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Tour de France 2017: Stage 3


Live coverage of the third stage of the Tour de France, which takes in three countries and packs a punch with an uphill finish in Longwy.


Good morning, and a warm welcome to Cyclingnews’ live race centre for stage 3 of the Tour de France.

The crowds have gathered, the riders and teams have arrived, and the coffee is flowing in the village départ. 

Plenty of crowds out this morning in Verviers

Marcel Kittel made history yesterday by becoming the first rider to win a stage of the Tour de France on disc brakes. Our tech guru, Josh Evans, tells me that no one is using discs today, with much dryer weather on the cards. 

Speaking of Kittel, now's your chance to catch up on all of yesterday's action. Report, full results, video highlights, photo gallery - it's all in here:

Turning our attentions to today's stage, there are five categorised climbs but the all-important one comes right at the very end. Once on French soil, the race will conclude with the 1.6km dash up the Côte des Religieuses to Longwy's citadel.

'Sky accused of cheating'

We're just 15 minutes away from the start of the stage. Most riders have been up to the podium to sign on for the day. 

Taylor Phinney is in the polka-dots after his day in the break yesterday. He has one white bottle cage and one red one today. 

This is how things stand on GC

They're off

The flag drops and we're racing. 

Thomas De Gendt, a true breakaway specialist, leads the line as the peloton strings out. He succeeds in dragging several riders with him and there's a small split to the bunch behind. 

210km remaining from 212km

Three riders are trying to make use of a gentle downhill stretch to carve out an advantage. 

It's looking good for the trio as the peloton eases up. 

The leading trio is: Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal), Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin), and Romain Hardy (Fortuneo-Oscaro).

Maybe the peloton hasn't sat up... more riders are forcing the issue now. 

Cannondale and Wanty have thrown men up to join Sicard in a three-man counter. The peloton is spread across the road and the gap is starting to go out again. 

Nathan Brown (Canndonale-Drapac) and Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) are the riders with Sicard in the chasing trio. 

The leading riders approach the first climb of the day.

The two three-man groups have come together to give us a breakaway of six, with a lead of 1:45 - and growing - over the peloton, where the riders are now chatting and taking it easy. 

Team Sky's Christian Knees leads the peloton up the climb. Sky have pretty much their whole team at the front, with Quick-Step throwing a man in there and Bora lending Juraj Sagan to the cause. 

Brown takes flight and sprints to the KOM banner at the top of the climb. Hardy follows but can't get on terms. It's Brown's teammate, Taylor Phinney who is in the lead of mountains classification but that could change today. 

Will the break make it all the way?

We caught up with Matthews this morning. 

189km remaining from 212km

Matthews said he was one of three favourites, along with Sagan and Gilbert. And it's their respective teams who have put men at the front of the bunch. As a result the gap to the break remains slim, with just 2 minutes between the two groups. 

180km remaining from 212km

Phinney is in the polka-dots today and loving every second, you'd imagine. Considering the journey he's been on, he was on cloud nine after his breakaway effort yesterday and, in true Phinney style, referenced the Japanese novelist Hakuri Murakami in the post-race mixed zone. Here's our story:

170km remaining from 212km

It is warm and sunny today, quite a change from the previous two days.

 Many are called, but few or chosen. Or: everyone sprints for the win, but only can take the victory. You have read about winner Marcel Kittel and now you can read about why a handful of others didn't win.

Sunweb, QuickStep and Bora each with a rider at the front of the field. Plus of course the whole Sky team.

Jan Ullrich. Remember him? He was not officially invited to this year's Tour de France, but attended. And spoke to the press, too.

148km remaining from 212km

Now we have only a Bora rider ahead of the entire Sky team at the front of the field.

We are about to leave Belgium! The peloton is entering Luxembourg in less than 1 km.

Only 36 hours after surgery, ALejandro Valverde is already receiving physical therapy and moving the injured knee. Or having it moved, at any rate.

What's a team to do when it loses its GC candidate in the first stage? Bahrain-Merida had to face that situation. Time to rethink all plans and look for stage wins, is what they came up with.

Yesterday's break group gap was never very large, but it was still a struggle for the field to bring them back, catching them practically within sight of the 1 km marker. The field doesn't want to have to do that today, and is holding this group very strictly at around the two minute mark.

The indomitable Adam Hansen is in this break group, in his 387th straight Grand Tour. Or something lilke that.

124km remaining from 212km

It's Nils Politt who surges clear to take the points with ease. 

Back in the peloton, FDJ lead out Demare but it's Cavendish who bags the bulk of the remaining points, ahead of Swift, Colbrelli, and Sagan. 

118km remaining from 212km

We spoke to Greg Van Avermaet this morning, and he's hoping today could be a day for him, even if he sees himself as more of an underdog. 

The break are climbing again, and this is the toughest ascent on today's route. 

Here comes the fight for the KOM points in the break. Backaert is the one who takes the initiative but he's closely tracked by Politt. Brown gives chase but can't get near and Politt manages to pip Backaert at the last. 

Politt has pressed on over the top of the climb and he has been joined by Brown. 

Apologies, I gave you the wrong climb just then. The riders have just done the Côte de Wiltz, a mere fourth-category ascent of just over 3km. In just over 10km it will be time for the Côte d'Eschdorf, for real.  

A good roll of the dice, this, from Politt and Brown. They have 25 seconds over their former companions. 

Politt and Brown will mop up the points atop the Côte d'Eschdorf if they stay away. After that they may link back up with the four other breakaway riders. 

As it stands in the KOM competition, Phinney has two points while Politt and Brown have one apiece. 

Politt and Brown come down a short descent and now hit the climb. It's short, but steep. 

Brown accelerates away but Politt is out of the saddle, chasing. 

Politt fades, leaving Brown to skip away up the climb. 

Brown makes his way through the thick banks of fans and passes under the banner to take two more points in the KOM competition. 

Politt, nearly a minute back already, comes over to mop up the last remaining point. 

91km remaining from 212km

Quick-Step, Bora, and Astana all at the front as the peloton rolls across the top of the climb, now four minutes in arrears after that injection of urgency up ahead. 

The break is back up to six as Brown and Politt wait for their former companions. 

The pace has picked up once again in the peloton, with Juraj Sagan on the front. 2:30 is the gap. 

We also grabbed a word with Katusha manager Jose Azevedo this morning. He explained that they'd try and get a man in the break - and they have, in Politt - but they'll work for Kristoff if the race comes back together. 

Geraint Thomas is in the cars, chasing back on with teammate Christian Knees. Not sure what the problem was there for the race leader. 

For a detailed look at today's parcours, with a visualisation of how the route makes its way across Belgium, Luxembourg, and France, check out our video preview

73km remaining from 212km

Arnaud Demare, second yesterday, is one of those sprinters who can climb, but he thinks the gradients on the final climb will be too much for him. 

66km remaining from 212km

62km remaining from 212km

Marcel Kittel sprinted to victory yesteday, and Quick-Step have a great chance of more success today, with Philippe Gilbert, Dan Martin, Matteo Trentin, and Zdenek Stybar all candidates on a short finishing climb. 

Trentin himself has a unique chance to grab the maillot jaune. He’s 10 seconds down on Thomas, with 10 bonus seconds on offer for the winner.

59km remaining from 212km

There's a hold-up at the back of the peloton after a minor crash. Alexis Vuillermoz needs a bike change. 

This six breakaway men

57km remaining from 212km

The break needed some fresh impetus, and it has it. With a lead of just under a minute and 55km still to race, however, the odds are still heavily stacked against them. 

51km remaining from 212km

The difference in freshness is apparent, as De Gendt, Perichon, and Calmejane open up a gap at the head of the race. 

Hardy joins the party, while Politt, Brown, and Hansen settle into a chase. 

44km remaining from 212km

Sicard and Backaert have sat up and are now caught by the advancing peloton. 

Hansen has dropped Politt and Brown and is trying to bridge the gap alone. 

Quick-Step, Bora, and Sunweb continue to trade turns on the front of the bunch. If a rider from another team comes up to snatch the win today they won't be best pleased. 

Mechanical for Romain Bardet. Not the best moment, with the pace pretty high in the peloton. 

Bardet has Axel Domont and local lad Ben Gastaeur to help him back to the peloton. 

Bardet makes it back in. 

Just over 30 to go and Calmejane drives the four-man break onwards. They still have 1:35 over the peloton, where things are starting to pick up a little, with teams getting themselves organised. 

The breakaway quartet are still working well together. They have 1:20 with 26km remaining. It's not impossible, but the odds are stacked against them, with the peloton yet to hit full gas.

22km remaining from 212km

Calmejane, Direct Energie's new star (comparisons have been made with a certain Thomas Voeckler), looks really good here, and he drops Perichon to go alone at the head of affairs. 

Hardy and De Gendt are caught by the peloton. 

18km remaining from 212km

Calmejane is on his way up the penultimate climb of the day. It's the fourth-category Côte de Villers-la-Montagne - just over a kilometre long at 5.2%

Perichon is caught, leaving us with a lone leader and a chasing peloton. 

15km remaining from 212km

It looks like it's all going to come down to the final dash up to the Longwy Citadel. So let's have a look at the climb. 

The road rises in an S-bend shape - a little like Fleche Wallonne. Positioning, then, will be vital, and the run-in will be frantic. 

It's already getting tense as a few riders come unstuck on a corner. Borut Bozic, MIchael Gogl and a Sky rider are all down briefly. 

12km remaining from 212km

10km remaining from 212km

10km remaining from 212km

Trek take it up now. They have John Degenkolb who could win on a finish like today's, but they also have Alberto Contador, and the GC men will certainly want to be well positioned heading into the climb. 

BMC come to the front now with Alessandro De Marchi. 

Sunweb line up on the left, Quick-Step on the right. Lotto Soudal now making their presence felt through the middle. 

6km remaining from 212km

5km remaining from 212km

Michael Schar leads for BMC with Van Avermaet in tow. Stybar is third wheel. 

3km remaining from 212km

Emmanuel Buchmann leads the way for Bora. It's single file for a good 15 places. 

2km remaining from 212km

The peloton take a sharp left hander and the road starts rising. 

Burghardt, Van Avermaet, Stybar. That's the front three. 

And now they start the climb proper. 

BMC take it up

The first kilometre of this 1.6km climb is the toughest.

Stybar taps it out at the front. No attacks yet

It's spread across the road as they take on these steep gradients. Kittel is dropped. 

1km remaining from 212km

Contador is third wheel.

Porte accelerates!

This is becoming a GC affair as Porte gets a gap!

Here comes Sagan

Sagan comes round but he won't sprint just yet, with 300 to go. 

Problem for Sagan but he opens his sprint now. 

Here comes Matthews on the right!

Peter Sagan wins stage 3 of the Tour de France

Matthews was gaining, but Sagan held on. 

Dan Martin took third, with Van Avermaet fourth. There was a bigger gap back to the rest. 

That was a remarkable sprint from Sagan. Replays show how his foot slipped out of his pedal as he opened his sprint. That would be curtains for most riders but even as Van Avermaet and Martin drew level, he calmly clipped back in and sprinted away from them once again. Matthews came back fast, but from too far back, and Sagan celebrates his 8th Tour de France stage win. 

Top 10

Sagan dons his goggles for his snap post-race interview.

General classification after stage 3

"What is pressure? I don't know what that is," quips Sagan.

Richie Porte, who lit up that final climb with an attack, speaks at the BMC bus. 

Here's race leader Geraint Thomas, who finished eighth on the stage. 

Here's a first finish line shot

Want all the post-stage reaction in one handy place? Our stage 3 finish line quotes story is now live.

Plenty of photos already in our stage 3 report.

"Overall, it was a really hard stage - the first real effort of the race, going all out," says Dan Martin

Thibaut Pinot lost over three minutes today. After the Giro he has come here with his sights set on stage wins rather than GC, and, handily enough, stage 5 finishes atop La Planche des Belles Filles, a stone's throw from his home. Did he purposefully lose time today to allow himself a little freedom in the eyes of the GC favourites when it comes to that final climb on Wednesday?

Full results and full report are now in

According to the Tour's official data service, Sagan's average speed on the final climb was 28.6km/h.

Nathan Brown takes over the polka-dots from his teammate Taylor Phinney

Brown had this to say after taking the polka dot jersey off his teammate's back:

"Dylan [Van Baarle] was the main one to go in the break, and I was going to watch for moves he wasn't in. One went that he didn't make, and I jumped across and it happened to be the one.

Today's finale proved to be too much for overnight best young rider Stefan Küng, who lost 35 seconds and lost the white jersey. It goes to Pierre Latour (AG2R), who leads by 12 seconds over Alexey Lutsenko (Astana). Küng is third at 13 seconds.

In the USA, it's almost compulsory that citizens don a furry mascot costume at some point in their lives. The White House press secretary was an Easter Bunny at one point, while today's mountains classification leader Nate Brown spent time as the Cookie Monster.

Trek-Segafredo manager Luca Guercilena was pleased with Alberto Contador's ride, following Richie Porte on the attack on the final climb.

Read how American Nate Brown worked to keep the polka dot jersey in the family, here.

Sagan says there's "more to life" than the green jersey, but simply enjoys racing and winning. Read the interview here.

Dan Martin said he was happy with how the stage went, even if he missed out on taking the stage win to Sagan.

Thank you for following today's Tour de France stage with Cyclingnews. Tomorrow is one last day for the sprinters to ply their trade before the first summit finish of the race. We hope you'll join us for our full coverage!

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