As the dust blown up from the cobbles of stage three of the Tour de France settles, the true, dramatic effects on the overall classification and for the different jersey competitions begins to emerge.
This stage and its seven sections of pavé were always expected to split the peloton and create time gaps between the overall contenders. But nobody could have predicted that a group of just six would finish together, with the rest of the peloton spread over 11 minutes.
Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) seemed set to wear the yellow jersey until the Alps after gaining a three-minute lead on Monday. But he punctured twice on the cobbles, lost 3:58 and slipped to fifth overall. Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) got the yellow back after sacrificing it to wait for Fränk and Andy Schleck on stage two, but it was a bitter sweet day for Saxo Bank with Fränk Schleck crashing out of the race on the cobbles.
The cobbles also left deep scares in the hopes of several big-name overall contenders with the team leaders scattered across five different groups like spring classic domestiques: Cadel Evans (BMC) and Andy Schleck gained time on everyone. Alberto Contador (Astana) lost 1:13 minutes to them, yet gained 55 seconds on Lance Armstrong (Radioshack). While even he managed to gain something on Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo), Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) and Robert Gesink (Rabobank).
These are the winners and losers on the day and the virtual overall classification we can expect to emerge later in the race.
This is the virtual classification of the main overall contenders
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Cadel Evans (BMC)||14:54:39|
|2||Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank)||0:00:30|
|3||Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana)|
|4||Alberto Contador (Astana)||0:01:01|
|5||Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto)||0:01:03|
|6||Denis Menchov (Rabobank)||0:01:10|
|7||Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky)|
|8||Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas-Doimo)||0:01:45|
|9||Lance Armstrong (RadioShack)||0:01:51|
|10\||Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack)||0:02:14|
|11||Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia)||0:02:21|
|12||Andreas Klöden (RadioShack)||0:02:22|
|13||Robert Gesink (Rabobank)||0:02:37|
|14||Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam)||0:02:40|
|15||Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo)||0:02:41|
Thor Hushovd (Cervelo Test Team): in the green points jersey
The Mighty Thor beat his chest as he celebrated his stage victory and rightly so. He pulled on the green jersey and now has a total of 63 points. Robbie McEwen (Katusha) is his nearest sprint rival with 38 points, while Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) is 139th in the points standing with just one point. Despite being so early in the race, it is now difficult to see who can take the green jersey from Hushovd before Paris.
Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank): in the race leader’s yellow jersey
Back in yellow after motoring over the cobbles just like he did in the classics. Cancellara dragged Andy Schleck up the road as he had promised. Being back in yellow paid him back for giving it up on Monday but perhaps Saxo Bank would have preferred not to lose Fränk Schleck.
Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) believes the universe was paying him back on stage three for giving up the jersey a day earlier.
Geraint Thomas (Team Sky): in the best young rider’s white jersey
The quiet Welshman won the junior version of Paris-Roubaix and you could tell as he mastered the pavé like a veteran and matched Cancellara’s every move. He said he wanted to deserve the white jersey instead of keeping it warm for some else and he did exactly that that by finish second on the stage.
Cadel Evans (BMC): third overall at 39 seconds
The world champion fought every inch of the stage and avoided all the problems by staying well up front. He used to lose time to his rivals. Now it’s the other way around. Can it continue that way in the Alps and Pyrenees?
Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank): sixth overall at 1:09
Andy lost his brother in a crash and will now have to fight on alone. He has gained time on everyone except Evans. It is time for him to show just how good he really is.
Alberto Contador (Astana): ninth at 1:40
Contador lost time to Evans and Schleck but considering the pre-race prognostics, he emerged as a winner. He must have smiled when he saw Armstrong drop back with a puncture but must be worried that his teammate Alexandre Vinokourov did not wait for him in the finale.
Lance Armstrong (RadioShack): 18th at 2:30
Lance was well placed but then a puncture spoilt his day and he was forced to fight to limit his losses. He finished in the third group and lost 2:08 to Evans and Schleck. Even taking into account the time he gained in the prologue, that is a significant chunk to make up.
Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia): 28th at 3:00
HTC-Columbia’s woes continued, with Rogers losing 2:23 on the stage after finishing in the fourth group with Ivan Basso, Carlos Sastre, Robert Gesink, Andres Klöden and Levi Leipheimer.
Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam): 48th at 3:19
Sastre was always going to suffer on the cobbles but perhaps paid a price for his team’s aggression as they chase multiple objectives. The Cervelo TestTeam management will soon have to make a choice between a great chance of winning green and an outside chance of winning yellow.
Former Tour de France champ Carlos Sastre (Cervelo TestTeam) lived up to expectations on the cobbled stage, unfortunately for the Spaniard the expectations weren't high.
Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo): 49th at 3:20.
Basso lost 2:25 to Evans but that is the same amount of time he lost on the Strade Bianche at the Giro d’Italia. He pulled back time in the mountains and won the maglia Rosa in May. Let’s see if he can make a similar comeback in the Tour.
Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank): out of the race
Fränk Schleck is the big loser after the cobbles and now faces surgery to help repair his fracture. He was on form after winning the Tour de Suisse but with his own Tour over, he will now have to cheer for his brother from home.
Frank Schleck tried to bury the pain – both physical and emotional – as he was helped into the race’s medical transporter and taken to hospital.
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