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Critérium du Dauphiné 2013: Stage 3

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Stage three of the Criterieum du Dauphine sees two climbs near the end of the 167 kilometers, but another mass sprint is expected today.

Welcome back to the Dauphine! The first half of the stage is relatively flat, but there are two category three climbs near the end. Will that be enough to dump the sprinters, or will they take their chances again today?
 

A four-man group has gotten away and currently has a gap of 6:15 on the peloton. The four are Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM), Jacob Rathe (Garmin-Sharp), Fumiyuki Beppu (Orica-GreenEdge) and Sander Cordeel (Lotto Belisol).

Oops, forgot to say we still have about 111 kms to go.

The quartet got away in the first kilometer. Their maximum gap was 6:50.

What does today's stage look like? Take a peek here at the map and climbs.

173 riders took to the start shortly after 10 this morning. The only non-starter was Chris Anker Sorensen of Saxo-Tinkoff.

Jelle Vanendert of Lotto Belisol had to abandon the race yesterday, and now his Tour de France participation is in doubt. This season has not gone as he expected.

85km remaining from 167km

The gap has dropped ever so slightly and is now at 5:50.

It seems unlikely that this break group will make it to the end. Flecha is only 1:57 down on GC so he is a danger to the leader.

The leader of this race wears a blue and yellow jersey, and again today it is gracing the shoulders of Europcar's David Veilleux.

1     David Veilleux (Can) Team Europcar     7:56:50      
2     Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step     0:01:56      
3     Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack Leopard     0:01:57      
4     Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Argos-Shimano            
5     Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team            
6     Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team            
7     Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling            
8     Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling            
9     Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Spa) Movistar Team            
10     Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling           

There are in fact more than 50 riders in that 1:57 back group, including Alberto Contador, Thomas Voeckler, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Joaquim Rodriguez, Samuel Sanchez and Michael Rogers.

79km remaining from 167km

THe four leaders are at the feed zone, and the field is 5:40 back. The climbing will start soon.

Europcar has gotten serious about the chase, and with help from Sky and Saxo-Tinkoff, has knocked the gap down to 5:05.

61 km to go, a gap of 4:50 and the climbing has begun.

The green jersey for the leader in the points ranking currently belongs to Gianni Meersman (OPQS), who has finished second in both stages.

1     Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step     24      pts
2     David Veilleux (Can) Team Europcar     20      
3     Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling     15      
4     Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack Leopard     12      
5     Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team     10    
   

We've been having some technical problems here but think things are going to work out now....

Thomas Voeckler drops back to visit the race doctor's car. We don't know what the problem is.

55km remaining from 167km

The gap continues to tumble, and is now at the 4 minutes mark.

Tony Martin (OPQS) has caught the stomach bug  that is apparently making the rounds. He wasn't sure he would start today, but has done so.

52km remaining from 167km

Did we say the gap is tumbling? It sure is! Now it is at 2:57!

OPQS is now leading the charge, while the four leaders keep grinding away.

 

Vini Fantini has handed back its invitation to the Giro di Lombardia this fall, in light of its two Giro d'Italia doping cases.

Looks like the peloton is still all together -- it is a big group.

45km remaining from 167km

Cordeel, Beppu, Rathe und Flecha hit the top of the category three Col des Echarmeaux,with Flecha taking the points. The gap is now 1:53.

Sorry about that, as I said we ae having technical problems here....

The best climber can claim a white polka dot jersey and today that is Thomas Damuseau of Argos-Shimano.

1     Thomas Damuseau (Fra) Team Argos-Shimano     55      pts
2     David Veilleux (Can) Team Europcar     40      
3     Ricardo Garcia Ambroa (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi     28      
4     Jean-Marc Bideau (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement     24      
5     Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement     15     

There was still more climbing to the top after the mountain ranking, and now the four leaders are over it all and descending, with a gap of of 1:16.

Some great crowds along the road on the climb. They, and the peloton, are enjoying the warm weather and sunshine. We are not really used to seeing races in such lovely conditions!

Beppu appeared to have some troubles on the descent, but they are all together again.

The Japanese rider lives in this area, by the way, and his girlfriend is awaiting him at the finish. They are expecting their first child in September.

