The Arkea-Samsic team’s strategy for the third stage of Paris-Nice was simple: help Andre Greipel for his sprint. With a headwind all day, the stage was quieter than the previous days but the peloton was split in two five kilometres from the finish with five riders ending up in front. Bram Welten protected Andre Greipel and made a big effort to bring his leader back. If he is happy with the work of his young Dutch team mate, Andre Greipel lacked freshness in the final sprint, taking 14th place.
Andre Greipel : “This morning we all wanted to do well, get a good result for Max and Warren. The team worked well around me all day long. We knew that some team would up the pace in the finale. Bram and I were well positioned but the bunch split just in front of us. Bram managed to bring us back two kilometres from the line but then I wasn’t fresh enough. I’m disappointed, I made mistakes.”
Bram Welten : “Today was easier than the two previous days. It was quieter at the beginning, without any wind. I stayed with Andre all the time. There was an echelon five kilometres from the finish and we had to go full gas to bridge the gap and contest the final sprint so I worked at the front of the second group to bring back Andre. A first group came back, then it was us and I pulled over with 2.6 kilometres to go. We didn’t win so we are disappointed but it was good to work with Andre and to be involved in the finale. Because of the split I could not be here to lead Andre out but that’s how the game is played. Andre and I chatted on the rollers after the finish. He told me that I ha done a good job but that he lacked strength.”
Yvon Ledanois : “Today it was all for Andre Greipel. Our riders had all the info on possible echelons in the finale. At that moment they were well positioned but in fortunately Andre came up short. He told me that Bram Welten did a super job to bridge the gap with the five-man group. He said ‘with my usual legs I would have been in the mix but today wasn’t the day. I was bad, I’m mad at myself!’ Of course Andre cannot say that because it’s not the case. Today he was not at his best but with work, he will get win. This morning after Warren and Maxime abandoned, I told the riders that we love living extraordinary moments but sometimes you have to accept disappointment. When everything goes well, cycling is fantastic but it’s a sport that can take everything back in 10 seconds. On Sunday night we were happy with our day, albeit humble. On Monday, cycling took everything back. We must keep in mind that when everything goes well you can lose everything suddenly. I was certain Warren would have a great Paris-Nice. We will get yourselves together. If it doesn’t go our way today it will go our way another day. In tomorrow’s fourth stage there will be a race for the breakaway and a race for GC. It’s going to be too hard for Andre, Bram and Laurent Pichon. Amael was caught in a crash 30km from the finish and suffered a knock on his thigh. It’s not serious but we have to see how he feels tomorrow. Our trump card will be Elie Gesbert.”