Five talking points from stage three of the Critérium du Dauphiné 2019

From Sam Bennett's consistency to Wout van Aert's sprinting breakthrough - don't miss these moments

Sam Bennett the season's most consistent sprinter

Sam Bennett wins stage three of the 2019 Criterium du Dauphine (ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images)
(Image credit: AFP/Getty Images)

While the broad feeling is that no top-tier sprinter has dominated the 2019 season, Sam Bennett has undeniably been the most consistent.

The Critérium du Dauphiné hasn't attracted the most elite sprinting field this season, with the likes of Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal), Elia Viviani (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) and Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) all resting for the Tour de France after also riding the Giro d'Italia, so Bennett is by far the most accomplished sprinter racing in France.

But that doesn't diminish his achievement, as he has won at least one stage of every race he's entered this year except the Tour de Romandie where his best result was second.

Thanks to an unbeatable lead-out from his Bora-Hansgrohe team on stage three, most notably from Shane Archbold, Bennett took his biggest victory of the season so far, sailing across the line well clear without even breaking a sweat.

This may turn out to be Bennett's most prestigious result of the season, as Bora have made the questionable decision to leave the Irishman out of both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France squad.

It's a contract year for the 28-year-old so as he's said himself earlier, this win "can't hurt."

Another eye-opening sprint by Wout van Aert

Wout van Aert leads the points classification and the young rider standings (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Wout van Aert's (Jumbo-Visma) anticipated road career has been somewhat overshadowed by the achievements of his nemesis Mathieu van der Poel, who single-handedly wowed Classics fans with unparalleled performances.

Still waiting for his first win since joining the WorldTour, Belgian Van Aert rode to podiums in Strade Bianche and and the E3 BinckBank Classic.

But the 24-year-old appears to be having a breakthrough at the Dauphiné as a notable bunch sprinter, having taken third on the opening stage and second behind Bennett on stage three.

>>> Team Ineos Tour de France squad: which eight riders will make the cut?

As a former three-time cyclocross world champion, Van Aert is no stranger to repeated sprint-like efforts during CX races, and he appears to be adapting that practice into a formidably fast finish.

Van Aert now leads both the points classification and the young rider standings.

Álvaro Hodeg still missing something at the highest level

Álvaro Hodeg was locked out of the sprint on stage three (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The latest creation in the Deceuninck - Quick-Step assembly line of talent is Colombian sprinter Álvaro Hodeg who, along with Fabio Jakobsen, looks to be at the forefront of a new generation of fast finishers.

But the 22-year-old currently appears to be missing that something needed to take a win on the biggest stages.

Despite Quick-Step's efforts to lead the charge into the final straight, Hodeg was unable to follow the huge injection of speed from Bora in the final 400m and found himself trapped behind the front row of would-be stage winners, eventually being boxed out of the fight by Ag2r La Mondiale's Clément Venturini.

Hodeg finished seventh and gave his bars a frustrated slap at the line as he missed out on a shot at what would have been the biggest victory of his fledgling career.

At such a young age, it's no surprise he may find himself in the wrong position more often than not, but with the Quick-Step machinery behind him there is plenty of development to come.

Attritional weather conditions prevail

The peloton during a rain-drenched stage three of the Critérium du Dauphiné (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP/ Getty Images)
(Image credit: AFP/Getty Images)

Any riders hoping for welcoming weather in France's south east will be bitterly disappointed in the Dauphiné.

The rain fell on the peloton for a second consecutive day as the mists made for some sketchy racing during the first pure sprint day of the race.

Harsh conditions on stage two saw nine riders drop out including Cofidis sprinter Nacer Bouhanni, with two more waving goodbye to the race on stage three, making this an attritional race.

With a time trial to follow on stage four and the high mountains starting this weekend, the awful conditions may also start to take their toll on the GC contenders.

Now the GC battle begins

Romain Bardet during the Paris-Nice 2019 TT (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

After the Dauphiné's unpredictable opening stages and a pure sprint on day three, the general classification battle will officially get underway with the individual time trial on stage four.

The 26.1km TT around the town of Roanne is long enough that we will see gaps of minutes between some GC contenders, while the 2.3km climb averaging 7.6 per cent gradient half way through the course offering up some potential surprises.

>>> ‘No problem’ for Chris Froome in lining up with Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal at Tour de France

With a similar distance TT (27km) in Pau on stage 13 of this year's Tour de France, this test will be a revealing glimpse into the individual efforts of the favourites.

Keep an eye out for Chris Froome (Team Ineos), Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) and former world time trial champion Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), who are all likely to impress in the solo effort.

Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) are also riders to watch against the clock, as their poor time trialling could define the race.

Thank you for reading 10 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.