Sports Director Lionel Marie covered the first two days of racing in Franco Belge with Sports Director Laurenzo Lapage stepping in to direct the final two days of racing. Below, Lapage describes the straightforward third stage of the four day stage race.
We knew that this day would end in a bunch sprint unless something very unexpected happened. We also knew Argos Shimano and Lotto Belisol would want to take control of the race for their sprinters. We were happy to let them do their work and wait until the final kilometers to show our hand.
It took nearly 40 minutes for the breakaway to establish, and they were caught early on in the final hour of racing. It was a fast stage, but the teams doing the work did a good job controlling the race.
Our plan was to come to the front of the peloton in the last ten kilometers, and to be fully on the front in the final five kilometers. It was important that we put Aidis Kruopis in the perfect position in the last corner.
The team did their jobs well, and Aidis was in a good spot in the last corner. Marcel Kittel (Argos Shimano) took his second stage win ahead of Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ-BigMat) and Andrea Guardini (Farnese-Vini). Aidis missed out on the podium by one place, sprinting to fourth.
Stage four tomorrow is the final day of racing here at Franco Belge, and the race organization has saved the hardest stage for last.