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Tour de France 2014: Stage 3


Stage 3 of the Tour de France, 155 kilometres from Cambridge to London.

After two frenetic days of racing in Yorkshire, there ought to be a semblance of - relative - calm to proceedings on the road to London this afternoon. There are no categorised climbs on the route and there is a flat, fast run-in to the finish line on the Mall. It seems the perfect backdrop for a bunch finish, but that won't deter a roll call of willing attackers from trying their luck on the road south.

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) is in the overall lead today after his well-timed attack in Sheffield on stage 2, and he takes his place on the start line in Cambridge alongside green jersey and former teammate Peter Sagan (Cannondale). Nibali's compromise Italian champion's jersey was the source of some controversy when it was unveiled at the team presentation on Thursday night, but those with an eye on sartorial matters will be heartened to learn that Nibali has no special yellow accoutrements today - he is wearing his regular Astana shorts and helmet with the maillot jaune.

The peloton has been flagged away from the start line and is now rolling through the neutralised zone in the streets of Cambridge. As was the case in Yorkshire, there are huge crowds massed on the roadside. The sun has poked its way through the early clouds - the skies are now blue and the temperature is a very pleasant 20 degrees.

The overall picture at the start of play on stage 3 is as follows: 


1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 9:52:43
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale 0:00:02
3 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
4 Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica Greenedge
5 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky
6 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling
7 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto-Belisol
8 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo
9 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
10 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team

196 of the original 198 starters have set out from Cambridge. Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) abandoned on the road to Sheffield yesterday, suffering from a viral infection. "I'm feeling huge disappointment because I've not been able to repay the faith of my team, sponsors and teammates," Modolo said. The other absentee, of course, is Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), who was injured when he crashed in the finishing straight on stage 1 in Harrogate.

Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) was among those to criticise Cavendish's manoeuvre at Harrogate, wondering whether the commissaires ought to have taken action and pointing to a recent, high-profile sanction in another sport. "[Luis] Suarez was banned for biting people in soccer and to me it looked like he crashed on purpose," Kristoff said. You can read the Norwegian's thoughts in full here.

155km remaining from 155km

Meanwhile, the peloton has reached kilometre zero and the départ réel. And immediately, we have our first attackers of the day - Jean-Marie Bideau (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) and Jan Barta (NetApp-Endura).


153km remaining from 155km

Barta and Bideau have built up a lead of 25 seconds over a peloton that - for now at least- seems content to allow them some leeway. There will be plenty of tired legs in the bunch after yesterday's exacting outing to Sheffield.

151km remaining from 155km

There is an air of détente in the peloton for now and the two escapees have stretched their lead out to 1:30. Nibali sits in the second row of the bunch, chatting with teammate Alessandro Vanotti and Elia Viviani (Cannondale).

148km remaining from 155km

The early break seems to be definitively established. Barta and Bideau's lead is at 2:30 and growing steadily. Nibali's Astana teammates have gathered at the front, but there is no urgency to their pace. They'll be happy to abdicate responsibility for leading the chase to the sprinters' teams later in the afternoon.

146km remaining from 155km

Nibali rides shoulder to shoulder with Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), who showcased his form with a bold bid to upset the sprinters at Harrogate on Saturday. The Swiss rider will be expected to shine on the cobbles en route to Arenberg on Wednesday. It was a mixed day for Trek all told yesterday, however. While Matt Busche finished safely in the front group, both Frank and Andy Schleck conceded ground to the overall contenders.

144km remaining from 155km

Bideau and Barta continue their smooth collaboration out in front. After a shade over ten kilometres, their lead has yawned out to three minutes.

141km remaining from 155km

Astana continue to set an ambling pace at the head of the bunch, and Barta and Bideau stretch out their advantage accordingly. They now have 3:45 in hand on the peloton.

Chris Froome (Sky) is maintaining a watching brief at the front end of the peloton, with Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) just a couple of positions behind him. There have been shades of Miguel Indurain and Evgeni Berzin's in the opening week of the 1995 Tour about their positioning over the first weekend of the race. We rarely see one in shot without the other lingering just behind, and when Contador forced the pace on the final climb yesterday, Froome responded with an acceleration of his own over the summit. ""It wasn't necessarily to let them know that I was there. I knew that the descent was very tricky. I preferred to take that at my own pace at the front of the race," Froome said of that dig, and you can read his full impressions of the day here.

135km remaining from 155km

At Saffron Walden, after 20 kilometres of racing, Bideau and Barta have a lead of 4:20 over the bunch. As in Yorkshire - and, indeed, as at the Giro d'Italia start in Ireland in May - there is a veritable wall of noise to greet them every metre of the way.

