New colours, first win for Groenewegen
February 3 rd 2022 - 19:36 [GMT + 3]
After a fabulous battle in the windy conditions of Saudi Arabia, stage 3 ended once again with a bunched sprint. For his third race under his new BikeExchange-Jayco colours Dylan Groenewegen managed to deliver. In the old town of AlUla, the Dutchman outsprinted Dan McLay and Caleb Ewan to conquer victory. Despite suffering all day in the echelons, Santiago Buitrago keeps the overall leader’s Green Jersey.
Seeing the riders show up close to 20min before the flag was dropped on the start line said it all… A windy day was expected and there was a tense feeling in the peloton. Indeed, shortly after leaving the impressive Tayma Hadaj well, chaos struck. The strong sidewind on the opening 30kms created all sorts of damage. Crashes (Selig and Laas), dropped riders and of course echelons. Eventually after 14kms only 26 riders remained at the front including: Ewan (LTS), second overall, Gaviria (UAE), Oss, Turgis (TEN), Groenewegen (BEX), Bagioli, Ballerini, Senechal and three other Quickstep riders, Van Poppel (TBV), Consonni (COF) as well as White jersey and 3rd man overall Charmig (UXT), but not the overall leader Santiago Buitrago (TBV). And what a battle it would be. The front 26 reached km 30 with a 1’05’’ advantage over the Green Jersey group. Slowly that gap started dropping but it still took close to 30kms to close that gap.
THREE IN LEAD
After a very short moment of calm, three riders took off: Turgis (TEN), Planckaert (AFC) and Declercq (ARK). They reached the first Intermediate sprint (km 83) led out by Planckaert with a 3’20’’ advantage. After another change in direction the wind specialists of Quickstep decided to create more drama. Again the pack broke into several echelons with only 16 riders in the front group including the Green Jersey and 6 Quickstep men, but no Caleb Ewan this time. While the front three were caught, a grueling battle continued. Finally things settled down at km100 and the pack bunched up together again.
Once again, there was no stopping Anthony Turgis. The Frenchman decided to give it another go at km 102, but this time on his own. He reached the second Intermediate sprint with a 3’ lead over counter-attackers Bonifazio (TEN) and Keisse (QST) and 5’ over the pack. While the two chasers were caught, Turgis bravely continued his effort despite the strong headwind. He still had a 2’ advantage with 25kms to go. The TotalEnergies rider managed to make it to the bonus sprint with a 40’’ lead but was caught shortly after.
Despite a solo effort from Niki Terpstra with 5kms to go, the pack remained bunched all the way to the old town of Al Ula. Well led out by his new BikeExchange-Jayco team mates, Dylan Groenewegen powered to the line, beating Dan McLay (ARK) and Caleb Ewan (LTS) to win his first success of 2022, his 57th overall. After an intense battle all day long, Santago Buitrago manages to keep his overall leader’s Green Jersey and the best young rider’s White Jersey and will have a 3” advantage over Caleb Ewan when he starts tomorrow’s decisive stage 4. The Australian remains the leader of the point’s classification while Martin Urianstad keeps his Blue Jersey (most active rider).