Officials cancelled the third stage of Paris-Nice on Wednesday due to significant snowfall and slippery roads. After racing through the first 100km of the 165.5km stage from Cusset to Mont Brouilly, officials neutralized the peloton with 70km to go and would attempt to restart the race with roughly 40km to go, pending the weather conditions.
ASO later confirmed on its website that the stage had been cancelled.
Race organisers gave a brief statement about the weather, cancellation and race situation, noting that time will not be taken and that Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) will remain the overall leader.
"The race jury and direction decided to cancel today's third stage because of the weather conditions. 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 added, "The road was extremely slippery and the safety was no longer guaranteed. We are sorry. 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."
Although it is unclear whether the new Extreme Weather Protocol was officially employed to stop stage 3, it was introduced after a series of incidents last year including extreme heat at the Tour of Oman last February. The Extreme Weather Protocol got its first test at the Clasica de Almeria in Spain a month ago when high winds forced the shortening of the race.
During stage 3 at Paris-Nice, the peloton started in Cusset and covered nearly 100km in the wintery weather conditions. The riders passed over two ascents; Cote de Vernay (59.5km) and Cote de Chateauneuf (79.5km), along with one intermediate sprint in Chauffailles (84km). They also climbed the third ascent; Cote des Echarmeaux (95.5km) when the snow began falling heavily and officials made the decision to neutralize the stage.
Initially, the peloton was to stay neutralized for the next 30km, pending weather conditions, and potentially re-start with 40km to go, however, the snow continued to fall and officials decided to cancel the stage altogether. Riders made their way to team vehicles to wrap up and get warm at the feed zone, and team buses drove them to the finish in Mont Brouilly.
This is the second time it has snowed during Paris-Nice this week, after the peloton raced through winter weather during stage 1. Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep) was very critical of the UCI and race officials' decision to allow that racing to continue.
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