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95th Tour de France - GT

France, July 5-27, 2008

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Stage 3 - Monday, July 7: Saint-Malo - Nantes, 208km

Complete live report

Live commentary by Bjorn Haake

Bonjour from Le Tour de France and Cyclingnews' live coverage of stage three of this year's Grande Boucle. Today the riders will head straight south from Saint-Malo to Nantes, covering 208 kilometres. It is called a flat stage by the organisers. But that's only because they don't have to ride over all the little rollers. None of the hills exceeds 192 metres in altitude, but they will make sure no rider will be at his freshest in tomorrow's time trial. The final 20 kilometres are entirely flat, so we still bet that the sprinters won't let that one slip away from their legs.

13:05 CEST   
The start town of Saint-Malo has been a stage village seven times. First used in 1949, when Swiss Ferdi Kübler won, it is now almost 30 years the city has had the honour. In 1980 Bert Oosterbosch took the win. The town has 53,000 inhabitants, a number which may quadruple in the summer, when tourists are flocking in. The port town located on the Channel is well worth a visit. The entirely walled city is a nice place to hang out, while also offering a good base to visit nearby Mont Saint-Michel (just don't get trapped, ok?)

13:09 CEST    24km/184km to go
The current race situation is that we have a four-man breakaway. It includes US talent William Frischkorn (Garmin Chipotle - H30), Italian Paolo Longo Borghini (Barloworld), Frenchman Romain Feillu (Agritubel) and his compatriot Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis). The gap to the peloton at the moment is a good six minutes.

13:12 CEST   
The break has already passed the first sprint, at km 21.5. Dumoulin passed ahead of Longo Borghini and Feillu.

13:18 CEST   
The famous L'Etape du Tour, where recreational riders can test themselves on a Tour stage, happened early this year. The 2008 parcours was exactly like the pros ride stage 10 to Hautacam this year. The winner had 5h38 for the 156km. We will see how that compares to the peloton next week.

Bernard Hinault passed his hometown today
Photo ©: John Pierce
(Click for larger image)

13:25 CEST    33km/175km to go
We just passed km 31.5 The riders went through Calorguen – the hometown of five-time Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault. His wife is the mayor here, but we suspect she may have taken a break from her duties to watch the peloton and her husband rush by. Bernard Hinault is still very much involved with the Tour. In fact he spends more time on the podium than during his active career (quite a feat in itself!). He hands out the jerseys, shakes hands and makes small talk with the winning riders of the day.

13:32 CEST   
The peloton is zipping along at a good 40 km/h right now. The break of Frischkorn, Borghini, Feillu and Dumoulin is a tad faster and the lead has grown to 9'50.

Current race situation

  • William Frischkorn (Garmin Chipotle - H30), Paolo Longo Borghini (Barloworld), Romain Feillu (Agritubel) and Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis)
  • Peloton at 9.50

13:46 CEST   
We can tell you that Mauricio Soler today, but Cyclingnews spotted him in the village départ with a pretty grim face. Who would look happy when both your wrists are bandaged up? We wish good luck to the Colombian and hope he can make it through the Tour.

13:48 CEST    45km/163km to go
The gap has grown to 11'20. The weather could better here. There are showers on and off. And it is raining in the finishing town of Nantes.

13:55 CEST    50km/158km to go
The second sprint of the day in Becherel has come and gone. Longo Borghini passed the line ahead of Feillu and Frischkorn. None of the breakaway riders are really interested in the points. They just want to extend the gap and try to stay away as long as possible. Of course, deep down they hope the directeurs sportifs from the sprinters' teams will misuse their calculators and just not catch them until after the finish in Nantes. But with the computer technology being as it is today, that's not a safe bet for the break.

Will Frischkorn is in the break
Photo ©: Mark Zalewski
(Click for larger image)

13:59 CEST   
27 year-old Will Frischkorn was born in Virginia. Last year he was second in the Tour of Missouri. He also is a national junior champion on the road. He seems to be doing well in the classics. In fact, he already won in Roubaix – though it was Boulder-Roubaix in his native USA.

