Wout van Aert saw himself too handsome too soon. After the undermining work of his teammates on the final climb of Chastreix-Sancy (6.2km at 5.6%), the Jumbo-Visma rider had a boulevard in front of him to claim victory in a short sprint committee. The wearer of the green jersey seemed to have done the hardest after going up Victor Lafay (3rd). But he did not see the return on the right of David Gaudu, wrongly raising his arms before changing his mind after crossing the line.
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Clearly on the photo finish, this 3rd stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné does indeed belong to the leader of Groupama-FDJ. Van Aert will be able to console himself with the recovery of the yellow jersey, released the day before to Alexis Vuillermoz (TotralEnergies), who reached the finish a minute late.
What a picture: Gaudu styled Van Aert, who raised his arms too soon
No big fight among the best
It was the first arrival at the top of this Dauphiné. Not the hardest, of course, the Alps reserving this privilege this weekend. But this meeting on the slopes of Puy de Sancy, in Auvergne, offered a first opportunity to observe the forces present just over three weeks before the start of the Tour de France. There was not really a big fight, the peloton of cadors being 27 strong on the line.
But we saw a few attempts, like Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroën) or Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), before the red flame. No one was able to tell the difference, the fault in particular of the high tempo set during most of the climb by Steven Kruijswijk then Jonas Vingegaard, in the shoes of a luxury teammate despite his 2nd place obtained last year on the Round.
First victory for Gaudu since his fractured vertebra
With the last kilometer being all flat except for the last 200 meters at 8%, he was pretty sure it would be a sprint. Well led by Vingegaard, Van Aert then had a huge placard behind his back. But he fell in front of an explosive and clever Gaudu. The pocket climber took full advantage of the suction to spring in the last meters and offer himself his first victory since his fractured vertebra, suffered last March in Paris-Nice. His first success, too, in a French World Tour race.
The 25-year-old Breton let out a cry mixed with rage and relief. This success marks his return to the fore, after a successful comeback last week on the Mercan’Tour Classic (3rd). Thanks to the bonuses, on the eve of a flat time of 32 kilometers which was not favorable to him, he was in 2nd place overall, 6” behind Van Aert.
Gaudu: “I said to myself: ‘I’m going to eat it’ and I succeeded”
Vuillermoz did not deserve, Froome confirms his return to form
Unsurprisingly, Alexis Vuillermoz (TotalEnergies) paid for his dream day the day before, when he won the 2nd stage and took the yellow jersey. However, he fought well. His teammates rode all day and the Jura puncher was only left 2.4 km from the finish. He fought to the end and crossed the line 59” behind in 43rd place.
Chris Froome (Israel-Start Up Nation) finished just ahead, in 35th place, conceding only 31” to the peloton. The quadruple winner of the Tour did not miss much to stay with the big names. The Briton thus confirms his return to form, a week after his very encouraging 11th place in the Mercan’Tour Classic.
Van Aert on his early celebration: ‘A rookie mistake is a shame’
This 3rd Auvergne stage has long been led by the B&B Hotels-KTM team. After placing Sebastian Schonberger in the first breakaway of the day, also composed of Jonas Wilsly (Uno-X) and Thomas Champion (Cofidis), the formation of Jérôme Pineau launched three men against, Pierre Rolland, Alexis Gougeard and Miguel Heidemann.
Once the junction was made, a hundred kilometers from the finish, there were therefore four riders from the same team among the six in the lead. A daring tactic but without success in the end. The peloton never gave them more than 4 minutes and made the connection at the start of the final climb, 5km from the goal. Pierre Rolland still took the opportunity to consolidate his best climber’s jersey.
David Gaudu skips Wout van Aert on the line
Credit: Getty Images
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