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A quiet day in Paris-Nice

Sometimes bicycle racing is like this: teams that do all of the work come away empty-handed.

Photos: James Startt

Sometimes bicycle racing is like this: teams that do all of the work come away empty-handed.

And that’s what happed on stage three of the 2020 Paris-Nice race when Spaniard Ivan Garcia Cortina topped the pack in a field sprint after the Deceuninck-Quickstep, and Sunweb squads did the lion’s share of the work to control the race in the final kilometers to set up their sprinters.

A crash in the last 300 meters took out Deceuninck’s Sam Bennett as well as Lotto-Soudal’s Caleb Ewan, just as the sprinters launched their final push to the line.

Amidst the chaos it was Garcia Cortina who fared best, edging out a certain Peter Sagan.

Aside from the hectic finale, stage 3 was by far the most predictable. After two days sliced by the wind and swamped by the rain, this year’s Paris-Nice peloton appeared content to allow the sprinters have their say. That is not to say there was no wind and rain. There was plenty.

The stiff headwind discouraged the echelons, and characterized the opening stages that were splintered in the crosswinds.

Meanwhile, the race rolled through the Loire River Valley as it made its way into central France, passing through countless towns and villages seemingly lost in time. But that is not to say that they were devoid of fans, as local families came out to cheer the riders along despite the dismal conditions.

And for race leader Maximilian Schachmann, stage three was about as routine as he could hope for, as his Bora-Hansgrohe team rode a steady tempo and kept the German at the front throughout the 212-kilometer stage that lasted more than six hours.