Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) rode to an impressive victory on stage three of the Tour de France in Longwy this afternoon despite clipping out of his pedal with less than 300m to the finish.
After a fairly quiet day for the GC contenders it was the world champion Sagan who held off Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) and Dan Martin (Quickstep-Floors) to take victory after what was a technical and entertaining uphill finish.
As for the main GC guys, there was no crashes or panic like yesterday except for French hope Romain Bardet (Ag2r La-Mondiale) who had a minor tumble – the 26-year-old managed to get back safely in with the help of some of his teammates. But the other GC hopefuls were unaffected from any crashes this time around.
Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas held onto the Yellow Jersey while Chris Froome (Team Sky), Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), Richie Porte (Team BMC) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) all crossed the line within the front group.
The 212km stage from Verviers to Longwy was one of those undulating days with a few lower category climbs, but nothing to strenuous that would see the GC contenders come out to play. But the finale was where the excitement would happen.
The finish was situated after steep climb and with the stage contenders and the GC guys wanting to be at the front the finale was a frantic mix as riders didn’t want to lose out on any ground.
The breakaway tried, but failed to succeed on a tough day
The day started with a breakaway of six riders which included Nils Politt (Katusha), Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal), Romain Hardy (Fortuneo), Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Nate Brown (Cannonale-Drapac) and Romain Sicard (Direct-Energie).
These were out on thier own until 59km as Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Lilian Calmejane (Direct-Energie) and Pierre-Louis Perichon joined them.
But as the raced headed towards Longwy it as the Frenchman Calmejane who wanted to try his luck as he launched a solo effort as the other remnants of the breakaway were swallowed up by the peloton.
But as the race hit the final and most crucial kilometres, Calmejane was caught as the peloton wound up for a tricky finish.
Porte tries to upset favourites
As the race entered the final 4km, the battle for the stage got interesting as BMC went for a two-pronged attack in the shape of Porte and Greg Van Avermaet (Team BMC).
Porte wasn’t necessarily going for the stage win, but the Australian who is regarded as Froome’s closest rival was looking to steal some seconds as he launched an attack.
At one moment in time it looked like the attack might stick as he got clear of the favourites or the stage, but gradually Sagan and company closed the gap, and with the line bearing down Sagan was in prime position to take the victory.
But stage wins in the Tour never come easy and with Sagan in full flight, his foot came out of his clip just 300m from the line. It didn’t seem to faze the Slovakian as he clipped back in and still powered his way to the line ahead of Matthews and Martin to take his first Tour win at his new team Bora Hansgrohe.