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ODENAS, France (VN) — Snow and cold forced organizers to cancel Wednesday’s third stage at Paris-Nice. Conditions worsened midway through the seven-climb stage, prompting officials to neutralize, and then cancel the stage.
“The road was very slippery and safe conditions could not be assured,” the ASO’s Christian Prudhomme said, explaining the decision to first neutralize and then cancel the stage. Road conditions worsened as the course climbed the Cote des Écharmeaux at 714m (2,343 feet), a little more than halfway through the lumpy, 168km third stage from Cusset to Mont Brouilly.
Officials stopped the race, and authorized riders to get into team vehicles to link back up with the race at Villié-Morgon, a new starting point with 42.5km to go. Snow continued to pound the roads across France’s Beaujolais wine country, and so, officials decided to cancel the stage.
Rain and cold welcomed the peloton at the start, reviving the debate about course safety and the extreme weather protocol. “I can only so far confirm that [CPA representative] Pascal Chanteur did have a meeting this morning as part of the EWP [extreme weather protocol],” said Michael Carcaise, executive director of the Association of North American Professional Road Cyclists (ANAPRC).
It was the third time a stage of Paris-Nice has been cancelled in the last 25 years. The fourth stage of the 2004 race, between Roanne and Le Puy-en-Velay, was cancelled due to snow, and in 1995 riders started a stage in Clermont-Ferrand Chalvignac, rode 100 kilometers, and then had to get in team cars due to snow drifts. The race has amended stages multiple times, altering three stages in 2005 due to snow, and postponing a start in Amilly in 2008 due to wind and hail.
Paris-Nice will resume Thursday with the 195.5km stage 4 from Julienas to Romans-sur-Isere. Forecasters are calling for more cold and wet weather, but the course heads further south and remains at relatively low elevation, so it’s unlikely to be impacted by snow.