Third day, and third sprint on the Critérium du Dauphiné. In Le Coteau, it was however a full bunch that came for the win, and the yellow jersey Christophe Laporte took victory again. Although the peloton experienced a quiet day for a long time, despite an unexpected neutralization halfway through, some crashes still occurred in a stressful last hour of racing. Groupama-FDJ managed to get through it all, and a first big test now awaits David Gaudu on Wednesday, with a long individual time trial.

The profile at the start of Monistrol-sur-Loire could have made for a lively race on stage 3 of the Critérium du Dauphiné. It did not happen. Only two riders broke away after a few minutes, and only Mathieu Burgaudeau remained in the lead after twenty kilometres of racing, since Lorenzo Milesi (DSM) decided to wait for the peloton. “We expected a small breakaway, but maybe not that small”, smiled Matthieu Ladagnous. “With the stage being located before the time trial and four hard days, but also after two complicated days, everyone wanted to take advantage of this stage to recover”. And so that’s what the peloton did for the first half of the day. The only man in front even stopped his effort after less than 80 kilometres, and a calm bunch therefore headed peacefully to Le Coteau. Halfway through the race, the peloton was momentarily stopped due to a demonstration, and it was only much later that the proper race resumed. Just over fifty kilometres from the finish, some riders contested the intermediate sprint for bonus seconds, then a big crash occurred in the middle of the peloton. “Lenny had a slight fright, but he crashed on a pile that was already on the ground, and he got by ok”, detailed Philippe Mauduit. “It’s rare to have the peloton as a whole for that long,” noted Matthieu Ladagnous. “We must still remain careful because there may be accelerations, crashes. When you are a bit less focused, it can be dangerous”.

“David is where he needs to be”, Matthieu Ladagnous

Following this crash, the peloton waited, returned as one piece, and headed for the last climb of the day, almost painless for the riders because of its average gradient (3%). On the other hand, the tension increased further in the last fifteen kilometres to reach Le Coteau, especially in the descent of the côte de Pinay. In the end, everything went smoothly until the last three kilometres. A few crashes occurred again as the final sprint approached, but without consequences for the GC riders. Meanwhile, Christophe Laporte went for another stage success, thus keeping his yellow jersey. “A day like this is always stressful for the riders, but in the end, we came in the sprint as planned”, said Philippe Mauduit. “The goal was to try to save as much energy as possible and not hit the ground. As we don’t have a sprinter here, the most important thing was not to lose time and not to crash on these first three days of racing. We are in the same time than the other favourites, so we are right on track”. Finishing inside the peloton, David Gaudu now sits 30th overall, twenty-three seconds behind the leader. “David hasn’t lost time over these three days, that’s the main thing,” concluded Matthieu. “He is where he needs to be in the general standings. Tomorrow, there is an important time trial, and we hope he will have a great day. However, nothing will be settled, because then there will be four hard days”. On Wednesday, the race against the clock will be contested over 31.1 kilometres on hilly terrain.

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