By Jean-François Quénet in Vichy
As Quick Step benefited from Rabobank's move during Paris-Nice's third stage, it was another disappointing day for Silence-Lotto. The second Belgian super team still has no wins in 2009 – a score only shared with Fuji-Servetto among the ProTour teams.
Belgian champion Jurgen Roelandts spent the day on the front but he wasn't fresh enough to sprint against Chavanel and finished seventh of the seven breakaway riders. "Our morale is not affected because we don't race according to what Quick Step does," said Philippe Gilbert after the finish.
Silence-Lotto's recruit was up there when Rabobank put the hammer down. "I was in that initial group of 40 riders," he explained, having limited the damage as he crossed the line in Vichy in 16th position, 1:09 behind Chavanel. "I was still up there when the group was reduced to 20 riders, but with 20 or 25km to go, I didn't manage to accompany the six guys who took off on a hill. I only missed it by 200 or 300 metres."
"I'm not disappointed. I've never ridden well at Paris-Nice, so I don't expect any miracle here. I take it day by day. If there is something interesting to do in the coming stages, I'll take my chance but I'm here mostly in preparation for Milano-Sanremo. The most important for me in this race is to not fall and not get sick."