Samuel Dumoulin, the shortest rider in the race, has won his first stage of the Tour de France. He outsprinted his escape companions to take a fine victory but the rider in third has a golden consolation: the yellow jersey.
The top 10 stage three is:
1. Samuel Dumoulin (FRA) COF
2. William Frischkorn (USA) TSL
3. Roman Feillu (FRA) AGR
4. Paolo Longo Borghini (ITA) BAR - at 14"
5. Robbie McEwen (AUS) SIL - at 2’03"
6. Erik Zabel (GER) MRM
7. Oscar Freire (ESP) RAB
8. Thor Hushovd (NOR) C.A
9. Robert Forster (GER) GST
10. Mark Cavendish (GBR) THR
Menchov’s group has just finished the stage 40 seconds behind Valverde’s peloton.
McEwen has taken fifth place 2’02" behind Dumoulin.
With Dumoulin winning the stage and Feillu finishing well ahead of Valverde who is yet to reach the end, French fans can celebrate tonight. They have the victory on the day and the yellow jersey on the shoulders of a wildcard team’s rider.
Samuel Dumoulin has delivered a victory for France by outsprinting Roman Feillu and Will Frischkorn.
Feillu has attacked in the final kilometer but has been passed by Dumoulin...
With 1.5km to go in the stage, Dumoulin has attack the lead group. He has been chased down by Frischkorn.
The other battle for GC today involves men aiming for the title: Menchov and Ricco are currently 45" behind the group that contain Valverde.
With 3.5km to go, Feillu, Frischkorn, Longo Borghini and Dumoulin are 2’50" ahead of the next group. It is almost certain that France will have a rider in the yellow jersey in the 95th Tour de France. Feillu is the best-placed of the escape group and he’s likely to become the first local leader of the Tour since Cyril Dessel in 2006.
Will Frischkorn, the rider who started the escape in the first kilometer has been voted the most aggressive rider of the stage.
The stage leaders are less than 5km from the finish of the stage. They are 2’55" ahead of the first peloton.
Agritubel has only won one stage of the Tour de France before but it could be that the wildcard invitees will earn a day in the yellow jersey for Roman Feillu. The young sprinter was in the top 10 in a number of stages in the first week of his debut Tour last year. He is a silver medallist at the world championships (in the Espoirs in 2006) and is currently the virtual leader.
There are two sprint teams still insisting on chasing down Feillu, Frischkorn, Longo Borghini and Dumoulin. Quickstep and Liquigas are setting a furious pace in the hope of setting up the sprint for Steegmans and Pozzato, respectively. They are 3’05" behind the four leaders.
Feillu, Frischkorn, Longo Borghini and Dumoulin are now 10km from the finish of the stage. They have a lead of 3’10" on the first chase group.
With 15km to go, the yellow jersey’s group was 3’20" behind Frischkorn, Dumoulin, Feillu and Longo Borghini. The Menchov group was at 4’00".
With 12km to go, the leading quartet has an advantage on Valverde’s group of 3’20". If Redant’s forecast of the escape staying clear becomes true, then Roman Feillu will inherit the overall lead of the Tour de France. He began the stage 18" behind Valverde in the general classifcation.
The split in the peloton is causing Rabobank to take charge of the second peloton which is now 30" behind the Valverde group.
Frischkorn, Dumoulin, Feillu and Longo Borghini are less than 15km from the line. They continue to cooperate, swapping relatively even turns. They are 3’45" ahead of the yellow jersey’s peloton.
Frischkorn, Dumoulin, Feillu and Longo Borghini are still in the lead of the stage. With 20km to go, they were 4’10" ahead of the yellow jersey group and 4’35" ahead of the Menchov group.
There is 15" between the first and second pelotons. The leader of the youth classifcation is one rider in the second group. The yellow jersey (in the lead group) is now 20km from the finish, 4’10" behind the four escapees.
Gomez Marchante (SDV) has abanonded the Tour de France after the crash. He is on his way to the hospital now in an ambulance. We don’t have any information on the injuries he sustained.
