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Le Tour 2001

89th Tour de France - Grand Tour

France, July 6-28, 2002

Main page    Stage profile    Start List    Results

Stage 3 - Tuesday July 9: Metz - Reims, 174.5 km

Complete Live Report

Start time: 13:00 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:03 CEST

13:03 CEST    
Welcome to the cyclingnews.com coverage of stage three of the Tour, the day the race finally sets foot in its native land. Today's stage runs westwards through the départements of Moselle, Meuse and Marne to end up in the Champagne capital, Reims. The stage is pretty flat, with just two fourth-cat climbs - one after only 3 km of racing - so it will probably be another one for the sprinters.

The weather is warm - around 26°C - overcast and humid; there is talk of rain and possibly storms this afternoon but they have held off so far; there is a gentle southerly wind which will be a crosswind from the riders' left for most of the course.

13:30 CEST    16 km/158.5 km to go
Following the day's first "col" - the three points for the côte de Gravelotte taken by Christophe Mengin, currently lying second in the GPM competition ahead of Patrice Halgand and Andy Flickinger - two men have attacked - the irrepressible Jacky Durand and his compatriot Franck Rénier. They are 1.10 up on a dawdling peloton, which makes Rénier the race leader on the road.

We spoke to Mengin this morning "Are you upset about losing the polka dot jersey? "Of course; today I'm arriving in my home region. I live in Nancy so we're finishing not too far from my home. I would have liked to have had the jersey today but all is not lost. I could take it back today. I know the hills well, so I'll try to retake the jersey." The points he took on that first climb do in fact make him maillot à pois virtuel now.

13:40 CEST    24.5 km/150 km to go
Rabobank's Karsten Kroon has set out in pursuit of the two leaders; he is a minute behind them, and half a minute up on the peloton.

14:03 CEST    39 km/135.5 km to go
This stage - like many races in the north, covers a route that brings up some of the less happy bits of the country's past; the riders have already passed the battlefields of Gravelotte and Mars-le-Tour from the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, and they are now heading for what is almost sacred ground to the French, Verdun, the site of the bloodiest battle of the First World War (and of Laurent Jalabert's stage win last year, as well as being the venue for the first bonus sprint of the day which could put a German into the maillot jaune), and then on through the Argonne where the American army saw action in 1918.

The two attackers have stretched out their lead to over six minutes from the peloton, with Kroon losing ground a bit at 2.15.

14:25 CEST    
Karsten Kroon has sat up and been caught by the peloton, which is being driven without a great deal of enthusiasm by Crédit Agricole and Telekom while ahead of him the lead of the two Frenchmen has now stretched out to over 9 minutes.

We spoke to that exponent par excellence of the échappée fleuve the all-day breakaway, Jacky Durand (FDJeux.com), this morning. "There were plenty of people who wanted to try and get the yellow jersey yesterday. The riders who attacked had better reasons. Personally I didn't want to go with them because the first stages were relatively difficult and perhaps a more effective break will come on a flatter stage."

14:34 CEST    57.5 km/117 km to go
At Verdun Durand does not contest the bonus sprint and it is Rénier who takes the money and the six bonus seconds; a good ten mintes behind them the action is more intense as Erik Zabel seeks for the two seconds bonus that will put him in yellow this evening if the race finishes together. Telekom do all the work for the leadout, but Lampre's Jan Svorada comes round him in extremis to protect his teammate's lead for the moment (with a bit of contact between German champion Danilo Hondo, leading out Zabel, and the Lampre lead-out man); the bunch eases up and the pattern of the race settles down again; last official time check is a lead of 9.45.

Rénier looks a bit fresher than Durand, pedalling a lower gear more smoothly on the little climbs on the straight, rolling roads west of Verdun.

14:53 CEST    68.5 km/106 km to go
The bunch have now slowed back to not much over clubrun tempo, and the two leaders have stretched their advantage out to over eleven minutes. It is another 30 km or so to the feed at Clermont-en-Argonne, and then the day's second fourth-category climb and the second bonus sprint follow 7 km and 14 km later respectively. After that the rolling and wooded country opens out into the plains east of Reims, and on the long, broad, straight, flat roads that make up the final 45 km the breakaway pair will need ever second they can get.

