Tuesday July 3rd, 2012

Stage 3Orchies / Boulogne-sur-Mer

Start 12h40 GMT 2+

Key moments

video03.07.2012 in 23:00Summary of the race


Summary of the race

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Stage summary03.07.2012 in 17:44The Super Sagan Show Continues

It was destined to be an animated stage

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video03.07.2012 in 16:00Interview - Stage Winner


Interview - Stage Winner

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interview03.07.2012 in 18:46Liquigas takes a share of the spoils

For the first time this year there's a victory by a team other than Sky Procycling: Liquigas-Cannondale has topped off the triumph of individual places by Peter Sagan of its two leaders for the general classification, Vincenzo Nibali who was 10th in stage three and Ivan Basso who was 31st. These two remained at the front for as long as possible to avoid losing any time and they earned a prize for their vigilance. Still, it is the second time that Sagan has imposed himself and finished ahead...

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interview03.07.2012 in 18:40Morkov: I'm well cooked now...

The Danish debutant from Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank, Michael Morkov has been in escapes in three out of three stages. He wanted some podium time and he's earned that but, after also picking up the 'Fighting Spirit' award he says that's enough attacking from him for now.

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interview03.07.2012 in 18:38Fabian Cancellara: I am in my place behind Sagan

He was fourth in the third stage, pleased to keep the yellow jersey and Fabian Cancellara was also most impressed with the winner in Boulogne-sur-Mer. The Swiss rider keeps the yellow jersey for another day and he makes no excuses for not being able to beat Peter Sagan...

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interview03.07.2012 in 16:45Sagan: I had a plan for the victory salute

His ability seems limitless but Peter Sagan was in such demand at the finish that it was difficult for him to focus on one topic long enough to explain himself in English. Nonetheless, he expressed his thoughts in point form after winning his second stage...

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video03.07.2012 in 11:45Analysis of the stage


Analysis of the stage

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video03.07.2012 in 10:30The day's route


The day's route

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17:31No change to top five overall...

There was a crash in the final few hundred meters that affected some of the GC riders but they are awarded the same time as the stage winner. Cancellara was fourth in the stage and he will wear the yellow jersey for stage four.

There was no change to the top five of the general classification after stage three.

17:24Top five in stage three

The top five of stage three is:

1. Peter Sagan (SLO) LIQ 4h42'58"

2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) SKY at 1"

3. Peter Velits (SVK) OPQ at 1"

4. Fabian Cancellara (SUI) RNT at 1"

5. Michael Albasini (SUI) OGE at 1"

17:22Sagan dances over the line for another win!

Sagan has claimed another stage win and done so with apparent ease! He danced his way around the line and he's beaten Edvald Boasson Hagen.

17:21Chavanel caught...

Chavanel has been caught and now the race is on for stage honors. Albasini is leading into the final turn but Sagan is going to win again...

17:20Last kilometer...

Chavanel is losing ground now. He is just eight seconds ahead of the peloton as he goes under the flamme rouge.

17:19Valverde almost crashes...

Chavanel is 2km from the line. He is still in the lead of the stage and has an advantage of 11". Valverde lost contact with the lead of the chase group after almost overshooting a tight right turn near the base of the final climb.

17:18Chavanel virtual leader...

He started the stage seven seconds behind the yellow jersey and now Chavanel is 12" ahead of the peloton with 3km to go in the stage.

17:174km to go

Chavanel is 8" ahead with 4km to go in the stage. He is third overall and could he be making a date with the podium to collect another yellow jersey...? It's possible judging by the way he's riding.

17:16Chavanel jumps ahead...

With 5km to go, Chavanel (OPQ) is the in the lead of the stage. He is being chased by a RadioShack rider and then comes the peloton that is led by riders from Liquigas.

17:15Basso leads over 5th climb...

Basso has collected two points, ahead of Gallopin at the top of the penultimate climb.

17:14Cancellara at head of peloton

Grivko has been caught before the top of the fifth climb. Cancellara is in fourth position. Basso is at the front and then comes Schleck and Monfort...

17:14Evans marks Cancellara...

Evans (BMC) is on the wheel of Cancellara as the lead group approaches the final climb.

17:13Basso leading peloton

Basso is at the front of the bunch that is now closing in on Grivko who is ahead by just seven seconds.

