Arndt Sprints to Stage 3 Win in Dauphine Libere
Nikias Arndt (Giant-Shimano) has won Stage 3 of the 2014 Criterium du Dauphine Libere. The German took a bunch sprint to win the 194-km ride from Ambert to Le Teil in 5:30:03. Kris Boeckmans (Lotto-Belisol) finished second, and Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg, Arndt’s teammate, took third. Chris Froome (Sky) remains the maillot jaune.
Heat (temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius) greeted the riders at the start. Blel Kadri (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Natnael Berhane (Europcar), and Cesare Benedetti (NetApp-Endura) sallied off of the front and ground out a lead that maxed out at four minutes over the Sky-led peloton. Eventually, FDJ.fr took over at the front and upped the tempo on behalf of Arnaud Demare. Trek lent muscle to the chase for a time, but the Luxembourger squad’s effort ended when Giacomo Nizzolo, the team’s sprinter, crashed with 62 km left and abandoned with a wrist injury. At the time of the crash, the break led the bunch by two minutes.
On the day’s second Category 2 climb, the Col de la Mure, the peloton cut the escapees’ advantage to one minute. With 23 km to go, the bunch reeled in the break.
Jens Voigt (Trek) countered, and Pim Ligthart (Lotto-Belisol), Andriy Grivko (Astana), Imanol Erviti (Movistar), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Kristjan Koren (Cannondale), Elia Favilli (Lampre-Merida), and Alexis Gougeard (Giant-Shimano) joined him. The octet forged a 40-second lead before Omega Pharma-Quick Step went to the front and started chasing. The peloton reeled in the break seven km from the finish. Lieuwe Westra (Astana) jumped clear, but the bunch snared him.
No one team controlled the peloton in the final km. FDJ.fr tried, but the French squad could not keep its sprint train together. With 200 m to go, Arndt powered into the lead and just held off Boeckmans.
According to Arndt, he was supposed to lead out Van Renseburg. “The plan was to go for Reinardt,” Arndt stated, “but he crashed and he wasn’t sure how he was. I still led him through the final corner and started my sprint thinking that he would come past, but I felt so fast and kept going and in the end I had enough speed to get to the line.”
In the overall, Froome leads Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) by 0:12 and Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) by 0:21. Stage 4, a 167.5-km ride from Montelimar to Gap, will not change this state of affairs, although a Category 2 climb 12 km from the finish should produce some fireworks. A lone escapee or a member of a break will probably win. Who will it be? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!