Organisers of Paris-Nice were forced to cancel stage 3 after snow began to fall on the course, creating a dangerous situation for the riders. After suffering criticism for not acting to protect riders from extreme weather on stage 1, the organisers chose to neutralise racing in the feedzone and eventually cancelled it altogether. Although the sprint and mountains points will count, the times will not be taken into account.
"The race jury and direction decided to cancel today's third stage because of the weather conditions," the ASO announced on its website. "The times will not be taken into account but the points scored at the first intermediate sprint of the day and on the climbs completed so far will count.
ASO cycling director Christian Prudhomme said the road was extremely slippery and rider safety was no longer guaranteed.
"We are sorry," Prudhomme said. "That's Paris-Nice. We promise we'll come back to Mont-Brouilly. It's a pity but the riders will start again tomorrow from Julienas."
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Riders appeared genuinely pleased to climb off their bikes in the wintry conditions, but some expressed regret that they were unable to finish the stage.
Rider and team reactions to the Paris-Nice stage 3 cancellation
Laurenzo Lapage, director (Orica-GreenEdge) - "It's something we cannot change, the weather was too bad, we could not race any longer. It was too dangerous with the snow you could not go downhill, even with the car it was dangerous.
"We were confident about the stage today but with these conditions we have to just accept it. The overall from this morning will stay the same, so we will start again tomorrow with stage four."
Alain Gallopin, director (Trek-Segafredo) - "I think the race was good at the beginning, and we were excited to have Laurent [Didier] in the breakaway on a day where it could be interesting. I was behind the group with Laurent and at first it was 14 riders. But when the gap decreased too much he attacked in the climb, and when they neutralized the race they were four guys, and they had three minutes. This was good.
"But after stopping, it was not possible to continue in these conditions. It was a good decision for the organisation to have the respect of the peloton, and for the security of the riders. It was the right decision, no question."
Laurent Didier (Trek-Segafredo) - "It was more than normal to stop the race, but I think that the weather protocol should have been [called] already before. I was in the first break of seven, and then nine more joined us. The harmony was not great in our group, there were too many teams looking after their GC, and I felt quite good and when I saw the gap come down to 1 minute and 10 seconds I attacked.
"Three guys came up to me, and we pulled together, but we didn't know about the snow. On top of the GPM, for the last 2-kilometers, we were already in the snow and then they stopped us. First they told us we would go in the car and make a restart at the bottom, but I mean once you are in the car, and you don't have dry clothes...it was the right decision to cancel, but it should have been taken earlier."
Steven De Jongh, director (Tinkoff) - "It's disappointing. Yesterday when we looked at the forecast and that you go up to this height you can expect some bad weather but we had been looking forward to today's stage. Yuri [Trofimov] was in the early break to be there for the team. Then from there four guys went away. We started to hear from ahead that it was snowing and then they neutralised it before cancelling. For the moment we're disappointed as we were looking forward to this mountain finish. It's hard not to have the fight we wanted today."
Jacques Janse van Rensburg (Dimension Data) - "Yesterday we already knew the weather was going to be quite horrific today, it turned out exactly like that with rain from the start. We didn't think we were going to get snow but then on the 3rd king of the mountains climb it started snowing. It was really snowing heavily and they had to cancel the stage because even the tarmac was covered in snow so it was quite dangerous. With it being so cold, raining and always wet it wasn't ideal conditions for racing. The plan for today was to get a good result with Nathan Haas and then Serge Pauwels and myself were also going to see what we could do. I actually felt quite good and so did Serge. Nathan was also up there but they cancelled the stage. It is good that they cancelled the stage but it shouldn't come to the point where we are riding wet in minus one-degree snow."
Twitter reactions to Paris-Nice stage 3 snow day
As expected, there were plenty of reactions to the Paris-Nice stage 3 cancellation on Twitter. Before officials decided to cancel the race, Movistar posted a video of their rider pushing on through snowy weather conditions.
Cannondale's CEO and manager Jonathan Vaughters also took to Twitter to ask when organisers and officials of Paris-Nice would adhere to rules, such as the Extreme Weather Protocol, surrounding severe winter weather and hot days.
I wonder when the powers that be in Paris-Nice will stop avoiding clearly written rules regards weather?— Jonathan Vaughters (@Vaughters) March 9, 2016
Huge shame that the stage was cancelled today. But there's no way we can race safely through this! pic.twitter.com/bso1TWnbKN— Geraint Thomas (@GeraintThomas86) March 9, 2016
Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) believed the stage could have been cancelled from the start with some forethought, as teams already knew there would be snow by the time the peloton reached the feed zone.
A shame with all the technology we have nobody can make a decision be4 the stage as our team knew that there will be snow at the feeding— Andre Greipel (@AndreGreipel) March 9, 2016
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