Skip to main content
Live coverage

Paris-Nice 2019: Stage 3


Oh, hello there. Thank you for dropping by, we have another action-packed day in store for you on this wonderful, windy Tuesday. 

It has been a blustery few days out in France and we can expect some wind again today. The gusts have subsided a little, and while we can expect some crosswinds, it is likely to be more of a headwind. I'm sure the riders will be delighted with this news. 

The riders are in Cepoy this morning for the start of stage 3, which is just under 20 minutes ago. Before we get to what else we can expect from today's action, let's recap what happened yesterday. 

Yesterday's chaos caused a few crashed and there were several riders who were forced to abandon. Arkea-Samsic were particularly affected with Warren Barguil fracturing his spine, while Maxime Bouet has a suspected fractured knee. Gorka Izagirre abandoned after the same incident, but avoided any serious injury. Rigoberto Uran broke his collarbone in a late crash. Other abandons yesterday were Mark Cavendish and Louis Meintjes. 

Dimension Data reports that Meintjes actually missed the time cut yesterday after struggling to get back to a group following a crash. Meanwhile, Cavendish decided to step off after struggling in the crosswinds. Cavendish is still on the comeback trail after a second season affected by Epstein Barr. 

Here is the view from the start line, courtesy of the organisers. 

As the riders roll out for the neutral start, this is what the general classification looks like. Groenewegen extended his lead with Michal Kwiatkowski sitting in second place. 

Speaking of Kwiatkowski - I could work in TV with that segue - I spoke to the man himself when he was racing at the UAE Tour at the end of last month. He spoke about his desire to win the Tour de France at some point in his career and stripping back his racing programme to target the Ardennes and the Worlds this season. Read the full story here.

All 152 riders that finished yesterday's stage made the start today. We should expect the real start in a little over five minutes. 

While Groenewegen is in yellow today, Egan Bernal is wearing the white jersey of best young rider. Guided by the expert wheel of Luke Rowe, Bernal has played a blinder in the crosswinds. He is just 60kg, but Bernal still managed to put some more experienced riders to the sword yesterday. 

The flag for racing has been dropped. No moves just yet and the peloton is all together. 

We've heard news of an early crash, after three kilometres, more information as we have it. 

Defending champion Marc Soler was involved in the crash. It's not been the best week for Soler, he lost almost nine minutes in yesterday's crosswinds. 

Ion Izagirre also came down in the crash. Meanwihile, Bahrain-Merida's Domen Novak has abandoned. 

While things have calmed down briefly, let's take a look at today's parcours. There are no classified climbs in the 200km route, and far fewer changes of direction so the wind should be much more consistent. For the first time this week, we could see a proper bunch sprint, which will be good news for all the sprinters that decided to come to France instead of going to Tirreno-Adriatico. 

188km remaining from 200km

Movistar reporting that Rafa Valls was also involved in the crash that took out his teammate Marc Soler. Both riders are ok, despite the fall, and have been able to continue. 

Egan Bernal looks happy at the front, and well he might given his performances over the last two days. 

The peloton currently has a headwind, which won't help with any breakaway attempts. It's also slowing down the bunch and we can expect a much slower average speed today than we had yesterday. 

Mitchelton-Scott DS Matt Wilson has told the race website that their GC ambitions are completely over after Simon Yates lost 6:44 in yesterday's carnage. They still have hopes of winning stages, starting today with Matteo Trentin. The Italian finished fourth in yesterday's stage after starting his sprint effort too early, but Wilson believes that he's in good form. 

The average speed of the bunch is under 30kph at the moment as they continued to be battered by a headwind. Still no attacks. 

Of course, Paris-Nice is not the only race going on this week. Tirreno-Adriatico will start tomorrow. It is a much more Classics leaning parcours this year and the start list reflects that. There are still some strong GC contenders, namely Primoz Roglic, and it should be a great race. Take a look at our pre-race preview here

The riders have gone through the first of two intermediate sprints in Châtillon-Coligny. There are bonus seconds on offer and the competition for the sprint was between the GC contenders. Michal Kwiatkowski took the full complement of three points and seconds with Luis Leon Sanchez second and Tony Gallopin in third. 

Kwiatkowski has been pretty on-it in terms of the intermediate sprints over the opening days of this race. He has been keen to contest the sprint every day and is mopping up bonus seconds, which could be key at the end of the week. That haul of three brings him to nine seconds behind Groenewegen in the GC, and adds a second to his advantage over Sanchez. Canny riding from the Polish champion. 

