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Cavendish wins 3rd stage in photo finish
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 05 - 07 - 2016

Mark Cavendish showed off his sprinting experience by edging German rival Andre Greipel in a photo finish to win the third stage of the Tour de France Monday.

World champion Peter Sagan held on to the race leader's yellow jersey he claimed a day earlier.

Having also won Saturday's opening stage at Utah Beach, it was Cavendish's second victory in this Tour and 28th overall. The British rider with Team Dimension Data matched five-time Tour champion Bernard Hinault for second on the all-time list behind Eddy Merckx, who had a record 34 stage wins at the Tour.

"To even be mentioned in the same sentence as Bernard Hinault is something that I couldn't even have dreamed of," Cavendish said. "But I'm never going to compare myself to him."

On a very slightly uphill finish, Cavendish kept pedaling to the line while Greipel, who was ahead, put his head down a bit too early.

Neither rider knew who won immediately.

Greipel started celebrating, raising his left finger to the sky, but then quickly took it down. Cavendish clenched his fist briefly and then just fiddled with his bike computer until the victory was confirmed — then started celebrating wildly.

"I normally know when I win or I lose. When I crossed the line, I kind of knew I got it today," Cavendish said. "But I was quite lucky to just get him."

Bryan Coquard of France crossed third, while Sagan was fourth.

"I just made one mistake and it was a kind of reflex to go into the biggest gear," Greipel said. "If I had kept it in the gear I had then I think I would have made it."

Sagan remained eight seconds ahead of Julian Alaphilippe of France and 10 seconds in front of Alejandro Valverde of Spain.

Defending champion Chris Froome moved up one spot to fourth overall, 14 seconds behind Sagan.

Cavendish clocked nearly six hours as the Tour moved out of the Normandy region over a southeasterly 223.5-kilometer (139-mile) route that concluded in Angers, in the Anjou region of the Loire valley.

On the winner's podium, Cavendish was greeted by the 61-year-old Hinault, now at his final Tour in an ambassador role.

The mostly flat leg began in Granville on the Normandy coast. Nicknamed "the Monaco of the north," Granville was built on a rock and is known for its casino.

Angers is twinned with Austin, Texas, home of Lance Armstrong.

Armindo Fonseca, a French rider with the Fortuneo-Vital Concept team, attacked at the opening flag and established a lead of more than 10 minutes at one point.

For much of the stage, the peloton rode at a relatively slow pace of 33 kph (20 mph) — well below the predicted time table, which was based on an average speed of 39-43 kph (24-27 mph).

"It was a rest day for everyone," Sagan said. "Just the last 20-30 kilometers were hard."

Taking advantage of the peloton's pace, French rider Thomas Voeckler attacked midway through the stage and quickly bridged the gap to join Fonseca in the lead.

The duo was caught by the main pack with eight kilometers (5 miles) to go.
Stage 4 Tuesday is the race's longest, a slightly more challenging 237.5 (148-mile) leg from Saumur to Limoges.

The first mountain stage comes in Stage 5 Wednesday in the Massif Central.


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