Thanks to his stage win, Goss took the overall lead.
1. Matthew Goss (Australia) HTC-Highroad
2. Heinrich Haussler (Australia) Garmin Cervelo
3. Denis Galimzyanov (Russia) Katusha
4. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spain) Movistar
5. Geraint Thomas (Britain) Team Sky
Slovakia’s Peter Sagan was caught in the pile-up which took place in the last turn and finished the stage on foot.
Australia’s Matthew Goss won the 202.5-kms third stage of Paris-Nice in Nuits-St Georges.
A crash took place before the finish.
but beware of the sharp turns before the finish line.
Katusha riders now lead the way for Denis Galimzyanov, third yesterday.
The Frenchman made it back in the pack after his puncture.
Team Sky are now in command of the bunch, working for Greg Henderson again.
... and the break is over. The two Frenchmen have just been reined in.
Voeckler and Kadri now only lead the bunch by five seconds with 6 kms to go.
The Garmin-Cervelo team-mates of Ryder Hesjedal and Heinrich Haussler are leading the chase with 7 kms to go.
Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) punctures with 8 kms to go.
... and the two Frenchmen lead the main pack by 15 seconds.
Km 189 - The peloton trail Voekcler and Kadri by 14 seconds.
Liquigas riders are leading the way in the peloton, working for Peter Sagan.
... and Thomas Voeckler and Blel Kadri are increasing their lead to 18 seconds.
With 17 kms to go, Voeckler and Kadri hold a 15 seconds lead over the main bunch.
Gorka Izagirre (Euskaltel) is chasing behind Voeckler and Kadri.
Km 181 - French champion Thomas Voeckler attacked shortly after the top of the climb and quickly overtook the escapees to the exception of Kadri, who resisted.
1. Veikkanen 7 pts
2. Gautier 5 pts
3. Kadri 3 pts
4. Pineau 2 pts
5. Hardy 1 pt
The peloton 14 seconds behind.
As the gap goes down to 14 seconds, Veikkanen was first at the top of the climb and seized the polka-dot jersey as the new best climber in the race.
Remy Di Gregorio and Thomas Voeckler took turns at the front of the main pack but nobody seems decided to give it a go.
Two Liquigas riders have seized the reins of the peloton and have move up a gear.
... for the escapees. The main pack was clocked at 52 seconds in the village of Becoup.
The gap remains at around a minute in the climb as the Vacansoleil keep setting the pace in the bunch.
Veikkanen attacked twice to try and drop his breakaway comanions. But he was reined in each time.
Vacansoleil firmly hold the reins of the peloton behind the five escapees in the climb.
The five escapees are now in the second category Cote de Becoup.
Km 168 - Pineau, Gautier, Hardy, Kadri and Veikkanen now only lead the peloton by 1:45
AG2R team director Julien Jurdie told France Television the five had saved some strength for the finale: "For the time being Blel (Kadri) is our priority. The five worked well together to save some energy and they will now give it their all to try and go all the way. It’s up to the peloton."
Belgium’s Gert Steegmans (Quick Step) crashed but he is back on his bike.
The second-category Becoup climb, 23 kms from the finish, might be the first opportunity for the favourites to give away their ambitions. Among the many riders to watch, let’s go for 2009 champion Luis-Leon Sanchez (Rabobank), Pierrick Fedrigo (FDJ), Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin), Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana), Franck Schleck (Leopard-Trek), Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step), Janez Brajkovic (RadioShack), Simon Gerrans (Team Sky) and Rein Taaramae (Cofidis), who all have ideal profiles for the day.
1. Gautier 3 seconds, 3 points
2. Pineau 2 seconds, 2 points
3. Kadri 1 second, 1 point.
... and the lead of the break is exactly three minutes.
39 kilometres were covered during the 4th hour of the stage for an overall average speed of 36.23 kph.
The five escapees all lie 14 seconds behind Thomas de Gendt in the overall standings. There are no less than 125 riders ranked in the same time in the GC.