17:12Peloton at 12"

Grivko is still fighting for the stage win. He is 12" ahead of the peloton that has just spat Morkov out the back...

17:11Morkov finally reaches his limit...

Grivko is on his own at the front of the stage. He has dropped Morkov on the penultimate climb. The Danish rider has been caught by the peloton that is now just 15" behind the Ukrainian champion.

17:09Voeckler's group at 1'40"

The second peloton is behind the leaders by 1'40"...

17:09Morkov wins 'Fighting Spirit Award'

Not surprisingly, the Dane in the lead of the stage has been voted the most aggressive rider of the third stage.

17:0810km to go...

Morkov isn't showing any sign of slowing down. He is tapping out a rapid tempo with Grivko at the front of the stage. They are less than 10km from the finish and have a lead of 30" on the peloton that includes the yellow jersey and the main favorites for GC.

Rogers and Eisel are at the front of the main peloton.

17:06Morkov the machine!

Morkov has added another point to his tally. He has nine and is bound for the podium to collect another polka-dot jersey.

17:06Peloton at 35"

With 12km to go, the peloton is 35" behind Grivko and Morkov.

17:05Rogers leads peloton

Rogers (SKY) is ahead of Wiggins at the front of the peloton that is now 50" behind Morkov and Grivko.

17:03Details of 4th climb

The cote de Quehen is 1.4km long with an average gradient of 5.9 per cent. The top is 12km from the finish. The two stage leaders are about to begin climbing this cat-four ascent.

17:02Vande Velde leads second group

Vande Velde (GRS) has led the second peloton to the top of the third climb. His group is about 1'30" behind the two stage leaders.

17:02Leaders inside final 15km

Morkov and Grivko are the only two ahead of the yellow jersey's peloton. They have a lead of 45".

17:00Morkov claims another point

Morkov has led Grivko over the top of the third climb. The Dane now has eight points in the climbing classification.

17:00Minard and Perez at top

Minard and Perez are over the top of the third climb and the peloton is about to swallow them up. They are 50" behind the two stage leaders.

16:58Morkov catches Grivko

There are now two men at the front of the stage: Grivko and Morkov. They are 37" ahead of the peloton.

16:573rd climb now...

Grivko and Minard ard leading on the early slopes of the Herquelingue climb (a 1.7km long climb that has an average gradient of 5.8 per cent). Perez is unable to resond to the leaders pace...

16:56Voigt driving the main peloton

There is just 50" between the four stage leaders and the yellow jersey's peloton that's led by Jens Voigt. Evans and Wiggins are near the front of the main bunch.

16:55Sanchez with mechanical trouble

The Mavic neutral spares car has to fix a problem with Samuel Sanchez's bike but they don't seem to know what to do. His chain is stock in the small cog at the rear. The Olympic champion is gesturing for them to find a solution but it doesn't seem as though that's been achieved...

16:5420km to go

Morkov, Grivko, Perez and Minard are working well together in the lead of the stage. They are less than 20km from the finish. And have a lead on the peloton of 1'00".

16:52Two distinct pelotons...

The four stage leaders are 1'30" ahead of a group of riders that includes the yellow and green jerseys. Then comes a group that includes Gilbert, Voeckler, Cavendish, Renshaw, Hansen and a number of others. This group is 2'40" behind the escapees.

16:4825km to go...

There are less than 25km to go in the stage. The four men at the front have a lead of 1'50". The peloton is split into several groups but we don't have time checks to tell us how much distance there is between the respective groups...

16:46Rojas abandons

José Rojas (MOV) has been forced to abandon the Tour because of the crash at the 168km mark. We don't yet have news on his injuries.

16:45Gilbert swaps

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) has punctured a tire. The peloton has split into three groups... there are riders still on the road after the crash. Cavendish has been dropped...

16:43Rojas also caught up in crash...

Caruso is the Katusha rider who was badly affected by the crash. Another rider who remains left behind is JJ Rojas of Movistar...

16:42There has been a big crash at the front of the peloton

At the 166km mark there has been a big crash that has caught up Gerrans as well as a Katusha rider who appears in a terrible state... there are many riders on the ground but we await confirmation of who else was involved.

16:38Bernaudeau at 1'30"

At the top of the second climb, Giovanni Bernaudeau is at 1'30".

