Stage 3: A break, a crash, and lots of shakeup

letour.jpgCofidis' Dumoulin took the stage, Agritubel's Feillu the yellow jersey, and Garmin-Chipotle's Frishkorn some podium respect as a breakaway went from start to finish with over two minutes on the pack. Dumoulin attacked with a kilometer to go, Frishkorn followed, Feillu countered, and Dumoulin countered the counter. As a fan of Frishkorn's diaries on VeloNews, I hoped he could cross the line first instead of second, but any podium spot is spectacular. Frishkorn's face was a mixture of disappointment and joy after the race. You have to appreciate the excitement of Jonathan Vaughters, who posted this to Twitter during the race when it became clear the break would win:

Willy is going to make it!!! Now can he win??? Mass confusion behind, crashes, wind... Le Guerre!!! JV

Le Guerre indeed -- today was supposed to be the first proper sprint stage, but crashes and winds were thrown into the mix and changed everything. A crash as the peloton split around a median ended up splitting the peloton into three, sending white jersey Ricco and Menchov into the second group. Saunier Duval and Rabobank worked hard to bring their riders back, but Quick Step and Liquigas were busy putting the hammer down in the tailwind.

Robbie McEwen took the field sprint over Erik Zabel at 2:03 back. It was another half a minute to the Menchov/Ricco group and even longer to the peloton. The crash cost many riders, though none more than Jose Angel Gomez, who hit the deck with another big crash (see Flanders).

The chaos of a stage wouldn't be complete without protests. Christian Prudhomme was able to negotiate a hole in a large group of protesters blocking the road just in time for the breakaway to just scoot past. Bernard Hinault handled a protester on the podium less diplomatically, giving him a good shove off the stage.

related articles: Tour de France Tour de France 2008
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