Recently on Cyclingnews.com

Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

92nd Tour de France - GT

France, July 2-24, 2005

Main Page    Results & report      Stage Details      Previous Stage     Next Stage

Stage 3 - Monday, July 4: La Châtaigneraie - Tours, 212.5 km

Commentary by Hedwig Kröner, with additional reporting from Tim Maloney and Anthony Tan

Complete live report

Live coverage starts: 12:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:15 CEST

12:22 CEST   
And Hello again for the third stage of the World's greatest and toughest bike race - presented by the French ASO every year in July. We're currently hovering over the Western Vendée region of Napoleon's country, but will soon head North-East through the Départements Maine-et-Loire, Venne and Indre-et-Loire, following the river Loire upstream inside the country.

Today's medium-flat stage from La Chataigneraie to Tours is 212,5 kilometres long, with three intermediate sprints (St Michel-Mont Mercure, km 29; Coron, km 79; and Les Trois Moutiers, km 137) and another three minor climbs of Cat. 4: the Côte de Pouzauges (km 22), as well as the Côte de Chinon and the Côte de la Taconnière at 51 and 33 km from the finish respectively.

We might therefore see a rapid start, as the riders interested in the Mountains jersey and sprint points should leave the bunch early to go for it. A longer breakaway could be the most probable scenario here, until the sprinter's teams and especially Davitamon-Lotto will click into higher gear to head for a bunch sprint in Tours. The last two climbs could also make a selection, depending on whether the possible break is caught by then or not. If it's peloton groupé we might see some attacks there... But that's enough speculation for now. Let's see what the guys down there on the road have planned!

12:37 CEST   
Unfortunately we must report that the weather conditions have freshened up a bit since yesterday. Right now, we have about 17 ° Celsius at the start, with some clouds blown over from the Atlantic. In fact, the wind might play a major part in today's stage, as it will be a tailwind blowing at approx. 15-20 km/h from the West/Southwest, which will make the race a fast one. Hopefully we'll miss out on the rain showers that meteorologists have foreseen for this afternoon...

There have been showers in La Chataigneraie during the night, but right now the roads are dry. The start has just been given, and all 189 riders have again departed on another epic Tour de France journey.

12:42 CEST    4km/208.5km to go
Philippe Gilbert (FDJ) is the first rider annoying the bunch by taking off as soon as km 4. He has now 20 seconds over the rest. Looks like he want to make up for his latest illnesses in April/may, where he was forced to miss a lot of Spring Classics - he's rated as one of Belgium's future stars.

12:46 CEST    7km/205.5km to go
The young Belgian has already 50 seconds now, and Laurent Brochard (Bouygues) and Bernard Eisel (FDJ) are chasing. The bunch is still trying to figure out what to do with this attack.

12:52 CEST    8km/204.5km to go
That was it for Eisel and Brochard - caught by the bunch. But Gilbert is still in front... I wonder whether he really believes he will get away with this! But then again, there is a tailwind, which favours break away groups.

12:54 CEST   
There's another counter: Joost Posthuma (Rabobank), another young and very talented rider, is in pursuit.

13:00 CEST    15km/197.5km to go
But Posthuma can't make it, the bunch is too fast. Gilbert is also caught, only a few moments later. Peloton groupé.

13:03 CEST   
The medical communiqué of this morning lists the following riders slightly injured, but all fit to start:

Iker Flores (Euskaltel), hip and right knee injuries
Ludovic Turpin (AG2R), scratches on right arm
Daniel Becke (Illes Balears), hip and left arm injuries
Stéphane Goubert (AG2R), sore back
Jose Enrique Gutierrez (Phonak), left shoulder sore

Crash at km 80:
Jan Kirsipuu (Créit Agricole), superficial injuries, scratches
Iker Camano (Euskaltel), superficial injuries, scratches
Johan Van Summeren (Davitamon), superficial injuries, scratches

Crash at km 138:
Claudio Corioni (Fassa Bortolo), left knee injury
Samuel Dumoulin (AG2R), left knee injuries

13:09 CEST   
The Côte de Pouzauges, coming up at km 22 means a 1.2 km climb at approx. 4.8 percent gradient. We'll soon find out who's looking to the Polka dot jersey worn by Thomas Voeckler... he'd better watch out.

