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"We were confident about the stage today but with these conditions we have to just accept it. The overall from this morning will stay the same, so we will start again tomorrow with stage four."

Photo:ANSA / DAL ZENNARO - PERI

AG2R LA MONDIALE

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ALBERTO CONTADOR

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ALEXEY LUTSENKO

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ALEXIS VUILLERMOZ

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DIMENSION DATA

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GROUPAMA-FDJ

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ION IZAGIRRE

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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LAURENT DIDIER

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LOTTO SOUDAL

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MICHAEL MATTHEWS

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MITCHELTON-SCOTT

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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PARIS - NICE

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PIERRICK FEDRIGO

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SERGE PAUWELS

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SVEN ERIK BYSTRØM

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TEAM JUMBO-VISMA

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TEAM SUNWEB

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THOMAS DE GENDT

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TREK - SEGAFREDO

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09.03.2016 @ 23:39 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

One of the most anticipated stages of this year’s Paris-Nice was cancelled due to heavy snow as the riders were unable to complete the 168km route to the top of the Mont Brouilly. After 97km of racing nd with a five-rider breakaway up the road, the organizers threw in the towel and after a brief neutralization, the decision was taken to call off the race. Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) retains the lead.

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

Orica-GreenEDGE: We were confident that Matthews would have done well

Stage three of the WorldTour race Paris-Nice has been cancelled today after 100km of racing. Consequently yesterday's stage winner Michael Matthews will start tomorrow's stage four with an unchanged lead of 14seconds.

 

The 168km stage from Cusset to Mont Brouilly was initially neutralised and then cancelled soon after due heavy snow fall, which created conditions deeming too dangerous for the race to continue.

 

"It's something we cannot change, the weather was too bad, we could not race any longer," explained sport director Laurenzo Lapage. "It was too dangerous with the snow you could not go downhill, even with the car it was dangerous

 

"We were confident about the stage today but with these conditions we have to just accept it. The overall from this morning will stay the same, so we will start again tomorrow with stage four."

 

Team Giant-Alpecin: The riders were relieved that the stage was cancelled

Team Giant-Alpecin coach Aike Visbeek said:

 

“For the race we missed the first break but the team responded very quickly and Roy managed to join the breakaway group.

 

”The decision to cancel the race was a good one. It was very cold and the road was too slippery with a lot of snow and ice. The riders were relieved with the decision.

 

“I hope the spectators understand the decision and the team agreed with the organizers decision.”

 

Ion Izagirre defends mountains jersey on cancelled stage at Paris-Nic

Paris-Nice was forced to stop and ultimately cancel its third stage, 168km from Cusset to the Mont Brouilly, due to bad weather also affecting Day One to Vendôme.

 

Snow on the highest climbs of the race forced a break originally formed by 16 riders to stop, later reduced to five that included Jesús Herrada, which held a 3'30" gap at the point the race was neutralized. As the riders were initially moved by car to Villié-Morgon, the race organisers and the Jury later decided the race would not be resumed.

 

Ion Izagirre remains 4th overall and leader of the KOM standings, only classification together with the points competation that was updated today, as times were annulled as a result of the cancellation. The Basque allrounder and his team-mates will try to get back into racing on Thursday during stage four, a flatter 195.5km journey between Juliénas and Romans-sur-Isère with just three minor rated climbs along the way.

 

Team Sky: Our riders never complained about the tough conditions

Wintry conditions caused the cancellation of stage three at Paris-Nice on safety grounds.

 

The peloton completed 93 of the day's proposed 168 kilometres before climbing off at the feedzone at the top of the Col des Echarmeaux as snow covered the road.

 

Initially riders were set to be transferred by team car to kilometre 125 in Villie-Morgon to see whether a new start could be attempted - but with undulating terrain and difficult conditions persisting, the decision was made to cancel the stage for the day.

 

Earlier Ben Swift had pushed his way into a breakaway group that swelled to 16 riders on the road out of Cusset.

 

The gap spun out over four and a half minutes but the peloton regrouped, with Orica-GreenEdge helping to reel the move back in on behalf of leader Michael Matthews.

 

A new group of five riders then moved ahead but saw an advantage of 3:30 wiped out as the race was cancelled on the snow covered Col, on a day that saw the temperature hit minus-five degrees.

 

The end result was a general classification that went unchanged, with Geraint Thomas remaining fifth overall, 19 seconds off leader Matthews.

 

Speaking from the warmth of the team car Sport Director Nicolas Portal was happy with the decision to halt the race, but praised the effort of the team in tough conditions.

