Marcel Kittel was the best-placed Quick-Step Floors rider at the end of the stage.
Strong headwind made for a difficult day at the office on stage 3 of the Tour of California, which traveled from Pismo Beach to Morro Bay, a small town in the San Luis Obispo County, located only a three-hours' drive from Big Sur, where Don Draper came up with the idea for one of the greatest ads ever. Unfortunately for the riders, they didn't have too much time for the breathtaking scenery, being more focused on keeping on a leash the five-man break which took off shortly after the start, opening a maximum gap of five minutes.
Martin Velits was once again the MVP of the peloton, spending most part of the stage in the wind, sheltering his teammates and chewing into the advantage of the escapees, who were brought back inside the final ten kilometers thanks to his amazing effort and relentless work. The sprint trains soon lined-out at the front, but the bunch gallop was a scrappy one, due to the wind and the steep ramp leading to the finish line, more suited to puncheurs.
Marcel Kittel, in 12th place, was Quick-Step Floors top finisher on the stage won by Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) ahead of Rick Zabel (Katusha-Alpecin) and Simone Consonni (UAE Team Emirates). Fellow countryman Maximilian Schachmann arrived with the pack, three seconds behind the riders who fought for victory, and retained his place in the top 10 overall, just ahead of teammate Enric Mas.
"We knew since this morning it was going to be a difficult finish, as the road was kicking up at 8% with 500 meters to go. We always want to win and it's a pity we didn't take the victory, considering Martin did a fantastic job and Marcel had good legs, but we'll have other chances this week, I'm confident of that", said sport director Brian Holm after Wednesday's stage.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele