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World champion Peter Sagan won his eighth Tour de France stage despite a technical glitch on the uphill finish to the third stage in Longwy on Monday.
Sagan’s foot came unclipped from his pedal as he started to accelerate at the finish, but he kept his cool and still proved too strong for the competition at the end of the 212.5km run from Verviers in Belgium.
“At the end I did unclip, I don’t know why. I was thinking ‘whats going on?’. “I was unlucky but I managed to go again and I won, I’m delighted.”
Britain’s Geraint Thomas finished eighth, two seconds behind the winner, and kept hold of the race leader’s yellow jersey.
“There were no crashes, which was good, but it was a really hectic final,” said Thomas. “I’m happy to get through unscathed.”
His team leader and reigning champion Chris Froome was a place behind in ninth and moved up from sixth to second overall, still at 12sec.
Australian Michael Matthews was second on the stage with Dan Martin of Ireland third, just ahead of Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet in fourth.
Matthews moved up to third overall on the same time as Froome with Sagan fourth a second further back.
The 1.6km long uphill finish to the stage was tailor-made for Sagan and the world champion didn’t disappoint, proving his power despite his minor problem.
The 50 points for winning also put him into contention to claim the sprinters’ green jersey.
He has won that in each of the last five years, although he had only once before failed to claim the jersey by the third stage. German Marcel Kittel still has that ahead of Tuesday’s flat fourth stage that will favour pure sprinters.
American Nathan Brown, who was part of the day’s breakaway, took enough points over the day’s five climbs to snatch the polkadot king of the mountains jersey from his compatriot and team-mate Taylor Phinney.
There was a six-man breakaway but they were kept to a two-minute lead by an attentive peloton.
The last man standing, France’s Liliane Calmejane, was caught with 10km left and then the punchers’ teams took over pace setting.
Australian Richie Porte seemed to make a long bid for home with 800m left but soon ran out of steam, at which point Sagan found himself in front.
“It was a strange finale, Richie went hard in the last 700-800 metres. I tried to catch him but when I caught him I saw how much was left, 400 meters,” said Sagan.
“I said ‘no, it’s too much’, so I relaxed a bit before going again.”
Longwy, France, July 3, 2017 (AFP) – Overall standings after the 3th stage of the Tour de France, a 212.5km ride from Verviers to Longwy on Monday:
1. Geraint Thomas (GBR/Sky) 10hr 00min 31sec
2. Christopher Froome (GBR/SKY) at 0:12.
3. Michael Matthews (AUS/SUN) 0:12.
4. Peter Sagan (SVK/BOR) 0:13.
5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR/DDT) 0:16.
6. Pierre-Roger Latour (FRA/ALM) 0:25.
7. Philippe Gilbert (BEL/QST) 0:30.
8. Michal Kwiatkowski (POL/SKY) 0:32.
9. Tim Wellens (BEL/LOT) 0:32.
10. Nikias Arndt (GER/SUN) 0:34.
11. Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ/AST) 0:37.
12. Stefan Kung (SWI/BMC) 0:38.
13. Emanuel Buchmann (GER/BOR) 0:40.
14. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL/BMC) 0:40.
15. Daniel Martin (IRL/QST) 0:43.
16. Diego Ulissi (ITA/EAU) 0:43.
17. Arnaud Démare (FRA/FDJ) 0:43.
18. Simon Yates (GBR/ORI) 0:45.
19. Daryl Impey (RSA/ORI) 0:45.
20. Richie Porte (AUS/BMC) 0:47.
21. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) 0:48.
22. José Herrada Lopez (ESP/MOV) 0:48.
23. Rafal Majka (POL/BOR) 0:49.
24. Romain Bardet (FRA/ALM) 0:51.
25. Alberto Bettiol (ITA/CAN) 0:52.
26. Fabio Aru (ITA/AST) 0:52.
27. Alberto Contador (ESP/TRE) 0:54.
28. Carlos Betancour (COL/MOV) 0:54.
29. Jakob Diemer Fuglsang (DEN/AST) 0:54.
30. Roman Kreuziger (CZE/ORI) 0:56.
31. Rigoberto Uran (COL/CAN) 1:03.
32. Simon Geschke (GER/SUN) 1:04.
33. Sylvain Chavanel (FRA/DEN) 1:05.
34. Zdenek Stybar (CZE/QST) 1:05.
35. Rudy Molard (FRA/FDJ) 1:07.
36. Mikel Landa (ESP/SKY) 1:08.
37. Michael Albasini (SWI/ORI) 1:08.
38. Sonny Colbrelli (ITA/BAH) 1:09.
39. Alexis Vuillermoz (FRA/ALM) 1:10.
40. Simon Clarke (AUS/CAN) 1:10.
41. Warren Barguil (FRA/SUN) 1:12.
42. Louis Meintjies (RSA/EAU) 1:12.
43. Andrew Talansky (USA/CAN) 1:12.
44. Esteban Chaves (COL/ORI) 1:13.
45. Tiesj Benoot (BEL/LOT) 1:15.
46. Mathias Frank (SWI/ALM) 1:17.
47. Serge Pauwels (BEL/DDT) 1:18.
48. Jan Bakelants (BEL/ALM) 1:23.
49. Sergio Henao (COL/SKY) 1:24.
50. Maxime Bouet (FRA/FVC) 1:27.