The new top five after stage three is: 1. Fabian Cancellara 2. Gerraint Thomas - at 23" 3. Cadel Evans - at 39" 4. Ryder Hesjedal - at 46" 5. Sylvain Chavanel - at 1’01"
Alberto Contador finished 1’13" behind the stage winner while the other former Tour winner, Lance Armstrong lost 2’08" to Thor Hushovd.
The top 10 of the third stage of the 2010 Tour de France is: 1. Thor Hushovd (NOR) CTT 2. Gerraint Thomas (GBR) SKY 3. Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC 4. Ryder Hesjedal (CAN) GRM 5. Andy Schleck (LUX) SAX 6. Fabian Cancellara (SUI) SAX 7. Johan Vansummeren (BEL) GRM - at 53" 8. Bradley Wiggins (GBR) SKY - at 53" 9. Jurgen van den Broeck (BEL) OLO - at 53" 10. Alexandre Vinokourov (KAZ) AST - at 53"
Hushovd has taken out a dramatic stage. He is the winner ahead of a group of six.
There is less than a kilometer to go in a dramatic stage three. Evans continues to lead the group but now it’s time for Andy to take a turn. Cancellara has taken command and they will now consider the sprint. Until now, it’s been about gaining time on Armstrong and Contador.
The lead group is 2km from the finish. Evans is setting the pace for Schleck, Cancellara, Thomas and Hesjedal.
Armstrong has caught a group of riders and is now less than 5,000m from the finish. He is 2’00" behind the Cancellara group.
It seems certain that Chavanel will lose the yellow jersey. The likely successor will be the prologue winner, Cancellara.
Armstrong is about to catch the group that contains Petacchi. The leading six are less than 5,000m from the line.
Contador’s group is 44" behind the leading six.
The last time check has Armstrong 1’50" behind the leading group of six. We can report that Contador is ahead of the seven-time champion and has the support of Vinokourov at this stage... but we cannot confirm the time difference.
There are now six riders in the lead of the stage.
Cancellara and Andy Schleck (SAX).
There is going to be a change in the race lead today and it’s possible that Hesjedal will win the stage and take the jersey... but he’s got to hold off the charge of Cancellara if he wants yellow. Evans is leading the pursuit of the Canadian.
Popovych has been a support rider for Armstrong who is now on his own in his pursuit of his rivals on the final sector of pave.
Hesjedal leads Cancellara, Evans, Schleck, Thomas, and Hushovd 25". Wiggins is at the front of a group that’s 40" behind the stage leader. We await Armstrong’s arrival at the 10km to go sign... and it’s 1’44"...
Cancellara’s group was 30" behind Hesjedal with 15km to go. In this posse was Hushovd, Andy, Cadel, Gerraint, and Fabian. The Contador group was at 50". Armstrong was at 1’40" after puncturing on the fifth sector of pave.
The yellow jersey has changed a bike and is riding again. Armstrong is also racing again after a quick wheel change. Hesjedal has a lead of 1’03" over the second group on the road.
Hesjedal remains in the lead of the race. He has 15km to go. The yellow jersey is stranded and has just punctured.
Armstrong has been given a new wheel by a team-mate.
Lance has punctured just as the Contador group caught up with the Armstrong group.
Hesjedal appears capable of winning the stage. He is showing no sign of slowing down. He is 37" ahead of Cancellara’s group; 1’00" ahead of Armstrong’s group. There was a report that Contador has caught Armstrong’s group but we cannot confirm this at the moment.
Cancellara, Andy Schleck, Cummings, Thomas, Hushovd, Evans are in the group that is 30" behind Hesjedal. Armstrong, Popovych, Vansummeren, Lancaster, Van Den Broeck, Roelandts, Gerdemann, Rolland, Auge is the group that’s 50" behind the stage leader.
Andy, Cadel, Fabian, Thor and Thomas are 30" behind Hesjedal. Armstrong’s group is at 50". Contador’s group is at 1’00". Chavanel’s group is at 1’05".
Contador is in the group that includes the yellow jersey. We have no time checks but can report that Armstrong is gaining time on Contador, but Evans is gaining time on Armstrong...
Armstrong is coping with the cobbles but he has been distanced by the Evans quintet.
There are five men in the lead of the stage: Cancellara, Evans, Andy, Hushovd and Lovkvist.
Cancellara, Andy Schleck, Evans, and Hushovd, are four of the six that are now in pursuit of the stage leaders.
Schleck is still on the ground. He landed on his back and is not in a good state. The race’s medical staff is tending to him...
Frank Schleck and Chavanel have been caught up in a big crash on the first sector of pave in France.
Hesjedal and Cummings are looking behind and waiting for the approaching peloton. They appeared to be conceding that their escape is not going to be able to hold off the charge of the Saxo Bank and Cervelo teams... but then Cummings bolted ahead as he arrived first at the fourth sector of pave which is 2,400m long.
Saxo Bank and Cervelo are doing the work at the front, Brajkovic has just sprinted up the right side of the road with Lance on his wheel. The Saxo Bank team has spent 66 per cent of the last 10 minutes on the front of the peloton. They are about to arrive on the fourth pave sector, the first in France - and the time difference to the lead group is just 30".
Casar, Nocentini, De la Fuente, Fedrigo, Moreau are some of the riders in the group of 30 that is off the back of the main peloton.
There are five riders from the Cervelo team at the head of the peloton. They are 40" behind the seven early escapees who are still riding together in one group.
Andreas Kloden has punctured his front tire. He is now waiting for a service at the back of the peloton.
There are three sectors behind the peloton which has just crossed the Franco/Belge border. The Tour has arrived in France for the first time in the 2010 race.
The peloton has split on the second sector of pave. Moreau, Fedrigo are two of the riders in the second group. As is Pineau... there is about 30 riders in the group that’s about 100m behind the peloton that’s now led by Cervelo.
After a brief stint on his own, the Canadian escapee has been reeled in by the others who are 50" ahead of the peloton.
After his crash, Cunego, the leader of the Lampre team, is racing again.
Kluge is leading the escape group onto the third section of cobbles. This is 700m long.
The peloton is 1’10" behind the escapees as it exits the Hollain sector of pave. There are 31 riders who have lost contact with the peloton on this part of the course.
Cunego and Wegelius and a bunch of other riders have been caught up in a crash on the second sector or pave. Taaramae is also involved.
At the front of the race, Hesjedal has distanced his escape companions. He has a lead of about 50 meters and Auge is leading the pursuit of the Canadian.
The peloton is led by Jakob Fuglsang on the second sector of pavé.
The Saxo Bank team has five riders at the front of the peloton on the second sector. The bunch is 1’20" behind Hesjedal’s group as it arrived at the Hollain pavé.
The leading group is now on the second sector of pave. Hesjedal, a former mountain biker, is at the front and it appears as though Brutt cannot hold the wheel of the six other escapees.
The peloton is 1’45" behind the seven leaders. There is less than 5km to go before the bunch arrives at the 1,200m long Hollain sector of pavé.
The Saxo Bank team has been the most dominant team at the front of the peloton. Lance Armstrong is tucked in behind the squad of Cancellara. It’s also possible to see Chavanel, Hushovd, Vinokourov, Evans, Petacchi, Martin at the front...
There is no tranquility at the head of the peloton which is now 2’00" behind the seven escapees. The pace is extremely high and Breschel (SAX) is the man in charge of the bunch.
It appeared for a while as though Cavendish had punctured but at the moment he’s second last in the peloton and clearly talking on the radio with his team car. He has the support of another HTC rider and it looks as though they’re looking to service the bike of the six-time stage winner of last year’s Tour.
There is a lot of talk going on at the front of the peloton. It started with Voigt chatting with Chavanel and then there was a momentary truce in the battle for position. But now the pace is fast again as a BMC rider takes charge of the pacesetting.