The peloton has reached the top of the Violette climb, 2'10" behind the four stage leaders.

16:37Morkov takes two points

Michael Morkov has led Sebastien Minard over the first cat-three ascent of the 2012 Tour. The Dane only has to finish the stage to be assured of another day in the polka-dot jersey. He now has seven points in the climbing classification.

16:36Kittel dropped early on second climb

The leader of the Argos-Shimano team, Marcel Kittel has had stomach problems in the Tour. He has been dropped by the peloton early on the Violette climb.

16:35Peloton on the climb...

Katusha and Movistar riders are leading the peloton at the base of the second climb. The bunch is 2'12" behind Morkov's quintet.

16:33Leaders on second climb

Grivko, Minard, Perez and Morkov are on the Mont Violette, the first cat-3 ascent of the 99th Tour. The Danish rider is at the front of the lead group. They are 40" ahead of Bernaudeau and 2'25" ahead of the peloton.

16:30Bernaudeau dropped by lead group

There are now four men in the front of the stage. Bernaudeau was unable to respond to a surve from Grivko (AST).

The riders in the lead are:

- Morkov (STB)

- Grivko (AST)

- Perez (EUS)

- Minard (ALM)

16:29Farrar returns to peloton...

Farrar (GRS) has just returned to the peloton with the help of his Belgian team-mate Johan Vansummeren. He was the Garmin rider involved in the fall. (We also reported that Vande Velde was in the crash but this cannot be confirmed - even though he was named on Radio Tour.)

16:27Gutierrez leads peloton

Gutierrez (MOV) is swapping off with Szmyd (LIQ) at the front of the peloton that is 2'30" behind Morkov's group.

On the left side of the road is a cluster of BMC riders, while in the center are men from Cancellara's team.

16:23Lead drops to 3'00"

With a little more than 42km to go in the stage, the five escapees are just 3'00" ahead of the bunch. Grivko is doing the most work of the lead group... the next climb is the Cote de Mont Violette which is a one kilometer long ascent with an average gradient of 9.2 per cent. It is the first cat-3 rise of the 2012 Tour.

16:18Sivstov has abandoned

The first rider to quit the 99th Tour is Sivtsov who crashed at the 140km mark of stage three. There are now 197 riders in the race.

16:16Peraud is the latest puncture victim

There has been a succession of flat tires in the last half hour. The latest to have to stop and change a wheel (front) is the leader of the AG2R team, Jean-Christophe Peraud.

16:14Farrar racing again...

After being caught up in the crash, Farrar (GRS) has received some support from Vansummeren to rejoin the peloton. We don't know the state of the other men who were caught up in the crash.

16:13Sagan racing to rejoin peloton after puncture

Sagan had a flat tire recently and he's now pacing himself back to the peloton.

16:12Sivtsov sill on the ground...

Kanstantsin Sivtsov is still on the ground after his crash. He is being treated by the race doctors... and appears to be okay (ie. he's sitting up and talking) but he's going to have a tough job to rejoin the peloton if he does in fact start riding again.

16:11Vande Velde also in fall...

Vande Velde (GRM) was also caught up in the fall... we await news on the injuries.

16:10Crash in peloton

There has been a crash in the peloton involving Farrar (GRM), Sivtsov (SKY), Urtasun (EUS)... and a number of others at the 140km mark.

16:06Peloton at 138km: 4'05" ahead

There are two Liquigas riders at the front of the peloton that has just ridden through the village of Parenty at the 138km mark. Hesjedal is back in the bunch that is now 4'05" behind Morvkov's quintet.

16:04Hesjedal gets support...

There are three Garmin-Sharp riders now coming back to help their leader Hesjedal back to the peloton.

16:03Hesjedal not yet back with peloton

After his puncture Hesjedal has been left isolated, without a team-mate, to chase the peloton. He has the support of an Astana rider, Kaschechkin, who seems to have also had a flat tire after the climb...

The leader of the Garmin-Sharp team is not yet back with the peloton.

16:00Succession of punctures

Early on the descent, there has been a volley of punctures including: Hunter and Hesjedal (GRM), Iglinskiy (AST), Astarloza (EUS)...

15:5760km to go

Now that the climb is behind the bunch, we see RadioShack in control of the main pack that is 4'30" behind Morkov's escape.

