Ewan slaloms to sprint win; Alaphilippe leads Tour de France

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Australia's Caleb Ewan, right, crosses the finish line to win the third stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 198 kilometers (123 miles), with start in Nice and finish in Sisteron, southern France, Monday, Aug. 31, 2020. (Benoit Tessier, Pool via AP)

SISTERON – A basketball player weaving through the defense. A skier dancing between the gates. A soccer player dribbling zig-zag toward the goal.

Australian rider Caleb Ewan borrowed the playbook from other sports as he slalomed through the bunch to win a sprint finish and claim the third stage of the Tour de France on Monday, while Julian Alaphilippe held onto the yellow jersey that he claimed with a dramatic stage victory a day earlier.

With about 100 meters to go, Ewan trailed five other riders before slinging himself through a narrow slice of road near the advertising barriers on the right side of the street. Then -- after more than five hours in the saddle -- Ewan darted to the left to overcome Sam Bennett and claim his fourth career stage win in the Tour by more than a wheel.

“I found my way through the wheels,” Ewan said. “Coming from behind, it’s a bit of a risk, but I found my way along the barrier and I came with a lot of speed and it worked.”

Living up to his nickname of “Pocket Rocket,” the 1.65-meter (5-foot-5) Ewan reached a top speed of 68.8 kph (42.7 mph) in the finale.

It was a perfectly timed acceleration.

“In the last k (kilometer) I was a bit too far forward so I dropped back a bit into the wheels," Ewan said. "That gave me time to rest the legs just a little before the last hit out,"

Irish champion Bennett, a teammate of Alaphilippe's at Deceuninck–Quick-Step, crossed second and European champion Giacomo Nizzolo came third -- both with the same time as Ewan.