Paris-Nice Stage 3



Right. Let's get back to the cycling shall we? Yes. All agreed. Good. I'll get cracking then. @aidanleape here to bring you coverage of Stage 3 of this years Paris-Nice, as the peloton tackle the 210km between Bourges and Chatel-Guyon. Which sounds lovely. Or like a blue cheese. Some music awaits you below

Here be the profile for today's stage. A slightly lumpy one awaits after the sprint wins from Arnaud Demare on Stage 1 and Dylan Groenewegen yesterday.

Talking of Demare, he still holds the yellow leaders jersey, and the green points jersey going into today. It's the polka-dots for Pierre Luc Perichon (He's just been equalled in the standings by Fabien Grellier - more on him in a moment), whilst Marc Soler is the best of the spotty and grunty youth, and so he is clad in all white.

So then, back to Fabien Grellier from Direct Energie. He's just gone over the top of the second climb of the day, the Cote des Boulards all on his lonesome to take the maximum points. To grab those points, he dropped his two fellow breakers for the day, Jay Thomson from Dimension Data and Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (easy for me to type) of Delko Marseille Provence.

And so, as the race stands, we've got 59km to go. Grellier is all on his own out front. Thomson and Kasperkiewicz are around a minute behind him, and the peloton, headed by Demare, whose just been changing his jersey on the move (showing a level of acrobatic ability that a 12 year old me in P.E could only dream of) is about 3'40 behind. 3'37 if you want to be exact. Which you do. Fussy lot.

So the question today is sprint or no sprint. The final category 3 climb is coming around 20km before the finish line. You'd fancy it's a challenge that the big sprinters can make After that, it's sounding like a punchy little finish, much like yesterday. Groenewegen absolutely bossed that one, so he probably goes into this one as favourite. Greipel, Demare and Viviani will all be interested too

Another man who you'd think might be interested in a sprint is Alexander Kristoff. Well, he would be interested if he was in any fit state to ride. Apparently he, and some of his team have been hit with a hint of lurgy, and he's now being distanced from the peloton, and looks like he's peddling all sorts of shapes. Squares. Hexagons. Dodecahedrons. Everything. Medical car is in attendance.

53km to travel, and the peloton are winding through the country-fied back streets of central France. At the moment they're carving through the fields of the somewhat more temperate looking nation, and they're also carving up that lead (tell me you missed those tenuous links). The lead has just dipped under 3 minutes for the first time, and the group are strung out. Moving apace here.

Little more pleanary before I badger on about the scenery for 40km. Sam Bennett of Bora–Hansgrohe has had to hop off his bike. He didn't start today, even after his 11th placed finish yesterday. Nothing confirmed on why he pulled out, but it's a leg injury for Phil Bauhaus of Sunweb. He'll be watching the final 50km of the day with us. Well. Not with us. But he'll be watching it.

47km which gives me chance to tell you that we've just had the most phenomenal piece of road furniture. 90 degree left hand turn for the peloton to navigate. Sounds simple. Until someone plonks what only can be described as a massive concrete teardrop shaped flower bed right in the middle of the corner. Fair to say the local Village in Bloom council won't be impressed by the riders.