The yellow jersey is in the first peloton. But other favorites have been caught out. We can report that Menchov is in the second peloton.
The effort of the Quickstep team has reduced the advantage of the leaders to 4’40". It has also put 35" into the final group (which includes Moreau). In the second peloton is the rider ranked eighth overall, Riccardo Ricco.
The peloton has split into three groups after the fall. We don’t have any news about Gomez Marchante but can report that the Quickstep team is seizing the moment to set a furious pace at the front of the peloton.
Gomez is being treated by race doctors but the other riders involved in the fall have at least gotten back up off the road.
Nicki Sorensen and an Saunier Duval rider, Gomez and Matthieu Sprick are the riders involved.
The four escapees have less than 25km to go. Their advantage on the peloton is currently 5’20".
The directeur sportif of the Silence-Lotto team of Robbie McEwen, Hendrik Redant, is not expecting the sprint specialist on his roster to get a chance to go for the win today. "We’ll try to put Robbie in a good position," said the Belgian, "but to be honest, I think the favorable wind will benefit the escapees and that they’ll be able to hold off the chase by the peloton."
With the advantage down 5’25" the peloton appears likely to reel in the escapees before the finish in Nantes. The city that is the capital of the Loire-Atlantique department was a feature of the first Tour de France. It was one of six cities to host a finish of a stage in 1903. This was one reason that the Tour returned here in 2003, as part of the centenary celebrations.
Back then, it was a time trial stage and many riders said later that the run to the finish was very complicated with lots of roundabouts to negotiate. It’s the same again today although the finishing straight is long and not particularly dangerous.
It took 20km for the escape group to gain a six minute advantage on the peloton at the start of the stage. Frischkorn, Dumoulin, Feillu and Longo Borghini are now 32km from the line and they have a lead of less than that. The latest check has the peloton 5’50" behind.
Longo Borghini continues to do the longest turns in the lead of the stage. His quartet is now 6’10" ahead of the peloton.
In the last 10 minutes, Longo Borghini (BAR) has spent the most time in the lead of the escape group. The breakdown of who has been at the front the most is:
Paolo Longo Borghini - 36%
Roman Feillu - 27%
Samuel Dumoulin - 21%
William Frischkorn - 16%
The Columbia team is setting the pace and sharing the work with FDJ and Bouygues Telecom riders. But the Liquigas team is also nearby and, just recently, a few troops from Quickstep have moved forward.
The bunch is now at the 158km mark. It is still 6’45" behind Feillu’s quartet that is 45km from Nantes. Rain is no longer falling.
The peloton is 6’45" behind Frischkorn, Dumoulin, Feillu and Longo Borghini who now have less than 50km to race in stage three. They have been on the attack for 158km.
The fourth hour has been the fastest in stage three. The average speed for the fourth our was 43.3km/h. The combined average for the first four hours is 39.1km/h.
The peloton has passed the 57km to go point which is where the protesters had spilled onto the road. They moved to the left, waved their banners but allowed the race to pass unscathed.
The riders in the bunch have been relatively lucky with the rain today, often riding on wet roads but bright skies. Right now, however, the rain is pouring down as they ride through the Foret Domaniale-du-Gavre.
The peloton is now 6’55" behind the four escapees. We wait to see what will happen when they reach the site of the protest which was with 57km to go in the stage.
The race has been interrupted by protesters who have spilled onto the road. Christian Prudhomme has tried to negotiate a clear passage and the four escapees have been able to scamper through but we wait to see what happens upon the peloton’s arrival.
The rear of the peloton is colored orange as the Euskaltel team arrive back after assisting Samuel Sanchez back after a recent puncture.
The four escapees are in Plesse which is where Lucien Petit-Breton, the winner of the Tour in 1907 and 1908, is from. His original name was actually Lucien Mazan, but he spent his childhood living in Argentina. When he returned to France, there was another rider with the same surname and thus, the small rider, was christened with a new title: Petit-Breton.
Serge Beucherie, the directeur sportif of yesterdayâs victorious team Credit Agricole, has just spoken to LeTour.fr to offer his thoughts on the stage. âThe timing is perfect,â said the Frenchman. âWe started to ride at the front of the peloton when the gap opened up to 15 minutes. The pace that weâre now setting is good and it puts some pressure on the escapees. Before they could ride along rather comfortably at 35km/h but now weâre pushing them to pick it up to 39-40 so they have to increase their effort.
âOf course we are not going to play any cat and mouse games with other teams: we want to ride, but we will not do so on our own. Anyway, weâre not the only team thatâs interested in chasing. Thereâs Caisse dâEpargne that wants to defend the yellow jersey. And for the finish, Hushovd is not lacking competitors. I think, for example, of Cavendis, but also McEwen should not be forgotten.â
France Television has calculated which teams have spent what amount of time in front of the peloton in the last 10 minutes. The data shows that Bouygues Telecom is prepared to do its share of work today. Here is the breakdown:
33% - Bouygues Telecom
29% - Credit Agricole
16% - Columbia
11% - Caisse d’Epargne
11% - Liquigas
There are still 75km to go in the third stage but the rather tranquil pace of the first few hours is a thing of the past. The peloton is now speeding towards Nantes and, with the help of riders from Credit Agricole, Liquigas and Bouygues Telecom, the deficit to Frischkorn, Dumoulin, Feillu and Longo Borghini has dropped to 8’25".
To remind you of the pace of the race, here’s the average speeds noted so far today:
1st hour - 39.9km/h (as the escape was established)
2nd hour - 35.1km/h (as the peloton allowed the break to become established)
3rd hour - 38.2km/h (as the pace of the chase began to pick up)
Roman Feillu is the best placed in the general calssifcation of the four riders in the escape group. He began the stage in 58th - 18" behind Valverde.
Next best is Longo Borghini (70th at 39"), then William Frischkorn 122nd and 2’00" and Saumual Dumoulin 158th at 4’30".
The peloton is now at the 160.5km mark and is 9’15" behind Frischkorn, Dumoulin, Feillu and Longo Borghini.
As the peloton passes through the feedzone (at the 109.5km mark), it is 9’15" behind the escapees.
The rider who came third in stage one (Jerome Pineau) and the rider who instigated the first escape of this year’s race (Lilian Jegou) are both from the city that’s hosting the finish of today’s stage.
The average speed for the third hour was 38.2km/h. The average for the first three hours is 37.7km/h.
Frischkorn, Dumoulin, Feillu and Longo Borghini have just arrived in the feedzone (at 109.5km) and the peloton is concurrently passing through Maure-de-Bretagne (at 103km). The time deficit is 9’50".
The escapees have just passed through Maure-de-Bretagne (not to be confused with yesterday’s climb, the Mur-de-Bretagne) which is at the 103km mark. This means that in the next minute they’ll have covered half the distance of this 208km stage. They are racing on wet roads but the sun is currently shining on the Tour de France.
The chase is starting to take effect. The latest time check has the peloton 10’45" behind Frischkorn, Dumoulin, Feillu and Longo Borghini who attacked in the first kilometer and reached a maximum gain of 14’50".
One the riders contributing to the pacesetting of the peloton is Adam Hansen. He’s from Cairns in north Queensland, Australia. This is his first Tour but he’s no stranger to long rides. When he was 17, he and a friend decided to see some of the world on their bikes. "We decided to pack lightly," he explained to LeTour.fr recently, "so we didn’t bother even taking a back pack.
"Instead we cut a bidon in half, shoved in a pair of boardshorts and a bank card and set off on our adventure. We slept on the side of the road and rode as far as we could each day. We kept going until we got to Brisbane and only spent one night at a friend’s house along the way. Otherwise we washed in rivers or at the beach."
Once they got to the state capital, they turned around and rode home. For those who don’t know the Australian geography, this is a fair distance. How far? "Oh, it was about 2,100km each way," said Hansen nonchalantly.
There are riders from Columbia, Credit Agricole, Caisse d’Epargne and Liquigas at the front of the peloton. Right now the pace is being set by 2006 Gent-Wevelgem winner Marcus Burghardt. The deficit of the peloton to the four escapees is currently 13 minutes.
The CSC team mechanic has just performed some adjustments to the cleat of Andy Schleck’s shoe. All riders from this formation are using Speedplay pedals, a double-side design with the clamping mechanism based on the cleat underneat the shoe.
The maximum gain of the escape was 14’50" when the peloton was at the 64km mark. Now that Adam Hansen of the Columbia team is setting the tempo, the advantage has dropped to 14’05".
Wegmann, who crashed recently, had reached the peloton but has stopped again to collect a new bike from his Gerolsteiner team car.
There are two Columbia riders in the lead of the peloton (along with the black and red-clad Caisse d’Epargne crew). Also moving forward are some guys from Credit Agricole. Right now the pace is being set by Columbia’s Adam Hansen, the room-mate of Mark Cavendish - one of the riders who must be a favorites should the third stage conclude with a sprint.
There has been a fall in the peloton involving the German champion Fabian Wegmann (GST). He is standing again and is nowmaking adjustments to his bike and is set to remount without any obvious injuries.
With the peloton’s deficit at 14’50", it’s time to start setting up the chase. Two riders from the Columbia team have arrived at the front of the peloton to start reeling in Frischkorn, Dumoulin, Feillu and Longo Borghini.
The average speed for the second hour was 35.1km/h. The average for the first two hours: 37.5km/h.
This is the fourth stage to conclude in Nantes since 1990 when Moreno Argentin claimed the victory after a solo breakaway. One of the riders in the top 10 is at the finish of the stage in Nantes but Sean Kelly confessed it was difficult to remember the specifics of the day 18 years ago when he was sixth. âThey all merge into one,â he said when asked to remember the 233km stage from Poitiers. âFrom memory, however, it wasnât at the same place as todayâs finish. I believe it was a more complicated finale than what it is today.â
The top 10 of the third stage in 1990 was:
1. Moreno Argentin (ITA) 233km in 5h46’13"
2. Christophe Lavainne (FRA) at 2’29"
3. Uwe Raab (GER)
4. Olaf Ludwig (GER)
5. Johan Capiot (BEL)
6. Sean Kelly (IRL)
7. Jelle Nijdam (NED)
8. Soren Lilholt (DEN)
9. Aisate Saitov (RUS)
10. Marc Sergeant (BEL)
LeTour.fr contacted the directeur sportif of the AG2R La Mondiale team at the start of the stage to get his thoughts on the stage. âThis is obviously a stage thatâs suited to the sprinters,â said Vincent Lavenu. âThe teams with specialists for this sort of day should try to control the chase especially after the first two days which didnât suit the pure speedsters. For our part, weâll be careful not to see a bigger escape group form.
âYesterday we had a difficult time but itâs not too bad. Stephane Goubert has a bruised rib and is therefore finding it difficult to draw deep breaths early today but heâs hanging in there. As for Riblon and Dupont, who also crashed in the first two stages, they still have some injuries but are coping.â
The peloton is at the 60km mark. It is 13’50" behind Feillu’s quartet.
The last time a non-time trial stage of the Tour concluded in Nantes was in 2000. It was a bunch sprint at the end of a 161.5km stage from Loudon. The top 10 in the third stage eight years ago included two riders who are part of the peloton today, Zabel â who is 38 today â and 2007 Paris-Roubaix winner Stuart OâGrady.:
1. Tom Steels (BEL)
2. Marcel Wust (GER)
3. Erik Zabel (GER)
4. Jans Koerts (NED)
5. Stuart O’Grady (AUS)
6. Damien Nazon (FRA)
7. FranĂ§ois Simon (FRA)
8. Jaan Kirsipuu (EST)
9. Romans Vainsteins (LAT)
10. Dario Pieri (ITA)
As the bunch reached the 54.5km mark, it was 12’55" behind the four escapees.
