©A.S.O. / Fabien Boukla

Ivan Garcia Cortina (Bahrain-McLaren) took a revenge of sorts when he won the 212.5-km third stage of Paris-Nice after a long, rainy and windy day between Chalette-sur-Loing and La Chatre on Tuesday. The 24-year-old Spaniard, who finished second behind Dylan Groenewegen in a bunch sprint in Bellegarde a year ago, raised his arms this time, even beating Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) on the line as the Slovak was going for a repeat of his first stage win on the Race to the Sun, exactly ten years ago. Third place went to Italy’s Andrea Pasqualon (Circus-Wanty Gobert) while some of the strongest sprinters failed to defend their chances, especially Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick Step), who crashed with 500 m to go, and Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe), who suffered a mechanical.

A long day for Devriendt
The real start was given at 11:23 to all 133 riders left in the race in cloudy, rainy conditions. At kilometre 4, Belgium’s Tom Devriendt (Circus Wanty Gobert) went on his own and the peloton did not budge. At the first intermediate sprint, the Belgian had a 3:20 lead over stage 2 winner Giacomo Nizzolo, who picked two points for the green jersey, and the rest of the peloton. Devriendt’s lead increased steadily and reached a maximum of 9:15 at kilometer 38. The pack, led by Bora-Hansgrohe riders, maintained a steady gap of around seven minutes until the first climb of the day.

Hivert takes KOM points
On Cote de la Chapelotte (km 88), polka-dot jersey leader Jonathan Hivert collected two more points to bring his KOM tally to 22, while Jose Manuel Diaz (Nippo-Delko Provence) is now on seven. As the direction of the wind changed (km 131), the peloton split after an acceleration at the front of the bunch and some 20 riders found themselves trapped at the back, including green jersey Giacomo Nizzolo and polka-dot jersey Jonathan Hivert. While the bunch regrouped, Devriendt’s lead started to dwindle, especially as the Belgian was halted briefly by a level crossing at kilometer 140.

Devriendt reeled in
Deceuninck-Quick Step, Team Sunweb and Bahrain-McLaren led the way for most of the finale, maintaining a steady pace which finally proved too high for Devriendt, reeled in with 25 km to go after spending182 km in the front. The second intermediate sprint in St. Aout, 19 km from the finish, went to world champion Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) ahead of Kasper Asgreen and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step), who maintained a high tempo after the line, splitting the pack. The sprinters teams took turns to lead the pack, setting up the sprint finish. With 5 km to go, a crash in the peloton involved Bryan Coquard, who had just changed bikes with Cyril Gautier after a mechanical.

Garcia upets Sagan
Germany’s Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hasngrohe) also found himself out of contention for the sprint because of a mechanical 4 km from the line. The stage was set for the first bunch sprint of this edition and what a surprising one it was! As Bennett hit the canvas, Ivan Garcia Cortina boldly went for it, quickly overtaking Sagan to clinch his best victory to date after the stage he won in California last year. Germany’s Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) retained his overall lead ahead of stage 2 winner Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT Pro Cycling) and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo)

Stage Classification

1. Ivan Garcia Cortina (Bahrain – McLaren) in 5h49’55’’

2. Peter Sagan (Bora – Hansgrohe) s.t.

3. Andrea Pasqualon (Circus-Wanty Gobert) s.t.

General Classification

1. Maximilian Schachmann (Bora – Hansgrohe)

2. Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT Pro Cycling Team) at 13’’

3. Jasper Stuyven (Trek – Segafredo) at 21’’

Next up: 4th stage: Saint-Amand-Montrond – Saint-Amand-Montrond (Individual time trial)