Kristian Sbaragli © Scott Mitchell
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka was one of the animating forces on Tuesday’s stage 3 of Paris-Nice.
Ben King was part of the early breakaway, while Kristian Sbaragli took up the fight with the best sprinters and made the Top 10.
"The sprint was really chaotic today. Youcef [Reguigui] put me in a good position and I wanted to start my sprint early from the right side of the road. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any space so I had to touch my breaks and slow down. I think a podium place was possible today, but sometimes these things happen. Now, I’ll turn my focus to Thursday’s stage where I hope to get another opportunity,” Sbaragli said after the race.
After two very chaotic days, where the peloton has split up into several groups within the first kilometres, the riders could finally enjoy a relatively easy start on Tuesday.
King took advantage of the situation and decided to attack right from the beginning of the stage.
Together with two other riders, the 27-year-old American quickly established a significant gap to the peloton.
However, as a strong tailwind accompanied the riders on the final part of the stage, the teams of the sprinters didn’t want to take any chances with the breakaway in fear of not being able to catch them before the finishing line. With 50 km left to go, the gap had already come down to under three minutes.
On the last categorized climb of the day, King had to let go when his breakaway companion Pierre Latour (Ag2r) accelerated.
The French climber was later joined by Romain Combaud (Delko Marseille) and the duo managed to give the chasing peloton a good run for their money. It was only as the riders took on the last kilometre that it all came back together.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka did well to set up Sbaragli for the sprint with Youcef Reguigui bringing his Italian teammate in a good position.
Sbaragli felt good but he ended up being boxed in and was never able to launch his sprint.
However, he still managed to make the Top 10 against some of the best sprinters in the world.
Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) took the win, while Arnaud Démare (FDJ) kept the leader’s jersey for another day.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka's Reinardt Janse van Rensburg had to abandon the race after a crash with 30 km to go.
The South African champion will now undergo further examinations to determine his injuries.