Would you be surprised if I told you that the peloton is still together, of course you wouldn't. The riders have managed just over 30 kilometres so far. 

The slower pace means that we can take an opportunity to look at the scenery. 

Also, why not take an opportunity to listen to some of our podcast. We've got plenty for you to listen to, like this look back at the Opening Weekend or this special, featuring interviews with Kwiatkowski, Van Avermaet, Roglic and Irizar. We have also launched our women's edition and have two episode of that, the first is a discussion on the future of women's cycling and the other is a behind the scenes look at the new Trek-Segafredo women's team. 


Meanwhile, we have a little flurry of action at the front of the bunch as eight riders go on the attack. They have just 10 seconds on the peloton. 

Well, that was about as short-lived as my attempts to give up chocolate. The breakaway has been brought back and it's all together again with Jumbo-Visma leading the way. 

Ramunas Navardauskas is having none of it and he has decided to plug on. He'll need some help in this wind if he hopes to stay away. 

Indeed, he does have some help. With Navardauskas is his teammate Fedeli. They have just 30 seconds on the peloton at the moment. 

159km remaining from 200km

Dylan Groenewegen will be only the second rider in the history of Paris-Nice if he takes the third stage win today. Freddy Maertens won the first three stages in 1977. #ParisNice

The gap has grown to the two leaders, who now have 3:40. I could be wrong, but I don't rate their chances at staying away until the finish line. 

Team Sky were the major instigators in yesterday's carnage, particularly at the finish with Luke Rowe. It could have ended very differently with Kwiatkowski suffering a puncture late in the day. Still, he made it back and the team took time out of a lot of their rivals. Read the full story here

5:30 is the latest time check for the two leaders. They might not get anything out of it but they will get some TV time, which is always important to the sponsors. 

Laurens De Plus is not racing at Paris-Nice but will be starting Tirreno-Adriatico tomorrow. He made his Jumbo-Visma debut at the UAE Tour last month and proved to be an important support rider for Primoz Roglic. It has been a difficult year for for De Plus after two serious crashes that could easily have ended his career. The Belgian said that the crashes have changed him as a person. Read the full story here

199km remaining from 200km

The two riders in this breakaway are in two opposing ends of their respective careers. Fedeli is 23 and is in his first season as a professional. He won the opening stage of the Tour of Rwanda last month. 

Navardauskas, on the other hand, is in his 11th season as a professional. After two difficult years at Bahrain-Meirda - when he had to undergo surgery fora heart arrhythmia - he moved to Delko Marseille Provence for this season. The 31-year-old is a strong rider who has won stages at the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France. 

127km remaining from 200km

News from Bahrain-Merida is that Domen Novak has dislocated his AC joint - an injury that will be familiar to Cavendish fans. Novak was involved in that crash after just three kilometres of racing. 

More news on Mark Cavendish, who abandoned the race yesterday. Paris-Nice was Cavendish's third race back from illness. 

118km remaining from 200km

There is still a long way to go, but it seems that we could get a proper sprint finish today. There is still the chance for crosswinds today, but nothing like we've seen in the last two days. The sprinters will have to be attentive, but they will be relishing an opportunity to have a proper go today. 

Groenewegen will be the hot favourite after taking the opening two stages but there is still plenty of competition if it comes to a bunch gallop. Matteo Trentin will be hoping for a bit of better look today after making it into that select group of eight at the end. Andre Greipel, Marcel Kittel, Caleb Ewan, Sam Bennett, John Degenkolb, Arnaud Demare, Alexander Kristoff, Fabio Jakobsen, Christophe Laporte, Sonny Colbrelli and Bryan Coquard are all on the hunt for a stage win today. 

As you can see here, Lotto Soudal are helping out with some of the chase duties for their sprinter Caleb Ewan. 

Today will be the final chance for the sprinters to get something out of the race. Tomorrow, the race will turn to the mountains with a mixture of first and second category climbs. Then, there will be a time trial, followed by another three hilly and mountain stages. 

Arkea-Samsic have released an update on Warren Barguil's condition and it's good news. It was initially reported by the team that he had suffered a fractured cervical vertebrae, but it turns out to be just a sprain. He will still have to wear a brace for at least 10 days but the recovery process will be much shorter. 

At last, the riders are into the second half of today's 200km stage. The gap to the two leaders is still nudging down, bit by bit. The headwind has now turned into a crosswind, coming from the right hand side, but no signs of echelons just yet. 