"It’s not a day to cry," said Bjarne Riis at the start of the day. "It’s a day to fight." His Saxo Bank team may have lost the yellow jersey yesterday but they are some of the main aggressors at the head of the bunch in today’s stage.
There is a discussion taking place at the front of the peloton right now. Voigt has had words with Chavanel and the anxiety that was a feature of the peloton appears to have eased (a fraction) for the moment.
Now Cervelo has come up beside the Saxo Bank team. There are waves of teams coming to the head of the peloton but none have been able to take complete command as there are other squads ready to take over as soon as there’s a blink of hesitation...
As the peloton arrived at the site of the third intermediate sprint, its deficit was 2’10". Jens Voigt and Stuart O’Grady are now the riders in charge of the pacesetting at the head of the main pack.
The points for the third sprint of the stage were won by: 1. Kluge (MRM) 6pts 2. Brutt (KAT) 4pts 3. Erviti (GCE) 2pts
Se acerca el tercer sprint intermedio de la etapa...
The BMC team also has a couple of riders near the head of the peloton. Brent Brookwalter is currently setting the pace for Cadel Evans as they slot into the front section of the bunch that is now 2’30" behind Hesjedal’s group of seven.
The peloton is 2’45" behind the seven leaders who are about to contest the sprint in Nivelles (at the 151.5km mark).
Muravyev is back with the RadioShack team car and being fitted with a new radio by his team mechanic.
The white jerseys of the Cervelo crew are now coming up on the left side of the peloton. On the right is RadioShack and in the center are riders from the Quickstep and Saxo Bank teams.
There are another 30km to go before the peloton arrives in France. At the moment, the escape group of seven have a lead of 2’45" with Cummings (SKY) doing more work than the other six...
Gerrans has a replacement bike and is back riding again. He didn’t lose a lot of time while being checked by the medical staff. He has sustained a cut on his right cheek but appears to be pedaling okay...
Gerrans has crashed in the peloton. Only a few hours earlier his wife, Rahna told LeTour.fr that she hoped she wouldn’t read any reports of crashes today... he is being tended to by the race’s medical staff.
The Astana colors can now be seen on the left side of the peloton. It’s the first time that Contador’s team has come forward today but they clearly want to try and keep its leader out of trouble. Tucked in behind the Astana boys are the green jerseys of Basso’s Liquigas team.
Quickstep is back setting the pace for the peloton which is now 2’50" behind the seven escapees.
Le Mevel, who finished 10th in the Tour last year, has just punctured his rear tire. Two FDJ team-mates - Ladagnous and Sulzberger - have waited for their team leader and this trio is now in the convoy racing to rejoin the peloton.
The average speed for the third hour is 43.6km/h. The average for the first three hours: 43.4km/h.
The RadioShack team has assumed the lead of the peloton on the first sector of pave. It is 2’00" behind at the 128km mark. The only real incident was a puncture for Charteau of the Bbox team.
The 350m past in the blink of an eye. The peloton is now led by RadioShack as it approaches the first section, 2’05" behind the seven escapees.
The seven leaders are now on the first section of cobbled roads. Auge is at the back and the pace is being set by Brutt.
The Sky team has sent riders to the front of the peloton. Lance is also moving forward and the world champion is tucked in behind the seven-time Tour winner.
There are now two less Frenchman in the peloton than there were at the start of the Tour on Saturday. Mickael Delage crashed out in the second stage and today David Le Lay is the first victim of this anxious stage.
Numerous riders were caught up in the Le Lay fall. Ivanov (KAT) is one who was involved and he has been able to return to the peloton recently.
At the 117km mark, the peloton is 3’25" behind the seven escapees. The leaders are near the first pavé sector and now the peloton is being led by a mix of riders - from Quickstep, Cofidis, Rabobank... Saxo Bank also has troops near the head of the pack, as does RadioShack.
All but David Le Lay of the AG2R team have remounted their bikes and are racing again. The Frenchman is out of the Tour.
