Los Angeles - French rider Julian
Alaphilippe won the third stage of the Tour of California on Tuesday, producing
a perfectly timed late burst on a gruelling final climb to overhaul American
rider Peter Stetina.
The 23-year-old Etixx-Quick Step racer waited
patiently before reeling in Stetina inside the final half-mile of the rugged
167.5km course from Thousand Oaks to Santa Barbara, northwest of Los Angeles.
Alaphilippe, runner-up in the general
classification last year behind eventual champion Peter Sagan, finished in 4hr
36min 59sec, with Trek-Segafredo rider Stetina 15 seconds back.
George Bennett of the Lotto NL-Jumbo team
was third with Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing) fourth and rising teenage star
Neilson Powless (Axeon Hagens Berman) in fifth.
Alaphilippe's victory catapulted him into
the overall lead of the general classification, with a total time of 12:49:47,
19 seconds clear of Stetina who moved up to second. Bennett is third, 31
seconds off the pace.
Alaphilippe's win was the climax of a thrilling
closing battle which heated up when American youngster Powless broke away with
around six miles to go.
For a while it looked as if Powless might
hang on for an unlikely victory as he gradually increased his lead over the
But the teenager was finally caught with
just over two miles to go as Stetina and Australia's Lachlan Morton (Jelly
Belly-Maxxis) reached him.
Stetina, who suffered a career-threatening
injury in April last year when he crashed on the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, breaking
his leg and shattering his kneecap, then looked to mount a decisive attack with
around 1.2 miles left.
Morton and Powless were quickly left behind
but Alaphilippe had stealthily made his way into position before powering to
victory in the final few hundred meters.
Wednesday's fourth stage will see the
peloton travel 134.8 miles up California's famous Pacific Coast Highway, moving
from the seaside town of Morro Bay and passing through Big Sur before wrapping
up at the Laguna Seca motorsport circuit.
Leading results and standings from the 104.1 mile (167.5km) third stage in the Tour of California on Tuesday:
Julian Alaphilippe (FRA/Etixx-Quick Step) 4hr 36min 59 sec, 2. Peter
Stetina (USA/Trek-Segafredo) at 15 sec, 3. George Bennett (NZL/Lotto
NL-Jumbo) 25, 4. Brent Bookwalter (USA/BMC Racing Team) 27, 5. Neilson
Powless (USA/Axeon Hagens Berman) 30, 6. Laurens Ten Dam (NED/Team
Giant-Alpecin) 33, 7. Lachlan Morton (AUS/Jelly Belly) 35, 8. Rohan
Dennis (AUS/BMC Racing Team) 48, 9. Samuel Sanchez (ESP/BMC Racing Team)
48, 10. Andrew Talansky (USA/Cannondale)
Julian Alaphilippe (FRA/Etixx-Quick Step) 12:49:47 sec, 2. Peter
Stetina (USA/Trek-Segafredo) at 19 sec, 3. George Bennett (NZL/Lotto
NL-Jumbo) 31, 4. Brent Bookwalter (USA/BMC Racing Team) 37, 5. Neilson
Powless (USA/Axeon Hagens Berman) 40, 6. Laurens Ten Dam (NED/Team
Giant-Alpecin) 43, 7. Lachlan Morton (AUS/Jelly Belly) 45, 8. Rohan
Dennis (AUS/BMC Racing Team) 58, 9. Samuel Sanchez (ESP/BMC Racing Team)
58, 10. Haimar Zubeldia (ESP/Trek-Segafredo) 1min 9sec