Australian rider Caleb Ewan produced an irresistible late burst of speed to pip a stunned Sam Bennett of Ireland on the finish line of stage three of the Tour de France on Monday.
France’s Julian Alaphilippe retained the leader’s yellow jersey after the 198-kilometre stage from the Nice football stadium to the hilltop town of Sisteron in the Haute Provence region.
Ewan rockets to Tour de France stage win
Ewan, 26, won three stages on the 2019 Tour but started this edition on his backside after a bruising fall on crash-strewn opening stage.
Known as the pocket rocket and standing 1.65 metres (5ft 5ins), Ewan bided his time and overtook Bennett right on the line.
The timely win gives Lotto a double boost after the team was reduced from eight to six riders on stage one when Philippe Gilbert broke a knee while John Degenkolb was thrown off the race for being too slow.
“It worked perfectly to plan, I had to move just at the right moment. It was disappointing to lose two risers on day one, but everyone has pulled together and we’ve done quite well,” Ewan said.
“The world is watching and everyone would like to be here at this, it’s the biggest race in the world and I’m delighted.”
Ewan won three stages on the 2019 Tour de France.
After a rampaging climax to Sunday’s race provided by Alaphilippe, this stage was a more leisurely run through a national park located between the Mediterranean and the foot of the Alps, winding through oak and pine-forested hills.
With around a third of the peloton nursing grazes and bumps from that bruising first stage, and with a speedy stage two in their legs, the teams took it slowly before the Tour was treated to its first real sprint.
“Today was one of the few real sprint opportunities, so we weren’t going to give that up,” Ewan said after stepping from the podium.