Hushovd Wins Stage 3 of Tour; Cancellara Takes Back Yellow Jersey
Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) has won Stage 3 of the 2010 Tour de France.
Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) has won Stage 3 of the 2010 Tour de France. Norway's Thunder God, who was angry when yesterday's finish line sprint was neutralized, took a six-up sprint to win the flat, 213-km run from Wanze, Belgium to Arenberg-Porte du Hainaut, France in 4:45:38. Geraint Thomas (Sky) and Cadel Evans (BMC) finished second and third, respectively. Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank), who lost the maillot jaune to Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) yesterday, took it back today.
The early racing was aggressive. At 11 km, Imanol Erviti (Caisse d'Epargne), Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin), Stephen Cummings (Sky), Pierre Rolland (Bouygues Telecom), Pavel Brutt (Katusha), Roger Kluge (Milram), and Stephane Auge (Cofidis) sallied off of the front, and the septet led by more than four minutes at 30 km. Quick Step then went to the front in support of maillot jaune Chavanel and pegged the lead at between 4:00 and 5:00.
Today's stage, like the two before it, was crash-marred. The first crash occurred at 112 km when several riders went down, with David Le Lay (Ag2r) abandoning with a broken collarbone.
At 128 km, the peloton reached the first of four sections of cobblestones. The break led the bunch by 2:30. RadioShack led the peloton onto the cobbles. With 75 km remaining and the fugitives still leading by 2:30, Quick Step and Cervelo stepped up the pursuit.
With 44 km left, Saxo Bank accelerated as the field approached the second stretch of cobbles. The move stretched out the field. Chavanel, Hushovd, defending champion Alberto Contador (Astana), Lance Armstrong (RadioShack), and Cadel Evans and George Hincapie (both from BMC) were in the lead group that pursued the break. Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) had a mechanical problem and chased to get back on. The break's lead was down to 1:40.
The break led by 1:20 when it reached the cobbles. On the third section of cobbles, Hesjedal attacked but was brought back. Behind, the peloton split, and Damiano Cunego (Lampre) and Dave Zabriskie (Garmin) crashed.
With 36 km to go, the break entered France. It led the first half of the peloton by 0:51. Cervelo took over at the front for a while, but Saxo Bank reassumed command. On the last section of cobbles, Cummings attacked and got a gap. Behind, another crash took place. This one brought down Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank) and Janez Brajkovic (RadioShack), among others, and took the former out of the race with a broken collarbone. The mishap delayed Contador. The cobbles were making their usual mischief.
With 24 km left, Hesjedal attacked again. He led the Cancellara group by 0:37 and defending champion Contador's group by 1:17. Contador caught Armstrong with 16 km remaining and then left Armstrong behind when the seven-time champion punctured. Maillot jaune Chavanel punctured and required a new bike. Ahead, Cancellara attempted to sally away from his companions, but Hushovd had none of it.
With 10 km left, Hesjedal led by less than 0:30. Three and a half km later, the Cancellara group caught him. Behind, Chavanel needed a second spare bike and would finish the day more than three minutes behind Hushovd.
With two km left, it was obvious that a member of the Cancellara group would win and that Cancellara