Stage win for Ivan Garcia Cortina

Throughout the first two stages of Paris Nice, Ivan Garcia Cortina worked constantly at the sharp of the peloton to keep his team mates up front. At the end of the third stage Team Bahrain-McLaren’s Asturian powerhouse grabbed the chance to sprint to the win in la Châtre.

At its 78th edition the Paris-Nice stage race has yet to live up to its nickname as the «race to the sun». Rain, relatively low temperatures and wind have been shaping the racing so far. The riders of Team Bahrain-McLaren were unfazed by these harsh conditions. Dylan Teuns showed a strong performance at the end of the opening stage, missing out in the win narrowly in 2nd. The second stage may have looked easier on paper, but the wind broke the peloton into multiple echelons again. This time the riders of Team Bahrain-McLaren were caught out, however: Dylan Teuns, Heinrich Haussler and Ivan Garcia Cortina got to the finish in the third group on the road, conceding 36 seconds to the day’s stage winner. And since Pello Bilbao lost more than three minutes in the same stage, the team was down to one contender for the overall standings with Dylan Teuns.

Leading from Chalette-sur-Loing to la Châtre, the third stage was pretty long measuring 212.5 kilometers but hardly featured any note-worthy climbs. After attacking early, Belgian Tom Devriendt rode in the lead of the race on his own for hours. But in the finale ridden on narrow roads, the speed of the peloton went up significantly and Devriendt was caught with 26 kilometers to go. The pace remained high and there were several crashes. Still the teams with the strongest sprinters in their ranks seemed to be in control of the situation as the race approached the finish. While the sprint trains started to form, Ivan Garcia Cortina and his lead-out Heinrich Haussler kept looking for gaps in the bunch or promising wheels to latch onto.

The last kilometer of the stage went to show that power and cleverness will not always do to win a bicycle race. Some luck is needed as well at times: While Frenchman Hugo Hofstetter unclipped one foot and took out two strong sprinters with Sam Bennett and Caleb Ewan, Ivan Garcia Cortina narrowly managed to avoid this crash. «The situation on the finishing straight was quite chaotic. I first had to find a way through the bunch before I could go full gas. I’m really surprised to beat all these big names competing here on the way to this win», Ivan Garcia Cortina said on his way to the podium. For the Asturian who often thrives in wet and cold weather, this was the second win in a race of the World Tour in his career after winning a stage in last year’s Tour of California.

1. Ivan Garcia Cortina, ESP/Team Bahrain-McLaren, in 5:49.55 hours
2. Peter Sagan, SVK, st
3. Andrea Pasqualon, ITA, st