Tyler Farrar became the first ever American to claim a Tour de France stage on July 4 – Independence Day across the pond – as Garmin-Cérvelo claimed their second Tour de France stage ever in as many days in Redon.
Mark Cavendish and the HTC-Highroad lead-out train were expected to dominate the stage’s finish, but two sharp corners on the run-in slowed the bunch down and Cavendish was crowded out before the last bend.
As a result Cavendish was pushed behind his rivals round the final bend, and Garmin-Cérvelo were left in a perfect position with Thor Hushovd, Julian Dean and Tyler Farrar right at the front.
From there, the American had it wrapped up – as he said afterwards, with a lead-out from yellow jersey holder and world champion Thor Hushovd, he was only called on to sprint from one hundred and fifty metres out. He crossed the line with hands outstretched making a W-sign in tribute to Wouter Weylandt, his best friend who was killed in a crash during the Giro d’Italia.
Romain Feillu (Vacansoleil-DSM) made a late challenge and finished second, and José Rojas (Movistar) was a close third, with Cavendish eventually finishing fifth.
Geraint Thomas (Sky) made a late bid for glory, jumping off the front with five hundred metres to go. He was banking on the final corner, which was a sharp left-hander, being disruptive enough for him to stay clear, but it wasn’t to be.
Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil-DSM) also launched a late attack with two kilometres to go, but never got near gaining enough distance on the peloton to pose any danger.
Cavendish declassified from intermediate sprint
There were two main talking points to the action earlier in the day, with Cavendish and Hushovd both declassified from the intermediate sprint results, and a split in the peloton on the day’s only classified climb causing a brief moment of panic.
There was an early attack from Mickael Delage (FdJ), Niki Terpstra (Quick Step), Maxime Bouet (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Ivan Gutierrez (Movistar) and Ruben Perez Moreno (Euskaltel-Euskadi), whose breakaway stayed away until the final kilometres, meaning that sixth to 15th were the only points-winning positions left available to the bunch at the intermediate sprint.
Cavendish crossed the line first and it looked like he had taken the points with ease, but both he and Hushovd were declassified from the result after the end of the stage.
There was a small amount of leaning as the riders jostled for position, although not enough to raise eyebrows until the omission on the results sheet.
Cavendish tweeted afterwards expressing confusion at the ruling, a sentiment that may be shared by many given how tame the jostling looked. The commissairres, however, judged it to be illegal, and, in the absence of Cavendish, Denis Galimzyanov (Katusha) took the ten points.
The day’s only classified climb was a sixty-six metre hop over the Saint-Nazaire bridge. It didn’t look too testing, but the peloton split as it climbed it at high speed and with strong crosswinds.
A main group of about fifty riders came down the climb with a lead of several hundred meters and the race was briefly thrown into chaos. Although most of the top contenders were at the front, Ivan Basso
(Liquigas) found himself trailing in a small group that also included
Ben Swift (Sky).
Lars Bak (HTC-Highroad) eventually took control of the situation and urged Leopard-Trek and Garmin-Cervelo, the pace setters at the time, to ease off – surely much to Liquigas’s relief.
There was also a late scare for Cofidis team leader Rein Taaramae. He punctured with twelve kilometres to go and made it back to the bunch just in time only thanks to three Cofidis teammates who paced him back.
Hushovd remains in yellow and José Rojas will wear green tomorrow. His third position, combined with seventh in the intermediate sprint and fourth two days ago, put him seven points ahead of Tyler Farrar.
Tour de France 2011, stage three: Olonne-sur-Mer to Redon, 198km
1. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Cervelo in 4-40-21
2. Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil-DCM
3. Jose Joaquin Rojas Gill (Spa) Movistar
4. Sebastien Hinault (Fra) Ag2R-La Mondiale
5. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Highroad
6. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Garmin-Cervelo
7. Julian Dean (NZ) Garmin Cervelo
8. Borut Bozic (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM
9. Andre Greipel (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto
10. Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Saur-Sojasun all at same time
Overall classification after stage three
1. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Garmin-Cervelo 9-46-46
2. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Cervelo at same time
3. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC at 1 sec
4. Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky at 4 sec
5. Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Leopard-Trek
6. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky
7. Frank Schleck (Lux) Leopard-Trek
8. Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard-Trek
9. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard-Trek
10. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky all at same time
17. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Highroad at 5 secs
23. Ben Swift (GB) Team Sky at 11 secs
Geraint Thomas and Ben Swift
Mickael Delage heads the escape group
Stage three scenery
Race leader Thor Hushovd
Tyler Farrar takes his first Tour stage win
Tour de France 2011: Related links
Tour de France 2011: Latest news
Tour de France 2011: Stage reports
Tour de France 2011: Highlights videos
Tour de France 2011: Photo galleries
Stage two photo gallery by Andy Jones
Tour de France 2011: Live text coverage
Tour de France 2011: Archive videos
Video: 2003 Centenary Tour
Video: Lance Armstrong retrospective
Video: Behind the scenes at the Tour
Video: Guerini’s 1999 stage win
Video: Thrills and spills at the Tour
Video: Armstrong in 1999
Video: The Indurain years
Video: Ladies of the Tour
Video: Best of bizarre
Tour de France 2011: Related links
Tour de France: The jerseys, what they are and what they mean
Potted history of the Tour de France
The closest Tours in history
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Wiggins
Tour de France 2010: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index
Tour de France 2011: Older news items
Cavendish to start all three grand tours in 2011
2011 Tour de France teams named
Tour de France 2011: Route details
The mountains of the 2011 Tour de France
Cavendish challenging for up to eight stages in 2011 Tour