The heavy back roads of the Var left no impression on the overall classification of Paris-Nice on Friday, which means that no less than 15 riders were poised within one minute of the race leader Peter Van Petegem (Mercury-Viatel) going into Saturday's vital time trial to the Col d'Eze.
The stage into Saint Raphael did however provide a welcome respite for the new Belgian team Domo, under pressure since they failed to show at Het Volk two weeks ago.
Their Pole Piotr Wadecki spent 115 of the 150 miles in front with Bonjour's Francois Simon and Matteo Tosatto of Fassa Bortolo, disposed of the
Rabobank’s Markus Zberg won a hotly contested sprint finish on Friday, while Russian Dmitri Konyshev (Fassa Bortolo) took over the race lead at Tirreno-Adriatico.
Friday’s 156km third stage went from Benevento to Castelpetroso as the race continued its eastward journey across southern Italy toward the Adriatic coast. The day saw plenty of breakaway attempts, including Roberto Petito (Fassa Bortolo), Davide Rebellin (Liquigas) and Sergio Barbero (Lampre-Daikin), who were caught within sight of the 1km-to-go banner.
That set up the furious finish, in which Zberg came off of Konyshev’s wheel