Thor Hushovd overcame the disappointment of seeing the points for yesterday’s stage of the Tour de France neutralised by outsprinting a select group of riders to win Stage 3 from Wanze to Arenberg Porte de Hainaut this afternoon. That leading group included Fabian Cancellara, who moved back into the yellow jersey after overall leader Sylvain Chavanel encountered desperate luck, the Quick Step rider puncturing twice and just failing to hold on to the maillot jaune.
There was cause for celebration for British fans too with Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas crossing the line behind Hushovd, and after moving up to second overall, he’ll be swapping his British National Champion’s jersey for the white jersey of the best young rider classification. Team leader Bradley Wiggins was the second rider home in the chasing group, coming in eighth on the stage 53 seconds behind the leaders.
The peloton splintered on the rough roads to Arenberg and the GC winners on the day were Cadel Evans and Andy Schleck. Ryder Hesjedal was the lone survivor of a seven man break that went out early but he was swept up with 5km to go by the lead group driven by who else but Fabian Cancellara on that Project Black Specialized bike that served him so well on the pave this spring..
As the race exited the final section of pavé some 10km out, Garmin-Transitions’ Ryder Hesjedal, found the leading group breathing down his neck, with Hushovd, Thomas, Evans and Cancellara joined by Andy Schleck, who benefited from his team-mate Cancellara’s work to put him right back in the GC reckoning after yesterday’s crash on the descent of the Col de Stockeu.
But Team Saxo Banks celebrations of Cancellara getting back in yellow and Andy Schleck putting time into GC rivals will be overshadowed by news that the latter's brother, Fränk, suffered a race-ending injury when he crashed into a roadside ditch. Jens Voigt, who had helped tow the Luxembourg rider and his brother back to the peloton yesterday, quickly signalling that there was no need to get the spare bike out.
The words of Lance Armstrong, who had warned on Twitter last week after conducting a recce of the stage that it was “going to be brutal,” proved prophetic on an afternoon when the great spring classic, Paris-Roubaix, was picked up and dropped slap bang in the middle of a hot, dry summer, and the Texan was one of those that suffered, losing time to most of his rivals after a puncture despite putting in a Herculean effort to try and get back.
With the peloton fracturing through successive sections of pavé as the race headed from Belgium into France, the best place to be was at or near the front of individual groups, as much to keep clear of choking clouds of dust as to avoid the inevitable crashes as riders fought either to keep on the crown of the road, or to ride at the side where the crowds permitted it.
Overnight leader Chavanel, riding a bike custom painted overnight at the Merckx factory in Brussels to reflect the fact that he topped both the overall and points classifications, had to swap for a standard team model after puncturing on one of the seven pave sections that figured towards the end of the course, and unbelievably after getting back onto a group of riders, suffered another flat, causing him to lose his brief hold on the maillot jaune by a matter of seconds.
Top 20 Tour de France 2010 Stage 3
1. HUSHOVD Thor CERVELO TEST TEAM 4h 49' 38" 2. THOMAS Geraint SKY PRO CYCLING + 00' 00" 3. EVANS Cadel BMC RACING TEAM + 00' 00" 4. HESJEDAL Ryder GARMIN - TRANSITIONS + 00' 00" 5. SCHLECK Andy TEAM SAXO BANK + 00' 00" 6. CANCELLARA Fabian TEAM SAXO BANK + 00' 00" 7. VAN SUMMEREN Johan GARMIN - TRANSITIONS + 00' 53" 8. WIGGINS Bradley SKY PRO CYCLING + 00' 53" 9. VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen OMEGA PHARMA - LOTTO + 00' 53" 10. VINOKOUROV Alexandre ASTANA + 00' 53" 11. MENCHOV Denis RABOBANK + 00' 53" 12. ROCHE Nicolas AG2R LA MONDIALE + 00' 53" 13. CONTADOR Alberto ASTANA + 01' 13" 14. McEWEN Robbie TEAM KATUSHA + 01' 46" 15. AERTS Mario OMEGA PHARMA - LOTTO + 01' 46" 16. DURAN AROCA Arkaitz FOOTON-SERVETTO + 01' 46" 17. ROJAS Jose Joaquin CAISSE D’EPARGNE + 01' 46" 18. SANCHEZ Luis-Leon CAISSE D’EPARGNE + 01' 46" 19. KREUZIGER Roman LIQUIGAS-DOIMO + 01' 46" 20. LÖVKVIST Thomas SKY PRO CYCLING + 01' 46"
Top 20 on General Classification after stage 3
1. CANCELLARA Fabian TEAM SAXO BANK 14h 54' 00" 2. THOMAS Geraint SKY PRO CYCLING + 00' 23" 3. EVANS Cadel BMC RACING TEAM + 00' 39" 4. HESJEDAL Ryder GARMIN - TRANSITIONS + 00' 46" 5. CHAVANEL Sylvain QUICK STEP + 01' 01" 6. SCHLECK Andy TEAM SAXO BANK + 01' 09" 7. HUSHOVD Thor CERVELO TEST TEAM + 01' 19" 8. VINOKOUROV Alexandre ASTANA + 01' 31" 9. CONTADOR Alberto ASTANA + 01' 40" 10. VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen OMEGA PHARMA - LOTTO + 01' 42" 11. ROCHE Nicolas AG2R LA MONDIALE + 01' 42" 12. VAN SUMMEREN Johan GARMIN - TRANSITIONS + 01' 47" 13. MENCHOV Denis RABOBANK + 01' 49" 14. WIGGINS Bradley SKY PRO CYCLING + 01' 49" 15. MILLAR David GARMIN - TRANSITIONS + 02' 06" 16. KREUZIGER Roman LIQUIGAS-DOIMO + 02' 24" 17. SANCHEZ Luis-Leon CAISSE D’EPARGNE + 02' 25" 18. ARMSTRONG Lance TEAM RADIOSHACK + 02' 30" 19. LÖVKVIST Thomas SKY PRO CYCLIN + 02' 34" 20. ROJAS Jose Joaquin CAISSE D’EPARGNE + 02' 35"
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.