Delko Marseille Provence DS Andy Flickinger told the race website that the team wanted to animate the race, which is how they ended up with two riders in the breakaway today. 

The average speed has gone up again over the third hour of racing. With three hours done, the overall average is 34.7kph. 

News coming through that Fabio Aru has abandoned. The Italian has had a poor couple of days. 

Aru was already 17:23 down in the overall standings after the first two days of racing. Abandoning before the mountains will be a blow to his Giro d'Italia hopes. We'll bring you any more news on his departure as soon as we can. 

Aru is next scheduled to race at the Volta a Catalunya in a few weeks. Let's hope that he can find some better form before then. 

84km remaining from 200km

Peter Sagan is due to start Tirreno-Adriatico tomorrow, but the Slovakian has been hampered by a stomach virus recently. Read the full story here

Here are our two intrepid escapees. Navardauskas at the front and Fedeli at the back. It's certainly one way to get to know your teammate, by going out in a lengthy breakaway with them. 

73km remaining from 200km

The peloton is heading past Nevers. It has hosted 17 Paris-Nice finishes and it is also the home of the bike manufacturer Look. 

The pace continues to ramp up as the peloton closes in on the leaders, and the group is well strung out. The riders are still having to put up with a cross-headwind at the moment. 

An update on Fabio Aru and his earlier abandon. UAE Team Emirates report that he has been feeling weak and nauseous so he decided to make the call to abandon the race. 

QuickStep have also been lending a hand at the front of the peloton. They have Fabio Jakobsen, who has already won a stage of the Volta ao Algarve this season. 

59km remaining from 200km

There is a change of direction and there is a lot of movement in the peloton, preparing for possible crosswinds. Team Sky has moved up, as has AG2R La Mondiale. Could we about to get some crosswinds?

All seems calm for now, but there is a certain sense of nervousness for now. Meanwhile, the peloton is bringing the two leaders ever closer. Just 1:39 is the gap now. 

55km remaining from 200km

At the front of the peloton, there is still plenty of action going on. Team Sunweb have pushed forwards, as have CCC Team. Meanwhile, Team Sky have dropped back a bit, happy that the wind isn't strong enough to break up the group. 

Paris-Nice has seen the introduction of the UCI's tests on tramadol. Though it is not on WADA's list of banned substances, the UCI decided to ban it for health reasons. Read more on it here.

As we hit 50km to go, the advantage of the leaders has dropped to 1:15. They had a maximum of 5:30 at one point. Maybe yesterday, it feels like it was that long ago. I've lost all sense of time at this stage. 

47km remaining from 200km

The gap is coming down fast, it's just 45 seconds now. Ordinarily, the sprint teams wouldn't want to make the catch so early, but with winds still a potential danger, they seem to be playing it safe. 

Navardauskas pushed up the pace in the brake a touch and managed to extend their lead but it's coming down very quickly once again. Just 27 seconds for the two up front and still over 40 kilometres to go. 

We can no see the peloton in the same camera shot as the breakaway. It's only a matter of time before it's all together again. A number of teams making the pace in the bunch. 

39km remaining from 200km

And, as Faithless once said, we come one. The escapees have been caught and it's just one peloton. No signs of any attacking just yet. They are perhaps waiting for the potential crosswinds in the finale. 

With a sprint finish on the cards today, crosswinds permitting, here is another look at some of the potential contenders. Race leader Dylan Groenewegen is high up on the list, but there is also Andre Greipel, Marcel Kittel, Caleb Ewan, Sam Bennett, John Degenkolb, Arnaud Demare, Alexander Kristoff, Fabio Jakobsen, Christophe Laporte, Sonny Colbrelli and Bryan Coquard.

Team Sky have two options in the overall classification with Michal Kwiakowski and Egan Bernal. Kwiatkowski is the best placed in the overall but Bernal is not too far behind, and particularly with everything that has happened in the first two days, Team Sky DS Nicolas Portal is happy to have two options. 

And we've had a crash in the bunch. They were passing through a pinch point and there are plenty of riders stuck behind. 

Marc Soler is one of those stuck. It's been a bad day for him all around. 

30km remaining from 200km

The incident happened on a small bridge and it looks like Mikel Nieve landed on the wall of the bridge, face down. He's up and walking around, but it seems that he may have hurt his shoulder. 

The peloton has knocked off the pace to allow the dropped riders to try and get back. With no breakaway to worry about, it is a little bit easier to do that. 

Mitchelton-Scott reports that it's just cuts and bruises for Nieve. No word if he's on his bike again. Simon Yates was also caught up in that incident but he's chasing back on. 

