Ewan slaloms to sprint win; Alaphilippe leads Tour de France

Ewan slaloms to sprint win; Alaphilippe leads Tour de FranceEwan slaloms to sprint win; Alaphilippe leads Tour de France

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Australia’s Caleb Ewan celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the third stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 198 kilometers (123 miles), with start in Nice and finish in Sisteron, southern France, Monday, Aug. 31, 2020. (Benoit Tessier, Pool via AP)

SISTERON, France (AP) — Australian rider Caleb Ewan slalomed through the bunch to win a sprint finish and claim the third stage of the Tour de France on Monday.

Julian Alaphilippe held onto the yellow jersey that he claimed with a dramatic stage victory a day earlier.

With about 100 meters to go, Ewan trailed five other riders before slinging himself through a narrow slice of road near the advertising barriers. Then — after more than five hours in the saddle — Ewan darted to the left to overcome Sam Bennett and claim his fourth career stage win in the Tour by more than a wheel.

”I found my way through the wheels,” Ewan said. ”Coming from behind, it’s a bit of a risk, but I found my way along the barrier and I came with a lot of speed and it worked in the end.”

Ewan’s top speed in the finale reached 68.8 kph (42.7 mph).

Bennett crossed second and Nizzolo came third — both with the same time as Ewan.

Ewan, who rides for the Lotto-Soudal team, won three stages last year, including the coveted final leg on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

Alaphilippe crossed with the main pack and retained a four-second lead over Adam Yates, with Marc Hirschi still third overall, seven seconds behind.

After the opening two stages in the Mediterranean city of Nice, the race veered inland over a 198-kilometer (123-mile) route to Sisteron, which is labeled the ”Gateway to Provence.”

The route featured four minor climbs before a flat finish suited to sprinters.

Three French riders — Anthony Perez, Jerome Cousin and Benoit Cosnefroy — broke away at the start and established an advantage of nearly three minutes.

Cousin then launched a solo attack midway through the stage and created a lead of more than four minutes.

Cousin was finally caught by the main pack with 16 kilometers remaining.

Perez, meanwhile, crashed into his team car on a high-speed descent after puncturing a tire and broke his left collarbone — forcing him to abandon the race.

It was an especially unfortunate accident for Perez, since he had already gained enough points to don the polka-dot mountains classification jersey after the stage.

Stage 4 on Tuesday features the race’s first uphill finish with a climb to Orcieres-Merlette that should force the overall favorites — such as defending champion Egan Bernal — into action.

The three-week Tour, which was postponed from its usual July slot due to the coronavirus, ends in Paris on Sept. 20.

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