CIRCUIT DE NEVERS MAGNY-COURS, France (AP) — John Degenkolb of Germany dominated a sprint finish to win the third stage of the Paris-Nice race and take the overall lead on Tuesday.
Degenkolb, who finished the first two stages in second place, was relieved to finally get a victory, although this was never in doubt as he finished more than a bike’s length ahead of Australian rider Matthew Goss after attacking some 200 meters from the line.
“It’s really unbelievable because we tried it two times and now today everything worked out perfectly,” Degenkolb said. “We were not too nervous in the end because there was still space to move up. The other days there was always something missing, and I’m really happy to get the win for my team because they really supported me.”
Spanish rider Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil was third, with all three riders clocking the same time of 4 1/2 hours over 180 kilometers (112 miles) from Toucy to Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours, a motor racing circuit in central France which hosted Formula One races until 2008.
In the overall standings, Degenkolb moved eight seconds clear of overnight leader Nacer Bouhanni of France and 12 seconds ahead of Moreno Hofland of the Netherlands.
Rojas Gil climbed up to fourth overall, 18 seconds back.
Wednesday’s fourth stage promises to be more difficult for Degenkolb and other sprinters, with climbers finally getting a chance to test their legs on a 201.5-kilometer (125-mile) trek from Nevers to Belleville featuring three medium category 3 climbs and one tougher category 2 ascent.