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Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) surged from a reduced bunch to capture stage 3 of the Tour du Limousin. Greg Van Avermaet (AG2R Citroën) secured second ahead of yellow jersey Alex Aranburu (Movistar).
With the podium finish and bonus seconds, Aranburu retained the GC lead on the penultimate stage, and he is now 8 seconds ahead of Ulissi and 12 seconds on Van Avermaet.
Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) was riding away from the lead group of 10 riders but turned in the wrong direction on a roundabout with 1.7km to go. The nine in front slowed for a time to give Costa a chance to catch back, but the attacks in the final 1,000 metres were relentless.
Ulissi took his second win of the season using a surge from teammate Benoît Cosnefroy on the final 90-degree turn with under 400 metres to go. Costa would finish 44 seconds back to round out the top 10.
“It was a very tight race with a tough course. Me, Rui Costa and Oliveira rode well staying ahead in the group with the best riders and managed to fight it out for the win. In the final I could make a good sprint and I’m really happy for this victory,” he said.
The snaking 181.7km route between Donzenac and Malemort had four classified climbs and a dozen unclassified rollers in between. With 65km to go, the Groupama-FDJ duo of Kevin Geniets and Valentin Madouas had distanced the morning breakaway and along with Dimitri Claeys (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) had a gap of 1:25. The trio was part of an earlier lead group that left the peloton behind 100km from the finish.
With 42km to go the leaders began the category 1 ascent of Côte de Vertougit (4.2km at 6.3%), Madouas pushing the pace and only Claeys able to match pedal strokes for 500 metres, and then the Frenchman struck out alone, taking maximum king of the mountains points at the top of the climb.
Claeys hooked up with teammate Lorenzo Rota in pursuit of the Frenchman. More than two dozen kilometres later, all the riders at the front had been recaptured by the yellow jersey group to set up attacks for the second-category Saint-Antoine-les-Plantades (2.2km at 6.2%) just 8.5 kilometres to the finish. Cofidis’ Guillaume Martin was the first to strike and secured the KOM points.
Aranburu sparked the chase to catch Martin as the group of 10 leaders rode together until the Costa rerouted his efforts and the final sprint was contested by nine.
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