parPar Julien Pretot
SISTERON, France (Reuters) – Australian Caleb Ewan timed his efforts to perfection to win the third stage of the Tour de France in a massive sprint at the end of a 198km hike through the Alpine foothills on Monday.
Sam Bennett looked in control, but the Irishman had probably underestimated the headwind and settled for second place as he watched Lotto-Soudal fastman Ewan spin around to snatch his fourth stage victory on the Tour.
Italian Giacomo Nizzolo took third place.
The French Julian Alaphilippe kept the yellow jersey of the leader of the general.
“In the last mile I was a little too far ahead so I got back into the wheels a bit and then it gave me a bit of time just to rest my legs a bit,” Ewan explained.
“In the end, it worked perfectly. Coming from behind is a bit risky but I found my way through the barrier and came with a lot of speed. ”
Ewan was proud to win the biggest stage again, a year after securing three stage victories in his debut Tour.
“I’m so happy to get another victory and to prove that last year was no fluke. I hope to come back for more years and continue to win. We have to take all the sprinters’ opportunities that we can this year because they are quite rare this year. ”
Tuesday’s fourth stage is a 160.5 km effort from Sisteron to Orcières-Merlette for the first finish at the top of the race, with Briton Adam Yates trailing Alaphilippe by four seconds in total, eyeing the yellow jersey.
An entirely French breakaway with Anthony Perez, polka-dot jersey holder Benoit Cosnefroy and Jerome Cousin was kept on a tight leash by the peloton as the rain started to fall 150 kilometers from the end.
Cousin, who won a Paris-Nice stage at Sisteron in 2018, tried his luck solo with Perez and Cosnefroy swallowed up by the peloton despite the quiet pace.
Perez then dropped out with a broken rib and a possible collapsed lung after crashing into his team’s car, his Cofidis outfit said.
Cofidis said the 29-year-old was taken to hospital for further checks.
Cousin was braked with 16 km to the left by the peloton controlled by Alaphilippe’s Deceuninck Quick Step as the sprinting teams began to prepare for the tuck sprint.
Fit Wout van Aert, one of Primoz Roglic’s favorite teammates, crashed about six km from the line, but the Milan-Sanremo champion finished the stage.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Clare Fallon)