Tour de France: Stage 3 review

Stage 3: Orchies to Boulogne-sur-Mer, 197km

The ‘Tourminater’ aka Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) easily triumphed once more on a stiff ramp and celebrated with a new Forrest Gump-style victory dance. He insouciantly sailed over the line ahead of runner-up Edvald Boassen Hagen (Sky). Peter Velits (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) was third, while Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) finished fourth to retain the maillot jaune.

Ruben Plaza (Euskaltel-Euskadi) initiated the day’s five-man breakaway, which was never allowed more than a five-minute advantage. Andriy Grivko (Astana) and mountains jersey wearer Michael Morkov (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) – the latter in his third consecutive breakaway, earning him today’s most combative rider prize – were the last to be taken back. By then the race had already imploded with around 30km remaining, after a series of crashes and punctures on narrowing roads split in the peloton.

French housewives’ favourite Sylvain Chavanel (OPQS) launched his attack 5km from the finish on a course where last year he won his national road race. After almost coming to grief at a roundabout, he was reeled back in by the decimated, BMC-led chasing pack whose trajectory was halted in the final few hundred metres by a Vacansoleil rider falling in their midst.

As the final climb ramped up, Sagan jumped away and powered to his second win in three days, emulating a feat – two wins in a debut Tour – last achieved by Tom Boonen. He now has a firm hold on the green jersey, while Cancellara‘s still looking imperious in yellow.

VeloVoices rider of the day

This was a tricky one. In the end I went for Saxo Bank’s Michael Morkov. This is the third consecutive day he’s been in a breakaway, hoovering up King of the Mountains points to consolidate his hold on the jersey. A smart move, as his leader-less team needs both points and exposure.

Like Sagan, he too is a Tour virgin but, as his super smooth pedalling style reveals, he’s one of Denmark’s many, and probably most decorated, track stars. I’m hoping Saxo’s kit provider is finally going to spring for some spotted shorts and socks to go with the shirt, helmet and matching handlebar tape. At this stage, a spotted bike would be totally over the top – although team chef Hannah Grant has obviously been busy:

Morkov is also clearly a fan of the film Mary Poppins because in the post-race interview below (audio only) he described Sagan’s victory today as “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”.


With about 20km of the stage remaining, it looked as if Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), escorted by a handful of his teammates, had punctured but it was instead a problem with his derailleur. His team car couldn’t get up to him so he resorted to the Mavic neutral service vehicle which was visibly ‘tangoed’ by the excitable orange-clad posse all shouting instructions in Spanish and Basque to the French-speaking mechanic. Fortunately, he rapidly resolved the problem and Samu and his boys shot off in pursuit of the leading group.

The various crashes in the final hour produced the first three abandons of the race: Kanstantsin Siutsou (Sky) fractured his left tibia and Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) broke a collarbone, while Maarten Tjallingii withdrew after making it to the finish with a fractured hip.

Tactical analysis

Event director Jean-Francois Pescheux warned that today’s stage contained potential perils and that the Tour could be lost here. After a few seemingly innocuous spills and punctures in the first 100km of the race, it all blew apart in the final 30km. Those with the wit or luck to be up the front of the peloton took advantage of the crashes, punctures and narrow roads to decimate the bunch. So who were today’s losers?

Despite crashes, punctures and mechanicals, none of the GC contenders lost any time on today’s stage. Three riders – Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) and Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) – all of whom might have hoped to be in contention for today’s stage win, were distanced by the crashes and didn’t figure. Voeckler finished nearly 7½ minutes down complaining about the injured knee which nearly kept him out of the Tour.

More significantly, Sky have lost a valuable workhorse in Siutsou which puts team leader Bradley Wiggins at a disadvantage. Similarly Robert Gesink’s chances are diminished by the loss of Tjallingii. Garmin-Sharp’s Ryder Hesjedal may be in a similar situation if Tom Danielson’s shoulder injury prevents him from taking the start line tomorrow.

Conversely, who were today’s winners? One word: Sagan, who cemented both his growing reputation and his grip on the green jersey, extending his lead over Sky’s Mark Cavendish to 43 points.

VeloVoices will bring you previews of each day’s stage every morning, live coverage of every stage on Twitterreviews in the evening and in-depth analysis after selected stages.

Link: Tour de France official website

Tour Tweets of the Week: Sex tapes, Lemonheads and the Velvet Samurai

Funny, cruel, odd, personal … you get it all on Twitter. Each week, we’ll have a rundown of some of our favourite tweets. Here are the tweets for the week ending 1st July 2012.

