Paris-Nice: Kittel sprints to fourth in Chalon-sur-Saône
Teammate Julian Alaphilippe will wear the white jersey for the third straight stage.
After two hectic days with rain and pain, things calmed down for stage 3 of Paris-Nice, another flat one, which took the peloton over 190 kilometers from Chablis to Chalon-sur-Saône, in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region, on a course which had only two small classified ascents.
Right from the gun, Romain Combaud (Delko-Marseille), Pierre Latour (AG2R) and Ben King (Dimension Data), all riders with huge deficits in the general classification, aformed a breakaway group and enjoyed an 8-minute lead at one point, but the combined efforts of Quick-Step Floors – best squad in the team standings – FDJ and Lotto-Soudal brought them back inside the final two kilometers.
As soon as the catch was made, three Quick-Step Floors riders hit the front, with Fabio Sabatini acting as the last man in front of Marcel Kittel going into closing 300 meters. The 28-year-old German, winner of five races this season, opened his sprint and had to fight not only against the other fast riders, but also the strong headwind, and in the end came fourth in Chalon-sur-Saône, behind Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe), Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin) and John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo).
Second in the general classification following his impressive display on the opening stage of the "Race to the Sun", home rider Julian Alaphilippe finished safely in the bunch and made a visit to the podium after the stage to don the white jersey for the third consecutive day. Julian, together with teammates Philippe Gilbert and Daniel Martin, will be among the last riders to start Wednesday's 14.5km individual time trial, which is set to conclude on Mont-Brouilly, a 3km-long climb averaging 7.7%, where the overall standings should witness a shake up.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele