Davide Formolo went solo from the breakaway on the penultimate climb, riding solo for well over 50km, taking stage victory in fabulous fashion ahead of the GC group led home by the dominant Primož Roglič.
The Italian champion showed amazing perseverance taking the stage and the King of the Mountains jersey on the way.
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Behind Formolo (UAE Team Emirates), Jumbo-Visma controlled from halfway up the Madeleine all the way to the line with only one attack coming from the favourites with Daniel Martínez (EF Pro Cycling) trying to get clear with 600 metres to go.
Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) lost yet more time to main rival, Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), who looks in imperious form.
How it happened
Stage three of the Critérium du Dauphiné 2020 was almost a carbon copy of stage 17 in the upcoming Tour de France, the only differences being that the Tour stage starts in Grenoble and finishes on Méribel.
Whereas the Dauphiné stage started just out of Grenoble in Corenc and finished 157km later in the mountain town of Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, taking in the high category Col de la Madeleine along the way.
A nine man break went away after a long battle to be up the road. This was made up of Daniel Oss (Bora-Hansgrohe), Bob Jungels (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), Pierre Latour (Ag2r La Mondiale), Chris Juul-Jensen (Mitchelton-Scott), Søren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb), Jasha Sütterlin (Team Sunweb), Guy Niv (Israel Start-Up Nation), Maxime Chevalier (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) and Formolo.
Formolo went solo on the Madeleine in an attempt to take the stage. Behind the rest of the break broke down into individuals riding at their own pace. Latour was holding the gap at around a minute but faded on the descent.
Formolo went over the top with a solid 5-30 gap over the chasing peloton which had Roglič’s team, Jumbo-Visma, controlling the pace after a brief push by Arkéa-Samsic.
Robert Gesink and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) took it up with Van Aert staying on the front until mid-way up the final climb.
Runner up at last year’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège Formolo held his gap well on the valley bottom, only losing 40 seconds to a charging peloton when he hit the climb up to the finish.
Shortly after starting the climb, both Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) and Chris Froome (Team Ineos) were dropped in the space of two kilometres. Both dropped before sprinter Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-McLaren) lost touch.
The pace from Jumbo-Visma saw other big names lose touch in the shape of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) at 8km to go and Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) and Rigoberto Urán (EF Pro Cycling) with just 4km to go.
In the group of general classification hopefuls, Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) was the only rider to put in an attack, no doubt to try and set up his leader, Emanuel Buchmann, but tactic didn’t work as Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) upped the pace for Roglič.
Formolo’s advantage had fallen by almost 3-00 by the time he hit the final kilometre, as he held just 57 seconds.
The favourites group now saw some attacks as Martínez tried to put in a gap, which put Bernal into trouble.
Roglič came over the top of Martínez and finished strongly once again ahead of Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), 33 seconds behind Formolo.
Martínez takes the white jersey away from Bernal and Roglič extends his lead in yellow thanks to bonuses on the line.
The race continues on stage four with more summit finish torture, during a 153.5km stage from Ugine to Megève.
Critérium du Dauphiné 2020, stage three – Corenc to Saint-Martin-de-Belleville (157km)
1. Davide Formolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, in 4-06-56
2. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, at 33s
3. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
4. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
5. Daniel Martínez (Col) EF Pro Cycling
6. Mikel Landa (Esp) Bahrain-McLaren
7. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis
8. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, all at same time
9. Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Team Ineos, at 39s
10. Miguel Ángel López (Col) Astana, at same time.
1. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, in 13-14-35
2. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 14s
3. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 20s
4. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis, at 24s
5. Mikel Landa (Esp) Bahrain-McLaren, at 26s
6. Daniel Martínez (Col) EF Pro Cycling, at same time
7. Egan Bernal (Col) Team Ineos, at 31s
8. Miguel Ángel López (Col) Astana, at 32s
9. Nairo Quintana (Col) Arkéa-Samsic, at 35s
10. Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo, at same time.