Criterium du Dauphine: Chris Froome retains race lead as Nikias Arndt win stage three
Last Updated: 11/06/14 10:21am
Nikias Arndt, right, edged out Kris Boeckmans, second right, in a photo finish on stage three
Chris Froome retained his overall lead of the Criterium du Dauphine as Nikias Arndt sprinted to a narrow victory on stage three in Le Teil.
German rider Arndt claimed his first win of the season by beating Lotto Belisol’s Kris Boeckmans in a photo finish, while Reinhardt Janse van Rensburg crossed the line in third to ensure Giant-Shimano had two riders in the top three.
Froome followed in the peloton alongside his rivals for overall victory to ensure he retains his 12-second lead over Alberto Contador in the general classification.
Arndt, 22, said afterwards: "I can't believe it, that was unbelievable. I lost ground before the final corner and we came through in about 10th position. It would normally be too far back but we knew there was a head wind at the finish so there was still time. I launched from quite a way out, nearly 400m, and managed to hold enough speed to the line."
The 194km third stage contained two categorised climbs, but with the second of them being followed by almost 40km of flat road to the finish, a bunch sprint was an inevitability.
Late escapes fail
Veteran German Jens Voigt (Trek Factory Racing) tried to dictate otherwise by initiating an eight-man breakaway with 20km to go, but they were unable to open up enough of a lead and were caught 6km from home.
Lieuwe Westra (Astana) was also reeled back in after mounting a subsequent solo escape, which left the road clear for the sprint teams to battle for victory on a technical finale.
Giant-Shimano had strength in numbers and converted that into a win, but stage favourite Arnaud Demare (FDJ) became distanced in the final 1km and had to settle for eighth place.
Afterwards, Froome answered questions on his use of an inhaler during Monday's second stage, which raised eyebrows in the French media.
He said: “I have used an inhaler since I was a kid. I do have exercise-induced asthma. It is nothing new to me, I have used it through my career. I don’t use it every time I race, normally only when I know I’ve got a big effort coming up. It’s completely allowed. It’s a bit of a surprise that everyone is talking about it.”
Stage three result
1 Nikias Arndt (Ger) Giant-Shimano, 5:30:03
2 Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Lotto Belisol, same time
3 Reinhardt Janse van Rensburg (RSA) Giant-Shimano, st
4 Yannick Martinez (Fra) Europcar, st
5 Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida, st
6 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEdge, st
7 Alexey Tsatevich (Rus) Katusha, st
8 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ, st
9 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step, st
10 Marco Marcato (Ita) Cannondale, st
1 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, 10:07:47
2 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo, +12secs
3 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin, +21
4 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp, +33
5 Jurgen van den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol, +35
6 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, +50
7 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Trek Factory Racing, +1:22
8 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, same time
9 Adam Yates (GB) Orica-GreenEdge, +1:31
10 Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana, +1:35