15:56Wiggins climbing out of the saddle...

Knees is spinning a high cadence as he leads Wiggins up the slopes of the cote de L'Eperche. The leader of Sky is out of the saddle on this relatively steep ascent but there's no aggression from the peloton yet. It has reached the top 4'40" behind the five stage leaders.

15:54Peloton near the cote de L'Eperche

Knees is the Sky rider setting the pace for Wiggins who is near the front of the peloton as it arrives on the first climb of the stage. Katusha, BMC, Saur and RadioShack has riders on the front line as they begin the climb.

15:51Morkov grabs another point...

Morkov shifted his chain to the small chainring for the first climb and rode to the line unchallenged by his escape companions. He now has five points in the climbing classification.

15:50Leaders on the climb

Minard is leading Morkov on the early slopes of the first climb... but the Dane is making sure he keeps a close eye on the others in the escape.

Now Grivko is putting in a turn at the front of the stage... they are 500m from the top.

15:47Leaders near first climb...

The first categorized hill of stage three is the cote de L'Eperche (at 132km). It is only 700m long but has an average gradient of 6.9km per cent. It's ranked category-four and so one point for the polka-dot jersey is on offer at the top.

15:43Average for third hour...

The average speed for the third hour was 37.4km/h. The average for the first three hours is 41.3km/h.

15:40Full results of the intermediate sprint

1. Minard (ALM) 20 pts
2. Bernaudeau (EUC) 17pts
3. Morkov (STB) 15pts
4. Perez (EUS) 13pts
5. Grivko (AST) 11pts
6. Cavendish (SKY) 10pts - at 4'30"
7. Van Hummel (VCD) 9pts
8. Sagan (LIQ) 8pts
9. Lancaster (OGE) 7pts
10. Hutarovich (FDJ) 6pts
11. Renshaw (RAB) 5pts
12. Petacchi (LAM) 4pts
13. Goss (OGE) 3pts
14. Boeckmans (VCD) 2pts
15. Cooke (OGE) 1pts

15:36Cavendish takes 6th place...

Cavendish has led the peloton to the site of the intermediate sprint.

15:35Full results of intermediate sprint coming soon...

The peloton is 5'00" behind the five escapees. We'll post the full list of results for the intermediate sprint once the peloton has contested the prime.

We can now see six Orica-GreenEdge riders at the front of the bunch. The world champion - and winner of yesterday's stage - is also nearby. Cavendish has Eisel along for support on the approach to the intermediate sprint.

15:32Leaders contest intermediate sprint...

Minard (ALM) has taken 20 points for first place at the intermediate sprint. He was ahead of Bernaudeau (EUC), Morkov (STB), Perez (EUS) and Grivko (AST) in Senlecques (119km).

15:30Peloton 5km from sprint...

The teams at the front of the peloton around surely about to change. The bunch is inside the final 5km leading to the intermediate sprint... so it's time for the lead-out trains to form in the hunt for points for the green jersey.

15:25Spotted SRM for Morkov...

The Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank rider in the escape today is Michael Morkov. As we've mentioned already a few times today, he's been on the attack every day of his debut Tour... he wears the polka-dot jersey and his mechanics have painted a few red dots on his white SRM power meter for the stage today.

15:23Leaders about 7km from intermediate sprint

The five at the front of the stage will soon contest the intermediate sprint. They are 4'45" ahead of the bunch. The points for the green jersey will be awarded to the first 15 over the line. The site of the sprint today is Senlecques at the 119km mark of the 197km stage.

15:19Grivko still the virtual leader...

Of the five escapees, the best on GC after three days of racing in the 2012 Tour is Andriy Grivko (AST). He was 10th in the prologue and was 38th overall at the start fo the stage today. He is currently in a quintet that is 4'50" ahead of the peloton which means he's the virtual leader of the Tour.

Only one Ukrainian rider has worn the yellow jersey in the Tour and that was Sergei Honchar (in 2007 after he won the first long time trial). Today is Honchar's 42nd birthday.

15:09Szmyd is the Liguigas rider assisting with the chase...

At the 98km mark, the peloton is 5'00" behind Morkov's escape group. There are still RadioShack-Nissan riders leading the bunch but Szmyd is the Liquigas rider who is also contributing to the pacesetting.