Oh, it’s a bumper crop of tweets this week – in fact, I’ve only used about half of the ones I’ve been saving. This is going to be a fun July …

We’re all just a little overexcited

I think David Millar sums up the feeling of cycling fans everywhere with this tweet.

He may have been talking about the Tour de France, but many of the women out there could say the same about the fact that Ladies Favourite™ Bernie Eisel is now on Twitter. And Anita Franklin was speaking for a lot of those ladies when she offered him a tip for his ‘Breakfast with Bernie’ videos.

As we’re on the subject of lust (and in this column, when we talk about Bernie Eisel, that *is* the subject) Dave Zabriskie shared his race-y number with us.

And here’s the proof.

Staying on that theme – and with Jonathan Vaughters

Much like the man himself, @TweeterSagan has become mighty popular with cycling fans rather quickly! Here, we see a very happy Alexandre Vinokourov with some body-painted ladies.

Personally, I love Vino. Yeah, he’s got a dodgy past but the man has some guts and when he’s in full flow during a race, he’s really exciting to watch. But while he can animate a race, he is less than animated during interviews. This was the reaction on Saturday to an interview on Eurosport.

Finish line or bust

There were two subjects that had everyone tweeting on Sunday. The first was Peter Sagan and Fabian Cancellara‘s stage one duel to the line. Some fans were angry that Sagan sat on Spartacus’ wheel and then pipped him at the line. Others were angry that anyone would think it was anything other than good tactics. Some were even saying that Cancellara was whining – however, I think they were getting confused as to what his fans said and what he said. Sure, Cancellara was disappointed but I didn’t find anywhere in the press reports where he said anything against Sagan – he just said he played poker and he lost. Here ends the Cancellara defence. [Is that a chess opening or something? – Ed] Here’s a sample of the argument.

#tdf133 is a game where you have to write a Twitter limerick about the day’s stage – the best one (in the judge’s humble opinion) gets a prize. I thought these were particularly good for stage one – and they mention the second contentious issue of the day.

Lemonheaded riders in the Sky

This second contentious issue was the Yellow Helmets of Sky. People were outraged, enraged, confused and contemptuous. Oh, those lemonheads made people go crazy. If  you have been hiding under a rock for the last day or so, Sky, as the lead team in the standings, had to wear yellow helmets. This is a new rule this year and it took many by surprise. What is not a surprise is the rich and varied reactions to this Tour development.

Of course, all this talk about helmets was bound to take a turn into the gutter. And brought on by VeloVoices’ illustrious editor, no less! Tim, really … are you trying to take my job?

Lotto’s Odd Couple is back

Adam Hansen and Greg Henderson are in the Tour together, they’re rooming together and they’re sharing via Twitter. Happy days indeed!

We never found out why – or at least I couldn’t find the tweets that told us. But Greg Henderson likes to spread the love and he’s blowing some kisses to Argonaut Koen de Kort

I will however leave you with a football picture. Seriously, does the Lotto-Belisol hotel look like the place to be this Tour, or what?

There’s more where that came from next week, but until then, we have team photo albums and race pics on Facebook, live race tweets on Twitter every stage and, of course, all the stage previews and reviews right here on VeloVoices.

Tour de France preview: Stage 3

Stage 3: Orchies to Boulogne-sur-Mer, 197km, rolling

Another rolling stage for the puncheurs, this stage starts out in Orchies – a name familiar to anyone who loves Paris-Roubaix – so we know this’ll be a stage that calls for guts. Add to that six sharp hills  – five of which contain 10% gradients, with four within the last 16km – and the whole peloton will be screaming “shut up, legs!” If that’s not enough, the finishing climb into Boulogne-sur-Mer is 700m at 7.4%.

Another win for Peter Sagan? An opportunity for yellow jersey Fabian Cancellara to reverse the stage one result? Or a chance for Philippe Gilbert to redeem himself? The shortness of the final climb will discourage attacks among the GC contenders, but don’t be surprised if an opportunistic Cadel Evans looks to regain some psychological points – and maybe a handful of seconds – back from Bradley Wiggins.

Although the finish isn’t one for the sprinters, there will still be 20 green jersey points up for grabs as the intermediate sprint comes after 119km, before the first of the six climbs. A long, straight approach will give the sprinters time to set up for a slightly uphill run to the line. With Sagan, Edvald Boasson Hagen and perhaps Matt Goss the only green jersey contenders likely to have the legs to the contest the hilly finish, this will be a critical opportunity for the pure sprinters to keep themselves in touch.

Cycling the Alps’ interactive videos of the route can be found here.

Link: Official website