A classic sprinter's stage, the finale seemed to be a forgone conclusion as Mark Cavendish's HTC-Highroad team led the peloton into the final kilometers. But as the pace began to reach a feverish and desperate pitch, the usually powerful and HTC-Highroad lead-out train turned out to be a shade of its former self.
Team Garmin-Cervelo, on the other hand, was quite simply dominant. With a levity of foot from the previous day's victory, the team easily supplanted all comers in the closing meters to deliver young Tyler Farrar to his first Tour de France victory. The 27-year old paid tribute to his fallen friend, Woulter Weylandts, as he crossed the line, fulfilling a father's pre-Tour request.
Romain Feillu (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team) would finish in second, and Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Movistar Team) in third.
Results - Stage 3
1. Tyler Farrar (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo
2. Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
3. Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team
Quick Stepping Through The Tour
The Quick-Step Cycling Team animated the third stage of the Tour de France with Niki Terpstra. The former Dutch champion attacked early in the stage with 4 other escapees. They opened a maximum gap of 8 minutes. The sprinters` teams took control in the bunch and closed in on the escapees. With a little less than 20 kilometers Terpstra was caught. The sprinters` teams did a perfect lead-out, but a crash in the final turn caused some chaos. Tom Boonen was troubled by the crash and couldn`t participate in the sprint. Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) took the stage win beating Romain Feillu (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Jose Rojas (Movistar).
Just after 2 kilometers Niki Terpstra attacked from the peloton together with Mickael Delage (Francaise des Jeux). They were accompanied by Ruben Perez (Euskaltel), Maxime Bouet (AG2R) and Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Movistar) some later. The five escapees opened up a maximum gap of 8 minutes on the bunch, which was led by the sprinters` teams. They closed in on the escapees second by second, with 45 kilometers to go Terpstra and his companions had only a 2 minutes gap. Terpstra, Perez and Bouet were finally reeled in by the bunch with 18 kilometers to go. Gutierrez and Delage were next to try their luck, but they were caught too at 8 kilometers from the line. "I think I did well, in the break we gave it our all. I wasn't at 100% today, but when you get a chance to bust the break in the Tour, you've got to jump at it. We collaborated very well in the head of the race. I even tried to sprint at the top of Pont de Saint-Nazaire for the points belonging to the polka-dot jersey, but it definitely wasn't a sprint suited to me", Terpstra said after the stage.
In the sprint preparation Tom Boonen was brought to the front by his team mates. Just before the final turn he was in the wheel of the lead-out trains. A crash in the final turn ruined his chances for a good result however. Boonen had to put a foot down and finished in the back of the bunch. The stage win went to Farrar, who bested Feillu and Rojas at the line. Gert Steegmans was the first rider of the Quick-Step Cycling Team in 25th place. "I'm bummed I couldn't bust a good sprint today. I felt like I had a good sprint in my legs, I pedaled very well all day. We went into the left curve -located about 600 meters from the finish line - very fast. I was right on Cavendish's wheel with Petacchi on mine. We came out of it really close to the barricades but then some athletes busted in at full speed and forced me to brake to avoid the worst", said Boonen about the final sprint. "It's too bad for Ciolek, too. Gerald drove me really well but right before the last kilometer he also had to pull off a balancing act to stay on his bike. It's a lost opportunity and I also lost lots of points for the green jersey. You never know at the Tour, though, we're going to keep trying. Often all it takes is a couple of good results to get back into the race for the points jersey."
General Classification After Stage 3
1. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Team Garmin-Cervelo
2. David Millar (GBr) Team Garmin-Cervelo
3. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
4. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling
5. Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Leopard Trek
6. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
7. Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek
8. Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek
9. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard Trek
10. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling
Jersey Leaders After Stage 3
maillot jaune - Thor Hushovd (Nor) Team Garmin-Cervelo
maillot vert - Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team
maillot a pois rouges - Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
maillot blanc - Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling
Next: Stage 4 - Lorient to Mûr-de-Bretagne (172km)
Photo: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images