15:10 CEST    88.5 km/86 km to go
The sprinters' teams - Telekom for Zabel and Lotto for McEwen in particular have now taken up the chase, and as they approach the feed Durand and Rénier's lead has fallen back well below 10 minutes.

The threatened rain and crosswinds have not made an appearance yet, but if the wind gets up on the more open later stages of the course, we could see echelons forming, so the GC riders will need to keep their wits about them to avoid getting trapped behind. There is also the spectre of the team time trial stage tomorrow; we chatted to US Postal's Floyd Landis before the start about how he felt about today: "Good, hanging on. It's going to be a warm one. Looks like it's going to be hot and they said it's going to rain. I don't know what's going on. I hope some team wants to take control but the further we go, the less likely that becomes. Sooner or later, we're going to have to take responsibility but hopefully not today because the Team Time Trial is tomorrow. The fresher we can show up, the better." Was he expecting attacks from the start? "I'm counting on it. It won't be me, but somebody's going to do it."

Last timecheck for the two leaders, with Thierry Marichal and Bobby Julich leading the chase - 7.10

15:25 CEST    95.5 km/79 km to go
Rénier takes the day's second climb, still riding more fluidly than Durand who seems a little laboured.

As the bunch take the climb 8 minutes behind, Christophe Mengin picks up the point for third place; he will be in the spotty jersey tonight, three points ahead of Stéphane Berges. The pressure on the climb is too much for Belgian champion Tom Steels, who drifts off the back briefly.

As the bunch are climbing, up the road Durand takes the day's second bonus sprint without a contest ahead of Rénier.

15:40 CEST    100.5 km/74 km to go
Telekom manage things better the second time round, and Erik Zabel takes the two second bonus which brings him dead level on time (including the hundredths of a second in the prologue time) with Rubens Bertogliatti. If Zabel does not pick up any more bonuses at the third sprint (which is in another 25 km), Bertogliatti will need to be in front of him at the finish to hold onto the yellow jersey. Then again, McEwen and Freire are both in with a shout, and they still ahve to catch Rénier and Durand, who still have a 7.00 lead.

15:53 CEST    109.5 km/65 km to go
The race passes another military memento, the monuments for the battle of Valmy in the French Revolutionary wars. It is the Germans and Belgians of Telekom and Lotto who lead the peloton, now lined out, through the winding streets of the village; the lead of the two Frenchmen is now down to not much above 6 minutes.

16:06 CEST    124.5 km/50 km to go
The two leaders still have just about the canonical minute's lead per 10 km to go (4.55 at 50 km), but this is really thankless terrain for this sort of exercise, arrow-straight roads between wide open prairies of grain. With the final bonus sprint approaching, the sprinters are moving up in the bunch; Freire, McEwen and Zabel are all well up towards the business end of the peloton.

16:14 CEST    130 km/44.5 km to go
At Suippes, the leaders have an amiable little tussle for the last bonus sprint along the lines of a clubrun sprint for a town sign; Durand takes it.

Telekom set up a train for the third place, but nobody else bothers contesting it anyway. Erik Zabel is now 2 seconds ahead of Bertogliatti, 13 seconds ahead of McEwen and 16 seconds ahead of Freire.

We spoke to Telekom's big man Rolf Aldag about their sprinting tactics this morning: "It's my job to keep up the speed in the final two kilometres so nobody can attack. The teamwork worked out pretty well yesterday but the end result wasn't perfect. We'll still try." Did Fagnini pull off too early? "It's difficult to say. Maybe Fagnini should have passed a little earlier to keep the speed high and make it difficult for McEwen and Freire to start the sprint from behind. If you're already riding at sprint tempo, and you have three riders in front of you with 500 metres to go, then maybe that was the problem, because you are not used to that."

16:22 CEST    136 km/38.5 km to go
The lead is now down to 3.30, and the situation does not look particularly promising for the duo who have been away since kilometre 6. Mapei have sent Laszlo Bodrogi up to join in the chase with the Telekom and Lotto riders who have been doing the lion's share of the donkey work so far.

The curse of Crédit Agricole seems to struck again; Stuart O'Grady was being pushed by his teammates, and has now gone back to talk to the doctor; he looks to be in some discomfort.

