Rafferty puts in performance at Critérium du Dauphine as Canadian Derek Gee takes the yellow jersey in southeastern France

Stage three of the Critérium du Dauphiné saw the riders tackle 181.7km of challenging French roads

Darren Rafferty riding in Wolverhampton at the 2022 Commonwealth Games for Team Northern Ireland
Former Commonwealth cyclist Darren Rafferty finished 49th in stage three of the 2024 Critérium du Dauphiné PICTURE: Alex Livesey/Getty Images (Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Canadian Derek Gee won stage three of the Critérium du Dauphine and snatched the yellow jersey, while young Irishman Darren Rafferty put in another strong climbing performance.

Stage three of the Critérium du Dauphiné saw the riders tackle 181.7km of challenging French roads, including five classified climbs and a hilltop finish.

An uphill start meant the race was hard from the gun, with a breakaway not successfully escaping the peloton until over 30km in.

Driving the trio, Frenchman Nicolas Prodhomme (Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale Team) started the day just 10 seconds down on the general classification and provided an ample carrot for the peloton to chase.

This group of three progressively built up their lead to over three minutes.

With 40km remaining, the breakaway was nearly in sight of the main bunch. This allowed Dane Christoper Juul-Jenson (Team Jayco AlUla) to ride across the one-minute gap and join the three ahead.

However, the pursuing peloton were unwilling to let the stage win get away and, despite strong riding from the breakaway riders, the race came back together with under 3km remaining.

In a brave late attack, Gee (Israel - Premier Tech) took the win. The Canadian also gained enough crucial seconds to put him into the general classification lead, meaning he will start tomorrow wearing yellow.

Romain Grégoire (Groupama – FDJ) finished second and 20-year-old Brit Lukas Nerurkar (EF Education – EasyPost) came home in third.

Coalisland man Darren Raffety (EF Education – EasyPost) once again showed his climbing prowess, putting in a strong performance to finish in the heavily reduced bunch. He crossed the line in 49th place.

This now means that Rafferty sits in 29th on the general classification, at only a 13-second deficit to new leader Gee.

With a 34.4km time trial taking place on Wednesday, the U23 Irish time trial champion will relish the opportunity to test his abilities against the clock and hopefully improve his position on the general classification.