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Critérium du Dauphiné: David Gaudu wins stage 3 as Wout van Aert celebrates too early

Belgian puts his arms in the air too early as Gaudu takes the stage.

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David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) won stage 3 of the Critérium du Dauphiné in dramatic fashion after Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) celebrated too early at the finish.

Gaudu came from the middle of the pack on the first proper uphill finish of the race on the Montée de Chastreix-Sancy to take the stage after Jumb0-Visma had tried to set up Van Aert for the win.

The Belgian appeared to be struggling on the final climb but was brought back into contention by his teammates just before the sprint. The winner of stage 1 was well placed as the sprint began but it was Gaudu who came to the line with greater speed and an all-important bike throw.

As Van Aert raised his arms to celebrate Gaudu came through to win by half a wheel. Victor Lafay (Cofidis) finished third.

Also read: Jumbo-Visma sport director says ‘no guarantee for anyone’ for Tour de France selection

The consolation for Van Aert came in the form of the yellow jersey after overnight leader Alexis Vuillermoz was dropped with just over 2km to go on the stage. Van Aert leads the race by six seconds over Gaudu ahead of Wednesday’s crucial time trial.

The stage came down to the final climb with Jumbo-Visma looking to set up Van Aert for his second stage of the race. The Dutch team set a furious pace with Jonas Vingegaard on the front for much of the ascent.

Ben O’Connor put in an attack with 1.3km to go but was immediately matched by pre-race favorite Primož Roglič. The Slovenian then slowed the remnants of the front group down in order to give Van Aert a chance to recover after the Belgian started to drift backward.

There were no attacks in the final 1,000 meters and it looked as though Van Aert would come up trumps but Gaudu had other ideas. He kept out of trouble on the climb and sat in the middle of the pack as the sprint opened but he found a gap on the right side and finished with speed to take the second win of his season so far.

How it unfolded

The early attack formed with Sebastian Schönberger (B&B Hotels-KTM), Jonas Wilsly (Uno-X) and Thomas Champion (Cofidis)  joined by Omer Goldstein (Israel-Premier Tech). The latter was dropped but the action from behind saw three more riders from B&B Hotels-KTM go on the attack with Pierre Rolland, Alexis Gougeard, and Miguel Heidemann joining the early leaders to form a dangerous six-rider group with around 125km to go.

Heidemann and Gougeard were burned off as the break looked to establish a healthy lead but with TotalEnergie and Jumbo-Visma chasing the gap never crept above a handful of minutes. Champion was ditched from the break with 46km to go and on the Côte de Besse-en-Chandesse, with 32km to go, the gap stood at 2:27

The three remaining leaders were brought to within 37 seconds as the final second category climb began, with Ineos Grenadiers joining in with the pace setting as they looked to protect Tao Geoghegan Hart. The British rider was on Vingegaard’s wheel when the Dane took up the pace setting as the break was caught and the peloton thinned to less than 30 riders.

Chris Froome was distanced just before the climb peaked with 1km to go but the remaining GC riders kept pace as Jumbo-Visma retained control heading into the sprint.

Results will be available once stage has completed.

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