Fabio Aru broke clear on the final climb and dug deep to hold off the peloton to win stage three of the Criterium du Dauphine.

The Astana rider was on his own for a full 13km after cresting the last climb with a slender 10 second lead and needed all the resilience he could conjure to hold off the chasing pack by a razor-thin two seconds.

Alexander Kristoff (Katyusha) won the sprint for second ahead of Niccolo Bonifazio (trek Segafredo) at the end of the 182km stage from Boen-sur-Lignon to Tournon-sur-Rhone.

"It's a new experience for me to win in this way," Aru said. "I wanted to try something but I didn't think I'd win."

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) held onto the race leader's yellow jersey despite suffering a mechanical failure around 4km from home. The Spaniard faced a desperate, high-speed chase to catch the peloton after his teammate Roman Kreuziger lent him his bike.

He maintained his six second lead in the overall standings ahead of Australian Richie Porte (BMC), with Tour champion Chris Froome (Sky) third at 13sec.

"In the last descent I was well-placed in the front positions but then I had this (mechanical) incident," Contador said. "I tried to make it to the last 3km but it wasn't possible."

Had he made it into the last 3km, he would have managed to avoid his late chase as he'd have been guaranteed the same time as the group he was with at the time of his mechanical.

Around 20km from the finish, Aru had chased after an attack from Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) on the 3km long final climb, with an average 8.2 per cent gradient. The 25-year-old then descended away on his own in a bid for victory.

The fourth of seven stages through the southern Drome region is a 176km run over flat and rolling terrain.

More to come.

Thursday 9 Jun 2016