14:04 CEST   
Carlos Barredo told Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown that "these days, we are helping out Steegmans. But my role will be to help Devolder when we get to the mountains." The Spaniard is looking to do something special for his father, who is not doing well these days, having some heart problems. Cyclingnews wishes Mr. Barredo senior a speedy recovery.

14:17 CEST   
Cyclingnews' crew on the roads of the Tour managed to talk to Barloworld's manager Claudio Corti, who is in the team car behind the peloton. He stated that "We wanted to get a man into the break, and as you can see he [Longo Borghini] was right there. The break's chances look grim, as it is very windy and there is bad weather. Also, teams like Columbia will want to bring the break back for a sprint. In this case, we have Robert Hunter and Baden Cooke, of course. Who knows – we always will have to try!"

14:20 CEST    59km/149km to go
The break is still augmenting its lead. But we have only covered about one fourth of the distance so far...

Current race situation

  • William Frischkorn (Garmin Chipotle - H30), Paolo Longo Borghini (Barloworld), Romain Feillu (Agritubel) and Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis)
  • Peloton at 12.55

14:23 CEST   
"Today, we will see if we can initiate something," stated Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas) to Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown. "Maybe there will be a little bit of wind that will allow us to attack. The team is very, very strong and that is important."

14:28 CEST   
Here is a little something from Cyclingnews' Skoda Octavia this morning before the start.

It was partly cloudy and 20° at the start line in Saint Malo. The Breton flags were waving strongly due to the winds that often kick in around here.

Like in the first two stages, there were many fans who have travelled long distances to be here, along with the locals, cheering on the riders as they make their way out for what should be a sprinters' stage. Media interest centred on Filippo Pozzato (possible signing with CSC or Tinkoff) and Hendrik Redant (possible DS for Tinkoff). Cyclingnews will be bringing you more news on this soon.

Erik Zabel's wife and dog were at the start as well. Erik and fellow German Jens Voigt (CSC-Saxo Bank) stopped to say hello before rolling out.

Italy's Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Scott) was his usual self at the start line, not really wanting to say much to the fans or media. Riccò confirmed to Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown that it is a pleasure to be starting another day in the maillot blanc of best young rider.

Mark Cavendish (Columbia) was supposed by good-natured British supporters, cheering "Go Cav, Go!" He responded with a smile, knowing that this could be a stage for him. Equally so for Robbie McEwen (Silence-Lotto). The experienced Aussie would not talk to a TV crew looking for an interview this morning, 'no guys not today,' he stated. We presume his mind was fully on the sprint he hopes to win in Nantes.

Erik Zabel looks for another sprint victory in the Tour
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

14:32 CEST   
The break has now a gap of 14'15!

14:34 CEST   
The wind is coming from the right, so the break is lined up accordingly. Dumoulin is leading Feillu, who is slightly on his left to have shelter from the wind. Longo Borghini in third and Frischkorn resting at the back for now.

14:38 CEST   
First crash of the day. It is German champ Fabian Wegmann.

14:40 CEST    81km/127km to go
Wegmann is up and riding again. His shorts and helmet remind everyone that he is the national champion, but his colourful jersey has been covered with a blue rain coat. Rain is on and off today.

A little rise and Wegmann is out of the saddle, passing the team cars.

14:42 CEST   
Wegmann signals to his team car and now stops. He switches bikes. A quick push from the mechanic and he is back riding, following the all-yellow Mavic car.

14:42 CEST   
The gap is now starting to shrink. With a good 125km to go, it is down to just above 14 minutes.

14:43 CEST   
Wegmann is back in the peloton.

Fabian Wegmann has the German champ jersey, but had to cover it today behind a rain coat
Photo ©: Andrea Hübner
(Click for larger image)

Current race situation

  • William Frischkorn (Garmin Chipotle - H30), Paolo Longo Borghini (Barloworld), Romain Feillu (Agritubel) and Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis)
  • Peloton at 14.07

14:47 CEST   
An addendum from km 62: Frischkorn has won the final sprint of the day, in Montauban-de-Bretagne. He was ahead of Feillu and Dumoulin.

14:48 CEST   
Alessandro Ballan told Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown that his "form is there. I tried a bit, but I hope to get better in the next 15 days." Ballan has been sleeping well, since he is not rooming with Fabio Baldato, who, according to Ballan, apparently snores... Instead, Ballan rooms with power rider and Giro stage winner Marzio Bruseghin.

14:50 CEST    86.5km/121.5km to go
Cooke has a flat! But his team car is right there and he is quickly back riding.

14:54 CEST   
The peloton is speeding up a bit and the gap is dropping to about 13 minutes now. It is extremely windy out there. Cooke, btw, had a rear wheel flat. He took the wheel out himself, the mechanic put the new one in in about 2.5 seconds and off he was. Very quick!

14:56 CEST    90km/118km to go
Valverde is mostly dressed in yellow again, except for his arm warmers. He seems in good spirits as he stays close to the front. Liquigas, Crédit Agricole, Caisse d'Epargne and Columbia can be seen at the front.

The gap is down to 12'30.

14:58 CEST   
Ah, there it is! Wegmann has taken off his blue rain coat and his white jersey with the black-red-gold stripes are now visible to all the spectators, who have come out again in big numbers in the towns. Momentarily, we are in the country side, and even here people stand everywhere. Amazing!

Current race situation

  • William Frischkorn (Garmin Chipotle - H30), Paolo Longo Borghini (Barloworld), Romain Feillu (Agritubel) and Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis)
  • Peloton at 12.10

15:00 CEST   
Garmin's DS Jonathan Vaughters told Cyclingnews that things are "so far so good. We didn't have a plan for the stage, just for some of the guys like William to try and take their chances and get into a break. I'm optimistic it might work, they look good, but there's a pretty strong headwind out there so we'll have to see. We'll give it a good shot."

15:03 CEST   
Vaughters added that "the Tour starts tomorrow for us. That's the critical point to be honest, with David [Millar] and Christian [Vande Velde]. I'll be following David in the car tomorrow."

Tomorrow is the first individual time trial and when asked about their chances, Vaughters responded, "Well, if they get the win then there's a good chance they'll take yellow, too. I'll take either right now..."

15:10 CEST    100km/108km to go
Rob tells us "Will was born and raised in Charleston, West Virginia. Not Virginia. I'm sure the first West Virginia native to ride in the Tour de France." We stand corrected and are still impressed with the Garmin rider. He looks pretty good in the break for now, but the gap has dropped to 11 minutes.

Jonathan Vaughters is at the finish today, but will follow David Millar tomorrow
Photo ©: John Pierce
(Click for larger image)

15:12 CEST   
The break is pedaling under sunny skies, while the peloton is fighting some rain. Such is life when you are too slow... But today, the rain is on and off and the break has gotten its share of precipitation.

15:14 CEST   
Feillu was a bit delayed this year with sickness, but managed to get back in shape just in time to make the Agritubel team. He said earlier that "I would like to win a stage in the Tour. And maybe later in my career the Tour – pourquoi pas?"

15:16 CEST   
Hendrik Redant, who signed with Tinkoff as DS, said that "it is a nervous race today. But the sprinters' teams should control it." He is hoping on Robbie McEwen to take out the win today.

15:19 CEST    106km/102km to go
A good 100km left as the peloton passes Maure-de-Bretagne. The gap is down to 10 minutes, as the sprinters' teams are working together – for now.

15:22 CEST   
The wind, the wind! Martyn Maaskant (Garmin Chipotle - H30) has gotten his vest stuck in his rear wheel, looks like. He stops and tries to get it undone. It takes a while, but finally he is back out on the road.

15:25 CEST   
Chris from the USA really enjoys the Live Rider data and Positioning function. You can find the link on the top right of the screen. Today, we have data from Ralf Grabsch (Team Milram), Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner) and Aussie Adam Hansen (Columbia).

