Thor Hushovd has collected a full set of podium places in the first three days of the race. He followed his win in the Prologue with third place a day later, and second place in yesterday?s stage to Belleville.
But while the Norwegian race leader was disappointed with being beaten by Gert Steegmans for the second day in a row, it was his attack on the descent of the mist-enshrouded Col du Fût d?Avenas which lit up the race. Sprinters usually ride conservatively, in order to save themselves for the end of the race, but Hushovd?s panache lit up the race, a day after the spectacular crosswind-hit stage to Nevers. It?s early to say, but in spite of the atrocious weather, it?s looking like one of the best stage races for many years.
Hushovd told Cycling Weekly that his attack was a case of taking advantage of circumstances.
?I followed a couple of guys from the start of the descent, but they sat up, while I kept going. It was good to be out front and attacking, but it meant I missed a bit of power in the sprint,? he said.
Hushovd led by over 20 seconds at one point, but with six kilometres to go, he had a sudden hunger flat. Team manager Roger Legeay had just told him of the gap and ordered him to go for the solo win, but the moment he got off the radio, Hushovd?s energy disappeared.
?I?m not too worried about being beaten by Steegmans in those circumstances. I know what was missing yesterday and the day before. I?m confident I can go on and win Milan-San Remo.?
PARIS-NICE 2008: STAGE REPORTS
Stage two: Steegmans back on top
Stage one: Steegmans rides the storm
Prologue: Hushovd wins
Stage one analysis
Millar goes down but isn't out
Prologue analysis: winners and losers
Big names line up for Paris-Nice and defy UCI
Teams vote to ride Paris-Nice
Paris-Nice preview: does the route suit David Millar?
Days two and three
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Edward Pickering is a writer and journalist, editor of Pro Cycling and previous deputy editor of Cycle Sport. As well as contributing to Cycling Weekly, he has also written for the likes of the New York Times. His book, The Race Against Time, saw him shortlisted for Best New Writer at the British Sports Book Awards. A self-confessed 'fair weather cyclist', Pickering also enjoys running.
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