After the first 100-kilometer lap, the peloton, which included all seven CCC Team riders, crossed the finish line to start the first of three shorter circuits around Aalter with a three-rider breakaway less than two minutes up the road.
The pace at the front of the main bunch soon started to increase even further and, by the time the race reached the start of the second 33.2-kilometer lap, the early leaders had been pulled back and after fresh attacks, a new trio of riders, including Van Keirsbulck, went clear.
With Van Keirsbulck up the road, some of the pressure was taken off the rest of the team behind but, that didn’t stop the orange and black train making its presence known up at the front of the peloton to support the General Classification interests of Greg Van Avermaet.
As bell ran to mark the start of the final lap, the Van Keirsbulck-led breakaway was sitting 55 seconds ahead of the chasing bunch which, by this point, was looking to set up the previously predicted bunch sprint, after various failed attempts from teams to split the field.
The three leaders were also not making life easy for the sprinters’ teams, pushing hard to hold onto a narrow 15-second advantage going through the Golden Kilometer, only eight kilometers from the line, with Van Keirsbulck securing the maximum points available, just like his teammates on stage one and two.
The catch was eventually made with less than five kilometers to go and riders, including Mareczko, quickly began to battle for position before the sprint, won by race leader Sam Bennett (BORA – hansgrohe) was launched after the final left-hand turn onto the finish straight.
After the rest of CCC Team finished safely in the main bunch, the team now has three riders in the top ten with Łukasz Wiśniowski sitting fourth, Van Keirsbulck fifth and Josef Černý seventh but with the race heading into the Ardennes tomorrow, there will likely be a shake-up as those targeting the overall title start to do battle.
Quotes From the Finish Line:
Guillaume Van Keirsbulck:
“I had good feelings today and I wanted to try something and also try to take the bonus seconds in the Golden Kilometer for the team. I think it’s important to try to take those as not only does it help the team in the long run but it also means that we now have three riders in the top ten right now. Tomorrow, it won’t be so easy for us to do that as it will be a real fight between the General Classification contenders.”
“It was a really nervous stage. The pace at the beginning was really high and we saw how the first breakaway was pulled back early. The roads were very narrow on the shorter local laps and there was a lot of road furniture to navigate around. I was actually happy that I was out at the front of these for most of this as it was definitely less stressful.”
“Once again, it was not an easy or straightforward stage at Binck Bank Tour but, after not being in the best position when the sprint was launched on day one and two, I was happier with where I was today. It was a chaotic run into the finish and we also saw different teams trying to do something to disrupt the bunch sprint behind Guillaume’s group. Eighth place is an improvement on the past two days and it wasn’t a bad sprint but of course, it could have been better. Tomorrow, is a different type of race but stage five should be another opportunity for me to try to do something.”
Greg Van Avermaet:
“I am pretty happy to get through that stage safely. It was a risky stage with the wet weather and narrow, twisting roads so, I’m glad that it’s now out of the way and now I can start to focus on trying to do something on the stage to come, starting with stage four tomorrow.”
Sports Director, Valerio Piva:
“This race is normally won by just seconds and so while, I don’t know if the guys we are sending in the breakaways will be in contention for the overall win at the end of the week, going for the bonus seconds on offer through the Golden Kilometer gives the team some extra motivation and it is also good to keep the seconds within our team rather than giving them to someone else.”
“At the beginning of today’s stage, we wanted to send Guillaume into the breakaway and while he wasn’t in the first move, he jumped later and it was a good move. By sending someone up the road over the last three stages, we have been able to save Greg’s energy and keep him safe behind ahead of the real GC race that starts tomorrow. Of course, having three riders in the top ten is a good position to be in and I am happy with the spirit that the guys have been showing.”
Binck Bank Tour
Stage three: Aalter > Aalter (166.6km)
Top 3: 1. Sam Bennett (BORA – hansgrohe) 2. Dylan Groenewegen (Team Jumbo-Visma) 3. Jasper Philipsen (UAE-Team Emirates)
CCC Team Top 3: 8. Jakub Mareczko 13. Greg Van Avermaet 27. Łukasz Wiśniowski