Liquigas has two obvious options for a good result today: the winner of stage one, Peter Sagan, as well as the designated leader of the team Vincenzo Nibali.

15:00Third Grand Tour for Bernaudeau

Giovanni Bernaudeau is one of the riders on the attack today. He is the son of Jean-René, the manager of the Europcar team. This is the first time he's done the Tour de France but the 28-year-old has twice contested the Giro d'Italia (in 2005 when he was 110th overall, and 2006 but he did not finish that year - and abandoned after 13 stages).

He started the Vuelta in 2009 but quit after seven stages.

He is yet to win a race as a professional.

14:55100km to go...

The leaders are now 100km from the finish of the stage. They have been on the attack for 92km... and have a lead of 3'50".

14:53Leaders in the feedzone

Grivko, Perez, Minard, Morkov and Bernaudeau have arrived in the feedzone at Therouanne (95km). They have a lead of 3'55" after starting their attack at the 5km mark.

The move was instigated by Perez.

14:47Liquigas contribute to pace setting...

The RadioShack team is now getting some assitance from Liquigas at the front of the peloton which is 4'05" behind Grivko's group of five.

14:43Brajkovic: 14th overall, at 22"

The rider who was worst affected by the crash at the 79km mark was Janez Brajkovic. He has returned to the peloton after a chase of about 5km... and, on his way back through the convoy, he sought medical attention. He got some treatment on a wound on his left arm.

He started today's stage in 14th place, 22" behind Cancellara.

14:40More on Morkov...

“He's a track rider,” said Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank's DS Nick Gates about Michael Morkov, the rider who has been on the attack in every stage of this year's Tour. “He's got a background on the Six-Day racing circuit but in the last few years he's shifted his focus to the road a bit.
“He rode the Giro last year in support of Alberto Contador and this is his second Grand Tour. He's actually got a big engine and, as you can see, he pedals really nicely – it's obvious that he's a...

14:40Average speed for 2nd hour

The average speed for the second hour in stage three is 42km/h. The average for the first two hours combined is 43km/h.

14:38Brajkovic almost back with peloton

There are three Astana riders with their leader who crashed at the 79km mark. They are working their way back through the convoy and they are about to rejoin the peloton.

14:35Accident at 79km...

All riders involved in the accident at the 79km mark are back on their bikes and racing again. Brajkovic was the worst affected but he is being supported by two team-mates as they make their way back to the peloton.


There has been a big crash in the peloton. The first to go down was one from the Lampre team. We can report that Astana's Brajkovic was caught up...

14:32Nick Gates: Morkov is in great shape!

LeTour.fr recently caught up with Nick Gates from the Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank team and asked about Morkov who has been in every break of the 2012 Tour. “He's going alright at the moment, isn't he?” laughed Gates. “He's in very good shape at the moment. He's prepared well and he came out of the Tour de Suisse in good form, then had his national championships last weekend and he's motivated. This is the prime time of the year and he wanted to do something – and he's out there doing...

14:27Eight 'Shackers' leading the peloton

There are eight riders from Cancellara's team at the front of the peloton. Behind them is Knees (SKY) followed by his team's leader, Wiggins. And, on the wheel of the rider in second overall is the man in the yellow jersey.

14:25Raining on the Tour...

It's been overcast early in stage three and now it's raining a little bit. The road is still dry and no one is rushing back to the team cars to retrieve any wet weather gear...

14:15Maassen: [Mollema] could improve on the fifth place from stage one

LeTour.fr recently spoke with Frans Maassen of Rabobank. We asked the directeur sportif if he believes we'll see Bauke Mollema improve on his fifth place from the stage to Seraing on Sunday. “Of course the last 20km is technical and we will need a bit of luck today,” said Maassen. “I think it will be wet and slippery and nervous so each rider needs to have a bit of good fortune. I think that it's a good arrival for us, especially for Mollema. We hope that he has no problems and that he...

14:08Ladagnous calls for race doctor

The peloton is still being led by riders from the RadioShack team and it is currently 4'40" behind the five escapees.

Matthieu Ladagnous (FDJ) has just dropped behind the pack for a brief consultation with the race doctor.

14:06Sanchez improving...

