Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) won stage three of the 2013 Critérium du Dauphiné from a bunch sprint in Tarare.
The Norwegian national champion leapt from the wheel of leadout man Geraint Thomas with 200m of the 167km stage remaining before out-pacing Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-QuickStep).
David Veilleux (Europcar) finished in the peloton to maintain his overall lead. The stage one winner remains one minute and 56 seconds ahead of Meersman, with Tony Gallopin (Radioshack) one second further back in third.
“I’m really happy to take the win today,” said two-time Tour de France stage winner Boasson Hagen. “The team did a great job to chase down the two riders in the front in the final kilometres. Geraint and Pete did lots of work to bring the move back.
“I felt pretty good in the sprint and I managed to take the win so I’m really happy about that, both for myself and the team. The whole team is really strong and I’m looking forward to the rest of the stages here.”
Former Team Sky rider Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM) was joined by Sander Cordeel (Lotto-Belisol), Fumiyuki Beppu (Orica-GreenEdge) and Jacob Rathe (Garmin-Sharp) in the day’s break and the quartet opened up a lead of nearly seven minutes.
That advantage began to tumble as Europcar took up the pace-setting for overall leader Veilleux and only Cordeel remained out ahead going into the second of two category three climbs. The Belgian was then caught before the summit of the climb, prompting team-mate Bart De Clercq (Lotto-Belisol) to attack.
The 26-year-old consolidated his lead on the subsequent descent but was caught by the marauding peloton with a little more than one kilometre remaining. Pete Kennaugh then led Team Sky under the flamme rouge before Thomas took up leadout duties, leaving Boasson Hagen to finish the job for the British squad.
Team Sky leader Chris Froome finished safely in the bunch and is 11th overall, one minute and 57 seconds off the race lead, in his final outing before the Tour de France.
The Critérium du Dauphiné continues on Wednesday with a 32.5km individual time trial from Villars-les-Dombes to Parc des Oiseaux.
Critérium du Dauphiné 2013 – stage three – result
1) Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) – Team Sky – 4:03:32 hours
2) Michael Matthews (AUS) – Orica-GreenEDGE same time
3) Gianni Meersman (BEL) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep
4) Thor Hushovd (NOR) – BMC Racing
5) Elia Viviani (ITA) – Cannondale Pro Cycling
6) Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) – Argos-Shimano
7) Nacer Bouhanni (FRA) – FDJ
8) Paul Voss (GER) – NetApp-Endura
9) Sylvain Chavanel (FRA) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep
10) Francesco Gavazzi (ITA) – Astana
1) David Veilleux (CAN) – Europcar – 12:00:22 hours
2) Gianni Meersman (BEL) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep +1’56”
3) Tony Gallopin (FRA) – Radioshack-Leopard +1’57”
4) Alejandro Valverde (SPA) – Movistar – same time
5) Warren Barguil (FRA) – Argos-Shimano
6) Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) – Astana
7) Geraint Thomas (GBR) – Team Sky
8) Angel Madrazo Ruiz (SPA) – Movistar
9) Richie Porte (AUS) – Team Sky
10) Alberto Contador (SPA) – Saxo-Tinkoff