Nikias Arndt has sprinted to his first victory of the 2014 season today on the third stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné, with teammate Reinardt Janse van Rensburg taking third just behind.
After the final escapees were caught in the final kilometres on a very active, attacking stage Team Giant-Shimano took over the front of the peloton and in the final kilometre set up Nikias and Reinardt for the final push for the line. Reinardt led Nikias the German pulled out and came through to take the win just inches ahead of Kris Boeckmans (Lotto Belisol).
An initial break of three riders moved clear and build up a strong lead of three minutes but the sprinters were keen to have their shot at glory today and when the chase started from behind the gap soon started to tumble. With around 50km to race, and the gap sitting around two and a half minutes a large crash in the peloton saw Reinardt hit the ground.
Dries Devenyns was there to help bring him back to the bunch and Thierry Hupond soon had his back up near the front but Reinardt was unsure as to whether he was still in top shape for the finishing sprint.
After talking to Nikias, the guys decided to ride for Reinardt still, with Nikias being the final lead-out man. With the race all back together, despite some strong attacks in the closing kilometres, Team Giant-Shimano took control of the head of the bunch and powered the two sprinters into the final kilometres at the front. Nikias hit the final corner with about 400m to go ahead of Reinardt and started to accelerate out of here.
He kept going all the way and in the end proved the fastest taking his first WorldTour win and also became the ninth Team Giant-Shimano rider to win this season. It is the team’s 23rd win of the season and we are only half way through.
“I can’t believe it, that was unbelievable,” said Nikias after the finish. “The team were just amazing today, everything went just as it should.
“We don’t have a real lead-out team here but today the guys showed that if you work well together you can do anything.
The communication on the road was spot on – we said go they went, we say right, they went right.
“The plan was to go for Reinardt but he crashed and he wasn’t sure how he was. I still led him through the final corner and started my sprint thinking that he would come past but I felt so fast and kept going and in the end I had enough speed to get to the line.
“It’s great to be able to pay back the team after their superb work here today and also for me and the team to win here as it is a very important race.
“It is nice to pay back the team as well for their confidence in me. I can see my development from last year and learning from the other guys and working closely with the coaches and trainers is a great way to improve and gain confidence.
“This relieves the pressure for the next stages now and we can look forward to the next days to come.”
“Today the guys showed that teamwork really is one of our great strengths,” said Team Giant-Shimano coach Christian Guiberteau.
“The initial plan was to sprint for Reinardt but he crashed with around 50km to go. Dries [Devenyns] was there to bring him back to the bunch and Thierry [Hupond] worked hard as well to get him back to the front.
“After the crash we said that he and Nikias should speak to see who would sprint. They decided that Nikias would lead Reinardt but at the end Nikias pulled out a huge sprint and managed to take a huge win here.
“It is great for the team, and we are showing that everywhere we race we have opportunities and have riders that can take these opportunities. Nikias is still young and was spotted as a sprinting talent at a young age. He has developed within the team, learned off the other sprinters and worked with the staff to focus on development rather than immediate results and today he showed it is paying off.
“It is a great example that sticking to a plan pays off and is an inspiration to young riders out there watching.”