The points for the third intermediate sprint were won by:
1. William Frischkorn (USA) TSL - 6pts
2. Roman Feillu (FRA) AGR - 4pts
3. Samuel Dumoulin (FRA) COF - 2pts
The last time a stage of the Tour de France concluded in Nantes was in the penultimate stage of the 2003 edition. It was a 49km time trial and the winner, in atrocious conditions, was David Millar who was one of many riders to crash on the slippery roads. The top 10 back then was:
1. David Millar (GBR) 49km in 54’05"
2. Tyler Hamilton (USA) at 9"
3. Lance Armstrong (USA) at 14"
4. Jan Ullrich (GER) at 25"
5. Laszlo Bodrogi (HUN) at 26"
6. Vjatceslav Ekimov (RUS) at 56"
7. Victor Hugo Pena (COL) at 1’00"
8. George Hincapie (USA) at 1’08"
9. Sylvain Chavanel (FRA) at 1’12"
10. Marzio Bruseghin (ITA) at 1’26"
The four escapees are at the 57km mark of today’s 208km stage. They are 11’30" ahead of the peloton and due to contest the sprint in Montauban-de-Bretagne shortly. This prime is at the 62km mark.
At the site of the second intermediate sprint (48.5km) the peloton is 11’30" behind the four escapees. The maximum gain so far today for Frischkorn, Dumoulin, Longo Borghini and Feillu was 11’45" at the 43.5km mark.
Alejandro Valverde is in the yellow jersey for the second day. The winner of stage one was 12th yesterday and was just pleased to survive the stage unscathed.
âBecause of the course, the wind and the fact we had to chase behind the escapees, the stage was a very fast one," said the Spaniard of stage two. "[It was] very hard and also a little bit dangerous but I particularly want to highlight the fact that it was really beautiful to spend this second stage of the Tour with the yellow jersey upon my shoulders.
"I was really moved when I saw all those people along the road who encouraged me and shouted my name.
"I believe that today, all the riders of the bunch spent some energy. We will see if the stage of tomorrow, with a course that seems to be easier, will be a quieter one on the eve of the time trial that will take place on Tuesday.â
At the 43.5km mark, the peloton’s deficit to the four escapees was 11’45".
At the sprint in Becherel at the 48.5km mark, the points were won by:
1. Paolo Longo Borghini (BAR) 6pts
2. Roman Feillu (AGR) 4pts
3. William Frischkorn (TSL) 2pts
The bunch has just gone through Saint-Andre-des-Eaux at the 36km mark. It is 10’30" behind Frischkorn, Longo Borghini, Dumoulin and Feillu.
âEvery day the race goes on, and we stay out of trouble is a good one,â said Matt White of the Garmin-Chipotle team. âSo far weâve coping pretty well. Dave (Millar) is in a good position and is ready to put in a strong performance in the time trial. Trent (Lowe) and Christian (Vande Velde) have been strong and Iâm impressed with the way theyâre conducting themselves.
âOf course it was a shame to see Julian (Dean) crash in the finale yesterday. He broke his bike â snapped the frame in the rear and exploded his wheel â but at least heâs free of any injury. This could be a stage to suit him if it comes back for a sprint but right now weâre hoping that Frischkornâs escape will stay away. If, however, it all comes back together weâll see what we can do. Itâs hard for us to really form a lead-out train because weâve only got Magnus and Maaskant to help Julian but he knows how to surf off the other teams.â
The escapees have covered 39.9km in the first hour of stage three.
The peloton in approaching the village of Calorguen, where Martine Hinault is the mayor. Her husband has done a few things at the Tour de France during his racing career...
At the 31.5km mark, the bunch is 9’50" behind the four escapees.
âWe wanted to get someone up the road today,â said the directeur sportif of the Garmin-Chipotle team. They achieved just that thanks to the attacking antics of American recruit William Frischkorn who started the move in the first kilometre. âWillâs got good motivation and he has the form to match. It might be his first Tour de France but Iâm really impressed with the way heâs approaching it,â continued his Australian DS.
âHeâs raced in America most of his career and has been part of this team for a few years now. It didnât take him long to adjust to racing in Europe. Even in Milan-San Remo, one of his first races on the continent, he was in an escape. And heâs been racing well in the lead-up to the Tour. He did a race in Holland that we won (with Chris Sutton) and then went to Rudd du Sud for some fine tuning before the Tour.â
The peloton is content to let the escape gain time today. The last time check had the four fugitives 8’20" ahead of the peloton. Expect that to grow yet. At the moment, it’s not raining on the race but it has been trying... and black clouds hover ominously ahead of the pack.
