The 168-km third stage of Paris-Nice between Cusset and Mont Brouilly was cancelled today after snow forced organisers to halt the race at kilometer 97. The race was on the third climb of the day, the Col des Echarmeaux, when it was judged to be too dangerous to go ahead.
Five riders – Alexis Gougeard (AG2R), Alexy Lutsenko (Astana), Laurent Didier (Trek Segafredo), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) and Jesus Herrada (Movistar) – were leading the main pack by 3:30 when the race jury decided to call it a day.
Conditions deteriorated on the course as the race progressed with snowfall increasing. Following on from a heavy crash by France’s Alexis Vuillermoz (AG2R) at kilometer 80 which forced him out of the race, the organisers decided to stop the stage.
It was initially decided to try and restart the race further down the road in Villié-Morgon but it proved impossible.
“The road was extremely slippery and the safety was no longer guaranteed. We are sorry. That’s Paris-Nice. We promise we’ll come back to Mont-Brouilly. It’s a pity but the riders will start again tomorrow from Julienas,” said ASO cycling director Christian Prudhomme.
Michael Matthews (Orica Greenedge) will start the 195.5-kms fourth stage with an unchanged lead of 14 seconds over Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Giant Alpecin).