• Rúben Silva

Paris - Nice Stage 3 Preview

It was another dramatic day in the plains of central France as the winds swept through the peloton once again. It was a full-on exciting half an hour of racing, with several splits occuring and even inbetween the front of the race, some riders gained big time whilst others lost, in the end a small group made it to the line and Giacomo Nizzolo took a strong win in front of Pascal Ackermann and Jasper Stuyven.

Positive: Nizzolo with another big win keeps NTT's season on a very high level. Higuita massive performance in the wind, he's the nº1 contender for the overall win in my opinion after today. Nibali, Grossschartner and Schachmann also making big moves today again.

Negative: Quintana, bad bad luck, crashed, managed to save his race by only loosing 1:25, it could've honestly been much worst, but fight for the win is pretty much impossible. Alaphillipe arrived with him, loosing GC hopes today aswell, Asgreen also lost time, Guillaume Martin lost further time and is out of overall contention pretty much as Richie Porte. Pello Bilbao is another rider who lost big today.

The Route

Stage 3 is a bit of a mix between the latter two, there's a little hilly part to the stage and it's far from pan-flat, but should be a clear affair for the sprinters one more time.

The finish in La Chatre is rather difficult with a big drag to the line setting things up for some of the more punchy riders to settle in the middle. It will be an interesting finish and should be to the likings of many riders.

The Weather

WIND!!!! But tomorrow it may be more gentle, the wind is just as strong as we've been seeing it but coming from the southwest. But there is indeed possibility of new damage inflicted, note these numbers, right after the last IS with 19Km to go there is an important turn that will lead to crosswind and the other with a little less than 7.5Km to go. Both roads are exposed, both with exponential crosswinds and likely echelons. Tensions will be very high once again, crashes possible again.

The Favourites

It is another day for the sprinter for sure but it's a little more complicated finish, so it will depend on the possible damage done in the final kilometers.

In case there isn't it should be for the fast men, but in reality it is the exact same thing as today. They have to get over the possible echelons, there's just no excuse as it's a relentless situation. Some riders have done poorly, I put my confidence in Ewan today but he clearly was not on it again, so as it's likely to happen again tomorrow I'm not putting confidence in Lotto despite having quite a strong squad for these situations. Israel were really strong today but had the bad luck of Barbier crashing, he may not be at his best tomorrow but both Pollit and Wurtz have a lot of power for such a finish, they must be considered and Hugo Hofstetter is also a very proper choice if he's there. San Bennett in the same situation, Deceuninck failed today which isn't usual and it's actually pretty shocking with the immensely strong team they have. Either ways Sam Bennett is strong enough to sprint to a win there, Alaphillipe and Stybar are strong enough for a punchy sprint and Asgreen the same but also for a late power move. There's Sunweb, largely absent today but omnipresent sunday, Cees Bol will be on the lookout and Michael Matthews will also find a fitting finish.

On the positive side there's Bora, they raced better than any other team until now and it's not just the power. With Sagan and Ackermann they can definetely take the stage, and the form Max Schachmann is riding there is definetely a chance he'll try something again. There is Trek and Jasper Stuyven like today should really fancy a rough finish he's clearly in flying form, NTT have gotten what they were looking for but no doubt they can repeat, tomorrow's finish is even more suited to Nizzolo and he's clearly riding at his best this season, Max Walscheid too proved very good today and could prove better tomorrow. Elia Viviani did better today but still needs his team with him, which hasn't happened much.

Andrea Pasqualon and Nacer Bouhanni are further wildcards who should like tomorrow's finish, but the real challenge is making it to the finale in good position.

Prediction Time

Ackermann, Nizzolo, Bol Viviani, Sagan, Ewan, Schachmann Stuyven, Matthews, Barbier, Pollit, S.Bennett

My call is for Cees Bol to win tomorrow. Sunweb missed the move today but that won't happen tomorrow, Sunweb is really strong in these conditions and Bol is strong enough to deal with those gradients and outsprint anyone.

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