Mark Cavendish took his second consecutive stage win on what many thought would be a largely innocuous day in the saddle for the peloton.



Taking his sixth Tour de France stage win in two years, Cavendish once again displayed that he is by far and away the world’s greatest sprinter, quite possibly the finest the sport has ever seen.



Whilst it was Cavendish who took the stage and reinforced his lead in the green jersey competition, it was the tactical intrigue that will dominate the headlines.



With 30 kilometres remaining on the predominantly flat stage, and the remnants of the break swept up, Columbia stamped its authority over the race, driving away from the rest of the field en masse and dragging several overall contenders with them in the process, including Lance Armstrong and Linus Gerdemann as well as the yellow jersey, Fabian Cancellara.



Armstrong’s team-mates, Alberto Contador, Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Kloden, all potential team-leaders in their own right, were left in the impossible situation of seeing Armstrong escape up the road and being powerless to chase.



With many of the teams represented within the break, allegiances were confused in the peloton with most of the work having to be done by Silence-Lotto and Garmin.



Holding a lead of between 20 and 30 seconds, it was unclear whether it would all come back together. Columbia did the majority of the work in the break and even Yaroslav Popovych (Astana) did a turn on the front as Armstrong sat comfortably, flanked by Haimar Zubeldia.  



But it stayed away thanks to long turns from Mark Renshaw and George Hincapie. In the sprint to the line, Thor Hushovd came off Cavendish’s wheel, drew alongside the Manxman, but Cavendish kicked again and was a comfortable winner for his second consecutive win.



“What a way to stick it to the other teams,” said Cavendish after his second straight win.



“It was a perfect finish. The team split the race in the crosswinds and today we really showed our domination in the first week of a Grand Tour.



“The finish was closer than yesterday. Thor Hushovd is one of the best sprinters on the planet, but Renshaw kept his cool. I had to keep [my effort] late due to the headwind finish”.



Trouble ahead for Astana?

On just the third day of the race, it seems that the already tenuous team unity at Astana has been shredded.



Contador took the upper hand in the opening time trial, but Armstrong today showed his propensity for tactical skulduggery and has moved 19 seconds clear of the Spaniard. With a 39km team time trial on the agenda tomorrow, the team will have to adopt some sort of accord, at least of sorts if Armstrong and Contador are not to lose precious time overall.



With just three stages down and 19 to go, it’s a long, long way to Paris.



RESULTS

Stage three: Marseille-
La Grande Motte, 196.5km

1. Mark Cavendish (GB) Columbia-HTC


2. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervélo

3. Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Skil-Shimano

4. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis

5. Jerome Pineau (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom

6. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Saxo Bank

7. Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Milram

8. Fumiyuku Beppu (Jap) Skil-Shimano

9. Maxime Bouet (Fra) Agritubel

10. Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Milram all same time.

Other

32. Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto at 41sec

35. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 41sec

49. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana at 41sec

111. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 41sec

176. Charly Wegelius (GB) Silence-Lotto at 4-25

Overall classification after stage three

1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Saxo Ban
k in 9-50-58

2. Tony Martin (Ger) Columbia-HTC at 33 secs

3. Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana at 40 secs

4. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana at 59 secs

5. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 1-00

6. Andreas Kloden (Ger) Astana at 1-03

7. Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Milram at 1-03

8. Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto at 1-04

9. Maxime Monfort (Bel) Columbia-HTC at 1-10

10. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana at 1-11

Points classification

Mark Cavendish (GB) Columbia-HTC

King of the Mountains

Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) Française des Jeux



Young riders’ classification

Tony Martin (Ger) Columbia-HTC

Mark Cavendish, Tour de France 2009, stage 3

Phone home: Cavendish celebrates his win for new sponsor, telecommunications company HTC

TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 LINKS

Tour de France 2009 – the hub: Index to reports, photos, previews and more.

STAGE REPORTS



Stage two: Cavendish takes first sprint



Stage one: Cancellara wins opening time trial

NEWS



Tour de France 2009 News Index



The Feed Zone: Monday, July 6



Analysis: Why Columbia must expect to do the bulk of the chasing



Wiggins challenging for top 20 overall



The Feed Zone: Sunday, July 5



Cancellara: Tour time trial win proves I’m back


Tour de France teams in Monaco presentation




Boonen free to ride in Tour de France




EXCLUSIVE VIDEOS



Stage two: Mark Cavendish on the Tour



Stage one: Jonathan Vaughters on Bradley Wiggins’ chances

TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 PHOTOS



Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson



Team presentation by Andy Jones



Team presentation by Graham Watson

TOUR GUIDE

Tour de France 2009 – the hub

Tour de France 2009: Who’s riding

Tour de France 2009: Team guide

About the Tour de France

FEATURES

Tour de France 2009 on TV: Eurosport and ITV4 schedules

Big names missing from 2009 Tour de France

Tour de France anti-doping measures explained

Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish

Cycling Weekly’s rider profiles

TWITTER



Follow the Tour on Cycling Weekly’s Twitter feed

This article is from

Cycling Weekly – In print and online, Cycling Weekly is the best source of breaking news, race reportage, reliable fitness advice, trustworthy product reviews and inspirational features. First published in 1891, the magazine has an amazing and unrivalled heritage, having been at the heart of British cycling for over 120 years.

Subscribe to Cycling Weekly in print » | Read the digital edition »

  • Roy Cannon

    Your report says “Columbia did the majority of the work in the break as Armstrong sat comfortably, flanked by Haimar Zubeldia. ”
    Are you sure? looked like Lance was flanked by no one and more than did his share on the front, showing them all who was boss.

  • Ashley Green

    No skulduggery here – lance was where a leader was supposed to be in a crosswind and Contador wasn’t. He got sawed off and that was that.

  • John Calliott

    They interviewed Columbia’s George Hincapie right after the race. He said that it wasn’t a planned strategy, but Columbia wanted to race, and the other teams with sprinter’s refused to work. Columbia got angry and put it to them. And the big winner could end up being Armstrong, who reacted quickly along with two teammates and Fabian Cancellara. It’s amazing that he was able to leapfrog Contador, etc. because Columbia got upset with lazy teams on a windy day, and his experience helped him spot the occasion. The race is off to a great start. Congrats Cav.