What a difference a week makes in cycling. Vincenzo Nibali seemed a man under pressure as the Tour de France approached - although it has since been clarified that all Astana riders received the email of reprimand/encouragement that fanned the flames of polemica early June - but in winning the Italian championship and stage 2 of the Tour, the Sicilian has struck back at his doubters in the best possible way. "It didn't bother me what the media said, I always believed in my chances," he said in Sheffield yesterday. Nibali added that he believes his form is similar to that which carried him to Giro d'Italia victory in 2013.

125km remaining from 155km

Bideau and Barta hold a lead of 4:30 over a peloton that is still led by Nibali's Astana teammates. This is Bretagne-Seche's first invitation to the Tour de France, and it's also the first Tour appearance of Bideau's career. A professional since 2007, the Breton's stand-out results have been his wins in Paris-Troyes in 2012 and again in 2013.

120km remaining from 155km

Astana remain at the head of the peloton, but there are representatives from the sprinters' teams Lotto-Belisol and Giant-Shimano keeping a watching brief on proceedings. The escapees remain 4:20 clear.

There are no categorised climbs on the agenda today, so Cyrile Lemoine (Cofidis) will carry the polka dot jersey back to France tomorrow.

Jens Voigt (Trek Factory Racing) held the jersey yesterday after his attacking outing on Saturday afternoon. The German veteran is tackling his 17th and - most probably - final Tour de France. Incidentally, Voigt fell just short of wearing the first polka dot jersey of his debut Tour in Ireland in 1998, losing out to breakaway companion Stefano Zanini in the sprint atop Wicklow Gap. You can watch a video interview with Voigt about his debut Tour here and there are more gems to be found on the Cyclingnews YouTube channel here.

110km remaining from 155km

Lotto-Belisol and Giant-Shimano have now begun to contribute to the pace-setting at the front of the bunch and the break's lead has stabilised accordingly. The gap is staying constant at 4:20.

French hope Thibaut Pinot ( lost contact with the leading group in the finale yesterday and finished the stage 16 seconds down on Vincenzo Nibali. He refused to be downbeat afterwards, however, telling L'Equipe that the nervous parcours was simply not suited to his strengths. "Today was a real Amstel Gold Race – except that I never go to Amstel!" Pinot said. "I don’t really like that, I even think it’s the kind of race I like least. At least I made the race. I’ve had bronchitis recently and I know that I’m going to improve."

Like his NetApp-Endura team, Jan Barta is lining up for his debut Tour de France, having completed the Giro and Vuelta in 2012 and 2013, respectively. The Czech has been on familiar terrain in these opening days - he finished third overall at the Tour of Britain in 2011.

103km remaining from 155km

After an hour of racing, Barta and Bideau have covered 42 kilometres and their lead over the bunch has tightened a little further. It now stands at four minutes.

Jan Bakelants (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) crashes towards the rear of the peloton. The Belgian slides across the road: he doesn't appear to have done himself any damage but he has to stop and wait for a replacement rear wheel.

101km remaining from 155km

Bakelants is back in the saddle and chasing through the convoy of cars behind the peloton. The pace at the front being set by Astana is a steady one, and the Belgian should be back in the fold relatively quickly.

Florian Vachon (Bretagne-Seche) also went down in that spill with Bakelants, incidentally, but the Frenchman remounted instantly and made his way back into the main body of the peloton without any delays.

99km remaining from 155km

There is an injection of pace from Giant-Shimano as the peloton passes through Rayne and the break's lead has been clipped back still further - the gap now stands at 3:30.

93km remaining from 155km

Lotto-Belisol have also put their shoulder to the wheel and the break's lead has dropped underneath the three-minute mark for the first time.

Ji Cheng, the first Chinese rider to compete at the Tour, is setting the tempo on the front of the bunch in support of his Giant-Shimano leader Marcel Kittel. His efforts have helped pegged the break's lead back to 2:45.

For the second successive Tour, Kittel took the yellow jersey on the opening stage, and for the second successive year, the rugged terrain meant that he lost it the following day. Nonetheless, the German enjoyed his

and he ought to be back in centre stage on the Mall this afternoon.

87km remaining from 155km

Emoji update: A large yellow banner on a pub on the roadside with the legend "Go Cav" has been amended to include a frowning face within the C.

85km remaining from 155km

Giant-Shimano and Lotto-Belisol's pressing have brought to break's lead under control and they'll be happy to leave it at around the three-minute mark for the time being before winding things up in the final hour and a half of racing.

