Four riders escaped moments after the beginning of the 196km stage between Marseille and La Grande-Motte. The four escapees consisting of Ruben Moreno (Euskatel), Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis), Maxime Bouet (Agritubel) and Koen de Kort (Skil-Shimano) had a 15 minute lead on the main peleton, with the main bunch content on letting them escape.
70kms form the finish line after dong nearly all the work, Team Saxo Bank eased off letting the sprinters teams do the chasing, but they had a hard time getting organised. At 45km to fo the the breakaway still had a 4.30 lead to the field where Mark Cavendish’ Team Columbia High Road as expected lined up in the front to make the stage ready for yet another win for the Brit.
With less then 30 kilometres to go they were reeled in, Team Columbia High Road got to the front they split the main bunch apart in the cross wind, with the main GC contenders including Andy Schleck (Team Saxo Bank), Denis Menchov (Rabobank) and Alberto Contador (Astana) was caught in the peloton, Fabian Cancellara (Team Saxo Bank) and Lance Armstrong (Astana) remained at the head of the split.
In the peloton, Astana took over at the front while Team Saxo Bank, Rabobank, Liquigas and Lotto formed an alliance to neutralize the gap. The thirty riders in the front were riding well together and increased the gap all the way to the finish line where Mark Cavendish made absolutely no mistake and sprinted to victory in front of Thor Hushovd (Caisse d’Epargne) forty seconds ahead of the main field.
"There are eight sprint stages we have targeted here, so hopefully I’ll get a few more before the end of the Tour, and one of them will be a win on the Champs Elys?es." Cavendish explained.
Team Saxo Bank, Fabian Cancellara, rejmains in yellow and increased the gap in the overall standings. Team Columbia rider Tony Martin is now second 33 seconds behind the Swiss. Lance Armstrong (Astana) is third overall forty seconds behind the Team Saxo Bank rider.
Result 3rd stage
1. Mark Cavendish (GB)
2. Thor Hushovd (Noo)
3. Cyril Lemoine (Fra)
Overall after 3rd stage
1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi)
2. Tony Martin (Ger) 0.33
3. Lance Armstrong (VS) 0.40
Tomorrow’s stage is the 39 kilometer long team time trial in and around Montpellier. The Team Time Trial results will affect the over all standings as the overall time for the team will be included into the individuals time so we can expect a shake up of the GC. Where we can expect to see Astana, Team Columbia and Team Saxo Bank perform well and their riders jump up the GC. Our Cadel Evans should be worried about the TTT not having the power of Astana or Saxo Bank.