John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) went one better in stage 3 at Paris Nice after two straight stages with runner-up finishes. The 25-year-old German was a clear winner in the field sprint finale ahead of Matt Goss (Orica GreenEdge) and Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Movistar) as the 180km stage concluded on the Magny-Cours Formula One circuit.
[quote_box_center]”That was unbelievable, everything worked out perfectly today,” said Degenkolb. “We tried twice already on the first two stages but each time it didn’t quite work out, but today it was spot on.[/quote_box_center]
In addition to taking the stage victory and due to a 10 second winner’s time bonus, Degenkolb took over the general classification lead from Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr), the stage one winner who had started the day in the yellow jersey. Degenkolb now leads Bouhanni by eight seconds while stage two winner Moreno Hofland (Belkin) holds third overall at 12 seconds.
Stage 4 will see the peloton negotiate an undulating 201.5km’s from Nevers to Belleville with four sharp climbs scheduled for the final 65km.
“Tomorrow looks like a classic, it looks like it goes up and down the whole time,” said Degenkolb.
The final 15 kilometres of tomorrows stage will prove to be the biggest test in the race thus far. Awaiting the peloton is the Cote du Mont Brouilly climb, with an average 8.4 per cent gradient over 3km and with a steep 25 percent section right before the summit. This brutal climb could prove to be a decisive moment in the race.
“That will be the key moment of Paris-Nice,” said IAM Cycling’s Sylvain Chavanel. “Positioning will be decisive, after that the road drops very quickly down to Bellevile and it will be very difficult to get back (if you’ve been dropped).”
Stage 3: 180km, Toucy to Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours
1 John Degenkolb (GER) Giant-Shimano 4hr 27min 26sec
2 Matthew Goss (AUS) Orica-GreenEDGE
3 Jose Joaquin Rojas (ESP) Movistar
4 Borut Bozic (SLO) Astana
5 Tom Boonen (BEL) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
6 Alexander Kristoff (NOR) Katusha
7 Nacer Bouhanni (FRA) FDJ.fr
8 Thor Hushovd (NOR) BMC
9 Gert Steegmans (BEL) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
10 Moreno Hofland (NED) Belkin
1 John Degenkolb (GER) Giant-Shimano 13hr 14min 01sec
2 Nacer Bouhanni (FRA) FDJ.fr 0:00:08
3 Moreno Hofland (NED) Belkin 0:00:12
4 Jose Joaquin Rojas (ESP) Movistar 0:00:18
5 Geraint Thomas (GBR) Sky 0:00:21
6 Bryan Coquard (FRA) Europcar 0:00:22
7 Alexander Kristoff (NOR) Katusha
8 Nikolay Trusov (RUS) Tinkoff-Saxo
9 Samuel Dumoulin (FRA) AG2R
10 Marco Marcato (ITA) Cannondale