 

"The first decision was to stop the race and then have the riders go by car to kilometre 125 and race again," he explained. "I think a lot of people saw that and said it was not possible. The riders would not really be able to get warm and they would be wet in their clothing. The buses were at the finish and eventually the decision was to cancel the race. In this case I think it was the best decision.

 

"The guys did really well today. Despite everything they were ready to race. We never had any complaints about the snow or the conditions. They were really on it which is great to is.

 

"Earlier we had Swifty in the break. The plan was to move if we saw all the big teams doing the same. Swifty did perfectly to follow and jump on the break. Two groups of seven guys went and he was able to make his way into the second one. That was really smart because it meant we didn't need to push to close the gap. It meant we could sit in. The start of the stage was super fast. From kilometre zero the peloton were lined out.

 

 

"Tomorrow it should be sunny again and probably a tailwind all the way to the finish. We have teams like Quick-Step and Kittel who missed the sprint yesterday and Bouhanni who will also want to make a sprint. We're expecting a bunch sprint tomorrow which is good for us."

 

Astana: It would have been fair to give the stage win to the rider who won the final KOM sprint

“I think it would have been fairer to award  the victory to the first rider to cross the GPM where the stage was stopped,” said the General Manager of the Astana Pro Team Dmitriy Fofonov once back at the hotel.

 

“We spoke with the race directors before the start and everyone knew the situation wasn’t easy with much snow on the course. Then the organizers asked to the riders to try to start the race while they were monitoring the situation.

 

“Once started, every one in the bunch tried to escape and the speed was high: all the riders raced hard and honored the race and the organizers. Lutsenko, who was in really good shape joined the escape and he seemed pretty confident to do well even in today’s difficult conditions. Then, suddenly, the race jury interrupted the race, without giving anyone the stage victory. Well, I think that in honour of the efforts made by the athletes, it would have been fairer to fix the finish line on the top of the climb, where the race was stopped, and award the victory and the time bonuses to the winner. This at least is our point of view.

 

“Anyway, we respect the race jury decision and I believe the important thing is that no one crashed, all the riders are safe at the hotel and tomorrow there will be a new stage where we will do our best,” concluded Fofonov.

 

Tinkoff: We could still have done the final climb

On the day the race was to enter the mountains, Paris-Nice’s climbers were unable to make their mark with stage 3 cancelled after 93km due to severe weather conditions. The stage was beset by snow and rain, but on a day that showed early promise for Tinkoff riders, safety of the riders was paramount.

 

With the flat roads of stages 1 and 2 behind them, the climbers finally had a chance to shine in the first mountain stage. This was not to be, however, after the weather conditions that had featured so strongly in the earlier stages of the race led to the cancellation of the stage after 93km of the stage completed.

 

Sport Director, Steven De Jongh, had hoped for a better outcome. “It’s disappointing. Yesterday when we looked at the forecast and that you go up to this height you can expect some bad weather but we had been looking forward to today’s stage.”

 

With Yuri Trofimov making it into the day's early break of 14 riders, the stage was taking shape for Tinkoff, one that had been ear-marked as the first opportunity for Alberto Contador to make his mark. As the race approached the 100km point however, and snow fell at the stage’s finish at Mont Brouilly, the decision was taken by race organisers to neutralise and later cancel the day’s racing.

 

De Jongh continued:

 

“Yuri was in the early break to be there for the team. Then from there four guys went away. We started to hear from ahead that it was snowing and then they neutralised it before cancelling. For the moment we’re disappointed as we were looking forward to this mountain finish. It’s hard not to have the fight we wanted today.”

 

"The jury and the organization had to anticipate this. Last night the weather forecast mentioned that the snow could cause problems. Why not just drop the start Cusset and then ride by bus to Mont Brouilly and do the local circuits? Snow is indeed a problem over 600 meters and the final climb is below that limit. We could have had a nice finale but now it has become a lost day. "

 

Thursday’s 195.5km stage will take in three categorised climbs. De Jongh hopes for better conditions.

“Tomorrow we do the climb of today early on, it’s a lumpy day but the weather should be better – but we will have to see.”

 

BMC: It was the right call to cancel Paris-Nice stage

Extreme weather conditions saw Stage 3 of Paris-Nice cancelled mid-race due to safety concerns. The 168km stage from Cusset to Mont Brouilly was set to be the first real test for the GC contenders but a bleak weather forecast put a dampener on the day.

 

Cold weather and rain at the start in Cusset gradually turned into snow as the riders approached the feed zone after 98km of racing.

