You could almost call it a calm ride towards La Châtre yesterday. Only Tom Devriendt (Circus-Wanty Gobert) risked a day of riding against the expected headwind. At one point, he led by nearly 10 minutes. However, the peloton eventually caught up with him. Then, in the final kilometre, all hell broke loose and the big names were there to claim the victory.

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Quick-Step were the dominant team and put Bennett in a seemingly perfect position but Hugo Hofstetter (Israel Start-Up Nation) unfortunately fell and took Bennett with him. Caleb Ewan (Lotto–Soudal) was forced to stop as well. Iván García then sneaked past Sagan who was slower to launch his attack and the Bahrain-McLaren pro rode towards a surprising victory.

Bora’s Max Schachmann finished safely in the peloton and maintained his lead. However, there is the question of how long it will last. And it isn’t only a question of Schachman’s result in today’s time trial. Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) says that 90 per cent of the peloton think Paris-Nice won’t reach the final destination because of the Covid-19 virus.

Italy has already locked down the entire country with nearly 10,000 diagnosed cases. France has around 1,500 cases and has banned public gatherings of more than 1,000 people. Will that be enough? We’ll see in a few days.

Trek-Segafredo sports director Steven de Jongh said: “Let’s hope we can continue. If they say we must stop, we will stop. We should not naively think that the virus is no longer spreading here. I also fear that more races will be cancelled, in the Flemish spring too. It looks gloomy.”

Paris-Nice 2020 – Stage 3 results

1. Iván García (Bahrain-McLaren) – 5:49:55
2. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe)
3. Andrea Pasqualon (Circus-Wanty Gobert)
4. Cees Bol (Sunweb)
5. Nacer Bouhanni (Arkéa-Samsic)
6. Rudy Barbier (Israel Start-Up Nation)
7. Anthony Turgis (Total Direct Energie)
8. Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT Pro Cycling)
9. Mads Würtz Schmidt (Israel Start-Up Nation)
10. Oliver Naesen (Ag2r La Mondiale)

General classification

1. Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) – 13:12:01
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT Pro Cycling) +13s
3. Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) +24s
4. Mads Würtz Schmidt (Israel Start-Up Nation) +25s
5. Sergio Higuita (EF Pro Cycling) +26s
6. Nils Politt (Israel Start-Up Nation) +28s
7. Krists Neilands (Israel Start-Up Nation)
8. Felix Grossschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe) +31s
9. Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo)
10. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) +36s

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