Saudi Tour stage three: Søren Wærenskjold takes first pro win

GC leader Dylan Groenewegen falls off GC top spot after tough finale of steep ramps

Søren Wærenskjold
(Image credit: Alex Broadway / Getty Images)

Uno-X rider Søren Wærenskold has won the third stage of the Saudi Tour in a tough uphill sprint, beating yesterday's winner Jonathan Milan (Bahrain Victorious) and Cees Bol (Astana) into second and third respectively.

Despite the punishing finale, the Norwegian rider's team managed to put together an effective lead-out going into the last 500 metres, delivering 22-year-old Wærenskjold to his first ever pro victory, and the team's first win of the 2023 season.

As Under-23 world time trial champion, he is proving himself impressively versatile.

The final 1,500m saw a succession of steep ramps between sandy and rocky banks, which split the race and put paid to the efforts of pure sprinter Dylan Groenewegen (Cofidis), who finished 1.11 back.

It meant the Dutchman, who won Monday's first stage, conceded his green leader's jersey to Milan, who now leads the overall, points and young rider classifications with two days remaining.

Today's stage was the lumpiest yet, featuring 1,473m of climbing. The parcours began at Al Manshiya Train Station, running north-west to finish at Abu Rakah 159.2km later.

This is the third edition of the modern Saudi Tour, a 2.1 ranked race. It began on Monday with a 180km south-easterly schlep from AlUla International Airport to Khaybar, won by Groenewegen, who also took the leader's jersey.

Yesterday Milan, who had been nowhere to be seen in Monday's finale, stepped forth and conquered in the sprint following the 184km from Shalal to Sijlyat Rocks, with Bol third.

With Milan now leading the race overall by just eight seconds, and up to 10 seconds available in bonus seconds at the end of each stage, the GC remains open.

Tomorrow's stage, which features a major climb up to 1,215m just a handful of kilometres from the end at Skyviews of Harrat Uwayrid is likely to change things again. Particularly the 2.9km section at 12%.

The race ends on Friday with the shortest stage at 142.9km from AlUla Old Town to Maraya, but it remains, predictably, rather lumpsome and even manages to finish with a final uphill kilometre.

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After cutting his teeth on local and national newspapers, James began at Cycling Weekly as a sub-editor in 2000 when the current office was literally all fields. 

Eventually becoming chief sub-editor, in 2016 he switched to the job of full-time writer, and covers news, racing and features.

A lifelong cyclist and cycling fan, James's racing days (and most of his fitness) are now behind him. But he still rides regularly, both on the road and on the gravelly stuff.