Alex Dowsett (Movistar Team) has taken over the GC lead at the Circuit Cycliste de la Sarthe after winning the third stage, a 6.8-kilometre time-trial at Angers.
Dowsett finished the test in a time of 7’49”, eight seconds faster than his team-mate Jonathan Castroviejo with Arthur Vichot (FDJ) a further 2″ behind. In a show of strength by Movistar, Daniele Bennati claimed fourth. Dowsett now leads Vichot by 2″ with Castroviejo in third.
Yesterday’s morning stage from Ligné to Angers was won by Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) in a sprint finish ahead of Matteo Malucelli (Androni Giocattoli) and Clément Venturini (Cofidis, Solutions Crédits).
The race continues tomorrow with a 190.3-kilometre stage from Angers to Pré en Pail Saint Samson which includes three categorised climbs.
Alex Dowsett: “They moved the start some meters further up the road, and that was basically the difference in time compared to three years ago, but I definitely was faster than back in the time. Expecting such a victory? Well, I felt OK over the last couple of days, but it’s always difficult on a double day, as you’re getting tired in the morning and then, in the afternoon, you have to manage your energy well.”
“The FDJ riders had been doing well in the past, but I knew Castro would be the main competitor. He usually beats me at time trials, but when it’s shorter I stand a better chance. It’s a circuit that suits me. I’ve done it three times now, I’ve won it twice and came second to Malori in 2015. It brings me joy to keep constant form over the early season, after all the problems I had to go through with shoulder injury last year. I did good job at Tirreno and Milan-San Remo, and I could profit from that opportunity today as well.
“It’s obviously great to have both of us 1-2, and Bennati almost making it third. It’s a good sign for tomorrow. I’ll fight as hard as I can to keep the yellow jersey. We’ve got a good team to support us tomorrow, not only Castro and myself, also Bennati, who’s got lots of experience and does well at short climbs, plus Arcas, Betancur and Barbero, who are going strong all week. FDJ should be our biggest competition, especially Vichot, who will be super motivated. It won’t be easy, but we will do the best we can. This victory could only go to Malori. He won two years ago and couldn’t forget about him. We always think about his recovery and we hope things to keep going well for him.”