06/07/15 - 12:40
Antwerp - Mur de Huy
Tour de France • Stage3

Antwerp - Mur de Huy

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Just the one second separate Froome and Martin at the top of the standings... heartbreak for the big German.


So Britain's Chris Froome - and not Germany's Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) - will be in the yellow jersey tonight after Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) finished well back following that horrific crash.


Yes, the likes of Nibali, Contador and Quintana all finished 11 seconds down on Froome, who picked up six bonus seconds too.


That's more valuable time for Chris Froome - who will pick up bonus seconds, plus finished ahead of Contador and his other rivals.


Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2R-La Mondiale) takes a surprise third place ahead of Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin). The Irishman was badly positioned at the start of the climb and had it all to do.


Victory for Joaquim Rodriguez of Katusha ahead of Chris Froome of Team Sky.


Rodriguez is climbing clear - but Froome is clawing back... Martin has left it too late...


Rodriguez now leading Gallopin and Froome...


Yes, Quintana is there too... it's a big bunch of about 20 riders, with Froome and Contador leading with 450km to go.


It's Caruso who is setting the pace. Gallopin and Molema are there. Froome and Nibali are there - and Rodriguez and Contador, No sign of Quintana. 19% now...


We're onto the final climb. Jungels is caught. Katusha lead the pace. Kwiatkowski has been dropped.


Lots of jostling for positioning here ahead of the climb... and Bob Jungels of Trek has opened up a small gap.


Pinot still 12 seconds back as the final climb approaches... The yellow jersey gruppetto is six minutes back now.


Three Tinkoff-Saxo riders on the front on the descent... and Roman Kreuziger overcooks a bend and hits the deck in the shade. It's not serious, but he'll have to fight back.


It looks like Julian Arredondo of Trek pipped Mick Rogers for the points over the summit there. Pinot is about 15 seconds down over the top.


It's really strung out on this climb - complete and utter devastation. Rui Costa, who hit the deck in that crash earlier, has been dropped. Thibaut Pinot has been distanced for FDJ too.


Mick Rogers ups the tempo and riders are being blown off the back. Chris Froome elbows a rider who strays too close - it's a nervous ascent, this. Kwiatkowski is sitting in Rogers' wheel.


It's Etixx and Tinkoff-Saxo now as the riders approach the penultimate climb, the Cote de Cherave, which peaks at a huge 13%.


The Cancellara group is more than four minutes down now - and that's food for thought for Etixx-QuickStep. Tony Martin is the virtual race leader - and his team-mates have come to the front.


Sky are controlling the pace through Porte, Thomas and Froome - with Alberto Contador and a cluster of Tinkoff-Saxo team-mates right behind.


Cancellara is clutching his hip as he crosses the summit in the gruppetto, 2:18 down on the main pack.


Difficult to say who picked up the points over the summit of the Cote d'Ereffe, with Sky and BMC both having power in numbers on the front.


The Cancellara group is over a minute back now. Tulik has been caught as Sky come to the front with Richie Porte setting the pace.


Angelo Tulik (Europcar) launches off the front of the pack at the start of Cote d'Ereffe. He'll be thinking about that polka dot jersey.


A handful of riders have been tailed off by the peloton, including Fabian Cancellara, who was one of the dozen or so riders to go down hard in that pile-up.


It's now Cannondale-Garmin who have come to the front to drive the pace for their man Dan Martin.


Tinkoff-Saxo are really driving the pace hard now. It's back together, but the yellow jersey, Fabian Cancellara, is still firmly rooted to the back of the peloton.


Relief for Valverde, Pinot and Bardet, who are now back with the main pack after being distanced earlier. Two climbs ahead of today's decisive slog up the Mur de Huy.


More fall out from the crash: Dmitriy Kozonchuk (Katyusha) has abandoned. Apparently Laurens Ten Dam (LottoNL-Jumbo) dislocated his shoulder bit it was popped back in.


Andre Greipel picks up maximum points at the intermediate sprint at Havelange. John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) has a pop there, but the veteran German was too powerful. Nacer Bouhanni takes third for Cofidis.


Thibaut Pinot of FDJ seems to have been caught out by this split... Alejandro Valverde, the favourite for the stage, too. And Romain Bardet...


The gap is 20 seconds for this leading group - which has the green jersey Andre Greipel. Cancellara is in the second group and will surely lose his yellow jersey tonight. Europcar are making up for their earlier setbacks in the leading group. It's all happening today.


Fabian Cancellara is at the back of the main peloton, which trails a leading group of about 40 riders. All the Big Four appear to be there. In fact, it may be as large as 60 riders, and it's been driven by Saxo-Tinkoff and Astana.


Astana have now thrown down the hammer and have caused a split! Sky were momentarily caught out but they manage to bridge the gap for Chris Froome. Tinkoff-Saxo are there too - a 40-man group edges ahead of the peloton.


Katusha, Sky and Tinkoff-Saxo are on the front as the pace increases. Amazingly none of the Big Four were involved in that crash there.


CORRECTION: Laurens Ten Dam (LottoNL-Jumbo) has not withdrawn. The Dutchman is still there despite his part in the pile-up.


British national champion Peter Kennaugh (Sky) has come to the front now as the leading riders talk among themselves. It looks like they're gauging whether or not they can start riding again. Some of the teams are starting to push on a little now - warming up the engines and the tyres.


The race is on - but the pace is very slow. We're hearing that there are no race ambulances left and so everyone is loath to throw down the hammer. The terrain is undulating now - and Cancellara is back with his team car after seeing the doctor.


Over the summit of the Cote de Bohissau they go - it's the first categorised climb of the race, but it has been neutralised so no one will pick up any points here.


Michael Matthews has been dropped on this climb - even though the race is still neutralised. He's going to suffer all the way to the finish today. Sad day for GreenEdge, with Gerrans pulling out after his fifth serious accident of the season.


Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Giant Alpecin) is another rider to have abandoned. Miraculously none of the Big Four or race favourites were involved in that. Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) came down but appears to be ok.


The race is back under way after that 15-minute stop. Still neutralised though, with the pack riding behind the commissaires vehicle until the summit of the Cote de Bohissau.


It was a real tangle and twist of metal, carbon fibre and bodies, that crash - with the presence of the light post making matters worse. Really, really nasty.


Replays of the crash are quite grim. The pace must have been around 55-60 kmph. It's not getting a bit aggressive in the peloton, with riders wanting to continue and others still trying to come to terms with what's happened. Greg Henderson of Lotto-Soudal and Johan Vansummeren of Ag2R have torn shirts and are covered with cuts and bruises. Michael Matthews of Orica-GreenEdge came down too and has rips/cuts on his back and thigh.


Fabian Cancellara, for whom the peloton has halted, looks to be on his way out. He's shaking his head and trying to get in the team car - but looks like he has been talked out of it by his Trek sporting director.


A spate of withdrawals: Bonnet, whose fall caused the pile-up, will not continue. Laurens Ten Dam (LottoNL-Jumbo) is out, so is Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge).


Amazing scenes in Belgian: the stage has been stopped ahead of the first category four climb. Many riders are not happy with that - most notably Astana. Big confusion here on the Tour.


Fabian Cancellara is riding back - he was wincing earlier and looked to have a problem with his shoulder. He otherwise looks ok now - not too many cuts even. There is a go-slow in the peloton imposed by the race director, Christian Prudhomme.


That was absolutely horrific - and came at a moment when the pace was really, really high. William Bonnet was the FDJ rider and his race is surely over. His body is completely mangled.


HUGE CRASH: With the pace really high an FJR rider hits the deck and brings down a medley of riders, some of whom career into a light on the side of the road. Fabian Cancellara is down - his yellow bike sent flying through the air.


Frenchman Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) has picked up a flat tyre and needs a rear wheel change. Svein Tuft of Orica-GreenEdge too. The gap is under 20 seconds now for the four leaders - so they will be caught before the first of four lower category climbs today. And another puncture: Tony Gallopin of Lotto-Soudal.


