Tour de France stage 3 preview: Another chance for the sprinters

Another bunch sprint is expected in the final of three stages across Denmark.

Photo: ASO

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NYBORG, Denmark (VN) —There’s one more day for Danish fans to soak up the Tour de France.

Millions of fans so far have lined the first two of three stages in Denmark to open the 2022 Tour.

The 182km third stage from Vejle to Sønderborg shouldn’t be as nervous as Saturday’s stage open to the threat of crosswinds, but narrow roads and some undulating terrain will keep things interesting.

Sprinters expect to see another chance Sunday before leaving Denmark for France.

“Tomorrow should be another sprint and then we’re back to France and the cobblestones waiting in stage 5,” said Michael Mørkøv (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl). “We have to keep sharp and I think we can have another chance to win with Fabio [Jakobsen] in the sprint.”

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Threat of crashes remains high

If Saturday’s late-stage pileup is any indication, Sunday’s third and final stage could see more crashes.

“The opening week is always nervous and we hope we can leave Denmark with everything in play,” said Movistar’s Enric Mas. “This first week is simply one to survive. If we can make it out of Denmark and past the cobbles we can call it a victory.”

Several riders will be feeling some lumps Sunday morning. Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) was among some top names getting caught up in the spill.

Narrow roads Sunday will only heighten tension.

The third stage features three fourth-category rated climbs that could provoke some movement from riders chasing the King of the Mountains classification as well as rider eyeing a chance to sneak into a breakaway.

With the sprinters not wanting to miss out on a chance for another mass gallop, it will be hard for any adventure to gain too much distance.

It was much ado about nothing Saturday and the much-hyped Grand Belt bridge. A strong headwind kept a lid on any threat of echelons over the towering bridge.

“To be honest, it was boring because the headwind was so strong it felt like a training ride,” said Wout van Aert. “We were only 30kph an hour in the uphill part, but still it was close to the finish, and I did not have the freedom to look around and enjoy it. It was something special.”

Chance of afternoon showers

After sunny skies Saturday, forecasters are calling for a chance of afternoon showers that could douse the peloton in the second half of the stage Sunday.

Temperatures will be in the low 20Cs and gusting winds up 20 to 35kph from west-southwest. That could put the bunch under pressure with a risk of echelons as the stage pushes south.

There will be mostly sunny skies in the morning, with building clouds in the afternoon, with a chance of light to moderate rain showers.

Yellow jersey looks secure

With Quick-Step riding for Jakobsen in the bunch sprints, it’s unlikely that Wout Van Aert will lose the yellow jersey if the stage finishes in a bunch sprint.

Van Aert snatched yellow from Friday’s time trial winner on time bonuses at the line Saturday.

Pogačar is in third at eight seconds, but he won’t be chasing the sprint victory, especially after getting caught up in the spill Saturday. Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) is fifth at 12 seconds back, too far back to bounce into yellow even if he claims the 10-second winner’s bonus.

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