Hat-trick of stage victories for Demare on Giro d'Italia

FILE PHOTO: Cycling - Tour de France - The 171-km Stage 18 from Trie-sur-Baise to Pau - July 26, 2018 - Groupama-FDJ rider Arnaud Demare of France wins the stage. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

BRINDISI, Italy (Reuters) - French champion Arnaud Demare claimed his third stage win in this year’s Giro d’Italia when he prevailed at a canter in the seventh stage, a 143-km ride between Mantera and Brindisi on Friday.

Demare, who had already won the fourth and sixth stages, benefitted from a perfect lead-out by his Groupama-FDJ team mates to beat triple world champion Peter Sagan by a bike length.

Australian Michael Matthews took third place.

Portuguese Joao Almeida retained the overall leader’s Maglia Rosa.

“The work my team did was amazing,” said Demare. “I waited a little bit and I launched my sprint at the right moment.”

Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris