Monday, July 6, 2009

Cavendish makes it two - Lance makes the break!

Britain's Mark Cavendish of the Columbia-HTC team won a dramatic third stage of the Tour de France here Monday as Swiss ace Fabian Cancellara, of Saxo Bank, retained the yellow jersey.

On the first real day of racing drama at this year's race Cavendish capped another fine display of collective riding by Columbia by coming over the finish line in triumph, this time coolly imitating making a telephone call.

It was his second win in as many days and takes his career stage tally to six, the same as Norwegian Thor Hushovd of Cervelo, who did well to finish in second.

But while Cavendish showed his rivals another clean pair of heels, one of the day's biggest winners was seven-time champion Lance Armstrong.

While Cancellara leads the race ahead of Tuesday's team time trial in Montpellier over 39km, Armstrong moved up the general classification from 10th to third overall at only 40secs.

In second overall is German Tony Martin, who rides for Cavendish's Columbia team.

Armstrong and Cancellara were among the few big name riders able to stick it out when Columbia's consistently fast chase of a four-man breakaway, in windy conditions, caused huge damage in the main peloton.

After a strategic right hand bend, their move caused what is known as a 'bordure' (echelon) and it resulted in a number of big race contenders losing time to Armstrong.

Australian Cadel Evans, Spaniard Alberto Contador, Denis Menchov of Russia and defending champion Carlos Sastre were all stuck in the trailing peloton which, with 15km to go, had a deficit of 30secs to the frontrunners.

At the end, the finished with a deficit of around 39secs to the leading group.

In the final sprint Cavendish gave his rivals no chance, emerging from the back wheel of a teammate and holding off Hushovd with relative ease.

General classification after stage 3

1 Fabian Cancellara (Swi|Team Saxo Bank) 9:50:58
2 Tony Martin (Ger|Team Columbia - High Road) 0:00:33
3 Lance Armstrong (USA|Astana) 0:00:40
4 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa|Astana) 0:00:59
5 Bradley Wiggins (GBr|Garmin - Slipstream) 0:01:00
6 Andreas Klöden (Ger|Astana) 0:01:03
7 Linus Gerdemann (Ger|Team Milram)
8 Cadel Evans (Aus|Silence - Lotto) 0:01:04
9 Maxime Monfort (Bel|Team Columbia - High Road) 0:01:10
10 Levi Leipheimer (USA|Astana) 0:01:11

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