Sprint finish: everything you need to know about today's Le Tour action

We had an American stage winner on Independence Day earlier. But who?

The pack passes a salt pan during the third stage.
The pack passes a salt pan during the third stage.
Image: PA

Result: Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) won Stage Three in a bunch sprint ahead of Romain Feillu (Vacansoleil) and José Joaquin Rojas (Movistar).

Here’s how it happened: After the hectic finish to Stage One and yesterday’s unusually close team time trial, today’s 198km stage from Olonne-Sur-Mer to Redon was as standard as it gets in the Tour de France.

A breakaway of five riders were allowed up the road for the entire day. With less than ten kilometres to the finish they were caught and a bunch sprint followed. Farrar was led all the way to the finish line by the World Champion and current yellow jersey wearer Thor Hushovd.

As Farrar crossed the line, he formed a ‘W’ with his hands in tribute to his best friend Wouter Weylandt who tragically lost his life on a stage of the Giro d’Italia in May.

The Big Winner: The Garmin-Cervelo team. After their victory in yesterday’s team time trial, this is their second stage win in a row, they had previously never won a stage of the Tour de France.

As one of cycling’s top teams, the lack of a Tour stage win was a massive gap on their C.V. With Thor Hushovd also wearing the yellow jersey, these past two days have more than made up for the previous unfrutiful years in France.

It was also Tyler Farrar’s first ever Tour de France stage win. He has now joined the club of riders who have won a stage in all three of cycling’s Grand Tours.

An Amercian stage winner on an American team, on Independence Day. Perfect.

The Big Loser: Mark Cavendish. His HTC-High Road team had complete control of the peloton coming into the final kilometre. But the lead-out train for the Manxman seemed to run out of riders too soon as one by one they wore themselves out on the front.

With 500 metres to go a couple of riders became entangled and were forced wide on the final corner which meant those behind had to slow right down. Amid the resulting confusion, Cavendish lost his position and the stage win was gone.

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Despite his enormous amount of victories, Cavendish has made something of a habit of not winning the first sprint stage in Grand Tours. But rest assured, he will be back and he will undoubtedly add to his tally of 15 Tour de France stage wins before we reach Paris.

What about the Irish? Nicolas Roche finished safely in the bunch in 33rd place along with all the big favourites. He remains in 41st place overall, 53 seconds behind Thor Hushovd.

What happens tomorrow? The finish of Stage Four is rather similar to that of Stage One which was won by Philippe Gilbert. There is a 2km climb to the finish line up the Mur de Bretagne which means there will be time gaps appearing between riders. This should see a slight shakeup in the general classification and we will most likely see a new wearer of the yellow jersey.

In case Gilbert needed an extra incentive to win, it’s also his birthday tomorrow. It would take a very brave man to bet against him winning his second stage of the race.

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About the author:

Cillian Kelly  / Twitter: @irishpeloton

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