Jonas Vingegaard’s Jumbo Visma opted for tradition and team effort to clinch the 32.2-km team time trial stage 3 of Paris-Nice and nearly handed perfect team-mate Nathan van Hooydonck the race’s yellow jersey.
But the Dutchman was finally beaten for the yellow jersey by Vingegaard’s compatriot Magnus Cort (EF Education-Easy Post), who crossed the line only one second slower than the Dutch outfit to snatch the overall lead by the slightest margin.
Michael Matthews (Jayco Alula) is now third overall, a further second adrift. Denmark is everywhere with the yellow jersey on Cort’s back while Mads Pedersen holds the green jersey and Jonas Gregaard the polka-dot.
While most teams decided to use the new format of the stage to drop riders along the way and leave just one strong man lead out their leader in the last kilometre, Jumbo Visma kept four riders until the line to set a fastest time of 33 minutes and 55 seconds, at an average speed of 57 kph.
They beat EF Education by one second while pacesetters Jayco Alula were four seconds adrift. Groupama-FDJ were a surprising fourth, 14 seconds adrift.
The Lotto Dstny team, last in the team classification of this Paris-Nice, opened the ball of this team time trial, the first on the Race to the Sun since 1993 at 14:57. They crossed the line first in 34:58, setting the tone for the rest of the field.
At the first intermediate mark, Jayco Alula were the first under 17 minutes in 16:53. The Australian team opted to stay together and reach the last kilometre with four riders before leading out Simon Yates and Michael Matthews to narrowly beat the 34 minutes bar in 33:59.
The mark long proved unbeatable, as teams were attempting diverse tactics to place their leaders in the best possible position. Most decided to leave their strongest specialist in the last kilometre to trail their leader towards the line. It was the case for Tadej Pogacar, led out by Mikkel Bjerg before surging on his own for the final sprint.
The approach was slightly different for France’s David Gaudu, who stayed in the slipstream of former Euorpean champion Stefan Kung until the line: it paid off as the Frenchman only lost ten seconds on Yates and Matthews and was even nine seconds faster than Pogacar.
Jumbo Visma by contrast opted to race like in a traditional team time trial, as there were still four of them in the last kilometre. With specialists like Rohan Dennis, Tobias Foss, Jan Tratnik, Nathan van Hoodyonck and Jonas Vingegaard, it proved the right decision and allowed the reigning Tour de France champion to take crucial time over his rivals, and especially Pogacar, who now trails him by 11 seconds overall.
Magnus Cort and EF also acted differently, the Dane going solo to try and snatch the yellow jersey. It worked perfectly. – www.paris-nice.fr