Preview. Two stages and two reduced sprints have taken place so far. Stage 3 of the Criterium du Dauphiné is far from easy, however it will be the best opportunities for the pure sprinters to succeed.
Stage 3 is the one where the sprinters have their best chances. Along 194 kilometers the riders will have a rolling stage, but this one more likely to finish in a bunch sprint. That won't be a certainty however, the opening kilometers go uphill, and the first half of the stage are rather hilly. However from there on things do get easier to control.
Estimated start and finish times for Criterium du Dauphiné stage 3: 12:10-16:25CET
The clear obstacle which riders will be eyeing is the Côte de Neulise which is 7.8 kilometers long at 3%. It isn't a hard ascent, but it does steepen a bit more towards it's summit, and with the end only 18.5 kilometers away from the finish it can give some riders or teams ideas.
A short descent follows before a flat run-in into Le Coteau. One for the pure sprinters if they survive, it'll be a tense and fast sprint, with noteworthy corners coming with 2.1, 1.1 and 800 meters to go. From there on it's a full launch into the town center where there will be no opportunities to surprise the fast men.
A slight northern breeze won't help the breakaway. It won't make much of a difference in the day, but the temperatures will be quite high and are a warm-up for what's likely to expect over the weekend.
Sam Bennett - Bennett finished just outside the Top10 today, a good sign for the Irishman. None of the stages so far were suited for his current form, but he does not look bad. With Danny van Poppel in the leadout he will surely have a good chance to go for victory, and reasonably speaking this is his only opportunity.
Dylan Groenewegen - Groenewegen is a bit in the same page, but he's always been a pure sprinter. In reality I struggle to understand why Jayco brought him to this race, tomorrow is the only chance he has to be in contention for a win, but even with a reduced field he will have a big challenge. Nevertheless the Dutchman does have the speed, but without Mezgec in the race it'll be hard to get ahead of his rivals.
Christophe Laporte - Winner of stage 1, today he missed the timing on the sprint. This day will be more for the pure fast men and not as much for Laporte, but he does have the speed and a yellow jersey to preserve so surely he will make the effort to fight for a top result.
Ethan Vernon - Vernon is still a rookie sprinter among the big boys but he has the legs to win on a day like this. Quick-Step don't have a luxury leadout here but they have a few big engines who can make sure he's in the front towards the end, and in the final sprint it'll be up to his own instinct, could be the day he takes a big step.
A sprint is the very likely outcome for this day. The finale is likely to include the likes of Lionel Taminiaux, Jon Aberasturi and Madis Mihkels who will try to take advantage of this, the day which will best suit the pure sprinters.
Other fast men could be in the mix too, and perhaps benefit from a rough pace up the climbs which could shed some of the other figures. Milan Menten, Axel Zingle, Hugo Hofstetter, Matteo Trentin, Fred Wright, Maxim van Gils and Edvald Boasson Hagen will have the chance also to be in the mix for a top result.
Prediction Criterium du Dauphiné 2023 stage 3:
*** Sam Bennett, Dylan Groenewegen
** Christophe Laporte, Ethan Vernon
* Lionel Taminiaux, Jon Aberasturi, Madis Mijhkels, Milan Menten, Matteo Trentin, Fred Wright, Edvald Boasson Hagen
Pick: Sam Bennett