Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) won stage 3 of the Critérium du Dauphiné on Tuesday.
The 167-kilometer stage from Ambérieu-en-Bugey to Tarare ended in a quick sprint, with Boasson Hagen pulling around teammate Geraint Thomas in the final straightaway to edge Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) and Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).
“I’m really happy. The team did a really great job,” Boasson Hagen said on a broadcast of the race. “I felt pretty good in the sprint and I managed to take the win. I’m happy for the team, it’s so great to ride on it. The whole team is really strong.”
David Veilleux (Europcar) remains the GC leader, with Meersman 1:56 back in second. Tony Gallopin (RadioShack-Leopard) is third, 1:57 behind Veilleux.
The race continues with a 32.5km time trial on Wednesday.
“I haven’t prepared specifically for this type of effort,” Veilleux said of the upcoming TT. “I find it difficult to assess myself. I don’t have the chance to race at this level against these type of riders.
“These two stages have allowed me to recover from my effort on Sunday, so I should have fresh legs.”
(Very) early break
Moments after the stage started, four riders — Sander Cordeel (Lotto-Belisol), Fumiyuki Beppu (Orica), Jacob Rathe (Garmin-Sharp), and Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM) — jumped out front and formed a breakaway. They rode together for most of the day, helped by the flat first half of the course.
With 20km left, however, the gap started falling rapidly and one by one, the foursome dropped off and was swallowed up by the peloton.
Cordeel was the last survivor, as he was caught with just over 13km remaining.
Once Cordeel was caught, the attacks up the final Cat. 3 climb started. Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) went first, and he was quickly joined by Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma). The effort didn’t last and they were reeled in less than a kilometer later.
Near the top of the climb with around 11km left, Laurent Didier (RadioShack) surged ahead and gained a few seconds on the peloton. A minute later, he was joined by Bart de Clercq (Lotto). As Didier’s legs gave out and he fell back, de Clercq kept riding and opened up a gap.
De Clercq was strong on the descent into the finishing town and was able to hold off the peloton for a while. Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma) caught him with 3.3km remaining, and the pair rode hard and worked together ahead of the main field.
But their fate was all but sealed by the closing peloton and the upcoming sprint finish. With 1,400 meters to go before the line, they were caught as teams set up their sprinters for the final kick.
The eight-day race resumes with Wednesday’s stage 4, a 32.5km time trial.