Nancy, July 9: Elia Viviani triumphed in a sprint finish in Nancy to claim his maiden stage win at the Tour de France as Julian Alaphilippe retained the yellow jersey.
It was Viviani's Deceuninck-Quick Step team-mate Alaphilippe who attacked late on in stage three and, determined not to be outdone, the Italian took the glory on Tuesday when he crossed the line just ahead of Alexander Kristoff and Caleb Ewan.
A three-rider breakaway of Yoann Offredo, Frederik Backaert and Michael Schar built up an impressive gap of three minutes with over 200 kilometres remaining, with the trio maintaining an advantage until the latter stages.
Two crashes held the peloton up in their pursuit, but the breakaway group was eventually caught in a dramatic approach to the line.
Viviani - who won omnium gold at the 2016 Olympics - came out on top after fantastic work from his team led by current leader Alaphilippe, who selflessly helped set the stage for the final sprint in the train.
Points jersey leader Peter Sagan missed out on the podium in fourth, while defending champion Geraint Thomas maintained his position in seventh, 45 seconds behind Alaphilippe.
PERFECT TEAM WORK
Viviani has five Giro d'Italia and three Vuelta a Espana stage wins to his name, but he has been made to wait for one in Le Tour.
However, thanks to what he hailed as "perfect team work", the 30-year-old was able to celebrate breaking his duck in the event.
"That means a lot," he said. "I can’t believe it. It was the big goal of the year. We missed our first chance to win a stage and take the yellow jersey but after yesterday with Julian it was the moment the team switched on.
"I just needed to do my job in the last few hundred metres. It is what I can do better if they launch me like that. I was focused on my lead out, it was perfect team work."
1. Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick Step) 5:09:20 2. Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) " 3. Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) " 4. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) " 5. Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo Visma) "
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) 14:41:39 2. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) +0:20 3. Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) +0:25
1. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 104 2. Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick Step) 81 3. Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) 75
King of the Mountains
1. Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) 7 2. Xandro Meurisse (Wanty-Gobert) 3 3. Greg van Avermaet (CCC) 2
Stage five brings with it the first true climbs of the Tour, with the 175.5km route through the Vosges area including tests such as the Cote des Trois-Epis and Cote des Cinq Chateaux.