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The perfect team assist from Jumbo Visma was thrown away at the finish to stage 3 of the Criterium du Dauphine. Wout van Aert, looking strong and in the perfect position to take his second victory of the race, raised his arms in celebration unaware of an onrushing David Gaudu to his left. Gaudo came through to steal the win thanks to a perfectly timed bike throw for the line.

An immaculate team performance on the final climb was enough to return Wout van Aert (Jumbo Visma) to the race lead, but the biggest of ball-drops by the Belgian allowed David Gaudu (Groupama FDJ) to snatch stage victory.

Before his arms were even above his head Van Aert had realised the magnitude of his error. Looking to his right he could see Gaudu, a half wheel ahead and celebrating victory, correctly, after a perfectly timed bike throw for the line.

Out of contention, but equally aware of the situation, was Victor Lafay (Cofidis) who could content himself with third place and a big boost to his overall placing.

Stage three had, on paper, Wout van Aert’s name written all over it. And after two straight stages set up for punchy sprinters, why not a third? As the race headed away from the Alps and onto the aggressive verdant slopes of the Massif Central, the stage offered a change of scenery, even as the terrain remained less different than the similar to the days before.

B&B Hotels – KTM were the stage’s early animators, putting Sebastian Schönberger into the day’s first break with Thomas Champion (Cofidis), Jonas Gregaard (Uno-X Pro Cycling) and Omer Goldstein (Israel PremierTech), later sending King of the Mountains Pierre Rolland up the road after them.

Rolland was accompanied by team-mates Alexis Gougeard and Miguel Heidemann who were tasked with working to cement his lead in the competition. It was not soon enough for them to nick the early mountains points, which went to the two non-B&B riders on the category 3, Côte de Saint-Vert.

While Rolland had his hopes on a stage victory, to go along with his polka dot jersey, the peloton refused to allow the break a large enough lead on the road to make it a realistic proposition. A three minute gap was the maximum the front riders could maintain; a group that was for a short spell six strong soon fell away on the taxing roads to half that.

Into the last 50km and only Gregaard could keep pace with Rolland and Schönberger, with Gregaard making no challenge to the Frenchman for the one point on offer on the category 4, Côte de Besse-en-Chandesse.

At the front of the bunch, the team of leader Alexis Vuillermoz, Total Energies, shared responsibilities with race favourites Jumbo Visma. As the pointy end of proceedings neared, the wind picked up and so did the efforts of the team in yellow, precipitously bringing the break’s lead back below one hundred seconds.

The landscape rolled as the peloton pushed on towards the 6km, 5.6% Montee de Chastreix-Sancy. As the stage neared its finale, the work of Jumbo Visma had effectively killed off the break’s chances of claiming the day.

Rolland was caught just beyond the foot of the climb, with his colleagues succumbing to the inevitable 1500m later. Gregaard was the last of them to fall thanks to a courageous final push that nevertheless proved no match for the might of Jumbo Visma.

With 4km to go the peloton was largely together, though riders unable to match Kruiswijk’s pace gradually fell away.

Tsgabu Grmay was the rider to kick things off, the Bike Exchange Jayco rider not lasting long out front before being returned to the fold by Jonas Vinegaard (Jumbo Visma). Tao Geogehan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) didn’t lift his eyes from the Danish rider’s wheel as the metres ticked by.

The yellow jersey, Alexis Vuillermoz (TotalEnergies), could not keep up and he slipped backwards with 2.5km remaining of the stage.

A move from Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroen) was followed and then countered by Primoz Roglic (Jumbo Visma). Roglic then slowed the pace enough to allow teammate Van Aert to get back, as the favourites went under the flamme rouge.

It looked like the perfect setup for Van Aert who started his sprint, stayed strong, then sat up too soon, as an immaculate throw from David Gaudu snatched victory on the line.

An embarrassed Van Aert stood astride the podium in yellow, chastened by a moment more famous than many of his past and future wins will prove.

Van Aert also retained the lead in the points competition. A strong finish from Matteo Jorgenson moved the American into pole position in the young riders’ battle.


  1. Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) 12:50:32
  2. David Gaudu (Groupama FDJ) +0:06s
  3. Victor Lafay (Cofidis) +0:12
  4. Patrick Konrad (BORA – hansgrohe) +0:16s
  5. Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar) “
  6. Ruben Guerreiro (EF Education-EasyPost) “
  7. Esteban Chaves (EF Education-EasyPost) “
  8. Primož Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) “
  9. Steff Cras (Lotto Soudal) “
  10. Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroën) “

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