13:11 CEST    23km/189.5km to go
And he did! Voeckler (Bouygues) attacked the Côte with Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) and Laurent Brochard (Bouygues) and took the points in the summit in that order. The bunch followed closely and moved in on them again just after the GPM.

13:15 CEST   
Erratum on the points awarded: Wegmann got to the summit first, before Voeckler. That puts him in second position for the jersey. Fabian Wegmann won the Giro d'Italia mountains jersey in 2004. Looks like he's out for more again.

13:20 CEST    32km/180.5km to go
Erik Dekker (Rabobank) and Nicolas Portal (AG2R) have now escaped, on the way to the first Sprint. They're getting help from Rubens Bertogliati (Saunier).

And Dekker takes the 6 points / 6 seconds, with Bertogliati in for 4 and Portal 2. Nothing to worry about for Boonen though. They continue their lead and extend it to 45 seconds.

13:29 CEST    40km/172.5km to go
The lead of the three man break has rapidly increased to 2.30 as they pass the Puy du Fou at km 38. Looks like the bunch is ready to let them go.

13:34 CEST   
The riders are actually pretty slow right now, contrary to what was expected. Average speed is only about 40 km/h, maybe because there is a crosswind on at the moment. Up to Cholet (km 57.5), this sidewind will continue to blow, but as the parcours slowly turns East there, the 20 km/h winds will push into the rider's backs. After the last sprint at km 137, the riders turn a little more to the North again, which means a little more crosswind for the last 75 km.

13:36 CEST   
Team CSC is working in front of the peloton, as to not let the gap become too big. Bertogliati is best placed on GC (69th at 2'13), while Dekker is at 2'19 (78th) and Portal is at 2'53 (139th).

13:43 CEST    49km/163.5km to go
More than one hour has passed since the stage started, and the riders have only totaled 42.6 km in that first hour. The lead of the break has increased to 3.25 - that's a stable situation.

13:47 CEST   
Tom Boonen is wearing Green all over today: jersey, knicks and helmet are in this colour, so it looks like he want to keep it. "It feels good being dressed totally in Green, well, now I just need green gloves and green shoes to finish it off. It's a challenge and I love challenges; I'll try to keep this jersey till the end," he said at the start.

"Here in France the group sprinting for the win is a lot bigger than anywhere else. I think it's definitely the strongest sprinter who wins here."

13:55 CEST    56km/156.5km to go
The bunch should watch out, as Dekker can be quite a surprise especially when heading for Tours. Remember Paris-Tours 2004, where he won just metres in front of a blazing bunch?

Rubens Bertogliati is now "maillot jaune virtuel", but my guess is that CSC won't let the jersey go easily, so the pace should increase... Update on the weather: no rain (yet), but the wind has increased too and turned to blow from the West-Southwest, which means that the riders will soon turn on the last 150 km today, where they will have a strong tailwind of 25 km/h gusting up to 30 km/h.

14:01 CEST    60km/152.5km to go
Stuart O'Grady will have special thoughts in Cholet, as he wore the Yellow jersey here for the first time in 1998, when a Tour de France stage finished in this town.

Meanwhile, the gap is still increasing, now up to 3.55.

14:04 CEST   
Saunier Duval's Rubens Bertogliati was one of the last riders to be nominated for the Tour. Initially, Iñigo Cuesta was on the team's line-up, but an injury stopped him from coming to the race. Bertogliati took his place and had to cancel his holidays...

14:14 CEST   
Short update on the state of things inside the Discovery squad: "All is well health-wise," reported Chris Brewer, who runs the team's official Internet site. "Dr. Jeff Spencer said the main challenge is recovery following the long and hard stage one time trial followed by two sprint stages and then the TTT tomorrow. Manuel "Triki" Beltran, who was caught up in a crash yesterday, is fine and was joking around at the team dinner last night."

14:21 CEST   
The sprint in Coron (km 79) is coming up, and the breakaway gap is again increased to 4.20 minutes.

