Matteo Dal-Cin edges out Jake Stewart by slimmest of margins on stage three of virtual Tour de France
The sprint couldn't have been closer as the Canadian pipped the young Brit on the line
Rally Cycling's Matteo Dal-Cin took a sprint victory for the wildcard team at the men's virtual Tour de France, pipping British youngster Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ) on the line.
Mitchelton-Scott's Callum Scotson took third, while another British prospect in Ethan Hayter (Ineos) came fourth. Yellow jersey-wearer Ryan Gibbons (NTT) then rounding out the top five.
The 48km race was completed in under an hour, with NTT remaining in the yellow jersey heading into stage four, holding a commanding lead of nearly 40 points over Rally, with Trek-Segafredo third.
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The third stage of the virtual Tour de France was a flatter affair than the opening weekend's offering but was the first to feature renderings of actual France, Zwift having designed a new world featuring the Pont du Gard and Mont-Saint Michel to give fans a taste of the real-life French Grand Tour.
The yellow jersey of Ryan Gibbons (NTT) was looking good to take maximum points on the first climb, but Alpecin-Fenix's Alexander Krieger had other ideas, passing the South African across the line under the Pont du Gard.
British WorldTour newcomer Charlie Quarterman then attacked with 17km gone, Edvald Boasson Hagen chasing after him before the pair were brought back into the bunch. CCC's Kamil Gradek took the next intermediate sprint before the race settled down on the flat section.
Alex Kirsch (Trek-Segafredo) then went on the offensive with 16km to go, pushing out 560w, yet the Luxembourger was soon brought back into the fold.
Jonas Rutsch (EF Pro Cycling) jumped out of the pack next, gunning for the sprint, with Boasson Hagen chasing once again, successfully overhauling him to take maximum green jersey points.
Alpecin-Fenix's Jimmy Janssens was looking to take the second maximum KOM points for his team coming up to the Pont du Gard once more, with Gibbons visible again at the pointy end of affairs. Rutsch was out for revenge after the intermediate sprint, however, taking three KOM points ahead of Krieger and Janssens.
Ag2r La Mondiale's Julien Duval was the first to peek out the front of the pack heading to the next intermediate sprint, before Rutsch looked to have sewn up even more points if it wasn't for Lotto-Soudal's Nikolas Maes, crossing the line first ahead of Gibbons for the Belgian squad, who have been quiet during these virtual races.
Quarterman, possibly sporting the most aesthetic pain cave of the virtual peloton, a couple of Trek-Segafredo jerseys adorning an exposed brickwork wall, attacked again with 4.5km to go, the Brit hitting 7.6w/kg in his haste to get away before Christian Knees (Ineos) and Gradek closed him down.
Boasson Hagen was gurning hard as he churned out 500w coming into the closing kilometres, the Norwegian having won the combativity prize for the day. Sebastian Langeveld then stretched his legs around the numerous, the pack flying along the virtual roads.
Boasson Hagen was still leading, as riders around him used power-ups, before Alex Kirsch took over at the head of the race.
Gibbons then opened things up as Koen de Kort came through, Callum Scotson also charging for the line. It couldn't have been closer as the sprint exploded, with Groupama-FDJ's Jake Stewart storming through and looking to have taken victory but it was Rally Cycling's Matteo Dal-Cin by the smallest of margins.
Men's virtual Tour de France, stage three: RGV
1. Matteo Dal-Cin (Can) Rally Cycling, in 59-24
2. Jake Stewart (GBr) Groupama-FDJ
3. Callum Scotson (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
4. Ethan Hayter (GBr) Ineos
5. Ryan Gibbons (RSA) NTT
6. Rasmus Tiller (Nor) NTT
7. Koen de Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
8. Lorrezno Manzin (Fra) Total Direct Energie
9. Jonas Rutsch (Ger) EF Pro Cycling
10. Alex Kirsch (Lux) Trek-Segafredo, all at same time
General classification after stage three
1. NTT (RSA) - 193 points
2. Rally Cycling (USA) - 156 pts
3. Trek-Segafredo (USA) - 127 pts
4. Alpecin-Fenix (Bel) - 99 pts
5. Israel Start-Up Nation (ISR) - 88 pts
6. EF Pro Cycling (USA) - 75 pts
7. Mitchelton-Scott (Aus) - 70 pts
8. Ineos (GBr) - 66 pts
9. CCC (Pol) - 61 pts
10. Ag2r La Mondiale (Fra) - 61 pts
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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