OPQS still comfortably leading the chase. With 35 km to go and a gap of one minute, they are not at all worried.

There is one intermediate sprint today, and it is coming up in a few kilometers.

Flecha spent much of the day as virtual leader of the race, but now that is over.

The field looks happy to let the gap hover around the 1.10 mark.

And we will round the rankings out with the best teams:

1     Team Europcar     23:54:24      
2     Omega Pharma-Quick Step     0:01:56      
3     Sky Procycling     0:01:57      
4     Radioshack Leopard            
5     Movistar Team            
 

25km remaining from 167km

The four leaders come to the sprint, and the points go to Flecha ahead of Beppu.

Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto Belisol) isn't worried about stage wins or results here. More important to him are the feelings and confirmation of his good form.

It looks like the end is nigh -- with 20 km to go, the gap is coming down and is now at only 30 seconds.

There is still one climb to go, the Col des Sauvages. From the top it is 9.5 km to the finish line.

With 17.5 km to go, Cordeel attacks out of the group. They can practically feel the peloton's breath at this point.

Rathe gives chase.

Flecha and Beppu are out of the picture now, as the other two have a big lead. Beppu is now caught by the field.

Sky jumps to the front of the peloton.

Rathe has fallen back and is now with Flecha. Actually, now they are now together with the peloton.

Cordeel has started up the final climb, with a 17 second gap.

Sky has done its job well,they will have Cordeel any second now.

Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) jumps from the field. He is joined by Chavenel (OPQS).

Tthings are moving quickly enough that some riders are being dropped off the back. Chavanel and Hoogerland no longer have a gap but are at the front of the field

Tony Martin and Timmy Duggan are amongst those who have fallen back out of the field.

Andrew Talansky may be ill, but at least he is still in the main group. Well, as we write that, we hear he has just dropped back.

Laurent Didier of RadioShack attacks on the climb.

Nacer Bouhanni really wants to win today but this climbing is not really his thing. He is hanging on so far, with at least one teammate at his side to help.

And now a Lotto Belisol rider makes his way up to Didier.

It is Bart de Clerq, who in fact passes Didier, who is only meters ahead of the peloton. Not that de Clerq has all that much of a led himself.

But he does pull away at the top of the climb, and picks up four points as the first ne over. HIs gap is maybe 10 seconds.

Chavanel leads the chase to catch him on the descent.

De Clerq hangs on to his narrow lead. OPQS, Movistar, Sky, all near the front of the field.

Almost over now for de Clerq, with 5km to go. Gianni Meersman of OPQS has a tiny gap on the peloton.

Meersman moves up to de Clerq. The gap is not large, though.

25km remaining from 167km

2.5km to go and still the tiny gap for the two Belgians.

Bouhanni moving up in the field.

Not Meersman but Kwiatkowski.

And thatÄs it. with 1.5km to go, the two are caught.

BMC at the head of the field. Both Viviani and Bouhanni visible as they cross under the 1 km market.

They make their way through one left hand turn and now another. On to the finish!

GEraint Thomas leads the way, Michael Matthews jumps, followed by Boasson Hagen.

And the Norwegian takes the sprint by a hair!

Third place goes to Meersman, after two second-place finishes.

Fellow Norwegian Thor Hushovd was also near the front, maybe fourth. Good to see him back in form.

"I'm really happy," says EBH. "The team did a really great job."

This is his third Dauphine stage win.

Looks like Bouhanni got boxed in near the end, he finishes as 7th.

The top ten GC remains unchanged.

Top ten on the stage:

1 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
2 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
3 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
4 Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC Racing Team
5 Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale
6 Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Team Argos-Shimano
7 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ
8 Paul Voss (Ger) Team NetApp-Endura
9 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
10 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team

And the top ten in GC:

1 David Veilleux (Can) Team Europcar
2 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:01:56
3 Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack Leopard 0:01:57
4 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team
5 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Argos-Shimano
6 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team
7 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling
8 Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Spa) Movistar Team
9 Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling
10 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff

These first three stages were easy ones. From here, things get fun!

Tomorrow we have a pancake-flat 32.5km time trial, and Thursday the field will climb again, finishing off with a mountaintop finish atop an HC-ranked climb!

Thanks for reading along and be sure to join us again.

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