25km remaining from 200km

With the crash, it has dampened any possible chances of a breakaway attempt at the moment. There is still a chance but it's not looking likely at the moment. 

I can see Roger Kluge near the front, he is Caleb Ewan's lead-out man. Kluge has had a busy few weeks after riding the UAE Tour, before heading straight to the Track Worlds in Poland where he won the Madison world title, and now he is racing here at Paris-Nice. You certainly couldn't accuse him of slacking. 

We head towards the second intermediate sprint and Luke Rowe does a stand-up job of leading out Michal Kwiatkowski to take three more bonus seconds, he also makes sure that Egan Bernal overtakes him to nab a couple of bonus seconds. 

Luke Rowe is the road captain for Team Sky at Paris-Nice and he has been worth his weight in gold this week. It will be interesting to see how he goes on the cobbles later this spring. 

After that small flurry of activity, the peloton is back together. With all that excitement, I forgot to tell you that Nieve made it back to the peloton. 

Grosschartner took the final lot of bonus seconds and points in that sprint. Kwiatkowski has taken six bonus seconds so far today, cutting his deficit to Groenewegen just six seconds. That's likely to go out with the sprint finish, but that shouldn't matter too much when we hit the hills tomorrow. Kwiatkowski setting out his stall in the opening stages of this race. 

13km remaining from 200km

There is a big battle for position at the moment. Nobody wants to miss out if the peloton does break up. Sky, Lotto Soudal, Jumbo-Visma Bora and Sunweb all putting riders towards the front. 

One of the Vital Concept riders crashes on roundabout. It is Pacher. He went the wrong way around it too, to add insult to injury. 

Damien Gaudin moves to the front of the bunch for Direct Energie. He currently leads the mountains classification but he's doing a job for Niccolo Bonifazio today. 

8km remaining from 200km

Interestingly, I haven't seen Katusha for a while. At the UAE Tour, Kittel and his men stayed well back until very late on. It didn't really work, though. 

5km remaining from 200km

5km remaining from 200km

Kwiatkowski now moves to the front and they are breaking up the peloton. This is an echelon alarm. I repeat, man your stations, this is an echelon alarm. 

Riders managing to close some of the gaps but Rowe is not done yet. He takes over Kwiatkowski and has put a lot of riders in trouble. Groenewegen is well back and got caught out by this move. 

There is now relenting here as the pace hits 55kph. Kwiatkowski is on the front once again and they've split the group yet again. 

Once again, it's Rowe, Kwiatkowski and Bernal up front with Gaudin and a rider from Trek. 

In ones and twos, there are riders trying to get across the gap and it looks like it might be about to come back together. The bunch is still string out in almost single file. 

Jumbo Visma now making their way towards the front with Groenewegen, who was caught behind one of the splits. 

One kilometre to go and it's going to be a bunch sprint.

FDJ on the front for Demare with Kristoff in his wheel.

Bennett wins!

It was Demare that started the sprint with Groenewegen soon to follow but it was Sam Bennett that had the legs to take the win. 

That is Sam Bennett's third win so far this season and he did that easily.

Ewan took second in that sprint with Jakobsen in third place. 

Groenewegen sat up in that sprint, in the end, he should still have the yellow jersey but we'll wait for confirmation of that. 

And we have confirmation that Groenewegen still leads by six seconds over Kwiatkowski with Sanchez still in third. 

Here is how the stage finished, Interestingly, Kittel nowhere to be seen. 

This is what Sam Bennett had to say after his victory today. 

This is how the overall classification looks after that stage. 

Bennett had a difficult winter after his team decided to leave him out of their Giro d'Italia line-up. However, that victory places him as the team's most successful rider so far this season. He won in San Juan at the start of February and on the final stage of the UAE Tour a couple of weeks ago. It's a contract year for him so he's certainly showing his potential suitors what they could get, if he decides to leave Bora-Hansgrohe. 

A nice shot of Bennett as he crosses the line

That was the final chance for the pure sprinters in this race as tomorrow we head off in search of mountains. Tomorrow's stage has no fewer than five climbs, four of which come in the final 60 kilometres. Three of those are ranked second category and the other is a first category. It is also the longest stage of the week. 

Groenwegen has looked strong in the opening stages but tomorrow's stage will be a bit too hard for him to keep hold of the yellow jersey. The question is, who will take it off him? Kwiatkowski has looked strong too, but how fresh will he be?

For a full report on today's action, plus full results and a gallery then head here

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