 

An initial decision was made to neutralize the race and resume at the 125km mark, before race organizers confirmed the cancellation of the race shortly after.

 

BMC Racing Team Sports Director Fabio Baldato welcomed the decision.

“It is unfortunate as today’s stage was set to be a good one but the safety of the riders is more important than anything and it was the right call to cancel the stage,” Baldato said.

 

“Luckily the worst conditions happened to arrive around the feed zone so our support vehicles were already in place to collect the riders and bring them back safely.”

 

Stage 4, 195,5km from Juliénas to Romans-sur-Isère tomorrow will continue as planned.

 

Thomas De Gendt: The legs were good, the weather was bad

"That was a little weird," Thomas De Gendt told Het Nieuwsblad. "We didn’t want to start again First, we were wet and cold in the cars so to get off again and start the race again was simply not an option. You would have 170 riders in the peloton tomorrow. It is not comparable to 2013Milan-Sanremo when riders could get warm in the bus and change clothes during the neutralization. That was not possible in this stage. To stop the stage was the only right option.

 

"I did an enormously strenuous effort to rejoin the group of escapees. So I was pretty hot. No, I am just kidding. It is the only right decision to cancel the stage. You felt that you simply slipped away when you turned onto that snowy climb. The descent would have been even more dangerous. It's a shame for me because my legs were good, only the weather was bad.”

 

LottoNL-Jumbo: It would have been chaos if we had started again

Organisers cancelled the third stage of Paris-Nice after around 100 kilometres due to snow. The riders began the day in rain and 3°C temperatures and faced snow halfway in.

 

The cancellation was “a good decision”, said Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s sports director Frans Maassen. “Everyone agreed with this decision.” 

 

During the long climb to the feed zone, it began to snow. After the already tough start, the riders’ safety became a concern.

 

“This is of course annoying for the organisation and everyone who has been working on this stage, but there was nothing to do about it. We heard that the riders could stop riding bikes and it took ten minutes to cancel the stage officially afterwards. It would have been a chaos if they had to get back on their bikes in that weather, so it’s good that the stage ended this way.”

 

All they could do was look forward to Thursday’s stage.

 

“Tomorrow, there’s another transition stage on the programme,” Maassen added. “It’ll be easier than today’s was supposed to be and it doesn’t have an uphill finish either. The riders will have to cross a second category climb with 30 kilometres to go. I imagine that a breakaway has a chance. We have to be sharp.”

 

Sven Erik Bystrøm: It would have been better if we had done some local laps

“From the start it was a freezing rain, the temperature was not more than maybe 3 – 4 degrees. So we knew it would be a really cold day. Yeah, we started the race, but of course the whole peloton was freezing. Then later we came to the climb and it was snowing, so it was really impossible to continue. I think it was the right decision to cancel the race, because there was snow on the road and it was dangerous to continue the race. I think the organizers knew about the forecast and situation on the road. Maybe it was better not to start in the first place and maybe to do some local laps in the final. Anyway, we are happy to be in the hotel already,” said Sven Erik Bystrøm.

 

Laurent Didier: The decision to cancel the stage should have been taken earlier

Laurent Didier was in the day's early breakaway, racing agressively for 100 kilometers before the race was called. Below are the reactions of Director Alain Gallopin and Laurent Didier on the descision to cancel stage three, a race overruled by freezing temperatures and snow.

 

Alain Gallopin: "I think the race was good at the beginning, and we were excited to have Laurent [Didier] in the breakaway on a day where it could be interesting.  I was behind the group with Laurent and at first it was 14 riders. But when the gap decreased too much he attacked in the climb, and when they neutralized the race they were four guys, and they had three minutes. This was good.

 

"But after stopping, it was not possible to continue in these conditions. It was a good decision for the organisation to have the respect of the peloton, and for the security of the riders. It was the right decision, no question."

 

Laurent Didier said: "It was more than normal to stop the race, but I think that the weather protocol should have been [called] already before. I was in the first break of seven, and then nine more joined us. The harmony was not great in our group, there were too many teams looking after their GC, and I felt quite good and when I saw the gap come down to 1 minute and 10 seconds I attacked.

 

"Three guys came up to me, and we pulled together, but we didn't know about the snow. On top of the GPM, for the last 2-kilometers, we were already in the snow and then they stopped us. First they told us we would go in the car and make a restart at the bottom, but I mean once you are in the car, and you don't have dry clothes...it was the right decision to cancel, but it should have been taken earlier."

