It was a case of déjÁ  vu for late night viewers as Simon Gerrans and Alejandro Valverde renewed acquaintances on the finishing slope at Lac de Vassivière.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM

The third stage of Paris-Nice promised a
challenging finish and it was no real surprise to see two riders very
suited to that kind of ending contesting its closing moments.

On
Willunga Hill in January, Valverde (Movistar) and Gerrans (GreenEDGE)
gave fans at the 2012 Santos Tour Down Under one of the most thrilling
and entertaining finishes to a stage that race has ever seen.

And
on that day both riders were winners, with Gerrans effectively sealing
the overall victory and Valverde the stage win in an almost dead heat.

It
was a similar moment again for both riders at Lac de Vassivière, where
Gerrans came from behind to finish second to Valverde in a photo finish on
the third stage of Paris-Nice.

But is was another stage and race that saw GreenEDGE still dreaming of its first win in Europe.

"Obviously,
we're a little bit disappointed that I couldn't quite finish it off," Gerrans said post race. "We want a win here in Paris-Nice, but I think
we're happy enough to have had a go. To be so close shows we're right up
in there and in the mix of things. Wins in Europe aren't too far away."

Indeed they are not, but it won't be easy for a team still finding its way in the take no prisoners world of bike racing.

That
Gerrans was again the GreenEDGE man at the pointy end of an important
race should be no surprise. He remains the team's best performer of the
season so far and a constant threat where the finishes are hard.

He
may not have the explosiveness of a rider like Valverde but he is close
to the Spaniard's pedigree as their recent head-to-head results show.

The
stakes remain high for GreenEDGE. The fledgling Australian team needed a
fast WorldTour start at home and got it at the Santos Tour Down Under.
But now that the sport has shifted to its heartland, a maiden victory in
Europe remains elusive.

But the season is a long one and
GreenEDGE is well placed to contest finishes in the races to come with
its solid collection of talent.

As the debut seasons of Team Sky
and the Leopard Trek (now RadioShack-Nissan) showed it can be a
difficult process to bring a team together quickly. Though well stocked
with talent, both teams were regarded as having underwhelming seasons
given the pre-season hype.

And while the shock Leopard
Trek/RadioShack merger may have slowed their progress and cohesiveness,
Team Sky, now in its third full season, is a serious force to be
reckoned with. A well drilled outfit in both sprinting and stage races.

That
GreenEDGE has camaraderie is beyond doubt, however working together as a
unit across several races at a time is a long-term project for any
team. Even one like GreenEDGE where the riders have known each other for
many years.

But hope springs eternal, Gerrans will line up for
the fourth stage at Paris-Nice, again looking for that first European
win, and he remains its best prospect for that task.