From Champs-Élysées to Egersund: Jordi Meeus Fastest in the Sprint

Photo: Szymon Gruchalski


From Champs-Élysées to Egersund: Jordi Meeus Fastest in the Sprint

The 25-year-old Belgian, who won the final stage of last year's Tour de France, claimed victory on the 3rd stage in Egersund after a fierce sprint finish

Vår Energi Arena Sola gleamed under the sunshine as the stage was set for the 3rd stage of this year's Tour of Norway. After yesterday's grueling test up Gullingen, today's stage offered a golden opportunity for the sprinters in the peloton. The riders would cover 178 kilometers before finishing in Egersund, and with only one categorized climb along the way, today’s stage was set for a mass sprint.

As in yesterday's stage, a breakaway of four riders managed to get away, quickly establishing a lead of over two minutes. Today's breakaway riders were: Johan Ravnøy (Team Coop – Repsol), the Slovak champion, Matus Stocek (ATT Investments), Brendan Rhim (Project Echelon), and the King of the Mountains jersey holder Eirik Vang Aas (Norway). The latter likely had his eyes set on the category 2 climb up the Dalane Energi hill which would come after 109 kilometers, where 6 points would be awarded to the first rider over.

In the peloton, the team of overall leader Axel Laurance, Alpecin-Deceuninck, and Uno-X Mobility took control and stabilized the distance to the breakaway at around 2:30 minutes. The Norwegian ProTeam clearly wanted to contribute to a sprint finish in Egersund for Alexander Kristoff, who has shown good form with two UCI victories in the past three weeks.

Later, Uno-X Mobility and Alpecin-Deceuninck received assistance from Bora-Hansgrohe and INEOS Grenadiers, both of whom put a rider at the front of the peloton for their respective sprinters, Jordi Meeus and Elia Viviani. Thus, most of the teams favored to win the stage were in play.

On today’s only categorized climb, Eirik Vang Aas predictably took all 6 points, increasing his lead in the King of the Mountains competition over his rivals ahead of tomorrow's final stage in Stavanger. Following Vang Aas were Johan Ravnøy (Team Coop – Repsol), Matus Stocek (ATT Investments), Brendan Rhim (Project Echelon), and Filip Reha, who took 5, 4, 3, and 2 points respectively. At the top of the Dalane Energi hill, the gap to the peloton was down to 1:30 minutes after the pace increased heading into the final kilometers of the stage.

Vang Aas eventually dropped back to the peloton to conserve energy for tomorrow's concluding stage in Stavanger, which will feature four category 3 climbs.

The breakaway held off the peloton until the last 10 kilometers and was joined by Walter Calzoni (Q36.5 Pro Cycling), who attacked from the peloton in the hope of stealing the win with 8 kilometers to go. The Italian gave the breakaway some much-needed driving force after a long day out front, making it more challenging for the peloton to reel them in.

Walter Calzoni and Johan Ravnøy were the last two riders ahead with 2.5 kilometers to go, as the peloton prepared for a mass sprint in Egersund.

Uno-X led the way into the final stretch with Alexander Kristoff, who for a long time looked like he might secure another stage victory in the Tour of Norway, but in the final meters, he was overtaken by Jordi Meeus (Bora-hansgrohe), who timed his sprint perfectly and took the win on the fast run-in to Egersund. Czech rider Pavel Bittner (Team dsm-firmenich PostNL) also edged ahead of the Norwegian, taking 2nd place on the stage.

Axel Laurance (Alpecin-Deceuninck) still leads the race overall ahead of tomorrow’s final stage in a challenging circuit in Stavanger!