Australian Caleb Ewan sent cycling fans into overdrive after zig-zagging his way through opponents in the final seconds to claim stage three of the Tour de France.
Ewan timed his effort to perfection to win the third stage in a bunch sprint at the end of a 198-km hilly ride through the Alpine foothills on Monday.
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Sam Bennett looked in control but the Irishman had probably underestimated the headwind and settled for second place as he watched Lotto-Soudal fastman Ewan whizz around him to snatch his fourth stage win on the Tour.
Italian Giacomo Nizzolo took third place. France’s Julian Alaphilippe retained the overall leader’s yellow jersey.
But it was the Aussie, who bided his time behind a few races, who looked ecstatic after the incredible finish.
“In the last kilometre I was a little bit too far forward so I dropped back a bit into the wheels then that gave me a bit of time just to rest the legs a little bit,” Ewan explained.
“In the end it worked perfectly. Coming from behind is a bit of a risk but I found my way through the barrier and I came with a lot of speed.”
Fans go crazy of Caleb Ewan victory
Ewan was proud to win again on the biggest stage, a year after taking three stage victories on his first participation in the Tour.
“I’m so happy to get another win and then prove last year was no fluke. Hope to come back more years and keep winning. We have to take every sprinters’ opportunity we can this year because they are quite rare this year.”
Fans went crazy over the Aussie’s ‘split-second’ call to zig-zag his way to the front in a thrilling finish.
Second-placed rider Bennett, who was leading until the final second, showed his class and congratulated Ewan on the sprint.
Close but no cigar, great sprint by @CalebEwan . Congrats buddy 🤜🏻— Sam Bennett (@Sammmy_Be) August 31, 2020
Tuesday’s fourth stage is a 160.5-km effort from Sisteron to Orcieres-Merlette for the first summit finish of the race, with Briton Adam Yates, who trails Alaphilippe by four seconds overall, eyeing the yellow jersey.
An all-French breakaway featuring Anthony Perez, polka dot jersey holder Benoit Cosnefroy and Jerome Cousin was kept on a tight leash by the bunch as rain began to fall with 150 kilometres left.
Cousin, who won a Paris-Nice stage in Sisteron in 2018, tried his luck solo with Perez and Cosnefroy being swallowed up by the pack despite the leisurely pace.
Perez later abandoned with a rib fracture and a possible collapsed lung after crashing into his team’s car, his Cofidis outfit said.
Cofidis said the 29-year-old had been taken to hospital for further checks.