Supersprinters Robbie McEwen and Tom Boonen have given different views of yesterday's sprint to the Belgian media. McEwen told Sportwereld journalist Paul De Keyser after the finish:"Congrats to Tom Boonen, as you still have to finish it off, even though it was a gift. I was perfectly positioned when that corner was there 250 meters before the finish line. I knew that there was a head wind after that and that those last metres were uphill. But I had to start my sprint; of course my speed dropped. A beginner's mistake. By starting the sprint there I rolled out the red carpet for my competition. We'll see tomorrow."

'Tornado Tom' Boonen's reply in Het Laatste Nieuws was: "250 meters? Well, that's where I started the sprint myself! Robbie went on one side, I took the other!"

14:30 CEST    81km/131.5km to go
The intermediate sprint in Coron was won by Portal, followed by Bertogliati and Dekker. The bunch is still letting them cruise in the distance. In about ten kilometres, the riders will grab their musettes for a little energy boost.

14:37 CEST   
But CSC, Davitamon-Lotto, Quick.Step and FDJ still have some time before the finish to engage in a proper chase. Davitamon-Lotto Directeur Sportif Hendrik Redant said before the start today: "We know that Tom is one of the quickest sprinters in the peloton; together with Robbie. Robbie said that he made a mistake, but I don't think so. It's just so that Tom judged the situation better. Robbie felt really strong all day and he was freewheeling; he tried to kick it into 11 and it didn't work, because his back wheel got hit in the crash earlier on. It took a few seconds so he lost some speed. He decided to go anyway because he felt good. He was afraid that he was going to get closed in by riders coming on the right and he started the sprint. Tom Boonen took advantage of this."

"It's not necessary to have another guy here to lead Robbie out in the sprint. Robbie just needs to be brought to the right position and then he does his own thing anyway. We had the Rodriguez and the other boys doing their job for him, so that part was perfect. We also have people at the finish informing us of the weather conditions, etc. We anticipate those conditions, and inform Robbie and the rest of the team at due time."

14:46 CEST    99.5km/113km to go
CSC is helped by two Davitamon riders and two Quick.Steps right behind them now, and the pace has increased to an average of 44 km/h for the first two hours of the stage. Still, the break in front is doing an excellent job and is helped by the tailwind - its gap has now increased to 5 minutes. The front riders have passed the feed zone.

14:51 CEST   
Fortunately, there is still no sign of rain, only a few scattered clouds interfere with the sun rays. Sylvain Calzati, the most combative rider wearing the red back number is getting some drinks out of his AG2R team car. The French team isn't doing too bad until now - maybe their sprinter Jean-Patrick Nazon can also mingle in top three today in Tours? But first, that break has to be caught, and they won't help the top teams in the chase, as Nicolas Portal is in the break.

14:54 CEST   
Leon Van Bon, the Dutch champion, is also doing his share in the chase, while we can see those beautiful castles the region is famous for. The bunch is pretty stretched out now, and the gap is getting smaller: from 5.40 down to 4.50 in just a few kilometres.

14:58 CEST   
Francaise des Jeux also has two sprint contenders in its line-up: Bernhard Eisel and Baden Cooke. Eisel was reportedly not happy about the lack of support from his team in yesterday's stage, specially after Baden Cooke wasn't able to finish it off neither. "First it was agreed that I would have a protected role in today's stage; but then Marc Madiot changed his mind and he wanted everyone to work for Baden Cooke. I don't understand really. This kind of situation is causing difficulties within the team; no trouble between the riders but Marc Madiot has to set out one strategy."

"Basically what we had was a lack of communication. I suppose it's normal with a new line-up like the one we have at this Tour. We had a heated discussion about it in the bus directly after the stage, but I don't think Baden's poor showing was the fault of anyone in particular," Bradley McGee commented in his personal diary.

15:08 CEST    114.5km/98km to go
The front riders are only 3.45 minutes ahead of the bunch now - that's how the bunch can follow up if they want to! Inside it though, Stephan Schreck (T-Mobile)'s heart rate is only at 130 bpm, well protected from the wind and from racing at full speed.

15:14 CEST   
Dekker in front is taking his turn, while the bunch has arrived in Vaudelnay with 96 km to go. The lead has diminished to only 3.30 minutes, as the break has only 92 km left before the finish line in Tours.

