Maximiliano Richeze went close to giving the Lampre-Merida a much needed WorldTour victory on stage three of the Eneco Tour, losing to Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) after starting his sprint early.
The Italian team has had a poor season and has won just a handful of minor races so far but Richeze has shown some form after taking eight top ten finishes at the Tour of Qinghai Lake in China in July. He was also fourth on the opening stage of the Eneco Tour.
Teammate Danilo Viganò' dragged Richeze up to the front in the high-speed finale. He then went in a late attack with Stybar, Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Belisol) and Lars Boom (Belkin) with a kilometre to go but was beaten by Stybar with a perfect sprint.
"It was a very good day for me, my legs were super and my team was outstanding in supporting me. Unluckily, I couldn't finish things off," he said.
"(Danilo) Viganò did an incredible job leading up to the front of the bunch just before the bend where Stybar escaped from the group. I took advantage and got on his wheel."
Richeze regretting starting his sprint a little early.
"Boom started early in the sprint and got a gap and perhaps I made a mistake by reacting instinctively and chasing him down," he explained.
"I lost some power in the last hundred metres and so couldn't do anything to stop Stybar coming back at me. I've got to look on the bright side of things: I went to close to winning against some of the best sprinters in the world. That's a huge satisfaction."
Richeze won the Pan American road race Championships and five stages at the Vuelta a Venezuela while riding for the D'Angelo & Antenucci-Nippo team in 2012.
He will have one final chance of victory on Thursday 169km fourth stage from Essen in Belgium to Vlijmen in the Netherlands.
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