Tour de France - Farrar wins on Independence Day
Mon, 04 Jul 16:41:00 2011
Garmin-Cervelo's Tyler Farrar won stage three of the Tour de France to become the first American in the race's history to win on Independence Day.
Farrar's maiden Tour victory came after an expert lead out by yellow jersey Thor Hushovd and Julian Dean, who propelled their man to the front after stage favourite Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) was held up in a crash on the final bend.
After he crossed the line ahead of France's Romain Feillu (Vacansoleil) and Spain’s Jose Rojas (Movistar), Farrar made a "W" sign with his hands in remembrance of his best friend Wouter Weylandt, who was killed on stage three of the Giro d'Italia in May.
Cavendish, tipped for glory in the 198km stage from Olonne-sur-Mer to Redon, finished fifth after being forced wide following a fall by Frenchman Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis).
The Manxman looked in an ideal position to add to his career 15 Tour stage wins on entering the Breton town of Redon, surrounded by four HTC team-mates and on the front of the peloton.
But a series of attacks – including one by Team Sky's Geraint Thomas, the white jersey, just under the one-kilometre-to-go banner – disrupted the momentum of HTC before Dumoulin’s spill ended Cavendish's chances of glory.
To cap a disappointing day for Cavendish, the 26-year-old was disqualified from the stage's intermediate sprint after both he and Hushovd clashed heads on the approach. Cavendish had led the peloton over behind the leading group of five riders.
Farrar's victory – his first in the Tour de France – adds to an impressive palmares which includes two stages on the Giro and three stages on the Vuelta a Espana.
The victory continues Garmin-Cervelo's fine start to the 2011 Tour after Jonathan Vaughters's team won Sunday's team time trial in Essarts and saw world champion Hushovd move into the race lead.
Twenty-seven-year-old Farrar was full of praise for his team-mates at the finish. "I could not have asked for a better lead out. I had the yellow jersey and world champion leading me out – it doesn't get much better than that," he said.
The third stage of an already highly dramatic race was animated from the outset after five riders broke clear in the opening kilometre. Frenchmen Maxime Bouet (AG2R) and Mickael Delage (FDJ), Spaniards Jose Gutierrez (Movistar) and Ruben Perez (Euskaltel), and Dutchman Niki Terpstra (Quick Step) worked well to build up a maximum lead of eight minutes before being reeled in with 20km left to race.
A small fourth-category climb on the Pont Saint-Nazaire 50km from the finish saw a split in the peloton, but the chasing section of the bunch - which included the highly regarded Italian Ivan Basso (Liquigas) - soon rejoined the fray.
Following his third place, Spain's Rojas moves into the green jersey while stage one winner Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) now wears the polka dot jersey after stints in both yellow and green in this year's race.
Reigning champion Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) finished safely in the peloton and still trails leader Hushovd by one minute, 42 seconds after being held up in a crash on the opening day of the race.
Tuesday's 173km stage four finishes with the third-category Mur de Bretagne climb ideally suited for a rider in the Cadel Evans mould. The Australian BMC leader is currently in second place in the GC, trailing Hushovd by just one second.
Last minute - Stage 3