15:18 CEST   
Some of you have asked what the riders were talking about during these long, flat and relatively relaxed stages (except for the finish, of course) - well, the truth is, we don't know. But one thing's for sure: Johan Vansummeren (Davitamon) ain't talking much, cause he's been in front of the bunch for 20 mins now, doing an excellent job for Robbie McEwen.

15:24 CEST   
Now it's Quick.Step's Kevin Hulsmans leading the peloton around one of these huge French roundabouts. The two teams, although rivals, should get along well and are fair in sharing the workload - they all know each other and some of their riders probably go out training together in Belgium, when they're not racing.

Robbie McEwen is already "sucking" Boonen's wheel now. He ain't passing him before the sprint today for sure!

15:30 CEST    133.5km/79km to go
The pack is now taking it easier, as the gap is only 3.30. We can see Jan Ullrich munching a bar alongside his teammates Schreck and Steinhauser, who apparently has a sister who's Ullrich's new girlfriend, after he split with the mother of his daughter Sarah Maria. Sorry about the gossip...

15:39 CEST    139.5km/73km to go
French team Bouygues Telecom has also two riders in front of the bunch, which is picking up its speed again. Are they out for the mountain points for Voeckler? Two Cat. 4 climbs are still on the way to Tours, with 51 and 33 km to go.

In front, Bertogliati, Dekker and Portal have shared the last of the intermediate sprint bonifications in that order. The gap is only 2.30 now.

15:44 CEST    143.5km/69km to go
And Bouygues' work is rewarding. The break's lead is running out steadily, only 1.55 now. They're time trialling with five riders to bring Voeckler to those GPM's. This team really has a fighting spirit!

15:53 CEST   
The break doesn't give up yet though, although Portal does look tired. Well, Dekker can still counter attack even if they're caught now, just as he did last year at Paris-Tours, where he won just a few metres away from the bunch sprint...

In the back, Discovery's Paolo Savoldelli is getting bidons for Armstrong, who has also used the opportunity to give in to nature's call.

15:58 CEST    154.5km/58km to go
But Bouygues have ceased their efforts now, and it's Quick.Step again in front of the peloton. That was a senseless intermezzo then, as the break is still at 1.53 with only seven kilometres to go before the first Côte. Voeckler might lose the jersey...

16:06 CEST   
The breakaway has arrived in Chinon (km 157.5), a picturesque little town on a river with the huge castle of Chinon dominating over the city on a hill. Very impressive.

16:07 CEST    163.5km/49km to go
They've passed the Cat. 4 climb now, and Dekker took the three points as he has probably figured out that if he gets another three points at the next climb, the dotted jersey is his tonight! Bertogliati was second, Portal third.

16:13 CEST   
Gerolsteiner is now also doing a turn in the chase for Robert Förster. The gap is still 1.52 but on this dead straight road through a forest over rolling hills they should see the break soon. Heart rates inside the peloton are now at 160 bpm.

16:16 CEST   
Quite some spectators have gathered on this stretch of the parcours, while Erik Dekker is doing the pace to make sure that they'll get to the next climb before the peloton does.

Hulsmans and Vansummeren are again proving great team spirit, leading the bunch relentlessly.

16:19 CEST    172.5km/40km to go
CSC has moved up again too. Voeckler looks disappointed, while his teammate Laurent Brochard is given instructions by their directeur sportif. The road through this forest heading towards Tours is unbelievably long. And the gap is getting smaller and smaller... down to 1.20 now.

16:27 CEST    178.5km/34km to go
In the first part of the bunch, T-Mobile's Guerini is looking after Alexandre Vinokourov on his wheel. Of course, it's extremely important for the GC riders to get over these first stages without a scratch, and without burning a lot of energy.

Jan Kirsipuu (Crédit Agricole) is using this last part of the race to stretch his muscles, putting his foot up on the saddle to stretch the upper thigh.

16:29 CEST    180.5km/32km to go
And Erik Dekker will be wearing the Polka dots this evening, whatever happens now. He sprinted up to the top of the Côte de la Taconnière to take another 3 points, so he now has six, and Voeckler only five.

16:34 CEST   
The gap between the two groups is steady at 1.20 now. "The leash is loose," is the Germans say. Will Dekker go for another attack just as last year? We shall see...

