Good afternoon cycling fans and welcome to the Cycling Weekly live coverage from stage three of the Tour de France 2021, from Lorient to Pontivy.
Follow updates from the first sprint day here:
Hello cycling world!
Alex Ballinger here starting the day with Cycling Weekly's live coverage of stage three of the Tour de France.
Absolutely breathless opening two days so far, let's hope the excitement continues.
Today is a fairly long stage at 182km, and could be flat enough for the sprinters to take their first opportunity of the race.
But they're going to have to fight for it, as we have plenty of uncategorised ramps on the way from Lorient to Pontivy, as well as two category four climbs at 90 and 148km into the stage.
Could Mark Cavendish be in with a shot today?
Today at the Tour: 182.9km from Lorient to Pontivy #TDF2021 Live coverage: https://t.co/iMDmqEz9ak pic.twitter.com/nK6jgN1sUdJune 28, 2021
Here's a quick reminder of how much yesterday's win meant to Mathieu van der Poel.
Exhaustion, elation and congratulations from @alafpolak1 .... watch @mathieuvdpoel celebrate his Tour de France Stage 2 win 🎥_________#TDF2021 pic.twitter.com/hZtPd1txo8June 27, 2021
The Dutchman went into the yellow jersey, achieving what his late grandfather Raymond Poulidor had only ever dreamed of.
Sometimes the emotion behind the race is even better than the race itself.
Before today's stage kicks off catch up with all the action from stage two, with analysis from CW contributor Stephen Puddicombe, who has broken down five talking points from the second day, including Roglič and Pogačar gaining time, Van der Poel's win, and Geraint Thomas losing a handful of seconds.
Julian Alaphilippe was probably the favourite to take a second stage win and tighten his grasp on the yellow jersey yesterday, but the French superstar slipped back as Mathieu van der Poel powered clear on the Mûr de Bretagne.
Speaking after the stage Alaphilippe, who lose the yellow jersey in the process, said: "I tried to follow Mathieu on the first climb but I felt that the legs were not exceptional. "
Read Alaphilippe's full reaction: Julian Alaphilippe admits that Mathieu van der Poel 'was simply stronger' on stage two of Tour de France
Today's stage is scheduled to start at 1.10pm start and finish between 4.24pm to 4.55pm finish (local time) .
So that's 12.10am start for British fans.
In the mean-time, we'll be bringing you all the pre-stage reaction and news, so stay tuned.
Mathieu van der Poel will apparently be riding a Mavic neutral service bike on stage three...
New bike day for @mathieuvdpoel, and it's a beauty!Thank you @canyon_bikes 💛 pic.twitter.com/ZvCsXYdvjBJune 28, 2021
We've got an update on Saturday's crash involving the spectator and Tony Martin.
Police in France are now trying to trace her via Facebook as officers investigate the crash.
Organisers of the Tour de France ASO have also claimed they plan to sue the fan for causing the huge pile-up in the final 50km of stage one.
Here is Geraint Thomas before the start of stage three, after the Ineos Grenadiers leader lost about 17 seconds on the Mûr de Bretagne yesterday:
"Obviously it's not good to lose time but there is still a long way to go, we have to stay confident and positive."
Any bets on who the Ineos leader is now?
🎙🏴 @GeraintThomas86 "Évidemment, ce n'est pas bon de perdre du temps mais il y a encore un long chemin à parcourir, nous devons rester confiants et positifs."#TDF2021 pic.twitter.com/C4XAmCjv2YJune 28, 2021
The peloton are on the road for stage three of the 2021 Tour de France for the neutralised start.
We're 4km from the flag drop on the third day of racing as riders head out of Lorient. Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic) is currently at the head of the bunch as we're treated to some shots of the bay.
Well, that didn't take too long to happen: the day's breakaway is seemingly set, with Ide Schelling of Bora-hansgrohe once again in there. He is joined by Jelle Wallays of Cofidis, AG2R Citroën's Michael Schär and the B&B Hotels pair of Cyril Barthe and Maxime Chevalier. The five have an advantage of almost three minutes with 173km lef to ride.
It's now always straightforward for the day's break to be established, but today's was a simple affair. Expect the peloton to give them a four minute time gap.
Schelling, of course, was in stage one and stage two's break, wearing the King of the Mountains jersey yesterday and today. He is now second in the classification t Mathieu van der Poel, but given that he has the same number of points - 4 - to the Dutchman, expect to see him back atop the leaderboard by the end of the day.
