Dan McLay, who has been riding for the Lotto-Belisol under-23 team for the past two seasons, added a very useful win to his palmares with victory in stage three of the prestigious Tour de l’Avenir.
The 143km stage, between Montrond-les-Bains and Paray-le-Monial ended in a ragged, strung-out ‘bunch’ sprint and was marred by a crash in the final four kilometres which took out fast-finishing Australian Caleb Ewan – winner of the previous day’s stage – and Italian sprinter Davide Martinelli.
“It was under control until the crash,” said GB team manager Keith Lambert, “the Danes were riding because they had the overall lead and the Australians helping out, riding for a sprint, but after Ewan went down then it was all over the place. Guys were attacking in twos and threes, just constant attacks and it was pretty technical in the run in, especially in the last two kilometres.”
But so far the GB team has had a rider finishing in the top 10 on every stage with Owain Doull showing well. Welshman Doull was held up in the crash and McLay had to make his own way in the final kilometres.
“None of the teams were able to organise any kind of control or lead out,” continued Lambert, “so Dan did a great job on his own, he made the right choice when he went for a long one, with about 500 meters to go. He’s been a little bit guilty in the past of holding back and not having the self-confidence but he got it spot-on today.”
Today’s third stage marked the end of the ‘easy’ days and from here to the finish, the stages are either ‘lumpy’ or straight-up mountain top finishes.
“The boys are all still fit and healthy and the climbers here have had a relatively easy time, so it’s over to them now. No pressure like!” laughed Lambert, pleased so far that his team are in a good position and in good spirits.
“Owain isn’t a million miles off the points jersey and he’s climbing well, but you can’t tell yet who’s going well and not in the other teams. Tomorrow (Wednesday) everyone will be forced to show their hands.”