Martyn Maaskant is back riding after a bit of a mishap
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

Current race situation

  • William Frischkorn (Garmin Chipotle - H30), Paolo Longo Borghini (Barloworld), Romain Feillu (Agritubel) and Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis)
  • Peloton at 9.54

15:31 CEST    113km/95km to go
Dumoulin takes some bottles from his team car. Apparently the water coming from up above at the moment is not enough. It' uncomfortable for the riders with the rain constantly stopping and starting. That way, they can never really dress for the occasion. But the breakaway riders are definitely not interested in rain coats right now. And as we speak the sun comes out again...

15:32 CEST   
Let's see how the peloton does in the feed zone. It is two for two in crashes thus far in this year's Tour...

15:34 CEST   
The bunch passes Lieuron, where tons of people are out. That is the feed zone! So far so good.

15:36 CEST   
Jérôme Pineau (Bouygues Telecom) grabs his musette. So does French champ Nicolas Vogondy (Agritubel) and Rémy Di Gregorio (Française des Jeux). And there is Sébastien Rosseler (Quick Step), who gets his feed bag.

Caisse is helping Valverde with everything
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

15:38 CEST   
A Caisse rider takes two musettes. It is very likely one is for Valverde. He seemed a bit wobbly yesterday trying to get his wind breaker on. To be fair it was uphill and the pace not high, which make sit more difficult.

And there it goes! The musettes switches hands and Valverde will not be starving for a while.

15:43 CEST    120km/88km to go
The break passes La Manchonnais. The bunch is nine and a half minutes behind, Pipriac. The gap translates to about seven kilometres. But both, break and bunch, can enjoy looking at pretty churches.

15:46 CEST   
Kim Kirchen is speeding up back to the end of the peloton, also known as arrière du peloton around here. He wears the green jersey after his good results in the first couple of stages (fourth on stage 1 and second yesterday).

15:47 CEST   
Baden Cooke told Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes before the start, "The legs are feeling pretty good. The racing is fairly nervous, as always in the first few days. Hopefully the wind can actually break it up today, the last few days it has threatened to do that but nothing has really happened. I think it would make it more interesting for me if the field splinters a bit and there is a bit more of a fight."

15:51 CEST   
We are about to enter the département of Loire-Atlantique. Number 44. And it has straight roads. The peloton passes an intersection, with three minor roads going off in a star-like formation. And in each there is not a single parking sot available! Despite the bad weather a ton of people are out.

And a clever farmer has mowed his meadow as to read "Vive le Tour 2008" !!! The French are very inventive when it comes to do something special for their national Tour.

Cooke hopes that things break up a bit more today
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

15:53 CEST    129km/79km to go
The riders pass through Besle, and the gap is now falling below the nine-minute mark. Frischkorn is leading the group.

15:58 CEST   
The peloton is speeding along at 60 km/h. They won't get tickets in the towns, where the speed limit is 50km/h. And hopefully there won't be too many people around who report an entire peloton to the police for speeding, as has happened a couple of years ago, in a race in Germany.

16:00 CEST    134km/74km to go
We haven't emphasised it, but there were no crashes through the feed zone this time. And that despite the wind. It looks like the peloton has learned its lesson and taken it easy to stock up on food.

The gap is down to eight and a half minutes.

16:02 CEST   
Bernhard Kohl (Gerolsteiner) and Leif Hoste (Silence-Lotto) are making up the backend of the peloton, while Pierrick Fédrigo (Bouygues Telecom) and Marcus Burghardt (Columbia) are some of those that have to do the work at the front.

16:04 CEST   
Belgian Sébastien Rosseler (Quick Step) and compatriot Johan Van Summeren (Silence-Lotto) are chatting at the back. Bouygues Telecom is doing most of the work at the front in the moment.

16:05 CEST   
Big Swede Magnus Backstedt told Shane Stokes, "It is not too bad so far. I have been having a bit of a rough start, coming off the Giro and then being sick and everything. I have been told to take it easy in the beginning here, but I will start to open it up a little more after the time trial. So far it has just been a case of trying to find my legs, find the rhythm a bit. Just ease myself into it."