Most of the men involved in the crash are racing again but at least one is being tended to by race doctors on the side of the road. (We don’t yet have confirmation of who was caught up in the crash.)
The first crash of the day has happened at about the 112km mark. There are numerous riders in the gutter now and it seems that the accident has happened as a an AG2R rider lost control trying to jump up a curb. We await confirmation of those involved.
The seven escapees are now in Lens at the 115.5km mark. They are 3’55" ahead of the peloton, meaning Hesjedal is the virtual leader once again.
Farrar is now passing the Saxo Bank and Quickstep team cars, 2nd and 1st in the order at the back of the convoy. He about to rejoin the peloton after a recent bike change.
Farrar (GRM) recently had to change a bike. He has raced past the convoy and is now on his own trying to return to the peloton.
The combined average speed for the first two hours was 43.3km/h. With this in mind, we can provide a rough estimate of when the peloton will arrive at the seven sectors of pavé.
Omeignies - 350m long (at 128km) ±3.36pm
Hollain - 1,200m (at 169km) ±4.31pm
Rogny - 700m (at 173km) ±4.37pm
Sars-et-Rosieres - 2,400m (at 185.5km) ±4.54pm
Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes - 2,500m (at 188.5km) ±4.58pm
Wangignies-Hamage - 3,700m (at 195km) ±5.07pm
d’Haveluy - 2,300m (at 203km) ±5.18pm
There are about 25km to go before the leading six arrive at the first of seven sectors of pavé. This is just 350m long and it comes at the 128km mark of the 213km stage.
Of the six men in the lead of the stage, only two of them were on the start list for the 2010 edition of Paris-Roubaix. Roger Kluge and Imanol Erviti were at the start of the Classic in April but they didn’t make it to the finish.
The last time that French riders led the general, points and mountains classification was after the stage to Brussels in the 1992 Tour - when Pascal Lino wore the yellow jersey, Laurent Jalabert wore the green jersey and Richard Virenque wore the polka-dot jersey. Today, Sylvain Chavanel is in yellow (and on a yellow/green bike - to celebrate his lead in both the general and points classifications) and his team-mate Jerome Pineau wears polka-dots.
The green jersey has just received a new front wheel after puncturing his front tyre. Petacchi had a quick service from his Lampre team’s mechanic and is now riding back through the convoy at the back of the peloton.
The rider who started the escape today, Ryder Hesjedal (GRM) has started six Grand Tours (ie. three-week races) before this year’s Tour. He won a stage of the Vuelta a España in 2009 when he beat David Garcia and Robert Gesink at Alto de Velefique in stage 12. The Canadian’s first Grand Tour was the Giro d’Italia in 2005. He abandoned after the 17th stage. In 2006 he finished 16 stage of the Vuelta. In 2008 he finished 40th in the Giro and 47th in the Tour. Last year he was 49th in the Tour.
The average speed for the second hour is 40.9km/h. The average for the first two hours: 43.3km/h.
The Quickstep team is taking charge of the peloton, no longer just leading but really chasing hard. At the 75km mark, the deficit of the six escapees is 3’30". Tucking behind the Quickstep train are all the riders from Liquigas. The peloton is strung out in a long line because of the rapid tempo.
Chris ‘CJ’ Sutton is a member of the Sky team but he’s not at the Tour de France. He is also the son of former points race world champion, Gary, and nephew of DS for Team Sky, Shane. LeTour.fr recently asked him who he thought might win today. “Ah, I’m not sure,” said the 25-year-old. “I don’t know what was said in team meeting but, as a personal bet, I would pick either Edvald or Flecha. But they would be given the job to stay together and look after ‘Wiggo’, I’d guess…”
At the 13km mark, Hesjedal (GRM) established the first successful escape. He was joined by five others: Cummings (SKY), Brutt (KAT), Kluge (MRM), Rolland (BTL), Erviti (GCE) and Auge (COF). By 22km they had a lead of 3’25”. The Quickstep team controlled the peloton but by 33km, Hesjedal was the virtual leader - he started the day 3’43" behind Chavanel. The average speed for the opening hour was 45.8km/h. The maximum gain was 4’50” at the 48km mark. This has been pulled back to 3’50" at 75km.
