Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad) took the third stage of Paris-Nice this afternoon after a sprint through the town of Nuits-St-Georges.
Goss outsprinted Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervelo) in second and Denis Galimzyanov (Katusha) in third after Geraint Thomas (Sky) led out round the last few hundred metres of the race.
The final stages of the race took place through winding town streets, and there was a nasty crash involving a handful of riders after Peter Sagan (Liquigas) went down on the final corner, a sharp left-hander.
Sky’s Greg Henderson, the winner of yesterday’s second stage, lost Thomas’s wheel as he moved to the front of the bunch and was squeezed out going round the final corner. He didn’t have the speed to catch Goss and co and finished in sixth position.
After yesterday’s superb lead-out for Henderson Geraint Thomas once more looked strong. He paused in the last one hundred metres and, had he not, would have been closer to Goss at the line.
A five-strong group made up of Cedric Pineau (FdJ), Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Romain Hardy (Bretagne Schuller) Blel Kadri (AG2R) and Jussi Veikkanen (Omega Pharma-Lotto) broke away early on in the stage and quickly built a lead of over four minutes.
The peloton started to chase in earnest with forty kilometers to go, and, by the time the race reached the category two Cote de Becoup climb, the lead was down to below twenty seconds.
French road race champion Thomas Voeckler bridged the gap to the lead group on the climb and led the race along with AG2R’s Kadri until it entered Nuits-St-Georges in the final five kilometres.
Today’s result sees Matt Goss take over the race’s overall lead from Thomas de Gendt. De Gendt lies four seconds behind Goss, with Heinrich Haussler in third and Henderson in fourth. Geraint Thomas represents British interests in the GC – he lies in 10th.
Haussler’s second position causes him to overtake Henderson into first place in the points competition.
Sylvain Chavanel almost lost time on the rest of the race in unfortunate circumstances. He suffered a puncture 10 kilometres from the end of the stage, and had to chase hard to catch the bunch.
Paris-Nice 2011, stage three: Cosne-Cours-sur-Loire to Nuits-St-George, 202km
1. Matt Goss (Aus) HTC-Highroad in 5-16-48
2. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo
3. Denis Galimzyanov (Rus) Katusha
4. Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar
5. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky
6. Greg Henderson (NZl) Team Sky all same time
Overall classification after stage three
1. Matt Goss (Aus) HTC-Highroad in 14-22.34
2. Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM at 2 secs
3. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo at 6 secs
4. Greg Henderson (NZl) Team Sky at 6 secs
Early escape group
Linus Gerdemann and Frank Schleck
Race leader at stage start: Thomas De Gendt
Matt Goss celebrates his win after a chaotic finish
Matt Goss takes the race lead