formed, comprising Cedric Pineau of FDJ, Jussi Veikkanen from Omega Pharma-Lotto, Europcar’s Cyril Gautier, Romain Hardy of Bretagne Schuller and AG2R’s Biel Kadri. Thomas Voeckler of Europcar, in the French national champion’s colours, attacked on the descent of the day’s final climb and quickly overhauled all the remaining escapees other than Kadri.
Vacansoleil-DCM, buoyed by yesterday’s confirmation that they will after all be competing in May’s Giro d’Italia after earlier reports that they might be excluded from the race, had worked tirelessly at the front of the peloton to help reel in the escapees as they sought - in vain, as it turned out – to defend de Gendt’s lead, and Voeckler and Kadri were caught with just six kilometres to go, ahead of the dramatic conclusion to the day’s racing.
Tomorrow’s Stage 4 covers 191km from Crêches-sur-Saône to Belleville.
Paris-Nice Stage 3 Result 1 GOSS Matt HTC - HIGHROAD 5h 16' 48" 2 HAUSSLER Heinrich TEAM GARMIN - CERVELO (all at same time) 3 GALIMZYANOV Denis KATUSHA TEAM 4 ROJAS Jose Joaquin MOVISTAR TEAM 5 THOMAS Geraint SKY PROCYCLING 6 HENDERSON Greg SKY PROCYCLING 7 RAVARD Anthony AG2R LA MONDIALE 8 GAVAZZI Francesco LAMPRE - ISD 9 FEILLU Romain VACANSOLEIL-DCM 10 AGNOLI Valerio LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE 11 VAITKUS Tomas PRO TEAM ASTANA 12 WYSS Danilo BMC RACING TEAM 13 BOLE Grega LAMPRE - ISD 14 BAK Lars HTC - HIGHROAD 15 EL FARES Julien COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE 16 GUSEV Vladimir KATUSHA TEAM 17 PAURIOL Rémi FDJ 18 ULISSI Diego LAMPRE - ISD 19 JEANNESSON Arnold FDJ 20 TROFIMOV Yury KATUSHA TEAM 50 LLOYD Daniel TEAM GARMIN - CERVELO 75 WIGGINS Bradley SKY PROCYCLING 167 HUNT Jeremy SKY PROCYCLING + 06' 28" Paris-Nice Overall Standings after Stage 3 1 GOSS Matt HTC - HIGHROAD 14h 22' 34" 2 DE GENDT Thomas VACANSOLEIL-DCM + 00' 02" 3 HAUSSLER Heinrich TEAM GARMIN - CERVELO + 00' 06" 4 HENDERSON Greg SKY PROCYCLING + 00' 06" 5 GALIMZYANOV Denis KATUSHA TEAM + 00' 08" 6 ROY Jérémy FDJ + 00' 09" 7 GALLOPIN Tony COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE + 00' 10" 8 GAUTIER Cyril TEAM EUROPCAR + 00' 11" 9 PINEAU Cedric FDJ + 00' 11" 10 VOIGT Jens TEAM LEOPARD-TREK + 00' 14" 11 FEILLU Romain VACANSOLEIL-DCM + 00' 15" 12 HARDY Romain BRETAGNE - SCHULLER + 00' 15" 13 KADRI Blel AG2R LA MONDIALE + 00' 15" 14 WYSS Danilo BMC RACING TEAM + 00' 16" 15 AGNOLI Valerio LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE + 00' 16" 16 DELPECH Jean Luc BRETAGNE - SCHULLER + 00' 16" 17 VAITKUS Tomas PRO TEAM ASTANA + 00' 16" 18 GAVAZZI Francesco LAMPRE - ISD + 00' 16" 19 PINEAU Jérôme QUICK STEP CYCLING TEAM + 00' 16" 20 THOMAS Geraint SKY PROCYCLING + 00' 16" 60 LLOYD Daniel TEAM GARMIN - CERVELO + 00' 16" 77 WIGGINS Bradley SKY PROCYCLING + 00' 16" 154 HUNT Jeremy SKY PROCYCLING + 06' 44"
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.