Tour de France Diary, Stage Three: Sagan does the business at Boulogne-sur-Mer
Peter Sagan was one of the best in 2012 (image: AFP)
The 99th Tour de France entered French territory for the first time overnight as the peloton took on stage three – a 197km ride from Orchies to Boulogne-sur-Mer in the style of the Spring Classics.
Patchy rainfall in the north of France gave some sections of road a threatening sheen that kept riders on edge and instilled a nervous tension that was apparent from the outset.
The 700m uphill run to the finish was widely – and correctly – tipped to be one for the puncheurs, those riders who enjoy short, sharp (dare I say “punchy”?) climbs.
Having avoided a huge crash with 500m to go, Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) was victorious for the second time in three days. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky Pro Cycling) was second and Peter Velits (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) third.
Sagan’s brashness and confidence were again on display for all to see, the young Slovak impersonating a track and field sprinter as he crossed the line.
Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) finished fourth on the stage and retains the yellow jersey.
Earlier, five men were daring enough to test the puncheur victory theory by forming an early morning breakaway. The group again included Michael Morkov (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank), who was keen to extend his lead in the King of the Mountains classification.
Ukrainian road and time-trial champion Andriy Grivko (Astana), Giovanni Bernaudeau (Europcar), Ruben Perez Moreno (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Sébastien Minard (Ag2r La Mondiale) made up the remainder of the break.
This quintet was first to reach the intermediate sprint at Senlecques (after 119km). Minard secured the 20 points, with Bernaudeau and Morkov following rounding out the top three.
Back in the main bunch, it was Mark Cavendish (Sky Pro Cycling) who took out the sprint for sixth ahead of Kenny van Hummel (Vacansoleis-DCM).
Morkov earned maximum points on four of the stage’s six categorised climbs, all of which came in the last 65km of racing.
The remnants of the break were gobbled up by the main peloton with 6.5km remaining, prompting a promising but ultimately ill-fated move from Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step).
The stage was marred by numerous crashes in the final 50km as a result of riders jostling for position on narrow roads.
Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) was the biggest name caught up in the first incident. The Canadian chose the wrong time to be at the back of the main pack, to which he eventually returned.
Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Sky Pro Cycling) was not so lucky when he crashed shortly afterwards. The Belarusian suffered an ankle injury and became the first man to abandon this year’s Tour. Known for his strong climbing, the loss of Sivtsov is a huge blow to Sky team leader Bradley Wiggins.
Later, Australian Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE) was sent flying into a roadside ditch in a nasty tumble, which caused splits in the peloton and saw Movistar sprinter Jose Joaquin Rojas withdraw from the race with an injured collarbone.
Stage four is a rolling 215km journey from Abbeville to Rouen. For those interested in number patterns, it is the fourth road stage and it features four category four climbs:
• Km 38.0 – Cote du Mont Huon (97m) – 2.1km climb at 4.1%
• Km 69.0 – Cote de Dieppe (82m) – 1.8km climb at 3.9%
• Km 74.0 – Cote de Pourville-sur-Mer (97m) – 1.9km climb at 4.4%
• Km 143.0 – Cote de Toussaint (105m) – 1.9km climb at 4.5%
The flat run into the finish suits the fast men and a bunch sprint seems likely.
Andre Greipel and his Lotto-Beliosol sprint train will need to be on their game if they are going to stop Cavendish taking out his 22nd stage at the Tour.
Or will Goss take the win in Rouen? Watch this space.
Tour de France Stage 3 Results
Rider, Team, Points
1. SAGAN Peter, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 04h 42′ 58″
2. BOASSON HAGEN Edvald, SKY PRO CYCLING, 04h 42′ 59″ + 00′ 01″
3. VELITS Peter, OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK-STEP, 04h 42′ 59″ + 00′ 01″
4. CANCELLARA Fabian, RADIOSHACK-NISSAN, 04h 42′ 59″ + 00′ 01″
5. ALBASINI Michael, ORICA-GREENEDGE, 04h 42′ 59″ + 00′ 01″
6. EVANS Cadel, BMC RACING, 04h 42′ 59″ + 00′ 01″
7. ROCHE Nicolas, AG2R LA MONDIALE, 04h 42′ 59″ + 00′ 01″
8. SANCHEZ Samuel, EUSKALTEL-EUSKADI, 04h 42′ 59″ + 00′ 01″
9. MOLLEMA Bauke, RABOBANK, 04h 42′ 59″ + 00′ 01″
10. NIBALI Vincenzo, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 04h 42′ 59″ + 00′ 01″
Tour de France Points Classification
Rider, Team, Points
1. SAGAN Peter, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 116
2. CANCELLARA Fabian, RADIOSHACK-NISSAN, 74
3. CAVENDISH Mark, SKY PRO CYCLING, 73
4. BOASSON HAGEN Edvald, SKY PRO CYCLING, 67
5. GOSS Matthew Harley, ORICA-GREENEDGE, 55
Tour de France KOM Classification
Rider, Team, Points
1. MORKOV Michael, SAXO BANK-TINKOFF BANK, 9
2. BASSO Ivan, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 2
3. SAGAN Peter, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 2
Tour de France Overall Standings
Rider, Team, Time, Gaps
1. CANCELLARA Fabian, RADIOSHACK-NISSAN, 14h 45′ 30″
2. WIGGINS Bradley, SKY PROCYCLING, 14h 45′ 37″+ 00′ 07″
3. CHAVANEL Sylvain, OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK-STEP, 14h 45′ 37″+ 00′ 07″
4. VAN GARDEREN Tejay, BMC RACING, 14h 45′ 40″+ 00′ 10″
5. HAGEN Edvald Boasson, SKY PRO CYCLING, 14h 45′ 41″ + 00′ 11″
6. MENCHOV Denis, KATUSHA, 14h 45′ 43″ + 00′ 13″
7. EVANS Cadel, BMC RACING, 14h 45′ 47″ + 00′ 17″
8. NIBALI Vincenzo, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 14h 45′ 48″ + 00′ 18″
9. HESJEDAL Ryder, GARMIN-SHARP, 14h 45′ 48″ + 00′ 18″
10. KLODEN Andreas, RADIOSHACK-NISSAN, 14h 45′ 49″ + 00′ 19″