BMC Racing Team put in a dominant display of racing in the finale of Tour de France stage 3 with Greg Van Avermaet and Richie Porte testing their legs on the uphill finish in Longwy.
After some hesitation from the peloton in the opening 10km of the 212.5km stage, six riders were allowed to go clear but for the first half of the stage their advantage was kept within two minutes.
The breakaway split up on the Eschdorf Slope and behind, the peloton eased their chase and crossed the line of the category three summit 4’05” behind solo leader Nathan Brown (Cannondale Drapac Pro Cycling Team) after 120km of racing.
After the breakaway came back together, three riders attacked from the peloton and made the bridge to form a 9-rider breakaway with 55km to go.
Having protected Porte all day, BMC Racing Team assumed their place at the front of the peloton inside the final 30km as the pace picked up and the fight for positioning intensified.
10km before the finish line, the race came back together, following which BMC Racing Team showed a strong display of teamwork to position Van Avermaet and Porte in the finale.
Inside the final kilometer, Porte surprised everyone by attacking and gaining a few meters on the strung out peloton behind him, however was ultimately caught about 400m before the line.
Van Avermaet launched his sprint but was not able to get passed eventual winner Peter Sagan (Bora Hansgrohe) and settled for fourth place on the line.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“I was put in a fantastic position there in the final. I felt good but with 500 meters to go, I knew it was a bit too far out. I think it’s good for the team. They were really strong today so it’s a shame we couldn’t quite finish it off. For the last 40km it was a hell of a fight. It was a dangerous and tricky final so it was nice to get through that one unscathed. All of the guys chipped in today and they were really strong. It’s good for the confidence to have a bit of a crack.”
Greg Van Avermaet:
“I think Richie did a hard job. Everyone was a little bit ‘à bloc’. Even Peter Sagan left a gap a little bit. Then, it was just about timing. I wanted to go a little bit earlier and surprise Peter a bit and take his wheel. But then he lost his pedal and he restarted his sprint again with me next to him and in the wind. This killed me a little bit I think. The team kept a good position for both of us, Richie and I. We had both options to play and I think this is the best approach to not lose time. Maybe you gain some seconds over the other guys if you are at the front of the peloton so for me it is the best solution to do what we did today. I felt great support from my team.”
Fabio Baldato, Sports Director:
“Priority was keeping Richie Porte there and also to try with Greg Van Avermaet. Of course, the team did an amazing job. They were able to take care of the two guys and be in the front. Richie was feeling good and he also tried in the last 700 meters which was a good sign. Greg was on the good wheel of Sagan but today Sagan was the strongest. I’m sure Greg can be in front soon.”