Stage three of Paris-Nice was cancelled mid-race as snow fell on the two highest climbs of the day. Between them the race jury, race direction and riders decided to call a halt to proceedings before dangerous descending was called for.
“The decision to cancel the stage was not an easy one, not one we took lightly,” said race director Thierry Gouvenou after he and the race jury had decided to annul stage three of Paris-Nice between Cusset and Mont Brouilly north of Lyon.
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“We had had an informal discussion with the CPA in the morning to discuss the weather, but that was all. When the stage started it was raining steadily and about five degrees, so it was miserable and cold, but not what you would say was extreme.
“We hoped that the weather was going to improve but as we got to the climbs it was getting worse and the rain and sleet had turned to snow and was starting to lie.”
Watch: Paris-Nice stage two highlights
Gouvenou – a former team mate at Z and Gan of Greg Lemond and Chris Boardman – sent another Paris-Nice staffer (and ex-rider) Francois Lemarchand forward to check the route and the news was not good.
“The snow was getting thicker and lying,” explained Gouvenou, “and it was going to be dangerous on the descent.
“Riders were discussing the state of the roads at the back of the bunch and in the end (Alexander) Kristoff, (Lars) Boom and (Adam) Hansen came back to speak to me to ask about neutralising the race for a bit, but when the weather was getting worse, we decided to cancel it – logistically trying to stop the race and re-start it further along the course is very complicated.”
Any riders who abandoned the race prior to its annulment will still have been considered to have abandoned, while the day’s intermediate time bonuses were also cancelled from the overall classification which remains the same as the previous day, with Orica-GreenEdge’s Michael Matthews still leading overall.
With more mountains on the menu on Thursday (albeit with better weather forecast), the hope is that the race to the sun will pick up where it left off – with all still to play for before the race ends on Sunday.