LeTour.fr recently contacted Frans Maassen from the Rabobank team to find out what the hopes of the team are today and also get a report on the injuries of Luis Leon Sanchez who crashed in stage one.

"Luis is better than he was yesterday," said Maassen. "Yesterday wasn't too hard but he had some pain because of the accident. This morning he said he felt much better so hopefully effect of his injuries will be gone in the coming days."

Rabobank's Bauke Mollema was 5th in the...

13:49Lead grows (slightly)...

The latest time check has Grivko's group of five, 5'05" ahead of the peloton.

13:46Pierre Rolland: "If I feel good, I will try something"

Speaking to LeTour.fr before the start of the stage, the leader of Europcar Pierre Rolland said his priority in the race to Boulogne is to remain extremely vigilant in the final. "I am quite familiar with the area where today's finish will be contested,” said Rolland who was the best young rider of the 2011 Tour. “These are roads that we regularly ride during the Four Days of Dunkirk, so I roughly know what to expect.
“It will be like the stage to Seraing [on Sunday]: very...

13:3944km/h in the first hour today

The average speed of the opening hour in stage three is 44km/h.

13:38Sebastien Piquet: "A good descender can make a difference in the final"

The voice of Radio Tour since 2004, Sebastien Piquet conducted a comprehensive reconnaissance of the third stage as part of a documentary about cycling in this part of France that he produced recently. (To find out more, visit: www.cestmontour.fr)
He offers his thoughts on what we can expect from the 197km stage from Orchies to Boulogne-sur-Mer today on a course that features four climbs in the final 16km.  “I think that positioning will be very important,” said Piquet, “at the...

13:36Jean-Marie Leblanc on Tour today...

The former director of the Tour de France, Jean-Marie Leblanc is back in the convoy of the race he was in charge from 1989 to 2006. The 67-year-old is in the car with the five-time winner of the Tour, Bernard Hinault for the stage from Orchies to Boulogne.

13:33No former stage winners in the lead group

Of the five men in the lead of stage three - currently 4'40" ahead of the peloton - none have previously won a stage at the Tour.

Morkov (STB) is wearing the polka-dot jersey after having been on the attack already in stages one and two...

Ruben Perez (EUS) was a regular aggressor in stages of last year's Tour... but none of his attacks lasted until the finish.

Bernaudau (EUC) is making his Tour debut in 2012.

Minard (ALM) has contested the Tour three times before...

13:24Nicolas Roche: I need to be more careful

The Young Reporters of the Tour de France, spoke with Nicolas Roche – the Irish rider with the AG2R team who turns 28 today – earlier today to find out what his tactics might be on a stage like this. And he explained that he had to change his strategy a little. “It's a finish that may well suit me,” said Roche. “But I must be more careful. For the stage to Seraing, I started my effort a little too early at the front of the group, and I was not able to get even close to being in...

13:15RadioShack-Nissan limit the gains of escape

At the 23km mark, the peloton is 5'00" behind the five escapees who had reached a maximum advantage of 5'40" after 15km of racing in stage three.

13:08RadioShack-Nissan lead the peloton...

With the advantage of the five escapees up to 5'40" there are riders from Cancellara's RadioShack-Nissan team now at the front of hte peloton.

13:06Happy 28th birthday 'Nico' Roche

Today is the 28th birthday for Nicolas Roche. He's registered as an Irish rider - as his father, Stephen (the winner of the Tour in 1987) is Irish - but he was born in Conflans-Ste-Honorine in France.

He is in 24th place overall after 411.9km of racing in the 2012 Tour de France.

12:59Lead up to 4'20"

After 7km on the attack, the five escapees are 4'20" ahead of the peloton which has just reached the 12km mark.

12:56Advantage set to grow...

A number of riders in the peloton have pulled over to the side of the road to answer nature's call. That means the escapees advantage is going to grow. Already, at the 11km mark, they are 3'25" ahead.

12:53Details of the escapees...

The five who attack at the five kilometer mark are:

- Andriy Grivko (UKR) AST: 43rd overall, 38" behind Cancellara a the the start of the stage.

- Giovanni Bernaudeau (FRA) EUC: 69th overall at 1'08"

- Ruben Perez (ESP) EUS: 133rd overall at 3'09"

- Sebastien Minard (FRA) ALM: 140th overall at 3'39"

- Michael Morkov (DEN) STB: 175th overall at 4'59" - and the leader of the climbing classification.

