Report – Criterium du Dauphine Stage 3


Nikias Arndt, 22 another of Giant Shimano’s sprinters, wins stage 3 of the Criterium du Dauphine

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Report – Criterium du Dauphine Stage 3
(ASO Press Release)


The contingent of German top sprinters from Giant-Shimano is not limited to Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb as Nikias Arndt, 22, claimed his first victory at World Tour level as he outsprinted Belgium’s Kris Boeckmans of Lotto-Belisol.

The German ruined the hopes of Frenchman Arnaud Démare in a tight finale in Le Teil. Already a stage winner at the inaugural Arctic Race of Norway in Stokmarknes, Arndt stepped up on the occasion of a long and hot day of racing at the end of which Chris Froome kept the lead in the Dauphiné without any trouble.

It wasn’t just a day of calculation for the sprinters but firstly for the first contenders of the polka dot jersey. With Kevin Reza having in mind to pursue the legend of his road captains Thomas Voeckler and Pierre Rolland who have shone in these colors at the Tour de France, Europcar sent Natnael Berhane in the early breakaway with Cesare Benedtti (NetApp-Endura) and Blel Kadri (AG2R-La Mondiale).

It was an opportunity for the Eritrean to make it up for his disappointment of stage 2 as he fell sick and couldn’t follow the rhythm in the col du Béal, but his presence at the front was firstly motivated by the defense of Reza’s lead in the King of the Mountains competition. Berhane passed first at the top of côte de Lavet at km 28.5 after one hour of racing against a disadvantageous wind that was going to make the race slow for a while. Reza consolidated his lead by taking the fourth place.

The time gap went up and down, as Team Sky maintained it around four minutes and took over when it reached 7.30 at km 57. Trek Factory Racing also put Markel Irizar in the chase until their sprinter Giacomo Nizzolo was forced to pull out – so did Jérôme Coppel of Cofidis – after being involved in a crash at km 129.

Another sprinter disappeared from the favourites’ list as Thor Hushovd (BMC) was one of the first riders dropped at the bottom of the second climb of the day, the col de la Mûre, where Arnaud Démare wasn’t put in difficulty, so went on to chase the leading trio once the race reached the Rhône valley under scorching conditions.

Blel Kadri (AG2R-La Mondiale), Natnael Berhane (Europcar) and Cesare Benedetti (NetApp-Endura) got reeled in with 23.5km to go after an odyssey that lasted for 171 kilometres. 20km before the finish in Le Teil, eight riders went clear: Jens Voigt (Trek), Andriy Grivko (Astana), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Pim Lightart (Lotto), Imanol Erviti (Movistar), rejoined by Alexis Gougeard (AG2R), Kristjan Koren (Cannondale) and Elia Favilli (Lampre-Merida).

It was all together again with 7km to go and the peloton also ruined the hopes of lone attacker Lieuwe Westra (Astana) who tried to avoid a bunch sprint finish.

In a tight finish, Nikias Arndt outsprinted Kris Boeckmans from Lotto-Belisol.

Chris Froome: “I didn’t have any problem defending the yellow jersey today. It wasn’t us riding behind the breakaway really. It was FDJ mostly, and Trek until the crash. It’s been a quiet day but I expect a more eventful one tomorrow. It’s going to be a really hard stage and another big fight because the downhill to Gap can make differences. Such finales can create difficult situations. I’ll try to stay out of trouble and stay in yellow.”

Nikias Arndt: “I didn’t expect to win today because our designated sprinter was Reinhardt [Janse van Rensburg] but he crashed earlier on, so we didn’t know if he’d be up for the sprint and we decided to rush to the line with two sprinters”.

“It was a hectic sprint after a hard day of racing because of the heat and because we first had to catch the breakaway. We knew that Arnaud Démare was probably the best sprinter here but it all came down to team work and we got a perfect lead out”.

“I wasn’t confident as I passed the last corner in eighth or tenth position but I sprinted much faster than I expected. I had the speed so I continued sprinting instead of leading Reinhardt out. As we came third and first, we’re very happy”.

“Our Giant-Shimano team is known for having top sprinters with Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb but we are also competitive at a second level of sprinting with Luka [Mezgec], Reinhardt and myself. It’s a great victory!”

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