16:34 CEST    144.5 km/30 km to go
The lead is still coming down, but not as rapidly as before; Tafi moves up to add to the motive power department; behind the real workers ONCE and Euskaltel are moving up, presumably to try to keep their riders out of trouble.

Now that the road is flat Tom Steels seems to be able to move up the bunch without too much difficulty; the gap is now down to 2.24.

16:46 CEST    154.5 km/20 km to go
The gap is now down to 1.40; they are now riding down an almost 20 km long straight avenue between wheatfields, almost entirely flat and wide open; the skies look heavy but the sun has broken through - it looks as though they should manage to finish in the dry.

16:52 CEST    159 km/15.5 km to go
Durand and Rénier decide to give it one last determined go and are just about holding the gap at 1.35. Durand is now looking the more stylish of the two, with his back spirit-level flat. O'Grady has returned to the bunch and is hanging on in the rear echelons. Ludo Dierckxsens joins in with the chase, presumably for Svorada trather han Bertogliati.

A second echelon has formed in the crosswind with a split of about 50 metres.
Photo: © CN

16:59 CEST    164.5 km/10 km to go
The gap has come down to under one minute now. The two echelons almost merge as the bunch takes a roundabout, but the last few metres are just too much.

The race turns west-north-west and the two echelons come back together; the lead at the 10 km banner is just 29 seconds, and Erik Zabel is now maillot jaune virtuel.

17:05 CEST    167.5 km/7 km to go
With Durand and Rénier in sight ahead, the bunch eases up to let them hang out to dry for a couple of kilometres. The US Postal team moves up en bloc, keeping Armstrong out of trouble.

17:07 CEST    169.5 km/5 km to go
As they come into the outskirts of the city of Reims the pair are finally caught; Bertogliati moves to the front, taking a last chance to show his jersey off. Telekom seem to want to leave the work to Lotto this time round.

17:10 CEST    172.5 km/2 km to go
Lotto with Verbrugghe leading and McEwen in 5th place lead the bunch through the convoluted approach to the finish; Mattan tries a finisseur attack at 2 km but is caught.

17:12 CEST    
Freire takes Zabel's wheel; this is going to be a bumpy one.

17:15 CEST    
Thor Hushovd leads out from a long way out; Tom Steels gets himself boxed in, Zabel tries to come off the wheel of McEwen who jumps up the left, but can't quite close the gap behind the Australian who wins the stage by half a length. Zabel will take the yellow jersey and hang on to the green as well, with McEwen provisionally second in both competitions.

1 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Adecco                   4.13.37
2 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Deutsche Telekom
3 Baden Cooke (Aus) FDJeux.com
4 Andrej Hauptman (Slo) Tacconi Sport
5 Fabio Baldato (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
6 Paolo Bossoni (Ita) Tacconi Sport
7 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) Ag2R Prevoyance
8 François Simon (Fra) Bonjour
9 Jan Svorada (Cze) Lampre Daikin
10 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Credit Agricole
11 José Enrique Gutierrez (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca
12 Oscar Freire (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step
13 Laurent Brochard (Fra) Jean Delatour
14 Luciano Pagliarini (Bra) Lampre Daikin
15 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Rabobank

Overall standings after stage 3
1 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Deutsche Telekom               13.31.35
2 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Adecco                         0.08
3 Rubens Bertogliati (Swi) Lampre Daikin                   0.14
4 Laurent Jalabert (Fra) CSC-Tiscali                       0.17
5 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service
6 Raimondas Rumsas (Ltu) Lampre Daikin                     0.20
7 Santiago Botero (Col) Kelme-Costa Blanca                 0.21
8 David Millar (GBr) Cofidis                               0.22
9 Laurent Brochard (Fra) Jean Delatour                     0.23
10 Oscar Freire (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step                     0.25

1 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom                             96
2 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto - Adecco                        91
3 Oscar Freire (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step                       71

1 Christophe Mengin (Fra) LFDJeux.com

Young riders
1 Rubens Bertogliati (Swi) Lampre Daikin               13:31.49
2 David Millar (GBr) Cofidis                               0.08
3 Baden Cooke (Aus) LFDJeux.com                            0.15

Thanks for following the stage with cyclingnews.com - we'll be back at 14.15 CEST tomorrow for the team time trial stage from Epernay to Château-Thierry.


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