André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) confirmed his form with a fine victory at the German championships last weekend, and he arguably might have been expected to last a little longer in the front group than he did on the rugged road to Sheffield yesterday. "We advised him to sit up as soon as he began to suffer," Lotto-Belisol directeur sportif Herman Frison told RTBF. "There's going to be another big sprint in London and we want him to play a big role there."

Jan Bakelants, incidentally, safely negotiated his way back into the body of the peloton after his crash earlier on.

80km remaining from 155km

The two escapees are now approaching Chelmsford, with a shade under 50 miles remaining. Bideau and Barta's collaboration has been smooth to date, and they retain a lead of 2:50 over the peloton.

77km remaining from 155km

The terrain in Essex is not as striking as in Yorkshire, but the enthusiasm for the Tour is at the same levels. There are deep crowds lining the roads to greet the peloton through Chelmsford.

72km remaining from 155km have added their firepower to the chase at the front of the peloton. Arnaud Démare won the Ride London Classic last August, of course, and he would love a repeat victory on the Mall this afternoon.


69km remaining from 155km

Jan Bakelants' labours continue. The Belgian fell for the second time at the feed zone in Chelmsford. An errant bidon was the culprit, it seems.

66km remaining from 155km

There has been something of an injection of urgency in the bunch since the feed zone. The peloton is beginning to line out in earnest for the first time this afternoon. Bideau and Barta's lead stands at 2:06.

The break's lead is well under control at this juncture, and the sprinters' teams will be happy to let the pair linger out there with two minutes in hand for some while longer. We're only 15 kilometres from the day's intermediate sprint, however, and the pace will naturally ratchet up another notch or two on the run-in to Epping Forest.

Representatives from Lotto-Belisol, and Giant-Shimano are policing the front end of the peloton. While there are still some Astana jerseys visible, Nibali's men have been relieved of the bulk of their duties. It's been a relatively gentle introduction to carrying the burden of the maillot jaune for the Kazakh squad.

59km remaining from 155km

Ji Cheng (Giant-Shimano) puts in another long turn at the head of the bunch. The break's lead stands at a very manageable 2:11.

Barta and Bideau, remember, have been off the front for almost 100 kilometres at this point, from the moment the flag dropped. The Czech-French tandem is showing no signs of flagging thus far, however. Both men are sharing their duties well and betraying no obvious signs of weakening just yet.

The Tour is not the only major race taking place in July, of course. The leading stage race of the women's season, the Giro Rosa, is ongoing, and you can read a report of Giorgia Bronzini's victory on stage 2 here and you can also follow Chloe Hosking's fine blog on Cyclingnews throughout the week.

55km remaining from 155km

Meanwhile, in Essex, the sprinters' teams are happy to keep the break's lead tabbed at around the 2:10 mark for now. We're 8 kilometres from the sprint at Epping Forest, and it will be fascinating to see how the likes of Greipel and Kittel approach it. On stage 1, for instance, Greipel sat up as soon as he ensured that he was going to finish ahead of Peter Sagan in the sprint, judging that it wasn't worth spending the energy to try and beat neophyte Bryan Coquard (Europcar) to boot.

53km remaining from 155km

André Greipel's Red Guard have assembled around him as he moves up. The German champion looks as though he means business in the impending intermediate sprint.

A phalanx of lime green Cannondale jerseys moves up in support of Peter Sagan, while Bryan Coquard also has some support from Europcar. The bunch are still some six kilometres from the sprint, and Bideau and Barta, will of course, pick up the first two places.

50km remaining from 155km

Europcar have moved their way to the front of the bunch as they wind up the pace on the run-in to the sprint.

49km remaining from 155km

The skies have darkened in the past half an hour and a few leaden drops of rain are beginning to fall as Barta and Bideau chug towards the sprint at Epping Forest with a lead of two minutes over the peloton.

Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar) sets the tempo at the head of the peloton in support of Coquard. The bunch are still two kilometres from the sprint, but Cannondale, Lotto and Europcar are all making their presence felt.

47km remaining from 155km

In the early days of the Tour, every battle counts. Allies of circumstance for the day, Bideau and Barta contest the sprint at Epping Forest. Bideau takes the verdict.

Now the bunch is approaching the sprint. Cannondale push their way to the front in support of Sagan...

Bryan Coquard is well led-out by Kevin Rezaa and he beats Sagan to third place in the sprint. Elia Viviani (Cannondale) sweeps up behind Sagan for 5th, just ahead of Arnaud Demare. Neither Greipel nor Kittel opted to contest the sprint.

