Saudi Tour Stage 3

Britain’s Dan McLay  second to Dylan Groenewegen on stage 3 of the Saudi Tour which finished in a battle of the sprinters and a stage of echelons in the strong cross winds

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Saudi Tour Stage 3

Dylan Groenewegen has his first win for Team BikeExchange-Jayco on stage 3 of the Saudi Tour. In a battle of the sprinters, the Dutchman raced to victory ahead of Britain’s Daniel McLay and stage 1 winner Caleb Ewan. Santiago Buitrago remains leader of the general classification.

Photo: Getty Images

The third stage of the Saudi Tour, which on paper was made for the sprinters, started and with more altitude to be lost than gained, a fast race could be expected. This was immediately apparent at the start, although it had more to do with the fierce wind. The wind proved to be favourable for echelons so it came as no surprise that the peloton was quickly lined out. The nervousness reached a boiling point and soon the first riders went down.

Riders struggled to keep up with the high pace and were inexorably dropped. In the first race hour, there was a front group of 27 riders with the race leader missing the move. Sprinters such as Caleb Ewan, Dylan Groenewegen, Danny van Poppel, Simone Consonni and Fernando Gaviria appeared at the front. Star names such as Rui Costa, Luka Mezgec and Daniel Oss were also in the front echelon.

The dominant presence of Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl was striking. No less than six riders of the Belgian formation in the front group.
The difference between the two groups fluctuated for a long time with a gap of around three quarters of a minute, but with ninety kilometers to go there was a regrouping. With a first group of about fifty riders, it was time for part two of the stage.

Three riders were able to take advantage of a moment of calm and decided to ride away. Edward Planckaert (Alpecin-Fenix), Anthony Turgis (TotalEnergies) and Benjamin Declercq (Arkéa-Samsic) gathered a maximum lead of just over three minutes.

With the start of the last seventy kilometers Turgis decided to leave his fellow escapees and start a brave but rather hopeless solo effort.

The French classic specialist had to deal with a strong headwind in the final, causing the average speed to drop considerably. This didn’t stop Turgis from extending his lead on the peloton even further to almost five minutes, but there was no panic among the sprinter teams. After all, it was still a long way to the finish and Turgis also had to do everything on his own.

It turned out to be an unequal battle, although Turgis was the first to get through the intermediate sprint fifteen kilometres from the finish, good for three bonus seconds.

Jasha Sütterlin (Bahrain Victorious) and Rui Costa (UAE Emirates) also made an effort for a few bonus seconds. Two kilometres after the intermediate sprint, Turgis’ adventure came to an end. Niki Terpstra tried to avoid a sprint in the last kilometres towards the finish, but it turned out to be non starter for the experienced Dutchman of TotalEnergies. The sprinter teams had their trains on the rails, catching Terpstra and racing towards a sprint finish.

The fast Dutchman Groenewegen was lead out by his team and in particular Luka Mezgec. Groenewegen started the sprint in a perfect position, managing to hold off McLay and Ewan.

Dylan Groenewegen: “It’s really amazing to win in my first race. We tried something on the first day but it didn’t work well but everybody is really strong so today we made a new plan for today. The finish was really hard but in the end, everyone was there in the small group, we did a really good lead-out and I only sprinted for 100m so thanks to the team and it is incredible that I can give them the win for their help today.

It was a really crazy stage but the guys put me in a really good position in the front and also Luka Mezgec was there, but then with the headwind everything came back but that was good for us to have everyone there in the final. We made a really good plan and the tactic was amazing and everybody did a really good job. It’s only the second sprint for me this year, but it feels like we are already working together for two years.

For moral it is really nice if you can win in the first race. We were a little bit angry after the first day but we also learnt a lot so it was also a good day. Today it is really amazing and good for moral to take the victory in the first race, it is good for the team and for me.”

Daniel McLay: “It was a difficult day with a lot of wind. When the peloton split in the cross winds, I found myself in the first group but then I was trapped. Fortunately, everything ended well. The guys did a great job of protecting me so that I could keep my place for the sprint. It’s my first podium this season (and the first since last September), it’s good for confidence and I think there’s still plenty to do with great results between now and the end of the Saudi Tour.”

1 Dylan Groenewegen, Team BikeExchange-Jayco
2 Daniel McLay, Team Arkéa-Samsic
3 Caleb Ewan, Lotto Soudal
4 Danny van Poppel, BORA-hansgrohe
5 Alberto Dainese, Team DSM
6 Fernando Gaviria, UAE Team Emirates
7 Erlend Blikra, Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
8 Jasper De Buyst, Lotto Soudal
9 Simone Consonni, Cofidis
10 Davide Ballerini, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team

73. Fred Wright
76. James Jobber
88. Matt Clements

Full results of the stage are here… 


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