With 167km left to race, the break of five have an advantage of 3:14. The peloton is 2.3km further back down the road, happy to let the escapees have the limelight for a few hours.
Michael Schär is by far the most experienced rider in the break, the Swiss making his 11th appearance in the race. The 34-year-old has won two team time trials at the race with his former team BMC Racing, but never won an individual stage.
Will Cav win stage number 31 today?
Nervous today for some reason…. 😬June 28, 2021
The bookies fancy Caleb Ewan to win stage three, the Australian looking for his sixth Tour victory. Arnaud Démare is second favourite, with Cavendish the third-most backed.
Read our story here on how the bookmakers expect stage three to go
It's Lotto-Soudal, the team of Caleb Ewan, who are on the front of the peloton and the gap between them and the break has reduced a little bit, now sitting at 2:41 with 160km to go.
Geraint Thomas has just been on Eurosport warning that the day's weather could make proceedings a little tricky. It's unlikely that the race won't end in a sprint, but the peloton have to be attentive to potential splits and avoiding crashes. We all remember stage one.
The advantage that the break have is now 2:23, 156km still left to race. The peloton don't seem comfortable yet to allow the break a margin of around four minutes.
Wet, wet, wet. It's raining out on the roads of stage three. The peloton are taking the route's roundabouts with care, not wanting to be upended by the slippery conditions. It looks grim.
The TV cameras that are broadcasting the race around the world are pockmarked with heavy rain drops. The gap between the peloton and the breakaway is 2:26, and with this wet weather don't expect it to be increase too much.
Another big crash at the front of the bunch, this time Ineos Grenadiers.
Geraint Thomas is down and looks injured.
Geraint Thomas is riding back to the peloton but he doesn't look too comfortable. He doesn't seem to be sporting any injuries, but let's see what happens in the ensuing kilometres.
Thomas was very near to the front of the bunch and went to the ground after seemingly crashing into a Bahrain-Victorious rider, although TV replays aren't so clear. He is riding back into the group with three Ineos Grenadiers teammates.
Thomas is three minutes behind the peloton, and he is now alone, with just an Ineos Grenadiers car behind him for company. He is holding his ribs on his right, and it looks like he may have pain in his wrist, too.
The Welshman is being treated from the team car while riding back to the peloton. The breakaway, meanwhile, still have an advantage of 2:25, with 138km left to race.
Robert Gesink of Jumbo-Visma has abandoned the race. The Dutchman was caught up in the crash that also felled Geraint Thomas.
Gesink's abandonment will be a big blow to Jumbo-Visma. He is a trusted member of Primoż Roglič's well-oiled machine and his crash is just the latest in what has been a stressful three days for the Dutch team.
The gap between the peloton and Thomas is decreasing, with the Welshman now just two minutes in arrears. He seems to be riding well, supported by his compatriot Luke Rowe and Dylan van Baarle.
Geraint Thomas' injury is a dislocated shoulder, reports Belgian journalist Sven Spoormakers. Steven Kruijswijk was also treated by his team car, but the Jumbo-Visma man appears to be riding fine.
A dislocated shoulder, immediately treated by the team's osteo, they stated on @RTBFsportJune 28, 2021
There are 129km remaining of today's stage and the break of five have a lead of 2:39. The group of four Ineos Grenadiers riders, that includes Geraint Thomas who crashed heavily less than 30 minutes ago, is a minute shy of the peloton. Thomas is no doubt in pain but he is riding well.
This is good news. Geraint Thomas is back in the peloton, having rode back alongside three of his Ineos Grenadiers teammates. The Welshman will now be looking to get through the stage before receiving proper treatment afterwards. It is thought that he has a dislocated shoulder, although he was also seeing hold the ribs on his left.
And, breathe. No more drama until the finish, please. The break have a lead of 2.25, 121km from the finish.
Geraint Thomas has had a quick bike change but is looking more and more comfortable on the bike.
Here are a few pictures from the chase:
Geraint Thomas is back in the bunch with some help from his team-mates. Things weren't looking good as the Ineos Grenadiers co-leader went down, but somehow he's managed to continue the race #TDF2021 pic.twitter.com/J6Q6M5mHztJune 28, 2021
We've had just a glimpse of classic Brittany weather so far today, as the peloton were treated to a lovely downpour mid-way through the stage, giving us this striking picture.