43km remaining from 155km

The injection of pace in the bunch ahead of the sprint has helped to peg the break's lead back to 1:14. FDJ. fr have taken back up the reins of the pursuit.

Result of intermediate sprint:

1 Jean-Marie Bideau (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement 20
2 Jan Barta (Cze) Team NetApp-Endura 17
3 Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar 15
4 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale 13
5 Elia Vivani (Ita) Cannondale 11
6 Arnaud Démare (Fra) 10
7 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC 9
8 Florian Vachon (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement 8
9 Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Cannondale 7
10 Kevin Reza (Fra) Europcar 6
11 Maciej Bodnar (Slo) Cannondale 5
12 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar 4
13 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo 3
14 Sergio Paulinho (Por) Tinkoff-Saxo 2
15 Jérémy Roy (Fra) 1

40km remaining from 155km

Bideau and Barta enter the final 40 kilometres with their lead hovering just above the one-minute mark. They'll struggle to stay clear into the outskits of London at this rate, although the bunch won't be keen to make the catch just yet.

38km remaining from 155km

Ji Cheng continues to put in an immense afternoon of work at the head of the bunch in support of Kittel. Meanwhile, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) are visible near the front, carefully marshalled by their teammates.

36km remaining from 155km

Mercifully, the drops of rain that fell earlier have not developed into a heavy shower and the peloton should have dry roads in the finale in London.

32km remaining from 155km

After moving a little too close for comfort after the intermediate sprint, the peloton has backed off again in the last five kilometres or so, and Bideau and Barta have been able to stretch their lead north of two minutes once again.

Andy Schleck (Trek) is one of four riders who are brought down in a crash. The Luxembourger does not appear to be hurt and he has been helped back  onto his bike. We haven't seen full images of the crash, but it appears as though a spectator was involved in the incident.

29km remaining from 155km

Bideau and Barta are now in the outskirts of London, with a lead of 2:10 over the peloton.

27km remaining from 155km

Simon Gerrans (Orcia-GreenEdge) and Ted King (Cannondale) were also among the riders caught by the crash that brought down Schleck, but they are back on their bikes and chasing on through the convoy.

26km remaining from 155km

Astana have resumed the pace-setting at the head of the peloton, doing their bit on the front to help ensure a second day in the maillot jaune for Nibali. None of the sprinters' teams want to take up sole command of the reins just yet.

25km remaining from 155km

Lotto-Belisol have now forced their way to the front of the peloton in a bid to set things up for Greipel. At the finish line on the Mall, meanwhile, rain is beginning to fall steadily.

24km remaining from 155km

Lotto are beginning to chip away at the break's advantage. Each turn from one of the number brings away another clump of seconds from Bideau and Barta's lead.

22km remaining from 155km

The peloton sweeps past the Olympic Park, with the striking velodrome particularly prominent. A further ten seconds have been whittled off Bideau and Barta's lead, which now stands at 1:35.

20km remaining from 155km

The on-screen graphic on France Télévisions suggests that the break will be caught with 8 kilometres remaining. Giant-Shimano have now joined Lotto in winding up the pace at the front, and that prediction might yet be revised forwards.

Interesting to note the black jerseys of Omega Pharma-QuickStep beginning to assemble in the pocket behind the Lotto train. Mark Cavendish may no longer be here but the Belgian squad will try to set up Mark Renshaw for the sprint this afternoon.

19km remaining from 155km

Barta and Bideau have now reacehd the rain-soaked roads near the centre of London. The bunch are still in the dry for now, although both Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale) and Blel Kadri (Ag2r-La Mondiale) had to screech to a halt - without falling - after they overshot a corner.

18km remaining from 155km

Astana move back to the front of the peloton in a bid to keep the maillot jaune of Vincenzo Nibali out of trouble. These newly bathed roads could be treacherous on the final run-in to the Mall.

16km remaining from 155km

Bideau and Barta have been in front for almost 140 kilometres now and their efforts are beginning to tell. They still have 1:11 in hand on the bunch but it's surely only a matter of time before that lead drops dramatically.

15km remaining from 155km

Nibali remains safely ensconced amid a platoon of Astana jerseys near the front but the Lotto-Belisol train is keen to take command of the chase effort once again. The bunch trails the break  by 1:09.

Andy Schleck, meanwhile, has safely regained his place in the peloton after his earlier crash.

14km remaining from 155km

Barta appears the stronger of the two escapees at this point. Bideau temporarily lost contact after they swept around a bend and the Czech has to slow his pace to allow the Breton to latch back on to his rear wheel. Their lead remains locked at 1:07.

