Tyler Farrar of Garmin-Cervelo celebrated Independence Day in style this afternoon, winning his maiden Tour de France stage at Redon in Brittany. He joins a select group of riders to have won stages in all three Grand Tours. The American benefited from an exemplary leadout from mailot jaune Thor Hushovd, who retains the race lead, but the Norwegian and HTC-Highroad's Mark Cavendish were disqualified from the intermediate sprint after going shoulder to shoulder as they chased points. Cavendish was fifth on the stage, with Vacansoleil's Romain Feillu coming through strongly to finish second and Jose Rojas of Movistar, who now leads the points competition, third.
After crossing the line, Farrar made a 'W' sympbol with his hands in tribute to his friend, Wouter Weylandt, who died during the Giro d'Italia in May, which led to the American pulling out of that race fter joining the Belgian's Leopard Trek team to cross the line in the neutralised Stage 4 in tribute to him.
It's turning out to be a happier Tour for Farrar as well as his Garmin Cervelo team. After a string of near-misses in recent years, they secured their first Tour de France stage win in yesterday's Team Time Trial, and now they've added their first individual victory.
There were chaotic scenes behind the winner, however, as a number of riders hit the tarmac following a tight left-hand bend into the home straight, apparently after one clipped a spectator leaning over the barriers.
Among those brought down was Team Sky’s Edvald Boasson Hagen, to the apparent surprise of Geraint Thomas who put in a huge burst into a headwind to go off the front of the peloton to lead out the Norwegian only to turn round and discover he wasn’t there.
When the route of this year’s Tour was unveiled last autumn, the wind had been seen as playing a potentially decisive role in today’s stage, but as it turned out there wasn’t so much as the faintest of breezes early on to take the edge off baking temperatures as the peloton bade farewell to the Vendée and headed into Brittany.
Before long, the day’s break had got clear of the peloton, comprising five riders – Dutchman Niki Terpstra, now at Quickstep following four years with the defunct Milram team, the Spanish pair Ruben Perez and Jose Gutierrez of, respectively, Euskaltel-Euskadi and Movistar, and two French riders, FDJ’s Mickael Delage and AG2R’s Maxime Bouet.
The latter is perhaps best known for the admonishment he got from maillot jaune Fabian Cancellara after he popped out of a neutralised peloton to nab second place behind lone breakaway rider Sylvain Chavenel on Stage 3 of last year’s race.
Mark Cavendish had said in his pre-Tour de France press conference that despite changes to the points system he wasn’t too concerned about targeting intermediate sprints and would instead target stage wins in his pursuit of the green jersey.
Perhaps he was trying to lay a smokescreen for his rivals. Certainly today he fought hard to gain as many points as he could at the intermediate sprint at Saint-Hilaire-de-Chaleons, he and Hushovd apparently leaning into each other before sprinting ahead of the bunch to pick up the maximum 10 points on offer to the main bunch.
The race jury clearly thought that the tussle between the pair had been too physical, stripping both of the points they had won following the end of the stage. Cavendish and Hushovd have history, of course - the HTC-Highroad man still feels he was robbed of the points jersey in 2009 when he was disqualified from the points on one stage after being adjudged to have ridden across the Garmin-Cervelo rider's line.
While the Manxman can't complain that he has been treated more harshly than his rival today, it is he who stands to lose more, with Farrar not Hushovd being Garmin-Cervelo's main hope for the points jersey, and Cavendish of course losing more points to boot.
Minutes before that hard-fought sprint, Delage had scooped 20 points for being the first member of the break across the line.The Frenchman, awarded the day’s combativity prize, also took the solitary mountain point on offer as the five escapees crossed the Category 4 climb of the soaring Pont Saint-Nazaire over the River Loire.
At one point they had held a lead of more than 7 minutes over the peloton, but as they crossed the river into Brittany, where big crowds reflected the region’s status as one of France’s cycling heartlands, that gap had been brought down to little more than 2 minutes as Garmin Cervelo led the bunch in keeping them in check, working on behalf of yellow jersey Thor Hushovd and Tyler Farrar, who had his eyes on a Fourth of July stage win.
The toil of tackling that climb caused problems back in the peloton, with around 40 riders getting dropped off the back and having to chase hard to get back onto the bunch, with Katusha’s Vladimir Karpets also suffering a mechanical problem and having to wait for his team car to come through so he could change bikes.
The five escapees were eventually brought back into the bunch with just 9 kilometres left to ride as the sprinters’ teams looked to set up the inevitable bunch finish, with HTC Highroad inevitably most prominent at the front of the peloton.
As the road rose up as it entered the closing three kilometres, first Lampre-ISD’s Danilo Hondo then Vacansoleil’s Marco Marcato went off the front as they sought to thwart the bunch finish. They were quickly overhauled as Matt Goss and Mark Renshaw worked to set Cavendish up for the sprint, but the Manxman was out of position in the frenetic finale and finished fifth. His mood is unlikely to have been improved by the subsequent news that he'd lost the points he believed he'd accrued earlier on.
Tour de France Stage 3 Result
1 FARRAR Tyler GARMIN - CERVELO 4h 40' 21"
2 FEILLU Romain VACANSOLEIL-DCM All at same time
3 ROJAS Jose Joaquin MOVISTAR
4 HINAULT Sébastien AG2R LA MONDIALE
5 CAVENDISH Mark HTC - HIGHROAD
6 HUSHOVD Thor GARMIN - CERVELO
7 DEAN Julian GARMIN - CERVELO
8 BOZIC Borut VACANSOLEIL-DCM
9 GREIPEL André OMEGA PHARMA - LOTTO
10 ENGOULVENT Jimmy SAUR-SOJASUN
11 GALIMZYANOV Denis KATUSHA
12 TURGOT Sébastien EUROPCAR
13 HAGEN Edvald Boasson SKY PROCYCLING
14 MEERSMAN Gianni FDJ
15 THOMAS Geraint SKY PROCYCLING
16 GERDEMANN Linus LEOPARD-TREK
17 BONNET William FDJ
18 KLÖDEN Andréas RADIOSHACK
19 RUIJGH Rob VACANSOLEIL-DCM
20 GILBERT Philippe OMEGA PHARMA - LOTTO
Tour de France Overall Standings after Stage 3
1 HUSHOVD Thor GARMIN - CERVELO 9h 46' 46"
2 MILLAR David GARMIN - CERVELO + 00' 00"
3 EVANS Cadel BMC RACING + 00' 01"
4 THOMAS Geraint SKY PROCYCLING + 00' 04"
5 GERDEMANN Linus LEOPARD-TREK + 00' 04"
6 HAGEN Edvald Boasson SKY PROCYCLING + 00' 04"
7 SCHLECK Frank LEOPARD-TREK + 00' 04"
8 SCHLECK Andy LEOPARD-TREK + 00' 04"
9 FUGLSANG Jakob LEOPARD-TREK + 00' 04"
10 WIGGINS Bradley SKY PROCYCLING + 00' 04"
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