Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) has won the third stage of the 2013 Eneco Tour.
The Czech former world cyclo-cross champion outsprinted his two confederates in an opportunist three-man breakaway to claim victory at the end of the 187.3km stage from Oosterhout to Brouwersdam.
Ariel Richeze (Lampre-Merida) was second, while defending champion, Belkin’s Lars Boom, finished third.
Stybar said he was delighted by the victory, his first individual triumph since winning stage three of last year’s Tour of Pologne.
The Czech thanked team-mate, Alessandro Pettachi, recently returned from a brief retirement, for working for him in the closing stages.
“Maybe it is because I am sleeping in the same room as Petacchi,” Stybar joked. “Maybe his sprint power rubbed off on me.”
“When I did the sprint in the final I waited, waited, and waited for the right moment. I let the other guys pass, jumped on the wheel of Richeze and then I came out from his wheel and I did my sprint in the very last moment to be powerful enough to pass him.”
The trio jumped clear of a peloton driven by Lotto Belisol with the flamme rouge in sight, in a similar move to the one that had brought victory for Boom’s team-mate, Mark Renshaw, on the opening stage.
Stage two winner, Arnaud Demare (FDJ), remains in the leader’s jersey, but by a single second from Boom. Stybar now lies third overall, just three seconds back.
A pan-flat third stage came to life during a high intensity closing 25 kilometres on the coastal roads of Holland.
Argos-Shimano appeared at the head of the bunch 14km from home, with Marcel Kittel unexpectedly leading the train of riders in white.
The German, winner of four stages at the Tour de France, appeared to be riding in a supporting role and when Astana, BMC, and Cannondale tried to make their presence felt, did not allow his team-mates to displaced.
Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) was briefly off the back of the bunch as speeds reached 60kmh. The 2012 Tour de France winner joked with UCI President, Pat McQuaid, who had pulled alongside in the race convoy.
The bunch swept through a tight right hand bend 8km from the finish, with Garmin-Sharp’s Johaan Van Summeren, winner of the 2011 Paris-Roubaix, adopting a position even more extreme than that of team-mate, David Millar, with his forearms cross and resting on the ‘tops’ of the bars.
The peloton smashed its way under the 5km to go kite, with Lotto-Belisol continuing an extended turn at the front of the bunch. Team leader, Andre Greipel, looked anxiously over his shoulder to see the returning Alessandro Pettachi, now racing in the colours of Omega Pharma-QuickStep, on his shoulder.
Former British champion, Ian Stannard (Team Sky) joined the party of diesels at the head of the bunch, led by the Lotto-Belisol duo of Greipel and Jurgen Roelandts, who seemed to have matters entirely under control.
With just 2km remaining, however, the complexion of the stage seemingly changed completely when three riders jumped clear, including reigning champion, Lars Boom.
Roelandts misread the move and moments later so too did Boom, who led out the sprint but was soon passed by Richese and Stybar, with the latter outlasting the Italian for an impressive victory.
Tomorrow’s pan flat 169.6km stage from Essen to Vlijmen will end in two circuits on a tight, town centre circuit, and promises a final day of glory for the sprinters before the stage five time trial.
Eneco Tour 2013: stage three – result
1) Zdenek Stybar (CZE) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep – 4.13. 59
2) Ariel Richeze (ITA) – Lampre-Merida – ST
3) Lars Boom (NED) – Belkin Pro Cycling
4) Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA) – Radioshack-Leopard +2″
5) Andre Greipel (GER) – Lotto-Belisol
6) Manuel Belletti (ITA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale
7) Danilo Napolitano (ITA) – Accent Jobs-Wanty
8) Alexander Porsev (RUS) – Katusha
9) David Appollonio (ITA) – Team Sky
10) Jose Joaquin Rojas (ESP) – Euskaltel-Euskadi
1) Arnaud Demare (FRA) – FDJ – 12.18.42
2) Lars Boom (NED) – Belkin Pro Cycling +1″
3) Zdenek Stybar (CZE) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep +3″
4) Mark Renshaw (AUS) – Belkin Pro Cycling
5) Philippe Gilbert (BEL) – BMC Racing +4″
6) Tyler Farrar (USA) – Garmin-Sharp +6″
7) Andre Greipel (GER) – Lotto Belisol +8″
8) Taylor Phinney (USA) – BMC Racing – ST
9) Alessandro Petacchi (ITA) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep
10) Jean-Pierre Drucker (FRA) – Accent Jobs-Wanty