Skip to main content
Live coverage

Paris - Nice 2017: Stage 3

Refresh

Good morning, and a warm welcome back to Cyclingnews' live race centre for stage 3 of Paris-Nice. Warmer than yesterday, at least, as the weather conditions appear to be more favourable, with slightly higher temperatures and the rain set to hold off for most of the day.

Tailwind

Here's a shot of the riders on the startline, courtesy of the FDJ team, who are out to protect Arnaud Demare's leader's yellow jersey today, and tee him up for a second stage win. 

The riders have just come to the end of the neutralised zone, and stage 3 is officially underway. 

As expected, we've had some early attacks, with a group of three moving clear of the bunch.

The three riders on the attack are: Pierre Latour (AG2R La Mondiale), Ben King (Dimension Data), and Romain Combaud (Delko-Marseille).

Yep, this break is going to stick. The trio has almost two minutes now. 

As FDJ appear at the front of the peloton to set about managing the situation, how about a re-cap of yesterday's action. A large group with most of the top sprinters and most of the top GC men arrived together at the finish, but it was a gruelling day of racing in the wind, rain, and cold, described by Alberto Contador as 'infernal', and by Julien Simon as 'Dantesque'. It certainly was for RIchie Porte, who was the day's big loser and lost nearly 15 minutes. 

Here's how the GC stands

Here's a first shot of our breakaway trio, courtesy of the race organisers. They now have a lead of nearly four minutes

167km remaining from 190km

Disc brake update from our man on the ground, Daniel Benson. Tony Martin was on them on the first two days but not today. Instead Michael Morkov is the only rider from the Katusha-Alpecin camp on discs today. 

The breakaway trio extend their lead to six minutes now. None are a threat in terms of the general classification, having lost a bunch of time across the opening two stages. None, in fact, are within half an hour of Arnaud Demare's race lead. 

Let's shine a spotlight on our breakaway riders. 

Meanwhile, the gap has started to stabilise at just above the six-minute mark. Katusha-Alpecin have come to the front to take some of the responsibility off the shoulders of FDJ, and their man Alexander Kristoff is a top favourite on a day like this, where legs could be slightly drained come the sprint. 

Get involved

The breakaway covered 41.2 km in the opening hour of racing. Not very fast for a tailwind. Even slower in the bunch, though there'll be few complaints back there after the brutality of the opening two days. 

135km remaining from 190km

The gap is almost at 7 minutes now.

The big story overnight, broken on Cyclingnews by editor-in-chief Daniel Benson, concerns Team Sky and its embattled principal, Dave Brailsford, with dissent beginning to emerge among the riders. 

Here's FDJ on the front of the peloton (photo again from race organiser). They're zipping along their in single file, but the gap to the break remains stable at 7 minutes. 

105km remaining from 190km

While we're on Porte, here's the reaction from the BMC camp to yesterday's disaster.

Lotto Soudal contribute to the pace setting at the head of the peloton but they're hitting the feed zone now. 

Let’s turn the breakaway spotlight on Ben King now. The American is a strong and talented rider, even if he’s not a prolific winner. He came through the development ranks within USA Cycling and rode for the Trek development team before turning pro with Radioshack in 2011. After three years there, he spent three years at the Cannondale team and this winter he made the switch to Dimension Data. King turned pro at the age of 20 and has since slotted mainly into a domestique role, though there is no denying his nose and a penchant for a breakaway - as he showed with his Tour of California stage win last year. 

 

 

 

A shot of the relaxed bunch from the race organiser.

75km remaining from 190km

The riders are approaching the first of two categorised climbs on today's route. It's the Côte de Grandmont and it's 2.4km long with an average gradient of 4.9%. Not overly worrying in itself, but the terrain does get lumpier the nearer riders get to the finish, and it will be an aperitif ahead of the stinging Côte de Charrecey later on.

70km remaining from 190km

First sighting of the sun at this year's 'Race to the Sun'!

The breakaway trio hit the climb with a lead of 4 minutes. 

Just up on Cyclingnews is the final feature in our 'I love the 1990's' series, and it's all about Marco Pantani and his dramatic expulsion from the 1999 Giro d'Italia. 

Meanwhile, Ben King takes the points atop the third-category Côte de Grandmont, ahead of Combaud, then Latour. 