The gap is coming tumbling down - it's just 55 seconds now for the four escapees ahead of the first of four categorised climbs. Perhaps their collective bid to win the polka dot jersey will be foiled.


The peloton has passed through the feed zone - and the lead of the four escapees is down to two minutes now.


We spoke to Ireland's Dan Martin at the start: "It's a climb that suits me and I know it really well. It's steep all the way to the finish and so it's very difficult. There's a balance between being in a good position and not expending energy."


The gap is back down to 2:40 for the four leaders - Barta, Nauleau, Elmiger and Pauwels - who broke clear right at the start of today's stage from Antwerp to Huy.


The race is passing through the town of Hannut, credited with being the location of the first battle between tanks in World War II.


The gap has crept back up over three minutes after the Trek team of yellow jersey Fabian Cancellara slink further back into the pack. "There is no worry at all back in the peloton - the break would need 10 minutes at this stage for it to be a worry."


The bunch is compact as it rides at 2:35 from the break. After yesterday's dramatics it's a relatively leisurely affair today with clement weather and very little wind.


Puncture for Germany's Tony Martin - who would be in yellow today had Fabian Cancellara not pipped Mark Cavendish for third place in Zeeland. After his team missed out on both the stage win and the yellow jersey, Etuxx-QuickStep sporting director admitted that it was "an historic f*** up". If Martin holds it together on the final climb today, he could well take the yellow from the Swiss - but it's a big ask.


Serge Pauwels is pulling on the front of the break - he's been working harder than the others, but perhaps it's no surprise: he's the only Belgian rider in his MTN-Qhubeka team. Officially, Pauwels has been on the front for 27% of the break so far.


Adam Hansen is currently riding on the back of the peloton after dislocating his shoulder yesterday. After finishing stage two in last position, the Australian tweeted: "AC dislocation. Same shoulder as 3 weeks ago. Was told its going to be the most painful 3 weeks 4 me. I eat pain for breakfast. Bring it on!"


With 100km remaining the gap has momentarily dropped below the three-minute mark.


Greipel is riding a green Ridley and Cancellara is riding a yellow Trek. Will someone give their bike a custom polka-dot paint job tonight?


Eddy Merckx is riding in a race car with Bernard Hinault today - both of them record five-time winners of the Tour. These two Tour legends are now standing on the side of the road in the Belgian's birth town, ready to watch the riders zip past. The gap is 3:20.


The leaders are approaching Meensel-Kiezegem, the birthplace of five-time Tour winner Eddy Merckx. The town is today unveiling a statue of the Belgian legend who recently turned 70 years old.


This is 27-year-old Bryan Nauleau's first Tour de France - in stark contrast to veteran Martin Elmiger's six Tours. Jan Barta and Serge Pauwels are somewhere in between with two Tours to their name. The gap is 3:15.


Puncture for John Degenkolb, who is riding back to the peloton after a wheel change. He's Giant-Alpecin's number one sprinter this year following the non-selection of Marcel Kittel, who is somewhat short of health and fitness. Degenkolb won both Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix earlier this season - and hopes to add a Tour stage victory to his swelling palmares after victories in both the Giro and Vuelta.


In the words of Carlton Kirby, these guys are on a hiding to nothing - surely. That said, with the race's first climbs today, one of these four riders could well be in the polka dot jersey this evening - and that's as big an incentive as ever for the break.


Stage one winner Rohan Dennis has hit the deck but the BMC man is back on his bike. Not entirely sure what happened there for the former yellow jersey - but he's ok, giving the thumbs up to the cameras.


Trek, Astana, Tinkoff-Saxo, Movistar and Ag2R-La Mondiale making their presence known on the front of the pack, keeping the gap below the four-minute mark.


Some more favourites for today's win: Ireland's Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) and Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge). Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) may have a pop, while in John Degenkolb and Warren Barguil Giant-Alpecin have two interesting prospects... The gap is up to 3:30 for the four leaders.


Today's Tour tipple: De Koninck beer - brewed in Antwerp, a light amber ale with a strong malty flavour. Or the herbaceous Elixir d'Anvers liquor - often given to children on a lump of sugar...