16:39 CEST   
A Crédit Agricole rider has also engaged in the chase, as Vansummeren looks a little tired, pushing down the pedals with his chin as his head follows the movements of his legs. The bunch is winding through the narrow streets of Pont de Ruan with 23 km to go.

16:42 CEST   
Erik Dekker still makes a very concentrated impression, while in the back the bunch just steered clear of a crash as the road turned narrower. That was close, and they're also closing in on the break: they're now less than a minute away.

16:44 CEST   
"We just drove right through the final 5 kms to the line," Discovery's website manager Chris Brewer just reported from Tours. "The initial 2500 m is downhill with several swooping curves, then just a moderate 500 m false flat. The final 2000 m is a dead flat 2-lane drag race to the line. The crowds are already thick at the finish ready for a big sprint run in!"

16:48 CEST    197.5km/15km to go
The three in front are still circling bravely as the bunch moves closer. They really want to know if they can sty clear by any chance - you have to try otherwise you'll never know...

Vansummeren has now dropped into the back, his work is done.

16:49 CEST    199.5km/13km to go
Thomas Voeckler is suffering too, he's in last wheel at the moment. The Davitamon riders leading the bunch have the break in sight now, only 30 seconds away. They're hammering!

16:52 CEST    201.5km/11km to go
Now, Dekker is looking over his shoulder too, but still going strong in front of the break, while Bertogliati had to let go and will be swallowed by the bunch at the very next moment.

16:54 CEST    202.5km/10km to go
Portal and Dekker are giving it all. But will it be enough? Dekker looks focused, Portal is gasping for air. The swarm in the back is approaching as they pass the 10 km mark.

16:58 CEST    206.5km/6km to go
The Quick.Steppers are still handling the pacing as they all get into the outskirts of Tours. Dekker hasn't given up yet, he's been doing all the work in the last few kilometres as Portal is knackered.

Gerolsteiner is there, Fassa too. No sign of rain so they're lucky.

16:59 CEST   
Portal is doing another turn now as they approach another roundabout, but Dekker is stronger, puts himself in front again.

17:00 CEST   
The field as moving up on them, only a few seconds away now.

17:01 CEST    208.5km/4km to go
Another left hand turn as they move towards the final 2800 metre straight. Portal is brave and leads again. They're not letting go!

17:02 CEST    210.5km/2km to go
FDJ is now chasing.. they're coming around, only 20 metres left!

17:02 CEST   
Now it's done, and counter attacks go. Cancellara goes!

17:03 CEST    211.5km/1km to go
he could do it being such a good time triallist. But the bunch is fast on the final straight and he's getting caught. The sprint is on!

17:04 CEST   
Fdj still leading out, as they pass the flamme rouge. Liquigas there too...

17:05 CEST   
Hinault and Kirsipuu lead out for Hushovd, then Rodriguez starts the sprint for McEwen with Boonen on his wheel. Boonen anticipates, hammers and does it! Boonen gets his second stage win!!

17:07 CEST   
McEwen was on Boonen's wheel but got squeezed in between O'Grady and Peter Wrolich (Gerolsteiner). Great sprint from Boonen!

17:28 CEST   
The race jury has decided to relegate McEwen, who was deemed to have deliberately put his head into O'Grady's shoulder in the final 100 metres. That moves O'Grady up to third on the stage.

No changes to the GC today, and Dave Zabriskie and CSC have the luxury of starting last in tomorrow's team time trial. Boonen has now extended his lead in the points classification (he has 70), while Dekker holds the polka dot jersey and Cancellara should keep the young rider's jersey.

Until tomorrow, that's all from us in Tours!


1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step                                   4.36.09
2 Peter Wrolich (Aut) Gerolsteiner                               
3 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone            
4 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Française Des Jeux                        
5 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros-Würth                            
6 Robert Förster (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                   
7 Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Liquigas-Bianchi                             
8 Anthony Geslin (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                          
9 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole                             
10 Angelo Furlan (Ita) Domina Vacanze                         

General classification after stage 3
1 David Zabriskie (USA) Team CSC                                8.48.31
2 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel                          0.02
3 Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun) Credit Agricole                             0.47
4 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team                         0.53
5 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel                          0.57
6 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems                        1.02
7 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Fassa Bortolo                                
8 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC                                        1.04
9 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne            1.05
10 Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth           1.06

Back to top