The third day of racing at Paris-Nice saw the peloton continue their journey south, with 190 kilometres from Vierzon to Dun-le-Palestel and several rolling hills in the finale to contend with. It was a steady start to proceedings with a three rider break escaping early in the day but as the bunch approached the final 35 kilometres their once eight minute gap had diminished to just over one minute.
Setting out with a plan to ride aggressively the team moved forward en-masse, with Cees Bol and Nico Denz doing a great job to drill the pace at the front of the peloton before Søren Kragh Andersen launched a strong attack. Pushing the power, Kragh Andersen managed to build up a 25 second gap over the peloton, drastically eating into the asphalt between him and the remaining breakaway riders. However, due to him still sitting only 39 seconds off the race lead, the yellow jersey holder’s team began to set pace and ultimately at 27 kilometres left he, and the rest of the break, were brought to heel.
Undeterred, the team bided their time before Kragh Andersen once again launched a stinging attack on the last uncategorised climb with eight kilometres to go. Gaining around 20 bike lengths over the peloton, Kragh Andersen dug deep but with numerous teams in the peloton determined to make it a reduced sprint finish, he was once again caught a few kilometres later. Andreas Leknessund immediately attempted to counter over the top of the ascent, but he was quickly marked out by the yellow jersey.
Changing tack, Kevin Vermaerke hit the front in the final three kilometres, drilling the pace to try and set up John Degenkolb for the long and leg-sapping uphill drag to the finish. Degenkolb gave it his all, fighting to the line, but was unable to compete for a top result on the stage. Nonetheless, the team are taking a lot of confidence from their efforts today and will look for more opportunities to animate the race in the days to come.