Jumbo-Visma got their hands on the Paris-Nice team time trial, as planned, on Tuesday at Dampierre-en-Burly, but on the smallest of margins at the end of the time trial of the 3rd stage which costs dear to Ineos training.
After 32.2 km of collective effort, Jonas Vingegaard’s team won with a second advantage over EF Education, which appeared out of nowhere to offer its mustachioed Dane Magnus Nielsen the yellow jersey of leader, there also for a second on Nathan van Hooydonck.
“I didn’t necessarily expect that,” commented Nielsen, who succeeds compatriot Mads Pedersen, while conceding that he would struggle to keep his shirt on for more than a day, with the first finish at the top of this 81st edition scheduled for Wednesday.
The Australian team Jayco-AlUla of Simon Yates completed the podium ahead of Groupama-FDJ of David Gaudu, an excellent fourth at just 14 seconds, and Team UAE of Tadej Pogacar, fifth with 23 seconds behind. A lesser evil for this team less well equipped than Jumbo-Visma.
As expected, this time trial in the new look format, where the time was taken on the first rider from each team to cross the line, did not make a huge difference. It nevertheless served to break down the general classification well on the eve of the ascent of the Loge des Gardes, above Vichy.
Vingegaard, who was twelve seconds behind Pogacar, is now eleven ahead of the Slovenian and climbs to third place overall.
But his rival does more than limit the damage with a clearly less homogeneous group.
“We were hoping to gain a little more time”, admitted the Dane, all the same “very happy with this victory” with teammates as strong as Tobias Foss and Rohan Dennis, the current and former champion of the world in time title.
– Opposition of style –
The contrast in style between the two teams was impressive. UAE struggled from the first corners to tune its violins and quickly lost a runner, then two, then three, before Pogacar finished alone, as if unleashed, the last 500 meters. The Jumbo remained at four riders until 300 meters from the finish and Vingegaard arrived surrounded by two teammates.
Most of the other teams finished the race in scattered order, often with two runners, including the leader, launched into the last ramp, for a rather spectacular result.
For the overall standings, the good deal of the day overall was achieved by Simon Yates (6th at 7 seconds from the leader) and David Gaudu (11th at 17 seconds), whom no one was expecting so well placed with Groupama-FDJ next to the Dampierre-en-Burly nuclear power plant, along the Loire.
The French team had adopted as a tactic to preserve its leader, well wedged in the wheels of his teammates, in particular the impressive Stefan Kung.
The big loser of the day is the Ineos team of Daniel Martinez and Pavel Sivakov who lost 48 seconds, despite a few robust riders in their workforce.
On Wednesday, the peloton will gain altitude with a summit finish in the small ski resort of La Loge des Gardes, at more than 1,000 meters. The opportunity for a first big explanation between the favorites during a final ascent of 6.7 km at 7.1% on average.
The weather conditions are announced to be difficult with rain and wind, but no snow a priori.