Tour de Romandie 2012, stage three photo gallery by Graham Watson>>

Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) took a narrow sprint win at the third stage of the Tour de Romandie, pipping Gianni Meersman (Lotto-Belisol) with Paulo Tiralongo (Astana) in third. 

Bradley Wiggins finished safely at the front of the bunch but his lead in the overall classification was reduced to just one second after Sanchez, who sat 11 seconds back at the start of the day, picked up ten bonus seconds for the stage win. 

Three categorised climbs and an uphill finish driven at breakneck speed were enough to rule out the chances of the pure sprinters for today’s stage.

Indeed, Mark Cavendish was consigned to domestique duties when the break of the day, which included Irish champion Matt Brammeier (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), had built up a lead of 5 and a half minutes with 50km remaining.

It was a rare sight to see the World Champion’s jersey at the front of the pack pulling the Sky team along, with the yellow jersey of Wiggins tucked away out of the wind. 

When the road turned uphill with 4km to go, the peloton pounced on the remnants of the break and Sky’s Aussie time-trial aces Richie Porte and Michael Rogers looked to have delivered Wiggins to a perfect position leading into the final few hundred metres. 

Unfortunately, Wednesday’s sprint heroics were beyond Wiggins this time around and the British champion’s tank was empty as Sanchez jumped past. 

Meersman raised his arms in protest as Sanchez raised his in celebration. The Belgian felt he had been boxed in by the Rabobank rider, but the result stood. 

With a 10 mile time trial on the final day, Wiggins realistically now only has to worry about one remaining stage, tomorrow’s stage four which includes three first category climbs and a downhill finish into Sion.

Results

Tour de Romandie stage three, La Neuveville-Charmey, 158km

1. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Rabobank

2. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Lotto-Belisol

3. Paulo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana

4. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Barracuda

5. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank

6. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale

7. Maciej Paterski (Pol) Liquigas-Cannondale

8. Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha

9. Gorka Verdugo (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi

10. Fabrice Jeandesboz (Fra) Saur-Sojasun

General classification after stage three

1. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky

2. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Rabobank

3. Michael Rogers (Aus) Sky

4. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank

5. Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank

6. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Barracuda

7. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Rabobank

8. David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Barracuda

9. Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha

10. Ruben Plaza (Spa) Movistar





Luis Leon Sanchez celebrates his stage win





Bradley Wiggins retains the race lead with two stages remaining

Tour de Romandie 2012: Related links



Stage two: Hivert breaks Sky winning run at Romandie



Stage one: Wiggins makes it two out of two for Sky in Romandie


Prologue: Geraint Thomas wins Tour de Romandie prologue


Tour de Romandie 2012: Coverage index




Tour de Romandie 2012: Photos



Stage three photo gallery



Stage two photo gallery



Stage one photo gallery



Prologue photo gallery