Jumbo-Visma Wins Stage 3 Team Time Trial at Paris-Nice
Today’s stage 3 of Paris-Nice 2023 was a team time trial. The route of the stage was designed as a 32.2-kilometer round trip from Dampierre-en-Burly to Dampierre-en-Burly. Race organizer A.S.O. had admirably arranged for the team time trial to be conducted in a brand-new format, hoping the new format would deliver even more exciting racing for spectators and force participating teams into making new tactical considerations and decisions.
Instead of the traditional team time trial format, where the time of the fourth or fifth rider across the finish line counts, the new format saw the organizers count the time of the first rider to reach the finish.
The teams could pick a leader and have all other teammates ride in support of this rider and launch him in a final sprint to the finish. The leader would gain an even greater time advantage and not depend on three or four other teammates being able to follow him. On the other hand, teammates who rode all-out for their leader would register bigger time losses.
Bigger time losses for lieutenants could offer improved opportunities for them to be allowed to take part in breakaways in later stages, which could make breakaways more interesting to watch for spectators and give lieutenants better opportunities to fight for stage wins, instead of always having to prioritize their team captain. The time gains for the team leaders would put more pressure on the leader to perform well in the rest of the race and avoid crashes and illness.
The new TTT format proved very interesting and ought to be adapted by race organizers for team time trials in some future races, while also preserving the standard format in other races. Here at Roadcycling.com we encourage team sports directors and team management from various professional cycling teams to further explore the tactical and strategic opportunities presented by this new format.
Today’s team time trial was won by Team Jumbo-Visma, which instead of having team captain Jonas Vingegaard contest the final kilometers alone as intended by race organizers, chose to order teammates Jan Tratnik and Nathan Van Hooydonck to stay with their leader until the finish.
General classification favorite Tadej Pogacar and his UAE Team Emirates outfit made good use of the new TTT format and Pogacar was launched in a powerful solo sprint to the finish line to the sound of great applause from thrilled and cheering spectators along the route. Pogacar’s team showed great respect for the race organizers by respecting the intended format of the team time trial. Pogacar is 14th in the general classification following today’s stage, 11 seconds behind Vingegaard and has made good use of the intermediate sprints in stage 1 and 2 to secure 12 valuable bonification seconds.
Runner-up in today’s team time trial was EF Education-EasyPost. The team delivered a very effective and homogenous performance in the stage, finishing just 1.4 seconds behind the winners, and Magnus Cort sprinted across the finish line to take the general classification lead and yellow jersey from fellow Dane Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo). Cort’s teammate and GC captain Neilson Powless crossed the finish line four seconds after Cort and is now seventh in the overall standings.
“I am extremely happy,” Cort explained after being celebrated on the podium as new leader of Paris-Nice 2023. “You know, you can’t expect to take yellow, but we were dreaming big today. We had a really strong team for this team time trial, so it is not completely unexpected.”
“The TTT is always a difficult discipline,” Cort continued. “I quite like the course here. It is not very technical, but there were still some rolling hills, so it was not completely flat. It was all about catching the speed and sitting there doing good turns, and also having some good recoveries in the wheels for your next turn.”
"It’s always a bit frustrating, when you are so close to winning, but you don’t get it, especially in a team time trial. We still get something out of it with this yellow jersey, but really it is the whole team who did the job. I am just one piece of the whole puzzle here. We all rode well. Otherwise, you can't do a good team time trial like we did."
Cort told Roadcycling.com his EF Education-EasyPost had been aiming for success in today’s team time trial for a long time and had specifically prepared for the race with the goal of taking the victory. Cort said it was the intended plan for the whole team to work for Neilson Powless, Stefan Bissegger and himself in the team time trial and help the trio finish as fast as possible.
Vingegaard thanked his teammates for their performance and support in the team time trial. He said he was looking forward to the mountain stages and while his team was happy with the team time trial victory, they were slightly disappointed to not have managed to take more time on general classification rival Tadej Pogacar.
Wednesday’s stage 4 of Paris-Nice 2023 is the first mountain stage of this year’s race. The stage will take the peloton southeast on a 164.7-kilometer trip from Saint-Amand-Montrond to La Loge des Gardes. The stage will conclude with a 6.8-kilometer category 1 climb posing an average gradient of 7 percent.
Stay tuned to Roadcycling.com for further coverage from Paris-Nice 2023.