Tour de France Stage 3: Velits 3rd, Chavanel Attacks According to Plan
Sylvain Chavanel decided to take another shot at a stage victory, and possibly the yellow jersey, attacking with 5km to go in the 197km Stage 3 on Tuesday.
As the remnants of a four rider break had just been caught in the last of a handful of climbs bunched together in the final 10km, Chavanel got as much as a 12" advantage on a group that included current GC leader Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack-Nissan), Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team), Bradley Wiggins (Sky ProCycling) and other GC contenders. Chavanel only trailed Cancellara by 07"(3rd place), going into the stage.
As Chavanel ascended the uphill finish, he gave everything he had to maintain his gap against a surging front peloton, which had gained an advantage on other groups when the peloton split following a crash, and nasty crosswinds. The peloton caught Chavanel in the final meters. Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) was at the front of the group in the final meters, and he had enough power to gain a significant gap on the rest of the riders for his 2nd victory of the Tour. Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Peter Velits, meanwhile, did tremendous work to keep himself near the front of the group for the final sprint. The uphill finish suited his strengths, and Velits finished 3rd to Sagan and 2nd place finisher Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky ProCycling).
Tony Martin, despite another hard day in the saddle, once again survived the race. It was partially due to the fit adjustments on his handlebars, which were adaptations for the plastic cast worn on his left hand for his fractured scaphoid.
"It was perfect with Chava attacking and then at the end I tried, but to beat Sagan, it would not be easy," Velits said. "I was also on Boasson Hagen's wheel, but I could not stick with him, so I think it was not too bad where I finished. It was really stressful today. The last 50km I was shaking all the time. There were a lot of crashes. But, it's over now, so it is OK."
Chavanel said he could not avoid one of the crashes of the stage.
"I was involved in the crash with Gilbert and a bounch of other riders," Chavanel said. "I spent some energy to catch up with the group again. In the final I attacked. It was planned to attack there. My goal was to gain a few seconds and go full gas on the downhill to make a gap between me and the group. I did it, but it wasn't enough. In any case I attacked and I tried to win. With Sagan at the sprint, it is almost impossible to win. Now we will see day by day."
Leipheimer made sure he stayed in a safe position with the stress of the stage.
"It was like a Classics race," Levi Leipheimer said after the finish. "I never did Amstel Gold, but it feels like this. It was nervous, the whole day — even the start. I just stayed in the front. Sometimes you move back, but I tried to stay in the first 25 the whole day. Kevin was always with me, Bert was always with me. It was good, a good day."