FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images
Thor Hushovd showed no ill affects of his stage 2 crash as he followed leadout-man Julian Dean's wheel to victory. Robbie Hunter followed Hushovd's wheel but couldn't come around. Quick Step and T-Mobile tried to control the leadout into the sprint, but in the end Boonen and Cavendish were nowhere to be seen. Hushovd ends the day 0:29 behind Cancellara, as Cancellara's stage 3 victory and breakaways have kept the jersey just out of reach of him this year.
It was a more typical sprint stage this time around: breakaway, well-timed catch. The sprint teams left it up to CSC to keep the five-man break of Flecha (Rabobank), Chavanel (Cofidis), Knees (Milram), Sprick (Bouygues Telecom), and Verdugo (Euskaltel) under control. Chavanel and Flecha made the most of the break: Flecha took the intermediate sprints, while Chavenel took all but one KOM -- making sure to not take the last and keep the KOM jersey with his teammate Auge. The CSC domestiques once again did a lot of work, but the sprint teams eventually sent a couple rides up to reel the break back in with 6k to go.
Zandio became the third abandon of the Tour after an early crash.
Tomorrow should shake things up a little -- the penultimate Cat 2 and final Cat 3 climbs are enough to create a gap and take away Cancellara's yellow jersey.
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. Might be easier for catching updates.
CyclingNews Stage 4 Route Preview: "Stage four is a classic early Tour de France stage run in the countryside to the east of Paris that traverses the rolling hills of the Champagne region, the wide plains of Brie before the final hills across the Yonne. Once again, an early break will certainly escape before the sprinters' teams pull it back in the final 50 kilometres before the finish in Joigny."
My prediction: Boonen
kwc.org Stage Log
Having trouble here -- Comcast service went out and none of the live streaming options seem to be working. May have to watch the highlight reel on this one.
And we're back! I I missed the first 30 minutes but that's better than nothing.
Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel), Matthieu Sprick (Bouygues Telecom), Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), and Christian Knees (Milram) ahead by three minutes. CSC is setting the pace with the Americans Vande Velde and DZ setting the pace.
Zandio is out after an earlier crash that I missed due to cable outage. I'm surprised that's only the third abandon so far this Tour, given that crashes and whatnot.
Frick -- Video out again. And it's back. This is going to be stressful. (sorry, this is not exactly cycling coverage, but it captures the drama, no?)
Must close my eyes for Specialized bike coverage -- I'm trying to resist buying one right now
Millar gave up the KOM b/c he thought he'd lose it today. Now it appears that Auge could lose it to his teammate Chavanel
It's really starting to look like a chase now -- it helps that the sprint teams are sending riders up to help CSC, though its still mostly a CSC train.
Haven't quite figured out why Flecha (Rabobank) is taking the intermediate sprints, but he's got two so far.
Chavanel takes another KOM and is one final KOM for taking the lead.
Cofidis' Scheirlinckx and Quick Step's Tossato have crashed. They appear to be okay but are getting some bike fixes.
Knees sprinted for the KOM, which means that Auge doesn't lose the KOM to his teammate Chavanel. It appears that Chavanel wasn't contesting it and this may have been intentional.
DZ is still leading the peloton, though they are more riders from the sprint teams to do the chaseback. The lead is steady at 1:50 for now. With DZ doing this much work at the front he might have a chance at the Laterne Rouge
Flecha attacks for the final sprint and is tailed by Chavanel. Flecha takes it.
The gap is at 1:01 as the break passes under the 25k banner
Knees attacks as the gap is under a minute now. Sprick and Chavanel jump across by themselves. And now its all back together.
The break is steady at 1:00-1:05. My guess is that the sprinters don't want to catch them too early or maybe the winds aren't favorable.
Crash at the back of the peloton. A bunch of Bouygues Telecom riders -- Geslin appears to be the rider that blocked things up.
Now the break is falling: 0:50. The peloton can see the break on this open fields.
The break is falling fast: 0:27 with 10k to go
Sprick, Flecha, and Knees are dropping the rest of the break, which is being caught
Flecha and Knees are all that's left. Knees shakes hands with Flecha to give up the break. Quick Step leads a big charge up to the front of the peloton.
CSC riders have been shot to the back as the peloton picks up the speed.
Van Summeren (Lotto) keeps trucking away at the front even as other riders peel off. Van Summeren finally peels off.
There's a mass of Quick Step Riders just waiting. Now they're taking up front positin just behind Wegmann (Gerolsteiner)
T-Mobile is now fighting with Quick Step for control
Hushovd starts the sprint behind leadout man Dean and wins! Robbie Hunter couldn't come around his wheel.