A tricky Paris-Nice finish in Nuits-Saint-Georges left three riders in bandages following Tuesday's stage 3. Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale), winner of two stages in last year's Paris-Nice, went down in the final turn with 300m to go and went down, causing a chain-reaction pileup.
"Fortunately [Sagan] was not injured apart from abrasions to the knee and his left hand," said Liquigas-Cannondale director Stefano Zanatta. "Pity, because Peter was in a good position and the finish lent itself to his explosiveness."
Sagan is still recovering from five stitches he received in his hip as a result of a crash in the Classica Sarda last week.
Two Belgians were also scraped up in the incident. Nikolas Maes (Quick Step) couldn't avoid the Slovak's airborne bicycle and tumbled head-over-tail into the barriers, taking down Omega Pharma-Lotto's Jurgen Roelandts in the process. However, while the crash was dramatic all three riders finished the stage and are expected to continue the race.
Maes escaped without fractures, but will decide if he will continue in the morning. "I was setting up the exit from the corner when suddenly I was on the ground due to a bike that hit my wheel," Maes said. "I ended up against the barriers and the pain was immediately very strong. It’s a shame because I was in a good position for the sprint. In this moment I have a lot of pain but I hope to take the start tomorrow," said Maes after his hospital visit.
Roelandts' director Herman Frison said his rider's injuries seemed serious at first, but that the former Belgian champion was stitched up and should be fine. "All in all not too bad. He came away with a small cut to his shoulder and some other abrasions."
The stage was won by HTC-Highroad's Matt Goss, who managed to avoid the crash to claim his first Paris-Nice victory and the overall race lead. Team Sky's director Sean Yates was hoping to see a repeat by Greg Henderson, winner of stage 2, after Thomas put in a strong lead-out before coming in 5th.
"It was a little bit disappointing because [Geraint] did the perfect lead out but Hendy just missed out on the wheel - if he had been there I'm pretty sure he would have got a top three and therefore the yellow jersey.
"Having said that, Sagan's crash stuffed things up a little. But these things happen and in sprinting it's always a bit dodgy in the closing stages."
Five riders have so far abandoned Paris-Nice after three stages: Romain Sicard (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Simone Ponzi (Liquigas-Cannondale) and David Mouncoutie (Cofidis) have dropped out with knee pain, while Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Saxo Bank Sungard) crashed out after being run into by a motorbike and Martin Velits (HTC-Highroad) abandoned after crashing on stage 1.