Pierrick Fédrigo (Bouygues Telecom) does a lot of work on the front
Photo ©: AFP
Click for larger image

Current race situation

  • William Frischkorn (Garmin Chipotle - H30), Paolo Longo Borghini (Barloworld), Romain Feillu (Agritubel) and Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis)
  • Peloton at 8.17

16:09 CEST    141km/67km to go
Frischkorn leads the break. The wind is coming from the right and how convenient his car pulls up on the right and gives some advise! There are open fields to the right and no protection form the wind.

Frischkorn drops back and Feillu is using the same trick. They will hope to hit a patch of forest real soon again!

16:12 CEST   
Maaskant is at the back now, together with Wegmann. The Dutchman's rear wheel is clear of vests for now. And the German champ does not seem to have technical trouble either. But there may be some other trouble ahead, as the entire Caisse team has moved up to the front. Maybe Valverde also wants to win today's bunch sprint?

16:14 CEST   
The peloton passes through Guemene-Penfao. Even here in town, there are many campers, like you usually only see the mountains. There are almost as many people, too!

The peloton has to break hard, as the twisty roads narrow down and there are only so many riders you can fit through. Wegmann breaks hard to avoid a crash.

16:16 CEST    144km/64km to go
Wegmann's team-mate Ronny Scholz is less lucky. He flats as soon as they leave the town.

Hopefully he can get back, as the peloton has really stepped it upon a little rise after Guemene-Penfao.

16:17 CEST   
Valverde pedals all the way on the left hand side of the road, very well protected from the wind, which comes from a south-westerly direction.

Will Ronny Scholz get back to the peloton after a flat? The bunch is flying right now!
Photo ©: Elmar Krings
(Click for larger image)

16:19 CEST    146km/62km to go
The Liqui-guys put on the gas now. The gap is down to 7'10.

16:22 CEST   
A strike on the Tour!!!! Prudhomme is talking to people apparently blocking the road.

16:23 CEST    151km/57km to go
The break has made it through the protesters with the help of the police, but they had to slow down and then accelerate.

16:26 CEST   
One of the protesters had a polka dot cycling cap, but he apparently isn't much of a fan for then sport.

We see a Milram rider putting on his vest. He is in the centre of the fast charging peloton and we have no idea what happens if someone ahead of him has to touch the brakes. It soon will be necessary as the bunch approaches the protesters.

Current race situation

  • William Frischkorn (Garmin Chipotle - H30), Paolo Longo Borghini (Barloworld), Romain Feillu (Agritubel) and Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis)
  • Peloton at 6.55

16:29 CEST   
The rain coats are really necessary now. The bunch passes through a forest and it is pouring down. Thomas Voeckler is tough, though. The polka dot wearer passes through without vest, rain coat or even arm warmers.

16:30 CEST   
As quickly as the rain had come it is gone. The clouds around here move faster than the peloton. And the French fans (you know, the real ones who are not trying to block the riders) are still out in their forces, even here in this remote forest.

16:33 CEST    158km/50km to go
Well, Prudhomme the diplomat managed to calm the protesters and the peloton passes without incident. We wonder if the group on the road was UCI, but their flyers seemed to be reading more something like IGR.

On the not so bright side, the rain has returned again.

The day's four-man break
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

16:35 CEST   
The break has still 6'44 on the peloton. The pic shows from left to right: Romain Feillu, William Frischkorn, Paolo Longo Borghini and Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis)

16:40 CEST   
Vittorio Algeri, DS for Milram said that "We have nobody in the break, that is not good." But he was hoping on other teams to do the work, which has worked out so far. "The stage is long." And so far, the plan seems to work, as the break will likely be swept up. Can Erik Zabel get Tour win number 13? What a lucky number it would be. And what a nice birthday present! Happy birthday, Erik!

Algeri added that the section through the forest was a bit tough, with the rain. "Now, it is necessary to continue fast."

16:42 CEST    164km/44km to go
Did we mention creative fans yet? We are passing the Château de Groulais and fans have used hay bales to rebuild part of the castle, put some tarp out to make it look like a road and added a gigantic heart (also out of hay bales). The love of the sport!

