After two intense days of racing, the peloton opted for a change of pace at the start of the stage, and this relaxed approach to the race meant that it took over 40 kilometers for the day’s breakaway to form.
Just two riders went clear off the front of the main bunch, and they managed to extend an advantage of over five minutes before the peloton pulled them back to a more manageable three minutes 30 seconds approaching the halfway mark of the 200-kilometer long stage.
CCC Team maintained a strong position in the peloton throughout the day and, as the chase began to heat up inside 70 kilometers to go, all seven riders were working up at the front to protect Mareczko ahead of the likely bunch sprint.
30 kilometers later, the breakaway was swept up by the main bunch which continued to roll calmly towards the finish but the run in was interrupted by a crash that held up almost of half of the peloton, including five CCC Team riders.
However, the steady pace being set allowed everyone caught up to make it back into the bunch before, with five kilometers to go, an exposed section of road saw teams try to use the only crosswinds of the day to their advantage.
Despite small gaps opening up, their effort wasn’t enough to disrupt the predicted bunch sprint which was eventually won by Sam Bennett (BORA-hansgrohe).
Francisco Ventoso helped guide Mareczko through the chaos safely and their strong teamwork allowed the CCC Team’s Italian sprinter to test his legs in the fast and furious finale.
Despite being caught slightly further back when the strung-out peloton went under the flamme rouge, Mareczko was able to jump from wheel to wheel before contesting the bunch sprint against a strong field.
Quotes From the Finish Line
“After two really crazy days of racing, it was nice to have a more straightforward stage today. The nerves really started to kick in when the breakaway was caught and even though the pace wasn’t too high, I think that’s why we saw the crash happen.”
“I was looked after really well by the guys today and in the final, I was sat in the wheel of Fran. In the crosswinds section, we were caught out but we stayed calm and worked together. Luckily, the race came back together with around two kilometers to go but going under the flamme rouge, the peloton was strung out in single file and I was just too far back.”
“I tried my best and I was able to make my way up to the front and into the action. I think I had the legs I needed today so, if I was in a better position when the sprint was launched, I think I would have finished higher up the rankings. It’s been a hard couple of days and a pity that I couldn’t do more but I can definitely learn and grow from this.”
Paris – Nice
Stage 3: Cepoy > Moulins / Yzeure (200km)
Top 3: 1. Sam Bennett (BORA-hansgrohe) 2. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) 3. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck – Quick-Step)
CCC Team Top 3: 12. Jakub Mareczko 53. Francisco Ventoso 78. Víctor de la Parte