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One of the most boring stages became one of the most exciting as Fabian Cancellara blazed to victory in his yellow jersey. It nearly appeared that the breakaway would stay away as it still had a 0:20 advantage with 1.4k to go. As the peloton massed behind a breakaway on the final cobbled stretch, it was Cancellara in his bright yellow jersey jumped across the gap, past the breakaway, and solo'd to victory as the sprinter's nipped at his heels. That's a yellow jersey. Cancellara becomes the first rider to hit the two-win mark of this Tour.
The longest stage allowed for a really long break: Nicolas Vogondy (Agritubel) and Mathieu Ladagnous (FD Jeux) went at 5k and were joined by Stephane Auge (Cofidis) and Frederik Willems (Liquigas), who jumped with 58k to go. The peloton seemed to be riding in 'recovery' mode, doing little to reel in the break other than keep it at a containable distance: when the break slowed down, the peloton slowed down, and vice versa. It became a real stage with around 30k to go as the sprint teams started putting in an earnest effort to bring things back. The break last for about 231k as Cancellara caught them with half a kilometer to go.
Auge can celebrate his breakaway effort: he was able to take the KOM polka dots from David Millar. Boonen gained some points in the green jersey competition over McEwen.
Other coverage: * Fritz/cyclelicio.us is running a Twitter-aggregator on his front page * CyclingNews Live Coverage (latest) * TwitTour (twitter) * Steephill.tv has links to live video options * Yahoo Photo Feed * My Twitter has a slightly different take, but is mostly the same
My prediction: Boonen gets his second
CyclingNews Stage 3 Route Preview: "This is the longest stage of the Tour de France and after a taste of the Classics the day before, Stage three will pass through locales like Wallers, Denain and Solesmes that are familiar to Paris-Roubaix. The stage then passes through Fontaine-au-bois, the home town of former Tour boss Jean-Marie Leblanc. The rolling course with a following wind should provoke an early breakaway that will come back for another massive sprint."
- Bob: McEwen
- Phil: Boonen
- Al: Hushovd
- Paul: Freire
kwc.org Stage Log
Boonen and Hushovd are within striking distance of yellow
Current green jersey standings:
1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep - Innergetic 56 pts
2 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Predictor - Lotto 55
3 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quickstep - Innergetic 46
4 Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel 44
5 Sébastien Chavanel (Fra) Française des Jeux 40
6 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank 36
7 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram 32
8 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole 30
Nicolas Vogondy (Agritubel) and Mathieu Ladagnous (FD Jeux) are the early break. Vogondy took the first sprint and Ladagnous the second. They got their break up to 14 minutes but it is now dropping
CSC only has three-four riders up front including Cancellara -- CSC had to do a lot of work yesterday and probably wasn't happy to be involved in multiple crashes. Millar has been doing pace-making duties at the front with his polka dots.
Now, that's a weird way to do the sprint: Feillu jumped onto the curb and bunny-hopped off to get around for the intermediate sprint. He was fourth in the green jersey standings after stage 2.
Vassuer (Quick Step) and Charteau (CA) are leading the chase as the looks like the whole CSC squad has moved up behind them. The break is under five minutes now.
The peloton has really fanned out as they're letting the break hang off the front.
Another way to win a Cervelo: http://www.competitivecyclist.com/dreambike/
Astarloza jumps again to take third in the intermediate sprint.
Auge (Cofidis) and a Liquigas rider finally stir things up as they make a jump. Auge is threatening Millar's KOM jersey. They're tied right now with Millar having the advantage due to his overall rank.
Steegmans and Botcharov went down near the back of the peloton while crossing a small bridge.
Auge takes the KOM with no contest and will move into the polka dots.
With the chase finally on the stage is finally worth watching, they we are already way over schedule -- I've had to extend my TiVo recording twice.
Gap at 2:29, 22k
I guess Hincapie had an early crash
Willems has attacked to try and escape the break, but they're having none of it.
This is a big chase. The grimaces at the front of the peloton are huge.
0:27, 2miles as Willems attacks again. Vogondy joins him.
Willems attacks again but can't get away. 1.4k, 0:20
1k kite as everyone is on the cobbles
The mass of the peloton is gathered behind the break.
Fabian Cancellara is bridging up! He's passing around them!
I can't believe it! Cancellara bridged up to the break on the final straight, passed them, and took the stage as Zabel and Napolitano nipped at his wheels.