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Stalemate prevails on stage three of Tour de France

Stalemate prevails on stage three of Tour de France

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A tense and uneventful final climb on stage three of the Tour de France failed to provide the expected indication of general classification favourites. Chris Froome’s animated performance on stage two was not reproduced as a stalemate prevailed at the summit of Col de Marsolino.

Stage three of the centennial race began with establishing the race order in earnest; a breakaway initiated by Lieuwe Westra and fortified by four others comprising Sebastien Minard, Alexis Vuillermoz, Cyril Gautier and Simon Clarke.

Escaping on the first climb, the group mopped up the only intermediate sprint points before increasing their lead to beyond four minutes.

By halfway that gap was reduced to under a minute, with sprinters jettisoned and a peloton headed by Belkin and Radioshack strung out 800 metres long.

Alert to the danger of open rockface and perilous drops to the sea below, the breakaway riders could profit from their agility in a small group, but by the final second category climb - the Col de Marsolino – that advantage had evaporated and attacks were forming.

While many anticipated another glimpse at the early race form of the general classification favourites, what transpired was an attack by Clarke and Vuillermoz controlled by the peloton. Clarke made his own pace with the dream of the polkadot jersey, but King of the Mountains Pierre Rolland ended that ambition in the final kilometre of climbing.

A series of attacks on the 12 kilometre descent to Calvi were always controlled by the peloton wary of yesterday’s miscalculation, where Jan Bakelants left the sprinters embarrassed by a single second.

Tom Demoulin made an attempt to repeat yesterday’s heroics, but Team Cannondale were intent on giving Peter Sagan a second chance at the stage, neutralising the threat and delivering the Slovakian to the final 200 metres in perfect position.

However the counter-train of Orica Greenedge delivered Simon Gerrans perfectly to the line for the narrowest of wins and the first Tour de France stage win for the Australian team.

As the autobus returned to the finish, so did Geraint Thomas who completed his second stage with a fractured pelvis.

Stage Result

1 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 3:41:24
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling
3 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team
4 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
5 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team
6 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
7 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team
8 Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
9 Julien Simon (Fra) Sojasun
10 Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi

28 Christopher Froome Sky Procycling ST
29 David Millar Garmin - Sharp ST
156 Ian Stannard Sky Procycling +00:08:26
166 Mark Cavendish Omega Pharma - Quick-Step +00:09:15
177 Geraint Thomas Sky Procycling
181 Peter Kennaugh Sky Procycling

General Classification after stage 3

1 Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack Leopard 12:21:27
2 Julien Simon (Fra) Sojasun 0:00:01
3 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
4 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
5 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
6 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge
7 David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Sharp
8 Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
9 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
10 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
15 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling
99 Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Sky Procycling +00:09:16
173 Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling +00:26.01
184 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step +00:26:50
194 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling