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Tour de France stage 3 - Live coverage

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Good morning and welcome along as head deeper into the 2021 Tour de France. What an opening two days we've had - tears, drama, crashes... is there more in store today? It's a flatter parcours and seemingly a first opportunity for the pure sprinters.

We're in Lorient this morning, where the sign-on ceremony is well underway. The roll-out is coming up at 13.10 local time (so in around half an hour), while the race proper will be waved underway around 10 minutes after that.

Tour

(Image credit: Groupama-FDJ)

Before we get going, now's the time to get up to speed. Full results and a photo gallery can be found in our stage 2 report below. 

Tour de France: Van der Poel wins at Mûr-de-Bretagne

After his win yesterday, Van der Poel is in yellow, and has gone all-out for the occasion. Normally riders at this stage just accessorise with yellow bar tape, with the full yellow bikes normally reserved for the overall winners in Paris, but Van der Poel is making the most of it. 

canyon

(Image credit: Alpecin-Fenix)

Stage preview

We have a detailed look at today's stage, including insight from Brittany native Audrey Cordon-Ragot. Here's the link you need.

Cav.....?

He couldn't, could he? Just being at the Tour is an unlikely achievement in itself, but he's shown enough form recently in his 2021 resurgence to suggest a stage victory isn't out of the question. It would simply be an amazing story if it did happen. 

Whatever happens, Cavendish already has 30, and we've gone down memory lane to re-live all of them. 

Mark Cavendish and his 30 Tour de France stage wins – Gallery

Cycling : Tour de France / Stage 5
Arrival Sprint / CAVENDISH Mark (Gbr) Celebration Joie Vreugde / FREIRE Oscar (Esp) / ZABEL Erik (Bel) / HUSHOVD Thor (Nor) /
Cholet - Châteauroux Chateauroux (232 Km) /
Ronde van Frankrijk / TDF / Etape Rit / (c)Tim De Waele

(Image credit: Getty Images)
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The riders are all gathered on the start line and we'll be on the move shortly.

We're off. Around 5km in the neutral zone before we're really racing.

Our top story today concerns the stage 1 crash that was caused by a spectator, who is now being searched for by the police. Here's the latest.

We're off!

The stage is waved underway.

Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) attacks. Obviously.

Schelling is keen for a third day in the break out of three. He's in the polka-dot jersey again but it's technically on loan from Van der Poel. He has a few riders for company and they're getting a gap.

Michael Schär (AG2R Citroën) is up there, along with two from B&B and one from Cofidis. The road is being blocked in the bunch and that looks like it's that - breakaway formed.

It's Cyril Barthe and Maxime Chevalier for B&B, and it's Jelle Wallays for Cofidis.

180km to go

The gap rises to one minute already and today's breakaway has gone with an absolute minimum of fuss. 

The breakaway's escape always means toilet break time for the bunch, even though we only left the start village 20 minutes ago. The gap will rise and then the sprinters' teams will start to control the peloton. How much rope will they allow this relatively unthreatening five-man breakaway?

The chase commences. The gap reaches a pretty stingy three minutes and 20 seconds as Lotto Soudal and Groupama-FDJ - working for Caleb Ewan and Arnaud Demare respectively - come to the front of the bunch.

This was the moment the break went from the gun.

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It's very much just Lotto and FDJ chasing at the moment. Often the yellow jersey's team will handle the first part of the stage but Alpecin-Fenix aren't up near the front yet. They do have a sprinter in Tim Merlier. They actually have two, with Jasper Philipsen there as well. And then there's Van der Poel, who could - but probably won't - legitimately contest today's finish. 

Likewise, no sign of Cavendish's Deceuninck-QuickStep just yet. They did a lot of work on the opening two stages in the interests of Alaphilippe, so they have a solid excuse. 

For a more in-depth look at today's candidates, my colleague Daniel Ostanek has this analysis of the sprinting field.

Tour de France 2021: The 8 fastest sprinters to watch

The gap dips down to 2:40 and it feels like overkill but that's modern cycling.

Another colleague, Stephen Farrand, spoke to QuickStep boss Patrick Lefevere at the start. He talks about how there's no pressure on Cavendish today but Steve also asks him about the man Cavendish replaced, Sam Bennett, amid an apparent fall-out between rider and boss. 

Lefevere says he could bench Bennett for the rest of the season and cut his pay by 50%, "if he doesn't behave". 

Here's the full story.

The rain has started to fall. It's a pretty soggy forecast in general and it could be a treacherous run-in. 

The gap has stabilised at 2:30 as the rain continues to drive down.

Here's the maillot jaune

Van der Poel

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Crash. Thomas is down

This doesn't look good. Potential collarbone.

This looks like race over for Thomas.

Thomas is back on his feet but doctors are looking at his shoulder.

Thomas gets back on his bike! That's good news - it looked like he was heading home for a moment there.

Tony Martin also went down and is back on the way.

Thomas is in pain a couple of minutes behind the peloton. He looks unsure at the minute.

Robert Gesink (Jumbo-Visma) abandons. He went down in the same crash.

Thomas manages to rise out of the saddle. He's far from comfortable but he's persevering for now.

Thomas is back with his team car, three minutes behind the peloton. He's receiving attention through the window now.

Luke Rowe is now with Thomas. He was there when Thomas was on the deck and apparently indicated he thought it was race over.

It's unclear how that crash happened but it was among the Ineos and Jumbo riders not far from the front - just behind the main sprint teams in fact. It could be a huge blow for Ineos but it's definitely a blow for Jumbo-Visma who have lost an experienced mountain domestique in Gesink.

Thomas is now chasing back to the bunch. He's behind Rowe and they're moving faster now. Thomas is in the drops and looks more comfortable on his bike.

Reports emerging that Thomas suffered a dislocated shoulder. He let out a yelp of pain when the team doctor first touched it. It seems clear there's nothing broken, and things are looking better and better. It's sure to be a painful one, but it might not be the end of his hopes at this Tour.

Dylan van Baarle has been sent back to assist in Thomas' return to the peloton.

And now Castroviejo. That makes four men and half of Ineos' team chasing 90 seconds behind the bunch.

Tony Martin is back in the bunch now. We'll wait to see what his injuries are like but, with the abandon of Gesink, this could have a bearing on Roglic's hopes at this year's Tour.

Thomas and his teammates are 30 seconds away now.

Just in - here's our news story on the crash.

Thomas suffers dislocated shoulder and Gesink abandons after Tour de France crash

125km to go

Thomas is back

The Welshman and his teammates make contact with the back of the bunch. A painful three hours await but he should make it to the finish now and will be able to get treatment and a better understanding of the injury later this evening. 

This was Thomas on the ground just after the crash

Team Ineos Grenadiers Geraint Thomas of Great Britain receives medical treatment after crashing during the 3rd stage of the 108th edition of the Tour de France cycling race 182 km between Lorient and Pontivy on June 28 2021 Photo by Thomas SAMSON AFP Photo by THOMAS SAMSONAFP via Getty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Alpecin-Fenix have now started to contribute to the chase. The gap to the five leaders still stands at 2:30.

Thomas is back with his team car again, and it looks like he might drop to the doctor's car now.

Thomas stops. He's getting a bike change.

I mentioned Van der Poel's yellow bike earlier... we now have more photos and an in-depth look. 

Van der Poel gets custom Canyon with poignant message at Tour de France

102km to go

The rain has abated and we even have a little sunshine out there. Schelling, Schar, Barthe, Chevalier, and Wallays are just over two minutes ahead of the bunch.

The breakaway are approaching the first of today's two minor climbs. It's the Côte de Cadoudal, it's category-4, and it's 1.8km long at an average gradient of 6.3%. 

They're on the climb now and Schelling will no doubt be interested. One point available at the top, which would take him back into the lead of the mountains classification.

Schelling attacks... no one else is bothered.

Schelling had an entertaining battle with Anthony Perez for the points yesterday, and I've never seen a Cat-4 climb celebrated so enthusiastically. Perez' teammate Wallays is in the break today but no such competition this time.

FDJ lead the bunch over the climb, 2:20 in arrears.

20km until today's intermediate sprint. We've seen most of the sprinters contesting them on the opening two days and we should see a bit of the same today, but no one will want to expend any excess energy that they might need at the finish.

Groupama-FDJ and Lotto Soudal continue to dominate the front of the peloton. Alpecin-Fenix also have a man in rotation up there. 

Some more rain out there again now. It could be a nervy run-in later on.

Here's a shot of the break.

Breakaway riders Team BB KTMs Cyril Barthe of France Team Bora Hansgrohes Ide Schelling of Netherlands and Team BB KTMs Maxime Chevalier of France compete during the 3rd stage of the 108th edition of the Tour de France cycling race 182 km between Lorient and Pontivy on June 28 2021 Photo by AnneChristine POUJOULAT AFP Photo by ANNECHRISTINE POUJOULATAFP via Getty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Alaphilippe and Van der Poel are the big names who have lit up this Tour with big storylines but Ide Schelling has been brilliant value - in the break every day and loving every minute of it. His enthusiasm is infectious. The young Dutchman is having a breakthrough year in general. He's done loads of breakaway miles and his ride at Brabantse Pijl was great to watch. 

Crash. Not a big or bad one this time. Qhubeka-Nexhash's Sean Bennett and Nic Dlamini are held up. Incidentally we spoke with Dlamini this morning and you'll be able to read a story on him a little later.

69km to go

The gap to the five leaders has come down to 1:35. 

We're approaching the intermediate sprint and things have changed in the bunch as teams start thinking about the points. QuickStep, for example, have surfaced.

We've got a few trains set up already and the bunch is still 5km from the sprint. 

The breakaway come into the barriers for the sprint.

Barthe takes maximum points as B&B calmly sweep through. There was no real sprint for that.

Now for the peloton. Bahrain take it up for Colbrelli.

Morkov leads out Cavendish, Ewan up there too

Ewan nicks it from Cavendish. Demare and Colbrelli are also in a line there, as is Morkov. Sagan and Matthews a little further back.

The pace in the peloton continued after that sprint but now it has been knocked off a little. The gap to the break starts to edge out to 90 seconds again.

This is the full result from the intermediate sprint. 

1. Cyril Barthe, 20 pts
2. Chevalier, 17 pts
3. Schär, 15 pts
4. Wallays, 13 pts
...
At 1’25’’:
5. Ewan, 11 pts
6. Cavendish, 10 pts
7. Morkov, 9 pts
8. Colbrelli, 8 pts
9. Démare, 7 pts
10. Sagan, 6 pts
11. Matthews, 5 pts
12. Philipsen, 4 pts
13. Guarnieri, 3 pts
14. Haller, 2 pts
15. Oss, 1 pt

Cavendish looks up for it and will be sprinting today for a possible 31st Tour de France stage win. Fancy re-living the other 30?

Mark Cavendish and his 30 Tour de France stage wins – Gallery

Puncture for Alaphilippe, who gets a new front wheel.

Here's how that intermediate sprint played out.

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Gilbert is on the front of the peloton on these narrow country roads. The gap dips back down to one minute.

Here's a look at the finish courtesy of Cofidis. 

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EF-Nippo are massed on the right hand side of the road. Magnus Cort is their fastest finisher.

The GC teams have moved up here. Ineos have posted a man towards the front and Wout Van Aert is piloting Roglic. 

It'll be interesting to see what Van Aert does here. He's won bunch sprints at the Tour before but has hinted he wants to save himself for Wednesday's time trial. 

Andre Greipel is chasing after a mechanical problem.

40km to go

Into the final 40 and we have trains from Qhubeka, QuickStep, FDJ, and Lotto Soudal from left to right across the front of the peloton. 

The pace has eased slightly in the bunch but the breakaway have decided it's time to go all-in. They'll have been keeping something back for the final hour and now it's time to empty the tank. But they only have 90 seconds and it would be a huge upset if they stayed away.

The break hit the second climb of the day. It's the Côte de Pluméliau, and it's 2.2km at 3.1%. 

A reminder that Schelling is no longer in the break, having dropped after the previous climb. He'll be in the polka-dots tomorrow as there's only one point at the top of this one. 

To the top and it's Wallays who bags the point, simply by virtue of doing his turn at the time. There's no contest really.

Tony Martin is pulling on the front for Jumbo. He crashed earlier so that's good to see. He's still heavily bandaged from his stage 1 crash. 

Politt has moved Sagan up to the front.

Everyone's positioning themselves but everyone seems happy with their positions, so it's not much of a battle for now. But it's going to intensify all the way to the final kilometre.

The four remaining escapees are riding hard and have moved out to 1:40.

Puncture for Christophe Laporte, who's Cofidis' sprinter.

28km to go

A few grimaces from the likes of Declercq, Gilbert, and Martin. They're riding hard as they take one of a number of false flats. The gap isn't coming down just yet. 1:38. 

Ineos appear now. It's Tao Geoghegan Hart on the front for them. He's already 9 minutes down, and out of the leadership equation.

Cattaneo is up there for QuickStep along with Declercq. They've upped it now.

Ineos have five riders in their line. Thomas is not there. He must be further back, just trying to get to the finish after his earlier crash, and not able to make the bigger effort to keep that position near the front.

The gap starts to fall now. 1:20 as it stands.

There's Schelling again. He's now up there working for Sagan.

For a bit more on today's finish, who better than Audrey Cordon Ragot, who was born in Pontivy.

"I know the finish by heart. This is a bunch sprint stage but, again, the weather in Bretagne is always unpredictable and could play a factor in the outcome of the race. It’s a technical route and the final very technical, and so if it’s wet it could be a disaster. 

"On a technical final like this, I can see Deceuninck-QuickStep being the most efficient team to really bring their sprinter to the finish. It’s downhill, right and then left to the finish and very technical. It will be a bunch sprint but the winner will be someone who likes to corner and who is not scared."

21.5km to go

The gap falls to the one-minute mark.

Movistar are up there near the front now. They have Ivan Cortina as their fast finisher. Arkea are also a couple of rows further back, with Dan McLay set to lead out Nacer Bouhanni.

We haven't really seen DSM but they were prominent in the lead-outs last year. They're working for Cees Bol once more.

Gilbert and Declercq head out the back of the bunch as the pace is raised now!

Van Aert hits the front.

18km to go and the gap tumbles to 33 seconds.

They're on narrow country lanes now and Alaphilippe has to ride along the grass to move up.

Asgreen takes it up for QuickStep now. 

Van Aert is on the front on the right-hand side, with Roglic tucked in the wheel. 

Over on the left, Haller is on the front for Bahrain. Van der Poel has hijacked that mini train for now. 

Through the middle we see local lad Warren Barguil from Arkea. Behind him are the Ineos riders.

Sagan is right up there but Lotto have lost a few places. 

Rowe is looking after Carapaz for Ineos and now Pogacar moves up. It's your standard mix of GC and sprint teams.

Groupama-FDJ move up on the left. Démare is a real threat today.

Asgreen, Ballerini, and Alaphilippe are the three on the front for QuickStep. Cavendish is with Morkov further back.

14km to go

Chevalier is dropped from the break. The remaining three have 40 seconds in hand.

This is a really good effort from the break, considering they were never given much more than two minutes all day. 

We mentioned DSM a little while ago.... well here they are. Four of them on the front now. 

It's Soren Kragh Andersen on the front for DSM. Benoot is up there and they have Casper Pedersen to lead out Bol.

Trek move Pedersen up now. It's Toms Skujins doing the work for them at this stage.

Crash. Small one and FDJ have a rider down. Looks like Madouas.

Madouas isn't part of the FDJ lead-out so that's not a huge worry.

Miguel Angel Lopez was caught up there. He has to grab a teammate's bike.

10km to go

Another crash

Roglic is down!

Roglic's kit is torn to shreds. Wow

Three men with Roglic. He's back on his feet.

Roglic gets back on his bike.

The Jumbo leader just gets bumped into the gravel at the side of the road. Difficult to see what really happened. He's chasing but that's a nightmare time to have a crash. 9km to go!

Teunissen and Vingegaard lead the chase for Roglic.

Roglic is more than a minute down!

He's 1:09 down as it stands. He's going to lose time here.

Roglic now has four teammates in front of him. This is a rescue mission now.

They get some help from their team car...

Meanwhile the remaining breakaway riders are about to be caught with 7.3km to go.

Barthe drives they breakaway on up another false flat but they're not going to survive. 6.2km to go

Wout van Aert hasn't been sent back for Jumbo. He could contest the finish here.

Roglic can see riders up the road. It looks like the back of the bunch but it could be the second group on the road from when the bunch split in the crash.

5km to go

Breakaway caught! 

Roglic is at 50 seconds now.

They'll try and limit the damage but this is going to be a blow to Roglic's challenge.

Roglic and his teammates make their way up through that second group on the road. 50 seconds is a huge ask in 4.5km in a sprint run-in

Another crash. Blimey

It's a left-hand bend, it's narrow, and a few riders are thrown into the grass banking.

One rider looking in a really bad way from Bahrain. FDJ and Qhubeka also with riders down. More when we know

3km to go and we're heading for a sprint

Lotto take it up now!

Van der Poel is right up there as we head into the final 2.5!

It's a messy fragmented bunch.

Van der Poel hits the front!

The yellow jersey is leading out here! 1.5km to go!

Van der Poel takes us through the final bend. 

A small gap to two Ineos riders. Then Merlier is there for Alpecin

Final kilometre!

Van der Poel moves aside and now Alpecin continue the lead out

They have two more riders leading out

Philipsen takes it up now to lead Merlier out

Sagan on Merlier's wheel. Then Ewan

Crash! Ewan and Sagan

Merlier wins

An absolutely crash-ridden day at the Tour. Another one. 

Sagan is back up but Ewan is still down and doesn't look good.

Her comes the Roglic group. Lopez is there too.

Roglic loses 1:20 to the winner.

Ewan is still down. This doesn't look good.

Ewan lost control of his front wheel there, and took Sagan out. There were only around a dozen riders left in that front group anyway, after an utterly chaotic run-in.

The crashes shouldn't overshadow Alpecin-Fenix's success. They performed a remarkable lead-out amid the chaos, with yellow jersey Van der Poel part of a four-man lead-out, followed by Rickaeart and Philipsen, who even hung on for second place. Alpecin have a second win in two days, they have a 1-2, they still have yellow, and Merlier has his first Tour de France stage win after bagging one at the Giro earlier this season.

Pogacar was held up in the late crash and lost half a minute there. 

Cavendish rolls home now. He was clearly caught up by the crash as well.

Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 4:01:28
2Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
3Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
4Davide Ballerini (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep
5Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious
6Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep
7Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix
8Cees Bol (Ned) Team DSM
9Anthony Turgis (Fra) TotalEnergies
10Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) Qhubeka-NextHash

Carapaz gains time. He was the only GC rider who finished in the front group of 17. Well, Alaphilippe was there as well, if you're counting him.

Mas, Quintana, Kelderman, Fuglsang, Latour finished 14 seconds further back.

Pogacar, Thomas, Mollema, Gaudu finished in the main bunch at 26 seconds.

Roglic and Lopez were closer to 1:20 down. 

General classification after stage 3
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix 12:58:53
2Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:08
3Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:31
4Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
5Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:38
6Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:39
7Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:40
8Nairo Quintana (Col) Team Arkea-Samsic
9Pierre Latour (Fra) TotalEnergies 0:00:45
10Sergio Higuita Garcia (Col) EF Education-Nippo 0:00:52

PONTIVY FRANCE JUNE 28 Tim Merlier of Belgium and Team AlpecinFenix stage winner celebrates at arrival during the 108th Tour de France 2021 Stage 3 a 1829km stage from Lorient to Pontivy LeTour TDF2021 on June 28 2021 in Pontivy France Photo by Benoit Tessier PoolGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Let's hear from the winner

"I’m living a dream, I think. After the Giro, I was already very happy, but now to win a stage at the Tour, the biggest race in the world. I can’t believe it. 

"Mathieu said he was going to do the lead-out, and I said, ‘you are crazy’ but he loves to do it, so then Jasper took over for the last 700 metres. It was a great lead-out and I just needed to go the last 150 metres. I looked back and I couldn’t believe it, there was nobody else on my wheel. There was a crash, and so that would be the reason, I think. I can’t believe this, it’s a dream."

Ewan has reportedly been taken to hospital.

Kruijswijk also went down. This from my colleague Stephen Farrand at the medical truck.

Kruijswijk

(Image credit: Stephen Farrand)

More from Stephen from the medical truck. Roglic has limped heavily into an ambulance. He and Kruijswijk are going for X-rays. 

Jumbo-Visma manager Richard Plugge has claimed another rider bumped Roglic off the road. 

It seems there was a request from some teams to neutralise GC times at 8km from the finish, but that was not granted.

Thomas De Gendt tells Eurosport he thinks Ewan has a broken collarbone. That's race over if so. He's gone to hospital but I'm not sure if he crossed the line first just in case.

Jack Haig did not finish. He was the Bahrain Victorious rider who was in a bad way in the late crash and he looks to have a broken collarbone. Awful news for him.

Jack Haig

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Here's our story on Roglic, with quotes from Plugge.

Tour de France: Primoz Roglic crashes with team boss stating his leader was 'bumped and sent flying'

An update on Thomas from Ineos...

"He will head for an ultrasound post-stage, having suffered a dislocated shoulder in his crash. It was put back in at the scene by the race doctors. A full update will follow later."

Full results are in

Here's the link you need.

Ewan out

Lotto Soudal confirm that the Australian's Tour has ended with a broken collarbone

Nothing broken for Roglic. He'll be continuing in the race but has suffered a time loss and who knows how that crash will impact him physically.

Click here for our stage 4 live race coverage.

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