The gap holds steady for the moment, 6'46

16:47 CEST   
Thanks to Miles for reminding us that Zabel is not the only one celebrating a birthday today. The Manchester Wheelers' 125th anniversary is also on July 7. If you haven't heard of them, we are certain you have heard of some of its former members: Reg Harris, David Lloyd and Chris Boardman.

16:51 CEST    172km/36km to go
The break is now 6'10 ahead. The bunch is really charging down the French roads now. Française des Jeux has joined in the fun on the front as well.

If you had problems with the Live rider data link earlier, it should work now.

16:54 CEST    174km/34km to go
Gerolsteiner is also helping out. We suspect Ronny Scholz did make it back to the bunch. The German team, still looking for a sponsor, would love to get a win via sprinter Robert Förster or Heinrich Haussler.

Current race situation

  • William Frischkorn (Garmin Chipotle - H30), Paolo Longo Borghini (Barloworld), Romain Feillu (Agritubel) and Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis)
  • Peloton at 5.44

GC contenders Cadel Evans and Carlos Sastre earlier in today's stage, trying to stay safe.
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

16:58 CEST   
In a recent Procycling interview Lance Armstrong said that in the first week, you cannot win the race, but you can easily lose it. Some of the GC contenders like Cadel Evans and Carlos Sastre will be trying to stay out of trouble,

17:04 CEST    181km/27km to go
David López García (Caisse d'Epargne) is now making up the back of the peloton, having done his work near the front. The peloton is still strung out, but with less than 30km to go and the gap at 5'23, maybe the four can even stay away? The best placed rider is Romain Feillu, 18 seconds behind Valverde. Could he give the French a day to smile?

17:08 CEST   
The Caisse team is near the front. They look bright. Not because of their black jerseys, which don't emit much light. But they have those yellow neon numbers to indicate they are the best team currently.

Feillu is talking to Frischkorn. Are they chatting in English? French? And what do they talk about? Feillu may have good chances if the break stays away. He is a very fast man.

17:08 CEST    185km/23km to go
BAD CRASH. A divider in the middle of the road causes havoc in the peloton.

17:10 CEST   
Nicki Sørensen (CSC-Saxo Bank) went down but the worst of is Angel Gomez of Saunier. He is still on the ground. The peloton has broken up in three.

Quick Step takes the front and powers on.

17:12 CEST   
Gomez just came back from a very bad crash in the Tour of Flanders. Bad luck for the Spaniard, who was so happy to be nominated to the Tour. We hope he can continue.

The front bunch is now only some 50 riders strong. The gap is 4'30. Valverde is in the front.

17:14 CEST    188km/20km to go
The break passes the 20km to go sign. What about a victory for the 'new' Garmin team? It would show that its GPS equipment is working alright. Feillu may end up[m in yellow and is taking strong pulls. He may not have enough for a stage win, then, but yellow ain't bad, either...

Current race situation

  • William Frischkorn (Garmin Chipotle - H30), Paolo Longo Borghini (Barloworld), Romain Feillu (Agritubel) and Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis)
  • Peloton at 4.31

17:16 CEST   
Several Caisse riders are moving up to the front. They really try to defend yellow. Or there are some GC contenders in the second part of the peloton.

Angel Gomez is the second abandon of the Tour.

17:17 CEST   
The first peloton now passes the 20km to go sign.

17:17 CEST   
Indeed, Menchov is in the second group. Riccò, Sylvain Chavanel are also there. They are about 15 to 20 seconds behind the Valverde group.

17:18 CEST   
Wegmann is at the end of the third group, another minute back.

17:19 CEST    193km/15km to go
There may be some finger pointing tonight, as the separation happened due to the crash. However, the front riders are trying to get back to the break, which is still almost four minutes ahead.

17:20 CEST   
It is unlikely now the sprinters will come back. Apparently their calculators were off!

Current race situation

  • William Frischkorn (Garmin Chipotle - H30), Paolo Longo Borghini (Barloworld), Romain Feillu (Agritubel) and Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis)
  • 1st Peloton with Valverde and Evans at 3.30
  • 2nd peloton with Menchov at 4.00
  • 3rd peloton at 5.00

17:23 CEST    196km/12km to go
A dozen to go and the gap at 3'20. That's enough!

