Tour de France 2013: Simon Gerrans wins stage three

Simon Gerrans (left)

Australia's Simon Gerrans won a fierce sprint finish to clinch stage three of the Tour de France.

He beat Slovakia's Peter Sagan on the line in a photo finish after a hilly 145.5km ride from Ajaccio to Calvi.

Belgian Jan Bakelants, winner of the second stage, came home 19th to keep the race leader's yellow jersey.

Britain's Geraint Thomas, who was riding with a fractured pelvis, struggled at the back of the pack but battled to the finish line.

Thomas's compatriot and Team Sky team-mate Chris Froome finished in the peloton to remain in a large group of riders who are one second adrift of Bakelants.

Fellow Brit Mark Cavendish, from Omega Pharma-Quick-Step, confirmed he was recovering from a bout of bronchitis, after finishing the stage in 166th.

"Today I felt a little bit better than yesterday," he said. "Unfortunately last week I had to take antibiotics until this Sunday, due to bronchitis. Now I'm better, even if not 100%. We will see day by day."

Gerrans' win came two days after his Orica-GreenEdge team bus got stuck under the banner at the finish line, with the riders less than 15km away. This time, things went far more smoothly for the Australian outfit, who recorded their first stage win at the Tour.

A five-man breakaway, including Gerran's team-mate Simon Clarke, escaped in the first 5km of a spectacular coastal route and stayed clear until near the top of the final climb, the Col de Marsolino, which was 10km from the finish.

Daryl Impey led Gerrans out in the home straight, and he held off Sagan to triumph by a quarter of a wheel.

There was some consolation for the Slovakian in that his second-place saw him take the green points jersey off Germany's Marcel Kittel.

"I pinpointed this stage a while ago and I am pleased I had the legs," Gerrans said. "It was like riding one of the Ardennes Classics. We spent the entire day going up or down.

"It went exactly as we planned - we wanted a guy in the breakaway to go on the offensive. In the last few days I have been leading Daryl out but we switched it around and I managed to hold off one of the fastest guys in the world.

"I could see Peter coming up on my left and it must have been close because neither of us knew who had won."

Along with Mark Cavendish, Thomas was one of the riders dropped on the final climb.

Initial examinations had failed to spot his problem but scans on Sunday night had shown the Welshman had sustained a small fracture of his pelvis when he somersaulted off his bike in a crash on Saturday.

The double Olympic track gold medallist was in pain and at the back of the field for most of the day, and he eventually finished nine minutes and 15 seconds behind Gerrans.

Kazakh rider Andrey Kashechkin of the Astana team and Frenchman Yoann Bagot of Cofidis became the first two riders to abandon this year's Tour after pulling out during stage three with digestive problems and food poisoning respectively.

The Tour now leaves Corsica to return to the French mainland for Tuesday's 25km team time trial in Nice.

Stage three results:

1. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica 3:41:24"

2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale SAME TIME

3. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar

4. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step

5. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing

Selected others:

28. Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky SAME TIME

29. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Sharp

156. Ian Stannard (GB) Team Sky +8:26"

166. Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma-Quickstep +9:15"

177 Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky SAME TIME

181. Peter Kennaugh (GB) Team Sky

Overall standings after stage three:

1. Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack 12:21:27"

2. Julien Simon (Fra) Sojasun +1"

3. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica SAME TIME

4. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step

5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky

Selected others:

7. David Millar (GB) Garmin SAME TIME

9. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing

11. Nicolas Roche (Ire) Saxo-Tinkoff

15. Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky

60. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff

99. Peter Kennaugh (GB) Team Sky +9'16"

173. Ian Stannard (GB) Team Sky +26'01"

184. Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma-Quickstep +26'50"

194. Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky +26'50"

Green points jersey standings:

1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale 74 points

2. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Argos-Shimano 57 points

3. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha 48

4. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 41

4. Lars Boom (Ned) Belkin 40

Selected others:

12. Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol 30

20. Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 25

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