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Paris - Nice 2014: Stage 3


Hello and welcome to stage 3 of this year's Paris-Nice from Toucy to the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours.

Welcome back to Paris-Nice. We're back on the road for today's stage and we have three riders up the road already. Perrig Quemeneur (Europcar), Julien Fouchard (Cofidis) and Romain Feillu (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) lead the peloton by 2:45 with 61km covered so far.

It's sure to be another day for the sprinters though with Bouhanni leading the race after two days of racing. The FDJ rider leads Degenkolb by just two seconds at the moment.


1 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) 8:46:43
2 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano 0:00:02
3 Moreno Hofland (Ned) Belkin-Pro Cycling Team 0:00:04
4 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:13
5 Bryan Coquard (Fra) Team Europcar 0:00:14
6 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team
7 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha
8 Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo
9 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
10 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica GreenEdge


With three riders up the road and with a healthy lead at this stage, the GC contenders will miss out on the bonus seconds available at the intermediate sprint at 78km in Varzy but there's another sprint before the finish so the lead can certainly change hands.

There's a third cat climb coming up too but it's too far away from the finish to make a real difference.

115km remaining from 180km

115km currently remaining and it's Bouhanni's FDJ team that currently control the speed of the peloton. Unlike yesterday, when the break was given a lead of 11 minutes, things are under a bit more control from the peloton's point of view.

The three leaders are less than 10km from the foot of the one and only climb in today's race, the third cat Cote de la Chapelle Saint-Andre.

Fouchard, now into his fifth season with Cofidis, takes a turn on the front of the break. He's never won a race during his pro days in fact but was second in a Giro stage a few years ago into Piemonte. Pineau beat him that day in 2010

The Cofidis rider has to settle for second once more with Romain Feillu beating him to the top of the third category climb. The trio have 2:15 on the peloton with just over 104km remaining.

And Fouchard is second again at the first intermediate sprint of the day with Quemeneur picking up three points.

The biggest news from this morning was that Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) quit the race due to injuries sustained in a crash on stage 2. The sprinter had drawn level with Bouhanni in GC but crashed inside the final 10km.


He chased back on but was aided by his team car and was penalised over a minute for drafting. This morning he didn't start.


The stage was won by Moreno Hofland but there was bad news for the Dutch team too with Lars Boom crashing out. He's a major doubt for the early spring Classics now.

The peloton are over the climb and through the first sprint and they've let the leaders extend their gap to nearly 3 minutes.

Even without Meersman in the team Omega have a strong squad. Right now they're on the front of the peloton and of course with Boonen in the team they have a contender for the sprint win. The Belgian has started the season strongly as he looks to bounce back from a poor 2013. He won Kuurne nearly ten days ago and may well fancy his chances today.

The work from Omega at the front of the bunch has reduced the leaders' advantage to around 1:40. Boonen is 21 seconds down on GC at the moment so it's hard to imagine they'll be going for the intermediate sprint at this point.

Geraint Thomas is handed his lunch as he passes through the feedzone. The Sky leader sits in the top five on GC. He picked up some time on stage 1 and hasn't been caught on the wrong end of any of the splits. Can he make it three GC wins in a row for Team Sky? In some ways he has a harder task that Porte and Wiggins given that the route is far more open this year with no time trial an no summit finishes.


1 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) 8:46:43
2 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano 0:00:02
3 Moreno Hofland (Ned) Belkin-Pro Cycling Team 0:00:04
4 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:13
5 Bryan Coquard (Fra) Team Europcar 0:00:14

Vincenzo Nibali, who won Tirreno last season, is 21 seconds down on GC. He's here to use the race as training for the Tour de France this season. He's kept out of trouble so far in this year's edition of Paris-Nice but could well try something later in the week.

Feillu takes his next pull on the front of the bunch. Bretagne - Seche Environnement have had a rider in every major break so far in the race, which shows their intent on getting into the thick of the action and they currently lead the KOM competition through Christophe Laborie

77km remaining from 180km

77km to go and the gap to the leaders is at 1'50 with Omega and FDJ pushing the pace.

Away from the race and Team Sky's Richie Porte has written a blog. It's right here.

While today is your last chance to win a signed jersey from sprinter Marcel Kittel. All you have to do is click here and sign you life away.*


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Undulating at worst for the three riders up the road but the peloton have them pegged at 1'30.  Some precious television hours for the men on the attack but it's only a matter of time before Omega and FDJ swoop.

Matt Goss in the pack at the moment. He's not really featured in the sprints so far and is still working himself into top shape. If he wants to impress ahead of Milan San Remo he'll need to pull something out of the bag this week.

Giant Shimano have added a man to the front of the chase with just under 65km to go.

Romain Feillu is stil the virtual leader on the road though, at 32 seconds down on Bouhanni.

The bunch have allowed the break to extend their advantage once agian though, and it's out to 2'20.

Voeckler, meanwhile, is back with the team car and is on bottle duty. He's still finding his feet after breaking his collar bone on the eve of the Tour Down Under.

In the break Fouchard punctures but the leaders wait for him. It's cost them around 20 seconds.

It's all to easy for the FDJ team at the moment as they tap through and bring the break just a little bit closer.