Another rider who would normally fancy his chances today is Joaquim Rodriguez - although the Katusha climber crashed yesterday and so may be feeling the pinch a little. Who else? Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge), Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx) and, if Rodriguez isn't feeling up to it, Giampaolo Caruso of Katusha.


Today's Plat du Jour: We're in Belgium so it's moules frites and waffles all the way - or a local Walloon delicacy of Flamiche, a type of cheese flan.


Today's finish is on the infamous Mur de Huy - described as both "murderous" and the "longest kilometre in cycling". It peaks out at 19% and is used in the finale of the Fleche Wallonne spring classic every year. Alejandro Valverde has won the Fleche three times in his career - including this April - making him one of the big favourites for the win today.


Trek and Sky are marshalling the front of the peloton now with the four leaders riding three minutes up the road.


Amazingly, this is only the first time in Andre Greipel's career that he has worn the green jersey. The German veteran has 55 points to Peter Sagan's 39, with Cancellara on 35. Tinkoff-Saxo's Sagan won a third consecutive green jersey last year after failing to notch a stage win. He was second again yesterday...


A big loser yesterday was Europcar's Pierre Rolland, who came home in the main pack over five minutes down. The Frenchman is now almost seven minutes down on the race summit - disaster for the man many tipped as an outsider for the yellow jersey. Still, it may help his bid to win the polka dot jersey while winning a stage in the mountains... Others to loose over five minutes were Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo), Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEdge), Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) and Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo).


Last to finish yesterday was Adam Hansen of Lotto-Soudal. The Australian crashed into a ditch yesterday dislocated his shoulder. On a record-equalling run of consecutive Grand Tours, Hansen has vowed to defy the pain and continue the race... When Hansen crossed the line 11 minutes down, he would have at least be consoled by team-mate Andre Greipel's win in Zeeland.


Astana have come to the front of the peloton to control things. The Kazakh team had a shocker yesterday with defending champion Vincenzo Nibali losing 1:28 to rival Chris Froome and 1:24 to Alberto Contador.


Bora's Jan Barta was involved in yesterday's break - as were both Europcar and IAM (through Quemeneur and Clement respectively). That man Elmiger was one of the most combative riders last year so has a track record of being in breaks. The gap is over a minute now.


Bryan Nauleau (Europcar) was the man who instigated the break, quickly to be joined by Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18), Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling) and Serge Pauwels (MTN-Qhubeka). These four will now be out for quite a while before the peloton start to lead the chase.


Cancellara is back on the front of the pack. The pace is quite relaxed as the four-man break continue to combine on the front of the race. They have 35 seconds.


ATTACK: Europcar have a dig from the outset, forcing a reply from IAM, MTN-Qhubeka and Bora-Argon 18. No response from the peloton - and still no sight of that man Cancellara...


Stage three of the Tour de France is under way! It's a largely flat affair before a spicy final third which includes four lower category climbs and that uphill finish on the Mur de Huy.


Interestingly, the start has been delayed because yellow jersey Fabian Cancellara has a puncture...


It's a pleasant day in Antwerp with the sun peeking out from behind some cloud cover and a temperature of 25 degrees Celsius. It's sunny at the finish in Huy too - although yesterday's stormy stage was book-ended by similar sunny scenes too...


They're off! The riders are rolling through the streets of Antwerp for the neutralised section of today's demanding stage three - which culminates atop the famous Mur de Huy. A reminder that Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara is in yellow after finishing third yesterday for Trek Factory Racing.


Yesterday's opening road stage was utter carnage as a huge storm and some feisty crosswinds caused havoc in the pack. Chris Froome and Alberto Contador took time off their rivals Nairo Quintana and Vincenzo Nibali, while the Etixx-QuickStep team of Mark Cavendish made a complete hash of the finish as Andre Greipel of Lotto-Soudal took the spoils.


Hello and welcome to live coverage of stage three of the Tour de France - a 159.5km ride from Anvers to Huy with features the first climbs of the 102nd edition of the race.