What about todayâs stage? âI think itâs going to be a day with a lot of cross winds and thatâs going to make everyone nervous," said CSC’s directeur sportif, Scott Sunderland. "The thing is, the sprintersâ teams have got to do something and take charge of the chase of any escapes. Weâve seen the GC teams controlling the peloton for the first few days but I think weâll see that Credit Agricole take responsibility today. They won yesterday and are going to be keen to set it up for Hushovd again.
âAlso Cavendish is going to be keen to go for the win so I expect Columbia to do some work today. The sprinters are going to be motivated because there arenât too many stages for them this year. Theyâve got to with the time trial tomorrow and a few days later there are not so many opportunities.â
âFabian had a good ride,â said the directeur sportif for CSC, Scott Sunderland about the second stage when contacted by LeTour.fr this morning. âWhen he went it was a good moment he created a good gap but when Pozzato bridged the gap it effectively ended Cancellaraâs chances because they were like a beacon for the other rider to aim for. Fabian told me, âWhen youâve got someone on your wheel itâs hard to insist with an effort in the closing meters.â With a headwind, it was going to be a big ask for him to stay away.â
Each year there is a mass participation ride held in conjunction with the Tour de France. The event takes place on the same roads used for a stage of the race. In 2008, the Etape du Tour was held on the first Sunday using the itinerary for the 10th stage, from Pau to Hautacam.
The fastest of the male participants was a Frenchman, Laurent Four who completed the 156km course in five hours, 38 minutes and four seconds.
The fastest of the female participants was Magda Saint Jean who completed the course in six hours, 19 minutes and 17 seconds.
At the 21.5km mark, the points for the first sprint were won by:
1. Samuel Dumoulin (FRA) COF - 6pts
2. Paolo Longo Borghini (ITA) BAR - 4pts
3. Roman Feillu (FRA) AGR - 2pts
The peloton is now 5km from the site of the first intermediate sprint. It is 6’30" behind the four escapees.
Feillu (AGR), Dumoulin (COF), Longho Borghini (BAR) and Frischkorn (TSL) are now 5’40" ahead of the peloton which is being controlled by the Caisse d’Epargne team.
One theme that’s bound to be prevalent in stage three is the change in weather. After a dry start, we can report that rain is now falling on the peloton. A number of riders are dropping behind the peloton to collect jackets from their team cars.
As the peloton passed the 10km mark, it was 4’50" behind Frischkorn, Dumoulin, Feillu and Longo Borghini.
The winner of 12 stages of the Tour de France, Erik Zabel (MRM) celebrates his 38th birthday today. This is his 18th season as a professional rider after signing a contract with with the Die Continental team for the 1991 season when he was second in the German amateur national championships. He has since posted 219 race victories (including the occasional appearance on the velodrome for the Six-Day season). This is his 14th Tour de France.
His last stage victory was in 2002 when he beat Oscar Freire and Robbie McEwen in the sixth stage from Fourges-les-Eaux to Alencon.
Zabelâs most recent victory was in the second stage of the Vuelta Valenciana on 27 February.
Of the riders who are on the attack, the best placed in the general classification after two stages is Roman Feillu. The runner-up in the ’espoir’ world championship road race two years ago (behind Gerald Ciolek) began the stage ranked 58th, 18 seconds behind Valverde. The last time check had his quartet 3’00" ahead of the peloton.
The rider who instigated the escape was William Frischkorn of the Garmin-Chipotle team. He was chased down by Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis), Paolo Longo Borghini (Barloworld) and Romain Feillu (Agritubel).
With the peloton at the 7km mark, it was 3’00" behind the four escapees.
This is the seventh time that St-Malo has been a feature of the Tour de France. The site of the start for stage three first hosted a stage finish in 1949 when Ferdi Kubler claimed the victory beating four other escapees at the end of a 293km stage from Rouen. The champion of the 1947 Tour, Jean Robic led the peloton home 5â30â behind the Swiss rider.
