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What You Didn’t See at Paris-Nice

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Mar 11, 2015 — Our man on the ground at Paris-Nice, Kåre Dehlie Thorstad, took out his camera for the third stage, which saw Michael Matthews of Orica Greenedge sprint to the win in a winding final 200 meters. Kåre will be at the Paris-Nice all week, keeping us up to date and eye to eye with the riders. Be sure to check out stage 4, which features a real battle for the GC.

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Click Here for the Full Story and to see Matthews sprint to victory in the final kilometers, and Click Here for updates on the Tirreno-Adriatico, where you can watch Peter Sagan nearly bite the pavement. Below is a quick snapshot of what happened in today’s stage.

Gilbert tests his legs
The break of the day took shape after nine kilometres when Philippe Gilbert (BMC) and Florian Vachon (BSE) joined forces. The 2012 world champion, a contender for the KOM jersey, and the daily escapee from Bretagne-Seche, were temporarily chased by Antoine Duchesne (EUC) and Bradley Wiggins (SKY), who were later reined in. While Vachon collected the bonus on the first intermediate sprint of the day, Gilbert was first at the top of the 3rd category Cote de la Croix du Chene (km 53.5), ahead of Vachon and polka-dot jersey holder Jonathan Hivert (BSE).

Voeckler joins in
With conflicting interests, Gilbert and Vachon failed to cooperate fully and the bunch came back from 5:20 at best (km 30) to within a minute of the two until Thomas Voeckler (EUC) decided to chase behind them. The Frenchman caught up with the pair at kilometre 74 and the gap increased again to reach 5:15 at the foot of Col de la Bosse (Km 97). Gilbert did not miss his chance to secure the polka-dot jersey by adding four points to his tally. The last climb of the day, Cote de Vicq (km 117.5) confirmed the trend.

Bardet tries
The last 50 kms of the stage saw the trio’s lead regularly melt down and was down to 30 seconds when they crossed the line for the first time (km 159.5). Vachon picked the three seconds on offer in the second intermediate sprint while Gilbert eased off and let himself back in the bunch. As Vachon and Voeckler lay the arms with 9 kilometres to go, AG2R’s Jan Bakelants and Romain Bardet attacked on the heels of Paolo Tiralongo (AST). This last ditch attempt was quashed with two kilometers to go when the sprinters trains started to take shape.

Orica-Greenedge seize the reins
At this game, Orica-Greenedge outclassed the rest of the field. They led the way for the whole finale, placing Michael Matthews ideally in the last turn, when the final hill receded into the last stretch. The other usual suspects were nowhere to be seen. Team Giant Alpecin were unable to place John Degenkolb in contention and only Alexander Kristoff (KAT) salvaged a few more points for his green jersey by finishing fourth. Matthews, the 2010 under-23 world champion, now added yellow to to his jersey collection after holding the Giro’s and Vuelta’s pink and red garments in recent years.