Km 137 - Pineau, Gautier, Kadri, Hardy and Veikkanen lead the peloton by 3:20.
In 1977, a Paris-Nice stage finished in Nuits-St Georges. It was won by Belgian Freddy Maertens, who was holding the world champion jersey at the time. Maertens went on to win Paris-Nice, winning five stages along the way.
The escapees are in Saulieu, where Jacques Esclassan won a Paris-Nice stage in 1973. It was the French sprinter’s first of five stage victories on the Race to the Sun.
Km 117 - The break leads the peloton by 3:30.
The peloton is in St Brisson (km 110), start of a Paris-Nice stage in 2009. The stage was won by Heinrich Haussler.
Km 106 - The gap between the break and the peloton is now down to 1:55.
Only 33.4 kilometres were ridden in the third hour of the stage. The overall average speed is 35.3 kph.
Km 101 - The gap melts down to 2:20 as the Vacansoleil, led by Thomas de Gendt, impose a steady pace at the front of the peloton.
Km 94 - The gap between Pineau, Gautier, Kadri, Hardy and Veikkanen and the peloton is now 3:50.
Bretagne-Schuller team director Emmanuel Hubert said he was not too optimistic for the break, in which he has a rider, Romain Hardy: “We had planned to have rider in the break. Not necessarily Romain. Now there’s not a lot of margin, they’re not going for victory. In the next 30 or 40 kms, if the gap stays the same, the break will struggle to go all the way,” he said.
Asked about the ambitions of hopeful Hardy, winner of a Tour de l’Avenir stage last year, he said: “He likes it when it’s bumpy. His Tour de l’Avenir win was not on an easy terrain. But the others are good too, it’s a good break in which everybody plays his part. Now it’s the peloton who decides.”
The lead of the five escapees ha stabilised at 3:40 for the past 10 kms.
1. Cedric Pineau (FDJ) 3 seconds, 3 points
2. Cyril Gautier (Europcar) 2 secs, 2 pts
3. Romain Hardy (Bretagne-Schuller) 1 sec, 1 pt.
The peloton 4:00 behind.
35.3 kms were covered in the second hour of the stage. The overall average speed is 36.25 kph.
Laurent Bezault, the Paris-Nice runner-up in 1993, is 45 today. Letour.fr wishes him a happy birthday.
Km 65 - The gap between the five escapees and the main pack reached 4:35.
Franck Pineau finds himself in an awkward position by driving the car behind the break that includes his son Cedric: “Honestly I didn’t expect to find myself in this position as Cedric was not scheduled to ride Paris-Nice. We usually try to be on different races. We work in the same school but I’m not his teacher. It’s easier for both of us. I’m proud that he’s doing Paris-Nice and we’re doing alright because I know him by heart. He’s showing he rightly deserves his place in the team. I hope it will quickly be forgotten that he’s my son. I want him to be a rider as such and not Franck Pineau’s son.”
Asked what advice he had given him for the current break, he said: “To do as little as possible, to feed well because it’s a long stage and perhaps to stay put if the fight starts and he needs to helps his leaders.”
Km 50 - Gautier, Pineau, Hardy, Kadri and Veikkanen lead the peloton by 4:30.
The peloton’s tempo is going up and down like yesterday. As a result, the gap reached four minutes at kilometre 44. As for the escapees, they even stopped on the roadside to spend a penny.
34 nations are still represented in the bunch as follows:
United States 7
South Africa 1
Netherlands Antilles 1
New Zealand 1
Czech Republic 1
Italy’s Simone Ponzi (Liquigas) has given up.
The average speed in the first hour of the stage was 37.2 kph.
Km 35 - The peloton, led by De Gendt’s Vacansoleil team-mates, seems to react a bit. The lead has gone down to 2:45.
