Phil Bauhaus sprinted clear of the peloton to take the stage while leading out for Mark Cavendish on day three of the Saudi Tour 2020.
The German hit the front of the bunch after the final turn with 500 metres to ride, Cavendish locked to his wheel, but after gaining a small gap Bauhaus launched his sprint with no one able to follow.
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Bauhaus’s victory was the first for Bahrain-McLaren after new team principal Rod Ellingworth took over the squad in the off-season.
Race leader Rui Costa took advantage of chaotic racing and attacked solo throughout the day to score bonus seconds, but Bauhaus usurped the race lead thanks to the bonus seconds at the line. Bauhaus now leads overall by three seconds over Costa (UAE Team Emirates).
How it happened
Stage three of the Saudi Tour 2020 was also expected to come down to a bunch sprint, but after the unpredictable finishes on the opening two days a host of riders will have fancied their chances.
The stage followed an 119km out-and-back route, starting at the King Saud University and finishing at Al Bujairi, both in Riyadh.
There were no categorised climbs, but plenty of unmarked ascents that added to the unpredictable racing that has characterised the inaugural edition of the Saudi Tour so far.
In the opening 20km, five riders jumped into the day’s breakaway, as Joel Suter (Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles), Maral-Erdene Batmunkh (Terengganu Inc-TSG), Suleiman Kangangi and Nikodemus Holler (Bike Aid) all made it clear from the bunch.
But after building up a two-minute gap, the peloton began to reel the break back when race leader Costa launched a solo attack with around 47km left to race.
Costa made a break for the intermediate sprint check and took a three second bonus, overtaking the break in the process.
With 32km the bunch was all together, a flurry of attacks following but no group doing any real damage.
Costa launched once again with around 10km to the line, pulling out another gap and scoring the last bonus seconds available on the stage.
The Portuguese rider stuck with his attack, managing a 20-second advantage but eventually being caught by the bunch with around 5km to race, setting up the bunch sprint.
Bahrain-McLaren were the dominant unit in the final, leading into the final turn inside 1km with Bauhaus then hitting the front to set up Cavendish 500m from the line.
Bauhaus pulled out a minor gap, with Cavendish deciding not to follow his lead-out rider’s wheel, leaving Bauhaus free to launch his sprint around 300m out.
The remaining sprinters seemed to think Bauhaus stood no chance so none chased his sprint, leaving him to soar across the line first, with Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (NTT Pro Cycling) and Youcef Reguigui (Terengganu Inc-TSG) rounding out the podium.
Despite his antics chasing the bonus seconds, Costa was forced to hand the race lead over to Bauhaus owing to the time available at the finish.
Bauhaus now leads the race by three seconds over Bauhaus, with Nacer Bouhanni (Arkéa-Samsic) still third.
Saudi Tour 2020, stage three: Riyadh to Al Bujairi (119km)
1. Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain-McLaren, in 2-48-27
2. Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (RSA) NTT Pro Cycling
3. Youcef Reguigui (Iri) Terengganu Inc-TSG
4. Carlos Barbero (Esp) NTT Pro Cycling
5. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Arkéa-Samsic
6. August Jensen (Nor) Riwal Readynez
7. Matteo Malucelli (Ita) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
8. Timothy Dupont (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert
9. Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) Total Direct Energie
10. Lucas Carstensen (Ger) Bike Aid, all at same time
General classification after stage three
1. Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain-McLaren, in 11-12-56
2. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 3s
3. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Arkéa-Samsic, at 8s
4. Youcef Reguigui (Iri) Terengganu Inc-TSG, at 12s
5. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain-McLaren, at 132
6. Carlos Barbero (Esp) NTT Pro Cycling, at 14s
7. Sergei Chernetski (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo, at 15s
8. Andreas Kron (Den) Riwal Readynez, at same time
9. Matteo Malucelli (Ita) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, at 16s
10. Jens Debusschere (Bel) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept, at same time