The points for the sprint in NIvelles (71.5km) were won by: 1. Roger Kluge (MRM) 6pts 2. Pierre Rolland (BTL) 4pts 3. Imanol Erviti (GCE) 2pts
Of the six in the lead of the third stage, none have previously won a stage of the Tour de France.
Cummings (SKY) is making his Tour debut
Hesjedal (GRM) is in his second Tour
Brutt (KAT) is also a debutant
Kluge (MRM) is also a debutant
Rolland (BTL) was 22nd overall in his first Tour, last year
Erviti (GCE) is also a debutant
Auge (COF) is a regular escapee in the first week. This is his eighth Tour start.
The seven riders who have quit the 2010 Tour are from seven nations:
Spain lost Florencio (CTT) before the prologue
Switzerland lost Frank (BMC) after the prologue
Portugal lost Cardoso (FOT) after the prologue
Australia lost Hansen (THR) after stage 1
France lost Delage (OLO) during stage 2
Netherlands lost Terpstra (MRM) before stage 3
USA lost Vande Velde (GRM) before stage 3 There are now 191 riders in the race.
“The cobbles themselves are difficult but once you’re on them, you’re on them. But it’s the approach that will be more interesting. You could see it yesterday that there was a panic to be up front when dangerous conditions were on the cards," said Backstedt. "As far as I understand it, they were going a bit too fast on the descent... they’ve got to adjust their speed for the conditions. It’s never nice when a lot of people crash, but ultimately that’s part of racing as far as I’m concerned.”
“The only real way that you can ride this stage is by making absolutely sure that you’re in the front row going into the first two sections of pavé," the 2004 winner of Paris-Roubaix told LeTour.fr this morning. "After that it should start to sort itself out and the riders can start ‘relaxing’ a little bit. I’m expecting massive carnage going into the first two sections and a couple of big pile ups as well...”
LeTour.fr spoke with the winner of Paris-Roubaix from 2004, Magnus Backstedt earlier today to find out if he wishes he was still racing on the day that the Tour visits the pavé. "It is a part of the world that I know very well," said the Swede, "but I’m not really that upset about not being there today. I’ve done my bit and I’m quite happy that my career is over – I’m not looking back either.” (More to follow...)
The 2010 Tour de France began with 32 nations represented. Here is a summary of how many riders from each country started the race this year. 35: France 32: Spain 17: Italy 15: Germany 13: Belgium 11: Australia 8: Great Britain 8: Netherlands 8: USA 6: Russia 5: Denmark 5: Switzerland 4: Slovenia 3: Austria, Belarussia, Kazakhstan, Portugal, Ukraine 2: Canada, Luxembourg, Norway 1: South Africa, Estonia, Ireland, Japan, Lithuania, New Zealand, Poland, Moldavia, Czech Republic and Sweden
“Lance was caught up in a crash yesterday and he sustained a few injuries – but they are not too serious and rather typical for cyclists," continued Alain Gallopin when he spoke with LeTour.fr earlier today. "It’s never comfortable when you lose skin and, for sure, he’s going to wake up a little sore today with his wounds on his arm and leg but I’m sure he’ll be fine for the stage.”
“This stage is an opportunity to take time on Contador," Alain Gallopin of the RadioShack team told LeTour.fr at the start of the stage. "We did the last 145km of the stage on Thursday last week and we know exactly what to expect. Our plan is to take time on Contador everywhere we can… and today is one of those opportunities.”
1. Ryder Hesjedal (GRM) 3pts 2. Steve Cummings (SKY) 2pts 3. Stephane Auge (COF) 1pt
The escapees covered 45.8km in the first hour of racing.
