Portugal Colonial - Groenewegen off the mark for Bike Exchange at Saudi Tour

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Groenewegen off the mark for Bike Exchange at Saudi Tour
Groenewegen off the mark for Bike Exchange at Saudi Tour

Groenewegen off the mark for Bike Exchange at Saudi Tour

Dylan Groenewegen timed his sprint to perfection to win a mass dash to the line on stage three of cycling's Tour of Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

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British sprinter Dan McLay was second and Australia's Caleb Ewan came third as Colombia's Santiago Buitrago retained the overall lead by 3sec on Ewan.

Ewan finished fastest but was coming from too far back to pounce for victory at the line.

The stage itself was a 181km run through windswept and rocky desert terrain, notably passing by the giant 'Elephant Rock' where an escape group dropped the main pack in headwinds.

They were caught in the closing stages before the bunch sprint in the Alula old town, where Friday's and Saturday's stages also finish.

Groenewegen switched to Bike Exchange in the close season from Jumbo-Visma, who let him go following a suspension for causing the crash that nearly killed Fabio Jakobsen.

It was the 57th career win for the Dutchman, whose pure finishing style is often compared to that of Mark Cavendish.

"It's really amazing to win in my first race," said the 28-year-old.

"We did a really good lead-out and I only sprinted for 100m so thanks to the team," he said.

The race gives a vague idea of early season form of the sprinters who are likely to feature strongly at July's Tour de France.

X.Matos--PC