BAYONNE, France— Belgian cyclist Jasper Philipsen won the third stage of the Tour de France in a bunched sprint, while Adam Yates of Britain kept the race leader’s yellow jersey.
The 25-year-old Philipsen, who won two stages in last year’s race, was expertly led to the front by his Alpecin-Deceuninck teammate Mathieu van der Poel and comfortably held off German rider Phil Bauhaus and Australian Caleb Ewan as they dashed to the line.
“It was a tense final, but this is the Tour de France: there are no presents, everybody goes all-in,” Philipsen said according to AP.
“It´s amazing to have Mathieu as a lead-out man. If he had the space to go, for sure he has the speed to fight for the win.”
Danish sprinter Fabio Jakobsen was fourth ahead of Belgian standout Wout van Aert, who failed to overtake Philipsen on the right in the last 50 metres and backed off near a crash barrier.
They all clocked 4 hours, 43 minutes, 15 seconds on the 193-kilometre (120-mile) route from Amorebieta-Etxano in Spain’s Basque country to Bayonne in France.
The main contenders for the overall win arrived safely.
Yates maintained his six-second lead over two-time Tour winner Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia and his twin brother Simon Yates in third.
“For us it´s been more about recovering as much as possible,” Yates said. “It´s hard to have the chance to do so in the Tour de France, so we try and grab every chance we get.”
Defending champion Jonas Vingegaard of Denmark stayed in sixth spot.
Pogacar, who had surgery on his broken left wrist following a crash during the Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic, was relieved to avoid any danger.
“I tried to stay safe in the finale, as it was a really fast finish but the rest of the stage was calmer. So far, so good,” Pogacar said. ”
American Neilson Powless and French veteran Laurent Pichon set off early on a breakaway, but others did not follow and took it rather easy in terms of speed. Pogacar punctured his rear tire, but smiled as he easily made his way back to the peloton.
Powless gave a thumbs up to the crowd and a peace sign to the television camera alongside him after being the first to reach the top of the Cote de Milloi – one of four small climbs on an otherwise flat route passing by quaint fishing villages on the Atlantic coast.
French rider Victor Lafay, the winner of second stage, gave chase briefly to gain some points in the quest for the green jersey awarded each year for best sprinter.
Powless pumped his right fist after completing the fourth climb and, having collected all the day’s points counting toward the best climber’s polka-dot jersey, he then dropped off the pace.
“It has been a successful day. I got to score some King of the Mountains points and it didn´t cost too much energy,” Powless said. “I felt very good today. Everything is going in a good direction. I´ll have one day to relax tomorrow that will help get me ready for the Pyrenees.”
Powless dropping off left the 36-year-old Pichon alone in front as he passed two imposing French chateaux and zoomed past the famed port of Saint-Jean-de-Luz.
But with his head down and his lead evaporating, Pichon had no time to take in any of those sights and he was caught with 37 kilometres (23 miles) to go.
The large pack – featuring a dozen contenders for the stage win – then stepped up the pace considerably as each team prepared their sprinters for the shootout.