But the skies have cleared a little and the weather looks quite pleasant...for now.
Let's have another look at the race situation:
With 88.5km left to race the five-rider breakaway still has 2-05 over the peloton, which is being led by Alpecin-Fenix and Groupama-FDJ.
Ide Schelling went hard once again for the KoM sprint on the Côte de Cadoudal 92km from the finish, taking maximum points to extend his lead in the mountain classification.
Pace in the bunch is very calm as riders are taking the chance to have some food.
We've had word from our roving reporter at the 2021 Tour Jonny Long, who is out in France now.
According to Jonny, today's finish is going to be super sketchy: chicane with 350m to go then a fairly sharp right-hand into the final 150m, and downhill at four per cent
Mission accomplished for Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) today. The Dutchman has sat up from the breakaway and rejoined the peloton after scooping up the mountain points.
Four riders out front now - Jelle Wallays (Lotto-Soudal), Michael Schär (Ag2r-Citroën) Cyril Barthe and Maxime Chevalier (B&B Hotels) - with 2-22 over the bunch.
Groupama-FDJ still lead the bunch.
So who is going to win today? Let us know by casting your vote in our Twitter poll
Who will win stage three of the Tour de France 2021? #TDF2021June 28, 2021
Intermediate sprint time! Cavendish is getting stuck in but it looks like Caleb Ewan has just swept up the points (after the four breakaway riders went through first).
The peloton has ramped up the pace now with 62km to race, the gap to the escapees is down to 58s.
Can't get used to Julian Alaphilippe wearing green...
Puncture for Julian Alaphilippe.
The green jersey wearer stopped after a front flat with 56km to go, he's had a quick wheel change and he's back on the bike.
Peloton is keeping up the pace no, with Lotto, Deceuninck and Groupama all liking the looks of the front of the bunch on the winding roads.
Break has 1-31.
The Spanish broadcast of the Tour de France currently features expert analysis from David de la Cruz, team-mate to reigning Tour champion Tadej Pogačar.
De la Cruz has just suggested that Pogačar eats eight chocolate mousses after a mountain stage, although the veracity of that claim has come into question.
We'll bring you more on the mousse controversy as it unfolds...
(yes, the race is still quiet)
Things are getting serious now - the break on the final categorised climb of the day, the Côte de Pluméliau with the peloton fast approaching behind.
The gap now sits at 1-33, but with Deceuninck, BikeExchange, Movistar, Jump and Lotto all lined out at the front of the bunch that is going to tumble fast.
With 23km to go it's slowly curtains for our breakaway out front, with just a minute's advantage
For now we still have a lot of GC teams leading the peloton as the try to protect their leaders. Geraint Thomas however is not i the long line of Ineos riders at the front of the bunch.
Here's former rider Simon Gerrans helpfully running you through the final kilometre of today's stage
🔎 Before the finish and the likely sprint, here's @simongerrans take you through today's last km.🔎 Avant l'arrivée et le sprint probable, laissez @simongerrans vous présenter le dernier kilomètre de l'étape du jour. #TDF2021 pic.twitter.com/7rwrGp27RFJune 28, 2021
As you can see there's a few sharp twists and turns as we enter the finishing town of Pontivy, but it's pretty much straight to the finish, which should mean a really fast sprint to the line
18km to go the gap is down to 35 seconds as teams prepare for the sprint. Wout van Aert is currently working for Primoz Roglic, so it's unclear if he'll try and sprint as well
Julian Alaphlippe is forced onto the grass verge as he tries to move up through the bunch, which is fanned across the road as they push on at 43kmh
Still no clear shot of Geraint Thomas in the bunch just yet, but the yellow jersey of Mathieu van der Poel is safely tucked in at the front
It would be really something if Wout van Aert was to win this sprint given his work in the last few kilometres. The current Belgian champion won two stages from sprints last year
Groupama-FDJ now moving up on the left of the bunch with 14.5km to go. Arnaud Demare will be keen to get off and running with a stage win here, having missed the Tour to ride the Giro d'Italia last year
We're down to three at the front with Maxime Chevalier dropping back to the bunch
Just time to look at today's Twitter poll with 12km to go.