Other riders to win in St-Malo are: Andre Darrigade (1960, Walter Godefroot (1967) and Patrick Sercu (1974).
The day after Darrigadeâs win an escape between Saint-Malo and Lorient effectively decided the overall winner of that yearâs edition.
At the 5km mark, the four escapees have built a lead of 1’40".
There are four riders in the lead of the stage. Feillu (AGR), Dumoulin (COF), Longho Borghini (BAR) and Frischkorn (TSL) attacked in the second kilometer. They have a lead on the peloton of 30".
There are 179 riders in the race. Stephane Goubert sustained a broken rib in a crash during stage two but he was at the sign-on this morning. So far the only retiree is Herve Duclos-Lassalle (who crashed out in the feedzone of stage one).
The official start of the third stage was at 12.31pm.
Riccardo Ricco has raced only three days since finishing second in the Giro dâItalia on the first day of June but the Italian is a natural competitor with plenty of talent. Thanks to two top 10 stage results on the opening weekend (fifth in stage one, eighth in stage two) he is in command of the youth classification. He has a six second advantage over last yearâs Giro runner-up Andy Schleck (CSC) while the winner of the Dauphine Libere stage to Morzine at the start of June, Yury Trofimov (BTL) is ranked third.
The riders are currently riding towards the site of the official start. The weather is good for the early phase of the stage but it’s expected to get worse at the day progresses. Although a strong wind is blowing in St-Malo, it’s dry but the same cannot be said for the site of the finish in Nantes which has been blasted with torrential downpours early today, much like the last time a stage of the Tour concluded here (in 2003 when the penultimate stage of the centennary Tour was between Pornic and Nantes and it rained for the entire stage).
Thomas Voeckler of the Bouygues Telecom has been on the attack for a total of 296km so far in this yearâs Tour. The rider who was born in Martinique confessed that he was fatigued from his efforts on the opening weekend of the 95th Tour but he has a reward for his toil: the polka-dot jersey is his for another day. He leads the climbing classification with 19 points, eight more than yesterdayâs âMost Aggressive Riderâ Sylvain Chavanel (COF) and 10 more than his escape companion on day one, Bjorn Schroder (MRM). The winner of the âcombativeâ classification in the 2006 Tour, David de la Fuente (SDV) is fourth with four points.
By finishing fourth in stage one and second yesterday, Kim Kirchen (THR) has amassed a total of 54 points in the race for the green jersey. The Luxembourger leads stage one winner Alejandro Valverde by five points and stage two winner, Thor Hushovd (C.A) by eight points. Oscar Freire (RAB) is ranked fourth in the points classification with 36 points while the runner-up on day one, Philippe Gilbert (FDJ) is fifth (32pts).
Alejandro Valverde of the Caisse dâEpargne team will spend his second stage in the yellow jersey today. The winner of stage one leads yesterdayâs runner-up Kim Kirchen (THR) by one second. Another Spaniard, Oscar Freire (RAB) is ranked third overall after two stages, followed by compatriot Juan Jose Cobo (SDV) while Australian Cadel Evans rounds out the top five. Riders from second to 13th overall have a deficit of just one second to Valverde. The winner in St-Brieuc, Thor Hushovd (C.A) is 14th overall, seven seconds behind the Spanish champion.
The peloton will roll through a 9.7km neutral zone before Christian Prudhomme waves the white flag from the race director’s car to signal the official start of the third stage of the 95th Tour de France. This is expected to be at about 12.30pm.
The 208km stage from St-Malo to Nantes is scheduled to begin at 12.10pm. Conditions are nasty with a strong wind blowing at the start and rain pouring at the finish. The forecast is for showers throughout the day.
The long stage that passes through three departments - Ille-et-Villaine, Cotes-d’Armor and Loire-Atlantique - is void of climbs. There are, however, three intermediate sprints early in the stage. They are in Saint-Piat (at 21.5km), Becherel (48.5km) and Montauban-de-Bretagne (62km).
Live coverage of the stage will commence shortly.