Europcar team leader Jean-Rene Bernaudeau told ww.letour.fr his team’s goal was to toughen the race rathe than hope for a long winning breakaway with Cyril Gautier: “We wanted to make the race tougher, more nervous and tiring so that a move can take place in the last climb. Otherwise, there will be 80 guys at the finish. We don’t mean to defend the polka-dot jersey or hope for Cyril to go all the way. We don’t need to show the Europcar jersey in the breaks. Our season has been good enough so far,” he said
Asked about Gautier’s ambitions, he said: “Paris-Nice was one of his first objectives. He came to gauge himself at the highest international level.”
As in previous days, young riders are leading the way. Cyril Gautier, the 2008 under-23 European champion, Romain Hardy, winner of a Tour de l’Avenir stage last year, and Blel Kadri, winner of a Route du Sud stage in 2010, all being under 25.
Km 18,5 - Pineau, Gautier, Hardy, Kadri and Veikkanen lead the peloton by three minutes.
Jussi Veikkanen is notable for having been five times Finnish road champion in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010.
Former French amateur champion Romain Mary, who retired from pro cycling in 2009, knows the finale well as he hails from the area. He told local daily Le Bien Public: “With the north wind that blows at the moment, there could be surprises. In the finale, after the Cote de Becoup, there are a few bumps which could scatter the peloton. And the narrow winding roads will make it difficult to organise a chase. I don’t see a mass sprint but a break of some twenty riders with which half a dozen guys would part to go all the way.”
Liquigas team director Stefano Zanatta told www.cyclingnews.com that Peter Sagan was not a Paris-Nice contender this season after a crash in the Classica Sarda: "After the crash on Sunday, he got five stitches on his hip. He couldn’t train and lost five days of important work, that’s why he doesn’t have the condition to win the overall classification here at Paris-Nice... but if he comes up with a stage win, it’s enough."
Km 5 - The five escapees now lead the main pack by two minutes.
There is at least one happy man on this Paris-Nice, Bradley Wiggins, who almost longs for the old days of freezing Races to the Sun: “Not sure what has happened to the old Paris-Nice? So far the weather has been great, the hotels great and the food great?” he said on his twitter page.
Km 3,5 - The gap between the five-man break and the peloton is 1:35.
Five riders broke from the gun. They are Cedric Pineau (FDJ), Jussi Veikkanen (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Romain Hardy (Bretagne Schuller), Biel Kadri (AG2R).
Involved in a crash yesterday, Frank Schleck is in pain as he pointed out on his twitter page this morning: “this morning wake up and AUTSCH that hurts, but once we started the race will be ok (i hope)”
Romain Sicard did not start this morning because of knee problems: "He felt intense pain in his right knee which forced him to retire from such a demanding race," Team Euskaltel said on their website.
The yellow jersey is still on the back of Belgium’s Thomas de Gendt (Vacansoleil), who holds a slim four-seconds lead over second stage winner Greg Henderson (Team Sky). The New Zealander took over the points classification green jersey from the Belgian and leads Australia’s Heinrich Haussler by three points. France’s Damien Gaudin (Europcar) retained the polka-dot jersey but will be threatened today in the 2nd category Cote de Becoup, 23 kms from the finish. As for the white jersey for the best under-25 rider, it now belongs to Autralia’s Matthew Goss (THR), second in yesterday’s stage to Amilly.
The start was given to 172 riders. Romain Sicard (Euskaltel) did not start.
Cosne-sur-Loire was the start of the last stage of the Tour de France in 1986. Italy’s Guido Bontempi, now a team director with Astana, won the sprint on the Champs-Elysees that day. Cosne also saw the finish of a Paris-Nice stage in 1962, won by French sprinter Jean Graczyk ahead of Raymond Poulidor.
Cote de Becoup (km 179, 2nd cat)
Cervon (km 74.5), Essey (km 156).
The weather at the start and at the finish is aboslutely splendid.
Welcome on the 202.5-kms third stage of Paris-Nice betwwen Cosne-Cours-sur-Loire and Nuits St Georges.