The CW readers are tipping Mark Cavendish to make a triumphant return to the Tour, taking 47.4% of the vote ahead of Caleb Ewan with 40.5%
Who will win stage three of the Tour de France 2021? #TDF2021June 28, 2021
Crash in the peloton - Valentin Madouas is down for Groupama-FDJ, as was Miguel Angel Lopez (Movistar), who is straight back and off on his bike
There's another crash on the right of the bunch and it's Primoz Roglic who has gone down
Roglic looks battered and bruised with tears in his clothing. He's back on his bike but he's got a big fight to catch the bunch now with 10km to go
The crash just looks to be a touch of wheels as the fight for space continues. Roglic was on the left hand side of the bunch and fell clear of most other riders. He's now being led back by two team-mates but they're 15 seconds down right now with 8.6km to go
Correction, Roglic is at 1-19 currently to the peloton
That would spell real disaster for Roglic to lose that much time so early. The Slovenian has been active in taking time bonuses in the first two stages and looked in fine form already
The Jumbo-Visma car is now trying to give a sly bit of assistance to their team, but the gap with 7.5km to go is not coming down quickly enough
There's three Jumbo riders (and a Jumbo car) helping Roglic, who is still at 1-10.
Meanwhile, the breakaway is just about to be caught with 6km to go
Breakaway caught, 5.8km to go
Roglic appears to be riding ok, but his left side looks bloodied with his shorts and jersey ripped. It's still unclear how he crashed, but only an EF rider went down with him
The Roglic group has now caught a large chasing group, which is at 51 seconds. There's only 4.3km left for them to get back though
Another big crash - several Trek riders, Bahrain riders down
It happened on a small downhill on the left of the bunch. The Bahrain rider down looks in significant pain with a Qhubeka and Groupama rider on the ground with him
The Bahrain rider looks like Jack Haig
The peloton has split with Lotto-Soudal driving on a small group along with Ineos Grenadiers
Van der Poel is still up towards the front
The yellow jersey leads the peloton into the final 2km
It doesn't look like Mark Cavendish has made the front group, but Bouhanni, Sagan, Philipsen, are all there
Alpecin-Fenix lead it out in the final kilometre
Tim Merlier wins stage three of the Tour de France
Tim Merlier backs up his Giro stage win with a win at the Tour, but that final kilometre was as chaotic as the 10km that came before it
Caleb Ewan went down and took out Peter Sagan in the final few hundred metres, allowing Merlier an easy sprint to the line to take the win
Ewan is still down on the final straight
Ewan appeared to catch the wheel of Merlier as he launched his sprint, and took Sagan down as he fell
Jasper Philipsen took second to make it a 1-2 for Alpecin-Fenix, who take their second stage in two days. Nacer Bouhanni took third.
As for the GC riders, well it looks like everyone lost some time aside from Richard Carapaz (Ineos) who was in that front group. Roglic is potentially worst off
Here's your stage top-10:
1. Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix, in 4-01-28
2. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
3. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Arkéa-Samsic
4. Davide Ballerini (Ita) Deceuninck-Quick-Step
5. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious
6. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-Quick-Step
7. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix
8. Cees Bol (Ned) Team DSM
9. Anthony Turgis (Fra) TotalEnergies
10. Max Walscheid (Ger) Qhubeka-NextHash, all at same time
There's so much to dissect from this stage. What we do know is the Merlier is our winner and his team-mate Van der Poel holds on to yellow.
Geraint Thomas finished in a group at 26 seconds along with Tadej Pogacar and Rigoberto Uran. Nairo Quintana was among those to come off better finishing in the group at 14 seconds. But Richard Carapaz did well to avoid all delays and finishing in the front group along with Julian Alaphilippe.
It looks like Primoz Roglic lost 1-26 to the winner and Richard Carapaz, so that's a minute to his big rival Tadej Pogacar
Here's the provisional GC:
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix, in 12-58-53
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-Quick-Step, at 8 seconds
3. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers, at 31s
4. Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma, at same time
5. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 38s
6. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, at 39s
7. Enric Mas (Esp) Movistar Team, at 40s
8. Nairo Quintana (Col) Arkéa-Samsic, at same time
9. Pierre Latour (Fra) TotalEnergies, at 45s
10. Sergio Higuita (Col) EF Education First-Nippo, at 52s
Here's footage of the finish:
🇧🇪 @MerlierTim triumphs in Pontivy!See the final KM ⬇️🇧🇪 @MerlierTim triomphe à @VillePontivy !Regardez le dernier KM ⬇️#TDF2021 pic.twitter.com/VOTG5vcDpJJune 28, 2021
Tim Declerq (Deceuninck) says riders wanted to take GC times from 8km to go, which didn't happen. The battle for the front between sprint teams and GC on the narrow road to the final kilometre made it a sketchy finale, with numerous crashes
Other GC contenders:
12. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 52s
15. Rigoberto Uràn (Col) EF Education First-Nippo, at same time
16. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, at 55s
18. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, at 1-07
20. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, at 1-35
Our full report is up, read the details of today's stage here:
Thomas De Gendt has just told Eurosport that Caleb Ewan has broken his collarbone, so the Australian sprinter won't continue with the Tour and his dream of winning a stage in every Grand Tour this year is sadly over
Confirmation that Geraint Thomas did indeed dislocate his shoulder in that crash and will now go for scans.