13km remaining from 155km

World champion Rui Costa has been alert to every move so far in this Tour de France, and once again the rainbow jersey is present and correct at the head of the bunch on this frenetic run-in. Daniele Bennati, meanwhile, guides his Tinkoff-Saxo leader Alberto Contador towards the front, while a Belkin delegation including Bauke Mollema also moves up.

12km remaining from 155km

Tinkoff-Saxo take over at the head of the peloton, with Contador in third wheel. As the rain cascades down over London, the Spaniard is reluctant to leave anything to chance. Bauke Mollema and his Belkin teammates are lined up just behind him, while Tom Jelte Slagter is protecting Garmin-Sharp leader Andrew Talansky.

11km remaining from 155km

The two escapees rattle past the Millennium Dome as they edge their way towards the centre of London. Their lead has dropped to just 36 seconds, however, and their defiance is about to be snuffed out.

10km remaining from 155km

Greipel's teammates atake over the front of the peloton once again, which is hurtling along at a speed of 55kph. Vasil Kiryienka of Sky is also visible up front, so presumably his leader Chris Froome is somewhere in the mix too.

The break and peloton are now crossing through the Limehouse link tunnel and are temporarily out of range for the telvision cameras.

9km remaining from 155km

On emerging from the tunnel, Barta is alone in front, having rid himself of Bideau. His lead over the peloton is done to just 15 seconds, however, and his foray off the front is about to come to an end.

8km remaining from 155km

Bideau is caught by the bunch, while Barta battles alone out in front with 15 seconds in hand. Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo) leads the peloton.

7km remaining from 155km

Somehow, Barta is managing to hold off the peloton but it's surely only a temporary reprieve. Omega Pharma-QuickStep's black jerseys are now taking up the pursuit.

6km remaining from 155km

Barta is caught by the peloton, which is still led by Tinkoff-Saxo. Alberto Contador sits out of trouble in second wheel on this rain-soaked finale.

5km remaining from 155km

Tony Martin waits in the wings, ready to take over the pace-making but for now, it's still Matteo Tosatto who leads for Tinkoff-Saxo.

5km remaining from 155km

Omega Pharma-QuickStep take over at the head of the peloton. Tony Martin lines things out, with Alessandro Petacchi locked on his rear wheel.

4km remaining from 155km

Luca Paolini and a delegation from Katusha are trying to infiltrate the QuickStep train in support of Alexander Kristoff.

3km remaining from 155km

Giant-Shimano's train now takes over in support of Marcel Kittel. The Dutch squad looks to have picked its moment well.

3km remaining from 155km

Giant continue to lead, although trains from FDJ, Lotto and QuickStep are trying to get on terms.

2km remaining from 155km

It's still Giant who lead, but all of the top sprinters are jostling for position behind them.

A crash in the peloton sees a Cofidis rider hit the ground but the sprinters seem to have come through safely. Giant-Shimano continue to lead.

1km remaining from 155km

Giant lead into the final kilometre, but the Lotto train is attempting to overhaul them.

Kittel is perfectly placed as Veelers leads out the sprint...

Kittel opens his sprint from distance...

Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) wins stage 3 of the Tour de France ahead of Peter Sagan (Cannondale).

Sagan was sitting on Kittel's wheel but once the German got up to full speed, there was simply no way of coming around him.

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) finishes safely in the main peloton to retain the overall lead.

Mark Renshaw took third on the stage, ahead of Coquard, Kristoff and Danny van Poppel. Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling) took 7th.


1 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale
3 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
4 Bryan Coquard (Fra) Team Europcar
5 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha
6 Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing
7 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling
8 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team
9 Romain Feillu (Fra) Bretagne - Seche Environnement
10 Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team

General classification:

1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale 00:00:02
3 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
4 Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica Greenedge
5 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky
6 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling
7 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto-Belisol
8 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo
9 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
10 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team

General classification:

1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 13:31:13
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale 0:00:02
3 Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica Greenedge
4 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
5 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky
6 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling
7 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo
8 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team
9 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol
10 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale

Around half of the peloton came in over a minute down but we imagine they will all be awarded the same time as Kittel as they were presumably delayed by that crash inside the final two kilometres.

Thanks for joining us for our live coverage of today's stage. We'll have a full report, pictures and results online in due course, as well as all the news and reaction from London. And, of course, we'll be back with more live coverage of tomorrow's fourth stage here on Cyclingnews.

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