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Liquigas rider Peter Sagan took victory on the road from Orchies to Boulogne, in a dramatic stage which saw a late crash delay Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins. However, thanks to the crash taking place in the final run-in, Wiggins held onto second on general classification behind Radio Shack Nissan’s Fabien Cancellara.
The first week of the Tour always provides dramas and the 197km stage three lived up to the hype, with three crashes in the peloton, the third in the final run-in to Boulogne.
The first crash took out one of Wiggins’ key domestiques, Kanstantsin Siustou, who was forced to abandon due to injury. The second spill split the bunch with some big names, including fancied stage-winner Phillipe Gilbert and Mark Cavendish caught in the rear group and Rojas of Movistar forced to quit with a broken collarbone.
The day’s racing was, like the previous stage, dominated by a long breakaway; Minard, Grivko, Bernaudeau, Perez and polka-dot jersey holder Michael Morkov going away early in the stage. The group had a lead of almost five minutes until the race hit the final 50kms, when the peloton began to ramp up the pace and the first of a series of five categorised climbs loomed. The group eventually split, with just Morkov and Grivko remaining out front as the race entered the final 20 kms. Morkov, who’d been mega active all day mopping up further KOM points, finally cracked with just 7km to go and it wasn’t long before Grivko also succumbed to the peloton.
Moments later as the main group crested the final climb, Omega Pharma Quick Step's Sylvain Chavanel attacked and quickly gapped the field. However the peloton quickly responded on the treacherous downhill run-in and caught the Frenchman, with Sagan emerging victorious from the carnage, which caught up Wiggins and team mate Chris Froome amongst others. However, due to the crash taking place in the final stages, Wiggins, Froome and others caught up in the melee didn't lose time.
Sagan’s win consolidated his position in the green jersey standings after three stages ahead of Mark Cavendish, despite the Team Sky rider taking vital intermediate points earlier in the day.
Speaking to Team Sky after the stage, Chris Froome summed up the day’s dramas;
“Today was mayhem and towards the end everyone was fighting to be at the front of the bunch because that's the safest place to be. You can't have 200 riders on the front though and there were a lot of crashes as a result. We are a man down because of that and it looks like Siutsou's broken his leg - that's a big loss for us but in terms of the general classification, Bradley's still safe so that's one positive.
“As for my tumble at the end, I was trying to stay out of trouble but there was a Vacansoleil rider immediately in front of me and he went into the barriers and he took me with him. There was nowhere to go. Bradley was just behind me and he got caught up in it but thankfully didn't hit the ground. Condition-wise, my legs are feeling great so I just want to get into the mountains now and away from these flat, nervous roads.”
1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale 4:42:56
2 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 0:00:01
3 Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
4 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan
5 Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team
6 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
7 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale
8 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
9 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
10 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
52 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling
73 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:01
153 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:07:27
166 Stephen Cummings (GBr) BMC Racing Team
171 David Millar (GBr) Garmin - Sharp 0:08:02
General Classification after Stage 3
1 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan 14:45:30
2 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:07
3 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
4 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:10
5 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 0:00:11
6 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:17
7 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:18
8 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Sharp
9 Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:19
10 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:21
51 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:01:41
130 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:09:56
153 Stephen Cummings (GBr) BMC Racing Team 0:11:45
159 David Millar (GBr) Garmin - Sharp 0:12:11
1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale 86 pts
2 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Sky Procycling 73
3 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan 55
4 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team 55
5 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol Team 42
6 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 42
7 Michael Morkov (Den) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank 40
8 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Rabobank Cycling Team 36
9 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team 33
10 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre - ISD 28