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The 23-year-old Colombian profited from a dominant display from Ineos Grenadiers on the 14.6-kilometer grind to Chalet Reynard. The team set a tough tempo through the lower slopes of the fierce climb to force the selection, allowing Sosa to attack and ride clear through the final 5km.
“It’s a beautiful climb, but a hard one! It’s really a beautiful way to start the season like this, and helps with the motivation to work hard for the rest of the year,” Sosa said after taking the win.
Ineos Grenadiers also took second-place with Egan Bernal, who outmaneuvered Julian Alaphilippe (Deceunick-Quick-Step) in the final minutes of the stage to book a one-two that capped a strong team performance.
“It was a pretty difficult stage, the strategy was for Egan or I to attack. I think between us we played it well,” Sosa said.
“The team worked hard and how it ended we can be really happy. The plan was to hit the climb at a good pace and leave it reasonably late to attack. The team feels really strong at the moment.”
Ineos Grenadiers force the selection
Ineos Grenadiers piled the pressure on the diminishing lead group on the final 7km of the notorious climb from Bédoin, with the pace set by Laurens de Plus and then Carlos Rodriguez first dropping Fabio Aru (Qhubeka Assos) and then pre-stage contenders Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Premier Tech) and Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious).
Sosa punched off the front with 5km to go to further reduce the bunch down to around a dozen riders. Alaphilippe and Bernal were the first to jump from the group as the charging young Colombian grabbed a handful of seconds over the remainder of the leaders.
With Sosa constantly growing his lead, Ineos teammate Bernal sat on Alaphilippe’s wheel, forcing the Frenchman to do the work, allowing Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious) to bridge across. Despite Alaphilippe and Poels trading turns in a desperate chase, there was no stopping Sosa, who soon gained around 20 seconds of an advantage.
The fight for the remaining podium slots started in the final kilometer with Bernal launching a testing acceleration only to see Alaphilippe counter. The former Tour de France champ went again several seconds later to get the gap and make it a one-two for Ineos Grenadiers behind his countryman and teammate Sosa. Alaphilippe trailed home three seconds later.
Young American talent Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar) took an impressive 12th place.
The race closes with Sunday’s sprint stage to Salon-de-Provence. Should Sosa remain upright, the youngster is near-guaranteed the win having taken a 19-second GC lead.
Six-man break survives through to Ventoux
There was some question over the viability of the Chalet Reynard finish after heavy snow had fallen overnight, however race organizers gave the green light after a recon of the climb early in the morning.
Once the race rolled out, Damien Gaudin, Jerome Cousin (both Total Direct Energie), Louis Louvet (St Michel-Auber 93), Alessandro Fedeli (Delko), Florian Vermeersch (Lotto Soudal) and Nicola Bagioli (B&B Hotels) pulled away from the peloton. The sextet enjoyed around a three-minute lead through much of the hilly opening section of the stage, which played out in near-freezing temperatures.
A number of teams including Trek-Segafredo, Astana-Premier Tech, Ineos Grenadiers and Deceuninck-Quick-Step bossed the bunch behind the break. Nonethelss, the escape group stayed clear through to the shallow opening slopes of the Ventoux climb before the Ineos-led peloton hoovered up the last survivor from the attackers to set up the final showdown on the approach to Chalet Reynard.
Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) did not start the stage having come down with a cold overnight. His team opted to rest him to give him sufficient time to recover ahead of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in two weeks’ time.
Top-3 on stage 3
- Iván Sosa (Ineos Grenadiers): 4:0:14
- Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers): +0:15
- Julian Alaphilippe (Deceunick-Quick-Step) +0:18
GC after stage 3
- Iván Sosa (Ineos Grenadiers): 13:13:16
- Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers): +0:19
- Julian Alaphilippe (Deceunick-Quick-Step): +0:21