.@GeraintThomas86 will head for an ultrasound post-stage, having suffered a dislocated shoulder in his crash. It was put back in at the scene by the race doctors. A full update will follow later #TDF2021 pic.twitter.com/EJa4Jz9w48June 28, 2021
According to our reporter Jonny on the ground at the Tour, Roglic's sports director has said he may have a tailbone issue.
"Not good. I'm not a doctor, but he has a tailbone problem. Has now been taken to hospital for examination," said sports director Frans Maassen.
There's no news on the status of Jack Haig yet, but the Australian was unable to finish the stage and did not look in a good way after crashing
Unfortunately, our team leader @jackhaig93 was caught up in a late crash on stage 3 @LeTour and he’s out of the race.🏥 Further medical updates to follow.#TDF2021 📸 @bettiniphoto pic.twitter.com/F3DLZM7g5ZJune 28, 2021
What a chaotic day at the Tour.
Stage one, as you might remember, was a crash filled day while yesterday was somewhat more straightforward for most of the peloton. Today however will be one lots of teams will take time to recover from. Both Ineos and Jumbo-Visma have their leaders in hospital, with their continuation in the race up in the air.
We've also lost one of the leading sprinters in Caleb Ewan, which is a massive shame for the race and the upcoming sprint stages.
Here's our key talking points from todays stage, which was tough to keep down to just five!
We've also got some reaction from team managers at the Tour, with Marc Madiot of Groupama-FDJ full of indignation of what happened today:
The latest news on Primoz Roglic is that he hasn't suffered any broken bones, but is pretty badly cut up and bruised from his crash.
Last year's runner up is set to continue but will have a real fight on his hands to recover and take yellow from here.
Here's what Roglic has had to say:
"Luckily, we saw I think everything is still in one piece so nothing broken. I’m all open all around but let’s say not the best day for us. But we go on. Still we can continue. It was a super stressful final with all these roads. Not the best day for us but we continue.
"I’m not the guy that can say all these things. I don’t even know how everything was. All I saw was guys laying on the ground. Mostly, it’s just always shit because everyone trains hard and nobody deserves to be on the floor and yeah. We’ll see. First we have to get through the days and as long as we’re in the race we can always fight."
One of the riders many people wanted to see do well today was Mark Cavendish, who was on the hunt for his 31st Tour de France stage win.
While he missed out on sprinting for victory, he spoke after the stage and was grateful to just get through without injury after he came down in the same crash as Tadej Pogačar, the Manxman saying his bike was 'destroyed' in the incident.
There's been so much going on after today's stage but so far we have three confirmed abandons: Robert Gesink (Jumbo-Visma), Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious), and Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal).
We now know Roglic will continue, but we may be waiting some time to hear if Geraint Thomas can go on with his dislocated shoulder.
This is what Peter Sagan had to say after the stage. The seven-time green jersey winner was well positioned before being taken down by Caleb Ewan in the final few hundred metres.
"We were expecting a nervous and tense stage but this one became absolutely hectic after the intermediate sprint. I was feeling well, the guys, and especially Niels, did a fantastic job in keeping me safe and positioning me for the sprint. I was in a very good place in the final stretch to the finish line, ready to contest the stage, but, unfortunately, I crashed with Caleb Ewan. I managed to get up, ride my bike and cross the finish line but, of course, it wasn't the way I wanted. I hope all riders involved in the day's crashes are OK."
Stage four tomorrow will be another one for the sprinters, with a slightly shorter run of 150.4km and no categorised climbs.
Everyone will be hoping for a much more peaceful day than today ahead of Wednesday's time trial.
That's it from our live coverage of stage three, be sure to check in on Cycling Weekly for the latest news ahead of the fourth day of racing tomorrow.