Ryan Mullen has opportunity to test time-trial form at Paris-Nice

Irish national champion admits he’s not firing on all cylinders yet

Irish national champion Ryan Mullen has an opportunity to test his time-trial condition on Wednesday's fourth stage of Paris-Nice, with the riders facing a 13.4 kilometre course from Domérat to Montluçon.

Mullen's main role this season is to act as a leadout rider for fellow Irishman Sam Bennett, but he will also be aiming to chase time-trial results when he is given a green light to do so.

“I’m not time-trial fit yet,” Mullen told The Irish Times on Tuesday. “I’ll go all-in for the training effect, but my numbers are not where they need to be just yet. They’re coming. I’m just not firing on all cylinders yet.

“I had a setback over the winter so I’m missing about one month of quality time-trial work.”

Tuesday’s third stage of the race took the riders 190.8 kilometres from Vierzon to Dun-le-Palestel and featured a hilly profile. There were three categorised climbs plus a number of other peaks and, as expected, neither Mullen nor Bennett featured.

The stage was won in an uphill sprint by former world champion Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo). He beat Bryan Coquard (Cofidis), Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and the rest of main peloton to the line.

Overnight race leader Christophe Laporte (Jumbo-Visma) crashed inside the final kilometre and finished over a minute and a half behind but, as per UCI rules governing incidents inside the last three kilometres, was given the same time as the main bunch.

He leads team-mate Van Aert by one second overall. Another Jumbo-Visma rider, Primoz Roglic, is a further eight seconds back and is the big favourite for the general classification. As one of the strongest time-trialists in the peloton, he is likely to take over the race lead on Wednesday.

Paris-Nice Stage 3 results

Vierzon to Dun-le-Palestel: 1 Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) 190.8 kilometres in 4 hours 23.29, 2 B Coquard (Cofidis), 3 W Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), 4 J Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix), 5 A Turgis (TotalEnergies) all same time

Irish: 102 R Mullen (Bora-Hansgrohe) at 5.46, 137 S Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) at 11.15.

General classification after stage 3: 1 Christophe Laporte (Jumbo-Visma) 11 hours 34.44, 2 W Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) at 1 sec, 3 P Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) at 9 secs, 4 M Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) at 29 secs, 5 B Coquard (Cofidis) at 33 secs

Irish: 76 R Mullen (Bora-Hansgrohe) at 8.33, 99 S Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) 13.36.

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