The speed of the bunch may have increased but the escapees are building their advantage. At the 39km mark, the peloton is 4’35" behind Hesjedal’s group. With the current gain, the Canadian is the virtual leader of the Tour.
At the 36km mark, there has been a surge in the pace of the peloton. The last time check had the main pack 4’25" behind Hesjedal’s group of six. It’s Quickstep at the head of the bunch and lifting the tempo.
“I am very disappointed and will now go back to my family, to get well again,” said Nicki Terpstra (MRM) who didn’t start today’s stage. “Since Saturday I have been suffering from a cold and fever, and it just hasn’t gotten better. “I especially had a lot of plans for the first stage. It was an honor for me to start in my homeland in the Netherlands champion’s jersey. The mood along the course was an unforgettable experience for me.”
1. Roger Kluge (MRM) 6pts 2. Ryder Hesjedal (GRM) 4pts 3. Steve Cummings (SKY) 2pts
The protected rider for the GC was to be Vande Velde but another couple of broken ribs have forced him out of the Tour in 2010. In response to the withdrawal of its team leader, Garmin-Transitions has sent Ryder Hesjedal on the attack today. His group is now 4’25" ahead of the peloton and the Canadian is the virtual leader of the Tour’s general classification...
Talking about his two crashes in the Tour de Suisse, LeTour.fr asked Vande Velde if he just wanted to even things up - that’s why you crashed the second time? “Yeah," he laughed, "that’s right. I like to be symmetric.” “I probably broke two on each side. It really doesn’t matter. I never got a CAT scan and I never followed it up because it doesn’t matter what you have – no one is going to give me an extra two minutes on GC because I have another broken rib.”
“I was on the rollers a little bit but even breathing was hurting, which makes sense with broken ribs," said Vande Velde about what he did between the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de France. "If your body is expanding and contracting it’s painful. They told me to lay off. And I think it was one of the only times that I’ve actually listened to the doctor and did what they said.” (More to come...)
Before the start of the Tour on Saturday, LeTour.fr caught up with the leader of the Garmin-Transitions team, Christian Vande Velde. “I did the Tour de Suisse and was forced to take some time off the bike afterwards and wait for my ribs to heal," said the American who broke ribs on one side of his body in the prologue and the other side in another crash in stage five. "I didn’t ride my bike for four days after that race. I had a good week of training once we got to Rotterdam." (More to come...)
The riders in the lead today (with an advantage of 3’25") are:
Ryder Hesjedal (CAN) GRM
Steve Cummings (GBR) SKY
Pavel Brutt (RUS) KAT
Roger Kluge (GER) MRM
Pierre Rolland (FRA) BTL
Imanol Erviti (ESP) GCE
Stephane Auge (FRA) COF The best placed overall of this group is the Canadian.
At the 21km mark, the peloton is 3’10" behind the Hesjedal group of six.
On the menu for the stage are three intermediate sprints – in Saint-Servais (Namur, at 35km), Nivelles (71.5km) and Pipaix (151.5km) – and one climb, the cat-4 cote de Bothey (at 48km). But the real talking point was the seven sectors of ‘pavé’ totally 14.15km. The first of the cobbled sections of roads is at the 128km mark. The peloton is expected to reach the Omeignies sector at around 3.30pm. This is only 350m long but there’s a lot of anticipation on the approach.
Chavanel has already taken an opportunity to answer nature’s call early in today’s stage. His team-mates are now at the front of the peloton controlling the chase of the six escapees who are 50" ahead.
The man who started the move today, Ryder Hesjedal is the best placed on GC of the escapees. He was 27th overall at the start of the day, 3’43" behind Chavanel. (He is Canadian, not ’Canandian’ as posted in the previous flash. That’s not even a word. Apologies for the typo.)
Cummings (SKY), Hesjedal (GRM), Brutt (KAT), Kluge (MRM), Rolland (BTL), Erviti (GCE) and Auge (COF) are the riders on the attack. The move was started by the Canandian Garmin rider at the 13km mark. They are 25" ahead of the peloton.
