Paris-Nice stage three cancelled due to adverse weather conditionsWed 9 Mar 2016
Stage three of the WorldTour race Paris-Nice has been cancelled today after 100km of racing due to adverse weather conditions. Consequently yesterday's stage winner Michael Matthews will start tomorrow's stage four with an unchanged lead of 14seconds.
The 168km stage from Cusset to Mont Brouilly was initially neutralised and cancelled soon after due to heavy snow fall, which created conditions deemed too dangerous for the race to continue.
"It's something we cannot change, the weather was too bad, we could not race any longer," explained sport director Laurenzo Lapage. "It was too dangerous with the snow. You could not go downhill, even with the car it was dangerous."
"We were confident about the stage today but with these conditions we have to just accept it. The overall from this morning will stay the same, so we will start again tomorrow with stage four."
ASO cycling director Christian Prudhomme explained the decision for the cancellation of the stage.
"The road was extremely slippery and the safety was no longer guaranteed," Mr Prudhomme said. "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."
How it happened:
It was a cold, rainy day at the start in Cusset as the riders rolled out to take on a hard, hilly 168km stage. The low temperatures didn't deter the riders and within the first 12km of racing a small group successfully escaped including ORICA-GreenEDGE rider Simon Yates.
The group of 14 riders lifted the pace as the peloton stalled behind and they were able to force their advantage to over four minutes in the early kilometres of stage three. Two riders hot on their tails eventually rode up to the breakaway, creating a group of 16.
The conditions began to deteriorate as the race went on and the snow began to fall. The gap to the escapees plummeted down to one-minute 25seconds after 50km of racing.
25kilometres later as the riders headed over the category three climb Col des Echarmeaux, five riders Alexis Gougeard (AG2R), Alexy Lutsenko (Astana), Laurent Didier (Trek Segafredo), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) and Jesus Herrada (Movistar) went away from the remaining breakaway and rapidly grew their advantage to three minutes 30seconds over the peloton.
As the snow covered the entire road a decision was finally made by the race jury and ASO after 100km of racing to neutralise the race. All riders were advised to continue by car for the next 25 kilometres until a final decision to cancel the stage was confirmed.
The points collected in the only intermediate sprint and the first two climbs of the day will be taken into tomorrow's stage. Current race leader Matthews will retain his lead of 14seconds over Tom Dumoulin (Team Giant-Alpecin) heading into stage four.
Paris-Nice General Classification after stage three:
1. Michael Matthews (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 9:41:46
2. Tom Dumoulin (Team Giant-Alpecin) +0:14
3. Patrick Bevin (Cannondale Pro Cycling) +0:19