Rabo rides its hard out in the second group.

17:24 CEST   
The first bunch is still powering through, with Quick Step and Liquigas in the front rows.

17:25 CEST    198km/10km to go
Feillu takes a drink and off goes the bottle to the right.

Frischkorn pulls through. They pass the 10km to go sign! The noise of the spectators is unbelievable.

17:26 CEST    199.5km/8.5km to go
It is still very windy, as the riders approach Nantes. In those conditions a team like Quick Step is good to have. The Belgians know a thing or two about riding in the wind.

Behind Saunier and Rabo are doing the work. Both Menchov and Riccò are stuck behind.

17:27 CEST   
A rather excited Vaughters told Cyclingnews "They're going to make it!!"

17:29 CEST   
The Valverde group passes the 10km to go sign, still more than three minutes behind.

Menchov/Riccò pass 40 seconds later!!!

17:29 CEST   
The Valverde group lost one rider due to a crash.

17:29 CEST   

Current race situation

  • William Frischkorn (Garmin Chipotle - H30), Paolo Longo Borghini (Barloworld), Romain Feillu (Agritubel) and Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis)
  • 1st Peloton with Valverde and Evans at 3.05
  • 2nd peloton with Menchov at 3.43
  • 3rd peloton at 5.00

17:30 CEST    203km/5km to go
Now it is time for the break to think about victory. They take a sharp left, with Feillu hanging on at the end. The Frenchman is in the best position. he will get yellow, so has no pressure to win the stage.

17:31 CEST   
Looks like now they have a tailwind.

17:32 CEST   
The break passes under a large bridge. One of the four will take the win!

17:32 CEST    204km/4km to go
Four to go.

Menchov/Riccò are still 30 secs behind the Valverde group.

17:33 CEST   
A large roundabout splits the peloton momentarily.

17:33 CEST    205km/3km to go
After a long break, it is not necessarily the best sprinter who will win - just the one who has held back enough...

17:34 CEST    206km/2km to go
Longo Borghini leads the group. There is no rain for the moment, but some dark clouds rolling in.

17:34 CEST   

Current race situation

  • William Frischkorn (Garmin Chipotle - H30), Paolo Longo Borghini (Barloworld), Romain Feillu (Agritubel) and Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis)
  • 1st Peloton with Valverde and Evans at 2.40
  • 2nd peloton with Menchov at 3.15
  • 3rd peloton at 5.00

17:35 CEST   
The break is starting to hesitate and play games.

17:35 CEST   
Dumoulin is the first to go!

17:36 CEST    207km/1km to go
Frischkorn goes after him! Longo can't pull. Feillu drops him to catch up with the other two.

17:36 CEST   
Feillu catches the two and drops them!!!

17:36 CEST   
Feillu has a small gap, can he hold?

17:37 CEST   
The other two reach him again, 500m to go!

17:37 CEST   
Dumoulin takes the lead. Frischkorn looks spent!

17:37 CEST   
Feillu tries again to catch Dumoulin. Frischkorn takes his wheel.

17:38 CEST   
Will suffers, so does Feillu

17:38 CEST   
And Dumoulin takes it! The other couldn't get back to the Frenchman.

17:38 CEST   
Frischkorn takes second, what a ride for the Garminer

17:38 CEST   
Feillu in third and yellow

17:40 CEST   
The sprint for fifth: Robbie McEwen edges out birthday kid Erik Zabel

17:42 CEST   
Menchov and Riccò lost almost 40 seconds! Not a good day for those GC contenders.

17:49 CEST   
An emotional Dumoulin shed some tears at the finish. Feillu was equally happy for getting yellow. Frischkorn narrowly missed the stage win. He is now third in GC.

Millar is 1'46 behind on GC and can take yellow tomorrow, although 30km is uncharacteristically short for a Tour TT.

Thanks for joining us today and we are looking forward to see you tomorrow for stage 4.

Au revoir!

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