60km remaining from 190km

50km remaining from 190km

It's all about Paris-Nice today, but tomorrow marks the start of Tirreno-Adriatico, the competing WorldTour week-long stage race. The pre-race press conference is taking place today, and we'll have all the latest from there, but we also have a race preview in podcast form, courtesy of our collaboration with Recon Ride. Essential listening - here it is:

42km remaining from 190km

Better shine the spotlight on our third and final breakaway rider before it's too late. 

35km remaining from 190km

Here come Fortuneo-Vital Concept, another French Pro Conti team. They're not just leaving it to the WorldTour teams - they have confidence in their sprinter Dan McLay and they're duly assuming their share of the responsibility in bringing about a bunch kick. 

Crash

The South African champion is back on his feet and it looks like he wants to get back on his bike. The race doctor, however, insists on patience and wants to make sure he's ok. Replays suggest a touch of wheels with the rider in front. 

28km remaining from 190km

Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg abandons the race. After lengthy deliberations with medical personnel, the South African concedes his race is over and climbs into the Dimension Data car. 

The breakaway comes towards the top of the climb. Combaud delivers the first injection of pace but soon Latour comes to the front and takes off. The Frenchman quickly opens a huge gap and the points will be his. 

25km remaining from 190km

Latour duly mops up the maximum seven points. How will this climb sap the legs of the sprinters?

Polka-dot jersey wearer Romain Hardy clips off the front of the peloton in search of a couple more KOM points, and he's joined up there by compatriot Nicolas Edet. 

Edet continues his effort and soon catches Ben King, who was dropped from the break on that climb. 

22km remaining from 190km

You can see the situation over to the right of your screen, but here's how it looks at the moment, with just over 20km remaining. 

17km remaining from 190km

King and Edet have been caught by the bunch, so it's just two leaders now versus a full peloton. 

Michael Matthews clips off the front of the bunch to take a single point in the green jersey classification. 

15km remaining from 190km

"My eyes were stuck together when i woke up this morning - I was absolutely exhausted," says Bryan Coquard in a Eurosport interview carried out this morning. The Frenchman was dropped in the crosswinds yesterday but is clearly feeling better and better as today has gone on, and fancies his chances here. 

13km remaining from 190km

Crash

10km remaining from 190km

Team Sky make their presence felt on the front of the bunch. They have a habit of keeping GC men well placed in bunch sprints and Sergio Henao is in a great position in terms of the overall. 

7km remaining from 190km

It's still advantage peloton, but they're leaving this one very late. Latour and Combaud can't have any room for doubt and have to simply continue to give this everything they have. 

5km remaining from 190km

4km remaining from 190km

Crash

3km remaining from 190km

2km remaining from 190km

Cofidis and Trek come to the fore now as the break come through a tight left hander through a roundabout. 

188km remaining from 190km

The peloton have the duo in their sights. Combaud gives Latour one final push of encouragement. 

1km remaining from 190km

1km remaining from 190km

Quick-Step hit the front for Kittel

Katusha are up their for Kristoff

Sabatini leads this one out for KIttel

Kittel launches but here comes Sam Bennett

Sam Bennett wins!

What a win for Bennett! A convincing one, too. He chose the wheel of Kristoff and powered through as Kittel faded. No one could even get up to his back wheel as the Irishman crossed the line.

Kristoff just took second place from Degenkolb, who was coming through on the opposite right-hand side of the road. 

Top 10

"I had a lot of confidence coming into this race," says Bennett in his post-race interview. "I had a good feeling in the legs after Tour Down Under, where I had the speed but didn't quite get an opportunity. I knew that today something was possible - whether it was a top five or whatever, I knew something was possible. In the end I got lucky and the guys did a fantastic job and I want to thank them so much. I am so happy to get this result - you don't know what it means to me."

Here's how the GC now looks. Kristoff jumps above Gilbert into third thanks to bonus seconds for second place. 

That is, by some distance, the biggest victory of 26-year-old Bennett's career. It's his first at WorldTour level and his first in his debut season as a WorldTour rider, and if he needed to take any more confidence from it, he can look at the calibre of the names below him on the results sheet - and at the distance he put between himself and them by the finish line. 

Here's the finish line view, courtesy of the race organiser.

Here's our report page, complete with photos and results.

Arnaud Demare back on the podium to collect another leader's jersey. 

Tomorrow could well be Demare's last outing in yellow, as a time trial awaits. It's just 14.5km long but it ends up Mont Brouilly, and the final three kilometres average 7.7%. On paper it was meant to be the first real GC day, but we've already had two of them...

A demain

Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets

After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1