Dylan Groenewegen (BikeExchange-Jayco) claimed his first WorldTour victory in over two years with an explosive sprint on stage three of the Tour de France.
The Dutchman surfed the wheels of his rivals in the finale, pipping Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) to the line in a photo finish.
With this victory, Groenewegen took his sixth win of the season and added a fifth Tour de France stage to his palmarès.
Magnus Cort (EF Education-Easy Post) spent 130km up the road alone during the day, cleaning up all the king of the mountains points to cement his hold on the polka dot jersey.
Collecting six bonus seconds over the line, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) extended his race lead over Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl). The former will keep the yellow jersey on his shoulders on Monday’s rest day, as the race makes its way to mainland France ahead of Tuesday’s stage from Dunkirk to Calais.
How it happened
On the last of three stages held in Denmark, the riders headed south from Vejle to the coastal town of Sønderborg. The 182km route took in three fourth category bumps on what was expected to be an uncomplicated day for the peloton.
The moment the flag dropped, Cort shot out of the pack like a bullet. The mountains classification leader stretched out a gap of over six minutes as he powered solo towards the first climb of the day – the Côte de Koldingvej – which came just 30km into the stage.
As the summit approached, the wall of noise grew louder from the Danish crowds. Cort rode through rapturous applause to claim the single king of the mountains point on offer and assure another day in the maillot à pois.
The Dane’s lead fell gradually thereafter. By the time he reached the second climb – the 800m-long Côte de Hejlsminde Strand – Cort’s advantage had halved, but he ploughed on unchallenged in his pursuit of mountains points.
The relaxed mood of the peloton shifted up a gear as the teams readied themselves for the intermediate sprint in Christiansfeld with 91km to go. Minutes after Cort rolled through, Christope Laporte (Jumbo-Visma) wound up the engine for Van Aert, who extended his points classification advantage over Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), pipping the Dutchman to the line. Laporte continued his sprint to deny Sagan fourth place in the photo finish.
Up ahead, Cort resumed his polka dot-inspired smash-and-grab over the Côte de Genner Strand, the longest climb of the race so far at just 1.7km. The EF Education-Easy Post rider put on a show for the locals, sprinting in the drops before waving his fist in the air as he completed the day’s trio of ascents.
Cort’s lone foray ended with 53km remaining. The Dane sat up and, with a contented smile, took his place back in the bunch.
With the finish in Sønderborg drawing closer, Jumbo-Visma began to dictate the pace at the front, sheltering race leader Van Aert from the headwind.
Passing under the 20km to go banner, the sprint teams set up in coloured streaks through the peloton. At the back of the bunch, a touching of wheels caused Maxime Bouet (Arkéa Samsic) to hit the floor. Fortunately, the Frenchman was able to remount his bike and returned to the growing tension in the pack.
A little over 10km to go, the road narrowed and a crash brought about a pile-up in the middle of the peloton. Those affected were forced into a panicked dash to regain contact with the front group, where Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl led the charge to the finish.
Florian Sénéchal (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) was the first rider to swing left onto the finishing straight with 800m to go. When Michael Mørkøv (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) took up his lead-out duties, Jakobsen wasn't in his usual place on the Dane's wheel.
As Van Aert and Sagan locked horns at full tilt towards the line, it was a different Dutchman who rolled the pair of them. Having not taken a WorldTour victory since February 2020, Groenewegen was back to winning ways on cycling's biggest stage, claiming an important stage win for his team on the final day in Denmark.
Jakobsen, who had been boxed in by the barriers in the finale, rolled home in fifth.
TOUR DE FRANCE 2022, STAGE THREE: VEJLE TO SØNDERBORG (182KM)
1. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) BikeExchange-Jayco, in 4-11-33
2. Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
3. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Deceuninck
4. Peter Sagan (Slo) TotalEnergies
5. Fabio Jakobsen (Ned) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl
6. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Jumbo-Visma
7. Alberto Dainese (Ita) Team DSM
8. Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Arkéa Samsic
9. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto Soudal
10. Danny van Poppel (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe, all at same time
General classification after stage three
1. Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma, in 9-01-17
2. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, at 7s
3. Tadej Pogačar (Svn) UAE Team Emirates, at 14s
4. Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo, at 18s
5. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Deceuninck, at 20s
6. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma, at 22s
7. Primož Roglič (Svn) Jumbo-Visma, at 23s
8. Adam Yates (Gbr) Ineos Grenadiers, at 30s
9. Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ, at 30s
10. Tom Pidcock (Gbr) Ineos Grenadiers, at 31s
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