 

Sick Pierrick Fedrigo abadnons Paris-Nice

"I'm running out of words to describe the hard knocks that have hit,” lamented Emmanuel Hubert, team manager at Fortuneo Vital Concept, in an interview with L’Equipe. “We knew Pierrick was sick since the beginning of the week. He wanted to hang on and hoped that he could survive but this morning he was not able to start. It's not in his character to give up. Within twelve hours we have lost two good elements [after the abandonment of Pierre-Luc Périchon who suffered a broken collarbone ]. We are only six, the riders will redouble their efforts in the next stages.”

 

Alexis Vuillermoz crashes out of Paris-Nice on snowy stage

 "This is good news for the physical integrity of the riders,” Julien Jurdie, sports director of the Ag2r team, told Eurosport. “But we are still a little disappointed, especially as Romain (Bardet) had good legs. However, we cannot say anything against this logical decision.”

 

"Tomorrow’s stage is not for the general classification. It will be decided in the last three stages. There is a little frustration for sure. I really wanted to start again! But the decision is logical.”

 

Alexis Vuillermoz quits Paris-Nice after a crash on a descent (km 80). He suffers from multiple contusions mainly on the right lower limb with superficial wounds on hip, knee and ankles. He also suffers from cervical contusion causing muscle contraction. Decisions about additional examinations and his competition program will be made within 48 hours.

 

"Alexis crashed. He took a knock on the back and neck. He went for examinations at the hospital. There is nothing serious,” Jurdie said.

 

Van Rensburg: It should never have come to this point

”Yesterday we already knew the weather was going to be quite horrific today, it turned out exactly like that with rain from the start. We didn't think we were going to get snow but then on the 3rd king of the mountains climb it started snowing. It was really snowing heavily and they had to cancel the stage because even the tarmac was covered in snow so it was quite dangerous. With it being so cold, raining and always wet it wasn't ideal conditions for racing. The plan for today was to get a good result with Nathan Haas and then Serge Pauwels and myself were also going to see what we could do. I actually felt quite good and so did Serge. Nathan was also up there but they cancelled the stage. It is good that they cancelled the stage but it shouldn't come to the point where we are riding wet in minus one-degree snow,” Jacques Janse van Rensburg said.

 

Serge Pauwels describes chaotic day in Paris-Nice

"Before the start of the race, Pascal Chanteur of the riders union CPA talked to the organization and jury," Serge Pauwels told Het Nieuwsblad. "Only half an hour before the start it really started to rain hard. It was cold, but the two things together are not exactly a reason to cancel a race. The weather forecast was bad, but not of a nature to make a pre-stage decision to cancel it. It was a correct decision to start and in the end it was also was a correct decision to stop the race. It is always difficult to assess things. I had some friends four kilometers from the summit of Mont Brouilly. They told me it was cold, three or four degrees, but dry. It was only along the way that the weather greatly deteriorated.

 

"We heard on the road that there would probably be a decision. The higher you got, the more dangerous it was because there was more snow on the road. Especially in the last kilometers, when it snowed fiercely. We had to be careful. The descent would be even more dangerous. Once on the top, we were told that the race was neutralized. Ultimately, it was a good thing. Moreover, we were lucky that the feed zone was nearby. The cars were able to pick us up. With only two cars for the team leaders in the race, it would have been difficult to pick up all bikes and riders.

 

"You're shivering and shaking and just want to get warm quickly. Finally we were then told that the race was cancelled. A restart would not have fallen on fertile ground. It's not that there was suddenly 20 degrees. No, to w warm up and race again in wet clothes and bad weather was not a solution. This is a good decision, the right thing.”

 

ASO explain decision to cancel Paris-Nice stage

ASO cycling director Christian Prudhomme explained the decision for the cancellation of the stage.

 

"The road was extremely slippery and the safety was no longer guaranteed. We are sorry. That's Paris-Nice. We promise we'll come back to Mont-Brouilly. It's a pity but the riders will start again tomorrow from Julienas."

 

Race director Thierry Gouvenou explained the detailsin an interview with L’Equipe.

 

"We started from Cusset, near Vichy, in the rain and with four or five degrees, but the conditions were far from extreme,” he said. “Then it cleared up and we hoped that would continue but the cloud was left hanging over the Col de Echarmeaux. The temperature dropped to 0 degrees and we hit the snow limit a kilometer and a half from the top. The road was white and it was quite dangerous to start the descent. Riders knew that the cars of the soigneurs were right after the climb. Initially, it was planned to go down to the valley (in convoy), but we understand the point of view of the riders and it was not easy to start again with 40km to go while they were soaked. The decision to cancel was taken quickly.”

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