The original three escapees have been joined by three others at the 11km mark. We still have no names of those involved... stay tuned.
The peloton is moving at a rapid tempo early but, for the moment, it’s still all together at the 6km mark.
“Tyler is okay. He was caught up in the fall,” Matt White told LeTour.fr about Farrar at the start of the day. “He’s got a bruised elbow and wrist but he’s okay and will be back in the peloton again. We had a lot of guys in crashes yesterday. Julian [Dean] has a badly bruised back and Millar has bruised ribs.” White admitted that it was a very strange race yesterday and lamented the Garmin team’s woes, echoing sentiment that many directeurs sportif must have had: "It was nasty on the Stockeu."
The peloton is at the second kilometer today. Despite the early attempts to establish an escape, the bunch is all together for the moment.
Although there were many riders involved in crashes in stage two, this is not the reason that Nicki Terpstra was not at the sign on this morning. The Dutchman has been suffering a fever for several days and his condition was not good enough to continue the race...
As soon as Christian Prudhomme announced the official start (at 12.42pm) there was an attack at the front of the peloton. There are 191 riders in the race now. The two retirements are Christian Vande Velde (GRM) and Nicki Terpstra (MRM).
“Yesterday was a really bad day. Not good at all. Christian [Vande Velde] is not going to start today,” Matt White of the Garmin-Transitions team told LeTour.fr earlier today. “He’s broken a few ribs on the back side of his body. It’s a great shame but nothing can be done about it. “Today is another day. We have four guys who really want to race – Robbie, Dave [Millar], Maartijn and Johan. They’re going to give it there all on the cobbles – we really want to try and win this stage."
The peloton is now in the neutral zone and on its way to the start of the 213km third stage.
Tony Martin (THR) continues to lead the youth classification. The runner-up in the prologue has a lead of 13” on Gerraint Thomas (SKY). The German will wear the white jersey in stage three.
The Quickstep team is in command of three of the four prize jerseys. Chavanel leads the general and points classifications and his escape companion from the stage to Spa, Jérôme Pineau, will wear the polka-dot jersey after taking first place on the first four climbs of the 2010 Tour de France. Pineau has 12 points, while Chavanel is ranked second with eight. Rein Taaramae (COF) was in the escape and he also has eight points. And the best climber of the Giro d’Italia, Matt Lloyd (OLO) is fifth.
Chavanel also inherited the lead in the points classification with his victory yesterday. He was the only rider to be awarded points for the green jersey in Spa (as the race jury decided to nullify this category after consultation with the riders following the sequence of crashes on the penultimate climb). Chavanel has 44 points, while the winner of stage one Alessandro Petacchi (LAM) was 35pts. The Italian will, however, wear the green jersey in stage three as Chavanel cannot wear two jerseys.
A dramatic day of racing yesterday saw a change to the top order of the general classification. The winner of the stage to Spa, Sylvain Chavanel (QST) began the day ranked 87th overall (59” behind Cancellara) but he finished 3’56” ahead of the peloton and moves into the yellow jersey. Chavanel has a lead of 2’57” on the former race leader, Cancellara, while the sequence of those behind the prologue winner remains the same as it was for stage two: Martin (THR), Millar (GRM), Armstrong (RSH)…
There is a 3km neutral zone before the riders will reach the site of the official start of stage three. This is expected to be at about 12.41pm. (While we wait for the commencement of racing, we will review the various prize classifications after stage two. It is the first time since 1992 that French riders have the lead in the general, points and mountains classifications.)
The 213km stage from Wanze in Belgium to Arenberg is scheduled to start at 12.35pm. Live coverage of the racing will commence shortly. In the meantime, we can report that the conditions for the start are mild and, for the moment, the rain is abating. The temperature is in the mid-20s (Celsius) and there is a bit of cloud cover at the start. The highlight of this anticipated stage are the seven sectors of cobbled roads which total 14.15km of the course.