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Norwegian beats Michael Matthews and Gianni Meersman in a tight sprint after being delivered formidably to the line by teammate Geraint Thomas

Photo: Sirotti






04.06.2013 @ 14:54 Posted by Simon Knudstrup

Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) continued his love story with the Criterium du Dauphiné when he won the third stage in a tight sprint ahead of Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) and Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quick Step). The win comes on the heels of his win in a flat stage last year and was set up by a formidable lead-out by teammate Geraint Thomas while David Veilleux (Europcar) safely defended his overall lead ahead of tomorrow's important time trial.


Edvald Boasson Hagen has been a consistent performer in the Criterium du Dauphiné, winning stages in both the 2010 and 2012 editions of the race and only coming away empty-handed in 2011 where he finished 2nd and 3rd stages. After a less than brilliant start to the race that saw him dropped on the penultimate climb on the first day of racing, the Norwegian bounced back with a stage win in the third stage to continue his run of success at the French event.


The Norwegian was kept in a perfect position at the front of the peloton by his teammate Geraint Thomas who is known as one of the best lead-out riders in the world. The Welshman hit the front inside the final kilometer with his Norwegian teammate in his wheel and safely led the peloton through the final two left-hand corners while his sprinter kept himself out of the battle for position which took place just behind the talented Scandinavian.


When Thomas swung off with around 200m to go, Boasson Hagen out down the hammer and narrowly held of a fast-finishing Michael Matthews who had to settle for second. Green jersey wearer Gianni Meersman consolidated his lead in the points competition by taking his third straight podium position ahead of Boasson Hagen's compatriot Thor Hushovd (BMC).


The two big favourites for the stage Elia Viviani (Cannondale) and Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) battled hard for position a little further behind. While the former did not have yesterday's power and was never really in contention, the French champion opened up a strong sprint. However, he has blocked by Thomas when he swung off and finished a modest 7th, clearly frustrated.


All the main contenders finished safely in the bunch for the third day in the row but they prepare to take center stage in tomorrow's fourth stage, a 32,5km completely flat time trial. That will also be the first big test of race leader David Veilleux who once again used his strong Europcar team to defend his lead and now faces a tough task in the race against the clock.


Starting at 11.00 you can follow the stage in its entirety on


4 riders escape from the gun

The 167km stage was one of the few opportunities for the sprinters in the always very mountainous Criterium du Dauphiné but two category 3 climbs in the final part of the race could potentially shake things up a bit. However, most riders knew that the sprinters would not let this opportunity slip away and so there was no big desire to enter a futile early breakaway.


Inside the first kilometer, Fumiyuki Beppu (Orica-GreenEdge), Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil), Sander Cordeel (Lotto-Belisol) and Jacob Rathe (Garmin-Sharp) escaped the peloton and they were allowed to build up a gap of more than 6 minutes before the Europcar team of race leader Veilleux started to control. For most of the stage, Perrig Quemeneur, Cyril Gautier, Anthony Charteau, Kevin Reza and Natnael Berhane set a modest tempo to keep the gap between 6 and 7 minutes.


Omega Pharma-Quick Step up the pace

Under beautiful sunshine, the peloton approached the day's first climb with around 55km to go, and the Europcar team upped the tempo to bring back the gap to around 4.30. As soon as they hit the bottom of the ascent, it was the signal for Omega Pharma-Quick Step to kick into action. The Belgian team wanted a hard race to tire out the legs of Meersman's rivals.


Pieter Serry, Martin Velits and Frantisek Rabon hit the front hard and set a murderous tempo on the modest slopes while the gap started to come down rapidly. Surprisingly, they were joined by the FDJ riders Arthur Vichot and Pierrick Fedrigo which clearly indicated that the tempo did not trouble Bouhanni at all.


The gap is stabilized

At the top of the climb, the gap had been brought down to 1 minute as Sylvain Chavanel hit the front the lead the peloton on the descent. He quickly disappeared again to once again leave it two Vichot, Fedrigo, Serry, Rabon and Velits to set the pace.


The pace of the peloton was more moderate on the descent and so the gap grew back to 1.10 where it was kept stable for many kilometres. The tempo was, however, upped again inside the final 25km as the battle for position ahead of the final climb intensified.


Cordeel attacks

With 17km to Cordeel attacked his companions and he managed to escape despite a hard chase effort by Rathe. Moments later, Beppu was the first to be picked up by the peloton and a little later the escape was also over for Flecha and Rathe. Cordeel resisted a little longer but on the lower slopes of the final climb with 13 km to go, it was all back together.


Sky had now taken over at the front with David Lopez, Ian Stannard and Peter Kennaugh working hard on the flat stretch leading into the final climb while Thomas was on the front as soon as the road pointed upwards. Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) attacked the British team, just when Cordeel had been caught, but he was always marked by Chavanel, the Frenchman quickly neutralizing the attack.


Talansky and Martin drop off

Back in the peloton, the former French champion hit the front and with the assistance from teammate Michal Kwiatkowski, he set a furious pace that saw many riders drop off. Andrew Talansky and Tony Martin, both suffering from illness, were some of the victims while Bouhanni had now drifted to the back end of the peloton.


With 11km to go Laurent Didier (Radioshack) attacked and he dangled in front of the peloton for 1km before he was passed by a fast Bart De Clercq (Lotto-Belisol). While Dider was caught by the peloton which was now led by Kennaugh and Thomas from Sky, De Clercq crested the summit with a 10 seconds lead.


Kwiatkowski joins De Clercq

On the descent, Sky and Omega Pharma-Quick Step shared the chasing duties but suddenly Kwiatkowski, doing a turn on the front, gapped the main group. He bridged the gap to De Clercq to form a strong lead duo.


Sky sensed the danger and Kennaugh worked hard to bring back the move. He succeeded with 1,5km to go and was soon after overtaken by Manuel Quinziato (BMC) who was working to set up Hushovd for the win. The Italian led the peloton under the flamme rouge and when he swung off, Thomas hit the front. The Welshman did a huge effort to deliver Boasson Hagen for his third stage win in the Alpine race.



1. Edvald Boasson Hagen 4.03.33

2. Michael Matthews

3. Gianni Meersman

4. Thor Hushovd

5. Elia Viviani

6. Reinhardt Van Rensburg

7. Nacer Bouhanni

8. Paul Voss

9. Sylvain Chavanel

10. Francesco Gavazzi


General classification:

1. David Veilleux 12.00.22

2. Gianni Meersman +1.56

3. Tony Gallopin +1.57

4. Alejandro Valverde

5. Warren Barguil

6. Jakob Fuglsang

7. Geraint Thomas

8. Angel Madrazo

9. Richie Porte

10. Alberto Contador


Points classification:

1. Gianni Meersman 34

2. Elia Viviani 21

3. David Veilleux 20

4. Edvald Boasson Hagen 15

5. Reinhardt Van Rensburg 13


Mountains classification:

1. Thomas Damuseau 55

2. David Veilleux 40

3. Ricardo Garcia 28

4. Jean-Marc Bideau 24

5. Rudy Molard 15


Young riders' classification:

1. Tony Gallopin 12.02.19

2. Warren Barguil

3. Angel Madrazo

4. Dominik Nerz

5. Peter Kennaugh


Teams classification:

1. Team Europcar 36.05.00

2. Omega Pharma-Quick Step +1.56

3. Sky Procycling +1.57

4. Radioshack-Leopard

5. Movistar Team



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