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Evenepoel seizes control with Tour of Norway stage win

Remco Evenepoel (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) won the queen stage of the Tour of Norway on the third day of racing and moved back into the general classification lead.

Jay Vine (Alpecin-Fenix) had the Belgian rider in his sights but could get no closer than 27 seconds for second place,  while Luke Plapp (Ineos Grenadiers) took the final podium spot, 1:05 off the winning pace.

Crosswinds and climbing created huge gaps across the 175.7km stage 3. The Belgian made his winning move with 5km to go on the 12km uphill finish to Stavsro and the mountaintop finish of the Gaustatoppen. There were 3,863 metres of elevation gain across the route, with the final 12km setting up a stiff mountaintop finish with an average gradient of 7.7%, the maximum at 16.8%, making the stage  the most mountainous in the history of the Tour of Norway.

“I am happy. It was quite a long day, with headwind in the beginning, then crosswinds which again played a major role, but luckily, I had Kasper with me there, and I want to thank him for his work. Then, on the climb, I didn’t know how far we were from the finish when I made my move, but I felt good and just kept going,” Evenepoel said.

Eight riders got away in the early kilometres and fought headwinds for a 1:50 gap after 25km - Ben King (Human Powered Health), Joel Nicolau (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Vito Braet (Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise), Lucas Eriksson (Riwal Cycling Team), Mads Kristensen (TeamColoQuick), Filippo Fiorelli (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè), Floris De Tier (Alpecin-Fenix) and André Drege (Team Coop). GC favorites Evenepoel, race leader Ethan Hayter, who had won stage 2, and the rest of Ineos Grenadiers remained in the front group.

The break of eight riders hit the opening categorised climb, Hogåsen, with Braet the first to crest. The second and third-placed points went to Nicolau and Drege, respectively.

The breakaway approached the second KOM with 80km to race with a 2:20 gap. At the first-category climb of Imingfjell, Nicolau went on the attack and took top points, trailed by Fiorelli and Kristensen.

Across the long descent towards the valley and uphill finish to Stavsro, the main group of chasers caught the break. EF Education-EasyPost and UnoX rode at the front of the main peloton with 25km to go, as Michel Hermann (Jumbo-Visma) drove solo and opened a gap of 50 seconds over the next few kilometres. Hermann held a 1:30 advantage at the base of the final climb.

From the reduced group, Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) launched an attack with just under 9km to go, Hermann falling back and out of the lead. A trio took over - Luke Plapp (Ineos Grenadiers), Jay Vine (Alpecin-Fenix) and Evenepoel - with Evenepoel making his move to go out front alone on a 9% gradient.

“I was a bit surprised of how the legs reacted, so I continued to push hard to increase my advantage. It was a long effort, but at the end of the day I am delighted with this victory and the gaps in the GC. Now we’ll try to control the race and see if there will be any other opportunities for us until the end of the week," said Evenepoel, who in addition to the overall standings also leads the KOM and youth classifications.

Evenepoel will start stage 4 with a gap of 46 seconds over Vine in the GC, and 1:24 over Plapp.

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Jackie has been involved in professional sports for more than 30 years in news reporting, sports marketing and public relations. She founded Peloton Sports in 1998, a sports marketing and public relations agency, which managed projects for Tour de Georgia, Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and USA Cycling. She also founded Bike Alpharetta Inc, a Georgia non-profit to promote safe cycling. She is proud to have worked in professional baseball for six years - from selling advertising to pulling the tarp. She has climbed l'Alpe d'Huez three times (not fast). Her favorite road rides are around horse farms in north Georgia (USA) and around lavender fields in Provence (France), and some mtb rides in Park City, Utah (USA).

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