Perhaps the most famous circuit race finish of all, comes from 2002 and sees



50km remaining from 180km

50km to go and the lead is at 1'40. IAM Cycling have moved up to the front of the peloton to join FDJ with Sky also in the mix.

There are certainly a lot of nervous riders in the peloton at the moment. With no prologue the top riders are bunched together so tightly and it means that every second really counts. No one wants to lose ground because they don't know when they'll be able to bring the gaps back.

Gadret, in his Movistar kit of course, is at the back of the bunch. Moved to the team in a similar fashion to Moreau but he'll be looking to impress for his team during the season.

It's a very technical finish of course on the racing circuit. It's going to be very hard to control for the sprinter's teams, especially with so many trains looking to dominate the front of the peloton.

42km remaining from 180km

42km go to as Astana move up with Nibali and Sky follow with Thomas.

Lotto are trying to organise something on the far right of the peloton too. Gallopin was in the mix yesterday but he's not really a pure sprinter.

34km remaining from 180km

The peloton have the leaders right where they want them and with 34km to go the gap is at 2'14

As expected the final intermediate sprint wasn't contested with Fouchard crossing the line first.

It's a flat run-in now for the leaders and the peloton. The conditions are perfect with sun and little in the way of wind.

Lotto have started to wind things up and they're really taken things up with a long way to go. Lars Bak is on the front and all of a sudden a number of teams have started to react. FDJ come to the front and Nibali isn't happy about something.

The Giro winner is near the front but there are a few riders near the back of the field who are starting to struggle.

Into the final 25km and the break are starting to up their pace too but the bunch are closing again with the lead at 1'40.

FDJ, Sky, Astana all near the front as Degenkolb's Giant Shimano team sit just a bit further back. Hushovd, Matthews, Goss, and Farrar are all present too.

21km remaining from 180km

21km to go and Fouchard takes one long haul on the front of the break as they approach Magny-Cours

Astana now wind things up but Farrar is close to the front too. He could really do with a win at this level

Just 17km to go and the break is starting to run out of gas, their lead at 1'01.

Hofland is in the mix at the moment in the white jersey. He doesnt have too much support from Belkin at the moment but his teammates are moving up.

Movistar hit the front and a number of riders are hanging on at the back. All the sprinters are still in the hunt for the stage with the three leaders at 55 seconds.

Thomas is on Boasson Hagen's wheel so the British team are looking to protect the Welsh rider's GC position.

Soupe has done his work and he sits up for the day. Steegmans, who has won here before, sits on the front.

11km remaining from 180km

30 seconds for the break.

Quemeneur has taken off and he's out on his own with the bunch still at 30 seconds.

He checks back to make sure that he's alone, and then wraps his hands over the drops and pushes on.

Hayman near the front for Orica as Nibali's team keep him safe on the right hand side.

Into the last 9km and Quemeneur has extended his lead to 35 seconds.

The rest of the break are about to be caught but Quemeneur is still out there and he's still holding a 35 second lead.

The gap is now up to 40 seconds.

7km to go and the lone leader now has 45 seconds on the chasing bunch.

All the sprinters' teams are on the front and fighting for position so it's an impressive ride from Quemeneur, who has been on the attack since the 2.5km point.

6.2km to go and the gap has dropped to 35 seconds.

30 seconds now as we head into the final 5km as Belkin take the front.

A left turn and then Quemeneur will be on the race circuit.

The gap will drop dramatically now.

Gerrans hits the front now with a number of leadout men behind him from various teams.

The bunch have started to line out though as Giant move up and there's faller on the side of the road.

Giant have such a strong lead out and they're making it count as the leader has just 15 seconds.

But it's Hayman who leads the bunch as with 2km to the lone leader has been caught.

Not one team can take control, on each corner a new team comes through. Kristoff is there.

1.6km to go as Giant take it up once more.

Oric are trying to get back on terms.

Degenkolb is sitting pretty with 1km to go.

Bouhanni is bit further back and Boonen is there too.

And here they come and they're spread over the road.

Bouhanni is moving up as Boonen and Steegmans go on the right.

But here comes Degenkolb right through the middle of the track.

He has daylight as Goss and Rojas try and react.

Bouhanni is too far and Degenkolb is going to take this.

Degenkolb wins. Goss second, Rojas third and I think Boonen is fifth.

He had the best position in the final 200 meters and he was simply the fastest rider too. No one could get near him.

1 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano
2 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica Greenedge
3 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team
4 Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team
5 Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
6 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha
7 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra)
8 Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC Racing Team
9 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
10 Moreno Hofland (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team


1 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano
2 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica Greenedge
3 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team
4 Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team
5 Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
6 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha
7 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra)
8 Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC Racing Team
9 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
10 Moreno Hofland (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team

That's enough for Degenkolb to take the lead in the race from Bouhanni.

GC after three stages of action:


1 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano 13:14:01
2 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) 00:00:08
3 Moreno Hofland (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling 00:00:12
4 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team 00:00:18
5 Geraint Thomas (Gbr) Team Sky 00:00:21
6 Bryan Coquard (Fra) Team Europcar 00:00:22
7 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha 00:00:22
8 Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo 00:00:22
9 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale 00:00:22
10 Marco Marcato (Ita) Cannondale 00:00:22

Thanks for joining us today. You can find our results, report and photos, right here.


And don't forget that you can win a signed jersey from Marcel Kittel right here.

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