Australia’s Matthew Goss (HTC-Highroad) continued his fine form this season to win the 202.5-kms third stage of Paris-Nice in a crash-ridden mass sprint in Nuits-St Georges and seize the reins of the Race to the Sun.Burgundy wine, so famous in the finish town, is known to age well but it is another young rider who took over in blazing sunshine, the Tasmanian rider being 24, just like Thomas de Gendt, the yellow jersey at the start.Goss, revealed by wins in the Tour Down Under and the Tour of Oman, surged in the finale to beat compatriot Heinrich Hausssler and Russia’s Denis Galimzyanov, third for the second day in succession.De Gendt is still second overall, two seconds adrift. A spectacular crash took place in the last corner, involving among others Slovakia’s Peter Sagan (Liquigas).
Five man break
The start was given at 12:13 to 172 riders. France’s Romain Sicard did not start to protect an ailing knee. Five riders broke from the gun: Frenchmen Cedric Pineau (FDJ), Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Romain Hardy (Bretagne Schuller) and Blel Kadri (AG2R) along with Finnish champion Jussi Veikkanen (Omega Pharma-Lotto). Their lead topped at 3:05 at Km 18,5 and like in yesterday’s second stage the gap went up and down as the peloton played hide and seek with the escapees.
The most notable fact early in the stage was the withdrawal of Italy’s Simone Ponzi (Liquigas).The first sprint of the day in Cervon (km 74.5) was won by Pineau ahead of Gautier and Hardy.
The pace for the first three hours of the stage was relatively slow in spite of the mild and sunny weather with an average speed at only 35.3 kph but it picked up a bit afterwards, as the gap settled around three minutes.
The second sprint in Essey (km 156) was taken by Gautier, ahead of Pineau and Kadri.
The gap fell under the minute as the race tackled the Becoup climb (2nd cat, km 179). The Vacansoleil controlled the peloton for most of the ascent while up front, several attempts by Veikkanen were reined in. But the Finnish champion insisted, to reach the top in the lead and clinch the best climber’s polka-dot jersey.At kilometre 181, Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) surged and overtook the escapees to the exception of Kadri, who went on with the French champion. The two took a maximum lead of 20 seconds and held the peloton at bay for 15 kms before being caught with five kilometres to go. The stage was set for another mass sprint and it took place, but not exactly as planned. Some riders overlooked the winding finale with a sharp corner before the last stretch and several riders found themselves on the canvas, including Peter Sagan (Liquigas) and Yoann Offredo (FDJ). The pile-up disrupted the sprint but Goss took the upper hand, narrowly beating Haussler, who strengthened his green jersey.
It’s terrific. Yesterday it was close, today I had a good run. It was unfortunate that there was a fall but to me it was perfect. To get a stage for the team was the number one goal. The jersey is a bonus. There were tight corners in the finale and I was a little far back in the chicane but in the end I had a good run. The crash disrupted the sprint a little bit but it was alright for me.
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.
Every morning before the start, Bernard Hinault gives his views on the day’s stage and the riders to watch.
Yesterday, the attacks were unfruitful in spite of the possibilities. Team Sky really did try but not hard enough to create a real break. As a result it’s the status quo and we don’t have many more clues about the real contenders. I just noticed that Peter Sagan has not yet won while he was exceptional in the Tour of Sardinia. I’m really curious to see how he does and how well he fares in the time-trial in Aix-en-Provence.