Degenkolb Wins Stage 3 of Paris-Nice, Takes Yellow Jersey
John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) has taken the lead in Paris-Nice. Degenkolb took a bunch sprint at the end of Stage 3, a flat, 180-km run from Toucy to Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours, winning in 4:27:26. Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) finished second, and Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Movistar) finished third.
As was the case in the first two stages, the bunch spent much of the day chasing an early break. Today’s attackers were Perrig Quemeneur (Europcar), Julien Fouchard (Cofidis), and Romain Feillu (Bretagne-Seche Environnement). The trio bolted from the peloton, but the bunch kept them on a short leash. Their lead maxed out at a little more than three minutes before FDJ.fr began riding tempo. Eventually, Astana, Sky, and Movistar joined the French squad in snuffing out the break.
With 11 km left, the field was within one minute of the break. Quemeneur set out on his own, and the bunch scooped up his erstwhile companions. With 4.5 km left, the doughty Frenchman led the peloton by 0:30. With all of the sprinters’ teams pursuing him, Quemeneur had no chance. The bunch reeled him in with two km remaining. Giant-Shimano led the field into the final km, and Degenkolb, who finished second in the race’s first two stages, went one place better today.
Degenkolb said that part of his and the team’s success revolved around keeping cool and conserving energy. “That was unbelievable, everything worked out perfectly today,” he said. “We tried twice already on the first two stages but each time it didn’t quite work out, but today it was spot on.
“We kept our nerve in the last few kilometres, taking control on the race circuit,” the German continued. “We weren’t worried that the race wouldn’t come back together so we waited until the final few kilometres to hit it hard.
“I’m really happy that I can finally thank my teammates with this win after giving me complete support over the past few days.”
In the overall, Degenkolb leads Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) by 0:08 and Moreno Hofland (Belkin) by 0:12. Stage 3 could produce a change in the standings. The 201-km ride from Nevers to Belleville will feature three Category 3 climbs and one Category 2 ascent in the last 65 km. The stage is tailor-made for an escape. Will that escape be enough to take the yellow jersey from Degenkolb? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!