At the 8km mark, they are 2'00" ahead.

12:50Grivko the best on GC of escape

Of the five riders in the lead of stage three, the best placed on general classification is the rider who was 10th in the prologue - Andriy Grivko (AST). He started the stage in 43 place, 38" behind Cancellara.

The latest time check has his quintet at 45" so the Ukrainian is the virtual leader of the 2012 Tour de France.

12:48Millar returns after a puncture

David Millar (GRS) recently had a flat tire but he's been serviced by the team car and is now back in the peloton.

12:47Five on the attack at 5km

There are five men with a lead of 15". They began their attack at the 5km mark. The riders involved in the first successful escape are:

- Bernaudeau (EUC)

- Perez Moreno (EUS), who instigated the move.

- Minard (ALM)

- Morkov (STB)

- Grivko (AST)

12:45Fast start to stage three...

The opening kilometers are being raced at a very fast pace. The peloton is at the 4.5km mark and it's a complete contrast to yesterday's tranquil opening stanza... no escapees have been able to gain any advantage.

12:41Peloton all together...

The early attack didn't succeed. The bunch is all together at the 2km mark.

12:40Five riders on the attack

There are five men with a small advantage on the peloton... we wait to see if the escape succeeds and then we'll post the names of those involved.

12:39Racing in stage three!

The official start time for stage three is 12.38pm (just like yesterday). And immediately there has been attack from a Cofidis rider. There are 198 riders still in the race with no overnight withdrawals.

This is a 197km stage from Orchies to Boulogne-sur-Mer.

12:39Prize classification review: part 04 ?? white jersey

Tejay van Garderen (BMC) continues to lead the youth classification, which is open to riders born after 1 January 1987. There was no change to the top order of this category after stage two and the American remains one second ahead of the dual stage winner of the 2011 Tour, Edvald Boasson Hagen (SKY) and 12” ahead of Rein Taaramae (COF).
Van Garderen will wear the white jersey for the third day in a row.

12:37Prize classification review: part 03 ?? polka-dot jersey

Michael Morkov has been on the attack for 345.5km in his first Tour de France. He was in the escape of stages one and two and he's claimed first place points at four of the six climbs that have been in the 99th edition of the race. He wears the polka-dot jersey for the second successive day during his Tour debut. The Danish Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank rider has a total of four points, three more than Peter Sagan (LIQ) and Pablo Urtasun (EUS).
The six climbs today are: the côte de L'Eperche...

12:35Prize classification review: part 02 ?? green jersey

Yesterday Peter Sagan (LIQ) wore the green jersey but he didn't lead the points classification. He was second to Fabian Cancellara after winning stage one but because the Swiss rider was in the yellow jersey, the Slovakian got to wear one of the four prize jerseys in the Tour. Today, however, Sagan is the rightful leader: he has 78 points, 15 more than the winner of stage two (and the defending champion of this classification), Mark Cavendish (SKY). In third place now is Cancellara with 55...

12:32Rolling in the neutral zone...

The peloton is now on its way to the site of the official start. It's dry at the moment but it's threatening to rain. The temperature is 22 degrees Celsius.

As they're in the neutral zone, Morkov (STB) has punctured.

12:32Prize classification review: part 01 ?? yellow jersey

This will be Fabian Cancellara's 24th day in the lead of the general classification of the Tour de France. He has worn the yellow jersey in 2004 (two days), 2007 (seven days), 2009 (six days), 2010 (six days) and since the prologue this year. There was no change to the top order of GC after stage two. Cancellara (RNT) finished 45th yesterday and his advantage over the rider in second place, Brad Wiggins (SKY) remains at seven seconds. Third place overall is still held by Sylvain Chavanel...

12:26Welcome to the live coverage of stage three of the 99th Tour

The riders are ready and the start of the third stage of the 2012 Tour - the first to be contested on French soil, following the Belgian Grand Départ - is not far away. It's been wet early today, with showers in the Nord department of France and the temperature is about 18 degrees Celsius.

There is a 4.4km neutral zone before the peloton arrives at the site of the official start.

Live coverage of the stage will commence shortly.


Jersey wearers after the stage 9

Classifications after the stage 9


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