Sam Bennett (BORA – hansgrohe) took his second WorldTour victory of the season today when he won the sprint to take the third stage of Paris-Nice. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) and Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck – Quick Step) rounded out the podium.
The riders started in the city of Cepoy and a 200 kilometre-long parcours took them to Moulins/Yzeure. It was the first day without rain and heavy crosswinds, and it looked like everybody in the bunch was enjoying the ride after two demanding days. Therefore, it also took some time until two riders attacked from the peloton to stay at the front for most of the stage, while the main field allowed them a gap of up to four minutes.
With 39 kilometres to go, the break was caught and it looked like the peloton were prepared for a bunch sprint. However, prior to the lead up to the finale, a big crash affected the bunch. Most teams had riders caught up in the crash, so no riders forced the pace at the front allowing the riders to chase back on.
Inside the last six kilometres, Team Sky, and in particular Luke Rowe, tried really hard to force a split but despite their best efforts, the bunch regrouped for the sprint in Moulins/Yzeure.
BORA – hansgrohe hit the front late, to lead-out their sprinter Bennett, and timed it perfectly to deliver him into an optimum position. After opening his sprint early, Bennett was able to hold off the other fast men today, securing the victory ahead of Ewan and Jakobsen with Dan McLay (EF Education First) in fourth.
Dylan Groenewegen (Team Jumbo-Visma) retained the leader’s yellow jersey with a 6″ lead over Michał Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) with Luis León Sánchez (Astana Pro Team) a further 5″ down.
Sam Bennett – “I didn’t train that much in the cold this winter and therefore had some troubles the last two days. But I knew the form is there and today I felt a lot better. Of course, the stage was also easier, but there are a lot of great sprinters here in the peloton this year. Groenewegen was almost unbeatable the last two days, but today everything went perfect for me.
“The boys did a great job, they knew exactly what to do on the last kilometre and delivered me in a perfect position. I want to thank the whole BORA – hansgrohe squad, I am more than happy with this stage win. I really wanted to pay back the hard work of the guys. It was a long sprint, but I knew I could do it. It seems like Paris – Nice likes me like I like the race.”