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Olav Kooij (Jumbo-Visma) managed to fight his way through mayhem to sprint to victory from a reduced bunch on stage 3 of the Tour of Guangxi.
It was a clear-cut margin for Kooij, who once he took to the front after the final corner never looked like he was going to be challenged. Rick Pluimers (Tudor) took second while Marijn van den Berg (EF Education-EasyPost) claimed the final spot on the podium.
There were times in the final lap of five on the 134.3km stage on a circuit around Nanning that it looked like the sprinters were going to have to wait for another day, with a turn of pace on the final run up the category 2 climb busting the field apart. That was the end of the chance for some of the fast finishers, such as stage 1 winner Elia Viviani (Ineos Grenadiers), but others like Arnaud De Lie (Lotto-Dstny) found their way back to the front of the race, with groups continuing to rejoin during the fast final 15km.
However, just when it looked like the field was set for another solid sprint battle there was a crash not far from the front. While just a handful of riders came down – De Lie among them – it was enough to create gaps that couldn’t be closed down given the pace was on at just 2km to go.
Kooij managed to pick his way through the chaos to claim the win, after finishing 7th and 5th in the last two stages, while the race leader at the start of the day, stage 2 winner Jonathan Milan (Bahrain-Victorious), came over the line in tenth.
Still it was Dries De Bondt (Alpecin Deceuninck) who crossed in 24th that moved into the top spot on the overall after he picked up six bonus seconds on the road. De Bondt now leads Milan by two seconds in the general classification with Kooij stepping up to third spot after his stage win.
How it unfolded
Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Deceuninck) is a man on a mission at this Tour of Guangxi, picking up enough bonus seconds to move into the virtual race lead on…