On what will likely go down as one of the more controversial days of the 2012 Tour de France Peter Sagan couldn’t contain his enthusiasm doing “the running man” across the line for the win. And why should Sagan contain his enthusiasm? He’s an absolutely dominant rider this year and he’s brimming with confidence. But here in lies the problem. On a day like today, one that was marred with crashes and splits, the age old debate of racing gets its thorns up. Just how much cut-throat racing is allowed in a race?
It was certain that at the beginning of the day BMC’s Philippe Gilbert, Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde and of course, Liquigas and Peter Sagan were targeting the stage for a win. Morkov and his company were out on the days break as Morkov was gobbling up more KOM points, but then the choas began. Numerous flats and wheel changes added some nerves to the group, and those nerves turned ragged with the first big crash of the day. And Movistar just kept on riding while the others eased on the pace. This clearly didn’t sit well with a number of teams such as Sky who lost Sivtsov to injury in the crash. As things calmed down, the “What’s fair in racing?” debate heated up. And then, almost before the conversation got rolling, another huge crash, with J.J. Rojas (MOV) in the middle of it. Who was at the front? Movistar hammering along in pursuit of the break. Movistar was making it clear they weren’t waiting for anyone, even themselves. Liquigas joined the efforts and now the merde a frappé le ventilateur! Garmin was strewn all over the place. Voeckler was caught out. Gilbert was distanced. Words were being had in the front group. Then news came over the radio that Rojas had broken his collarbone. Movistar and Liquigas kept hammering.
The break was caught on the penultimate climb and Sylvain Chavanel wasn’t waiting for more chaos as he went off alone. The chase was on, and down the high-speed descent Valverde overcooked a right-hander at the roundabout and went from near the head of the group to the back. Sagan launched his attack and no one could even come close. Not even close. He danced across the line and looked back to find the frustrated and the fallen. Ouch.
The riders on the day who were caught up in the madness today and lost time were Dan Martin (GRM) +5’05”, Thomas Voeckler (EUR) +7’07”, Philippe Gilbert (BMC) +7’46”, Tom Danielson (GRM) +9’11”, Juan Jose Cobo (MOV) +10’37”, Simon Gerrans (OGN) +10’37”. As well Movistar lost to abandon J.J. Rojas (DNF) and Sky lost Konstantin Svitsov (DNF).
Tomorrow, it’s another undulating stage but this time with a flat finish. If the sprinters can get there, it should be a classic finish, but don’t be surprised if we see Sagan and another celebration.
Stage 3 Top Ten
1. Peter Sagan (LIQ)__________4h42’58”
2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (SKY)_+1″
3. Peter Velits (OPQ)
4. Fabian Cancellara (RNT)
5. Michael Albasini (OGN)
6. Cadel Evans (BMC)
7. Nicolas Roche (ALM)
8. Sammy Sanchez (EUS)
9. Bauke Mollema (RAB)
10. Vincenzo Nibali (LIQ)
Full Stage 3 Results: LeTour.fr
Overall Classification after Stage 3
1. Fabian Cancellara (RNT)_____14h45’30”
2. Bradley Wiggins (SKY)_______+7″
3. Sylvain Chavanel (OPQ)______+7″
4. Tejay VanGarderen (BMC)_____+10″
5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (SKY)__+11″
6. Denis Menchov (KAT)_________+13″
7. Cadel Evans (BMC)___________+17″
8. Vincenzo Nibali (LIQ)_______+18″
9. Ryder Hesjedal (GRS)_______+18″
10. Andreas Kloden (RNT)________+19″
11. Bauke Mollema (RAB)________+21″
20. Nicolas Roche (ALM)________+25″
22. Robert Gesink (RAB)________+26″
23. Jurgen Van DenBroeck (LTB)_+28″
25. Ivan Basso (LIQ)___________+29″
26. Alejandro Valverde (MOV)___+35″
29. Michele Scarponi (LAM)_____+37″
30. Frank Schleck (RNT)_______+38″
32. Sammy Sanchez (EUS)_____+40″
37. Levi Leipheimer (OPQ)_____+45″
Full Overall Classification: LeTour.fr