Mads Pedersen sprinted to victory out of a reduced bunch in Dun-le-Palestel on stage three of Paris-Nice.
The Trek-Segafredo rider was piloted in expertly by his teammate Jasper Stuyven, and despite the best efforts of Bryan Coquard (Cofidis) and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), he stayed in front to secure the win.
Many of the bigger sprinters failed to stay in the peloton so could not contest the finish, with Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) and Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) among those being dropped.
Christophe Laporte (Jumbo-Visma) remains in the yellow jersey, despite a crash in the final 500m, but is now trailed by Van Aert by just one second due to the bonus seconds gained. The top three is completed by their teammate Primož Roglič, who is nine seconds behind.
Pedersen's victory was his first at WorldTour level since Gent-Wevelgem in 2020, and the first WorldTour win for Trek-Segafredo since Bauke Mollema won at the Tour de France last summer.
How it happened
Tuesday's stage headed mainly south as Paris-Nice continued its journey towards the Côte d'Azur.
The early break consisted of Owain Doull (EF Education-EasyPost), Alexis Gougeard (B&B Hotels-KTM) and breakaway specialist Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal).
With 100km to go the gap between the break and the peloton stood at about five minutes, but this gradually started to decrease as the race headed towards the day's categorised climbs.
De Gendt took the points on both the Côte d'Éguzon and the Côte de Crozant, to ensure that his teammate Matthew Holmes continued his run in the King of the Mountains' jersey.
Ahead of the Côte de Le Peyroux, some big sprinters were dropped from the bunch including yesterday's winner Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), Dylan Groenewgen (BikeExchange-Jayco) and Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe).
Søren Kragh Andersen (Team DSM) briefly attacked out of the bunch with 32km to go, but was brought back with 27km. Shortly after the break was caught, with teams including Cofidis and Jumbo-Visma pulling.
With 18km to go there was a brief general classification battle as some team leaders attempted to collect bonus seconds at the final intermediate sprint. Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies) took three bonus seconds ahead of Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), to claw back some time in the overall standings.
Kragh Andersen attempted to escape up the road again with eight kilometres to go, but again he was brought back by the bunch who were hoping to set up the race for what was left of the sprinters.
Movistar were working hard for their fast man Iván García Cortina with their four members left with 3km to go, before others including DSM and Trek-Segafredo took over.
The final two kilometres were quite messy with few teams having sufficient riders to control the sprint. Loïc Vliegen (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) sought to take his sprinter Biniam Girmay to the line, but he was quickly overtaken by Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) who provided the perfect leadout to his teammate Mads Pedersen.
Behind, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) was taken into place by the yellow jersey, Christophe Laporte (Jumbo-Visma), but could not match the speed of Pedersen. Bryan Coquard (Cofidis) looked to be gaining on the Dane, but ran out of room on the road.
After completing his leadout duties, a crash left Laporte on the floor, but he crossed the line in the same time as the rest of the bunch to continue his run in the yellow jersey.
Tomorrow, the race heads to Domérat for a 13.4km time trial that should shake the general classification up.
Results: Paris-Nice 2022, stage three, 190.8km
1. Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo, in 4-23-29
2. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Cofidis
3. Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
4. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
5. Anthony Turgis (Fra) TotalEnergies
6. Biniam Girmay (Eri) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert
7. Fred Wright (GBr) Bahrain-Victorious
8. Danny van Poppel (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe
9. Ethan Hayter (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
10. Juan Sebastián Molano (Col) UAE Team Emirates, all at same time
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE THREE
1. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Jumbo-Visma, in 11-34-44
2. Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma, at 1s
3. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, at 9s
4. Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo, at 29s
5. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Cofidis, at 33s
6. Pierre Latour (Fra) TotalEnergies, at same time
7. Zdeněk Štybar (Cze) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, at 38s
8. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo, at 39s
9. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Bora-Hansgrohe
10. Florian Sénéchal (Fra) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, all at same time
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