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Page last updated at 15:57 GMT, Monday, 7 July 2008 16:57 UK

Tour de France: Stage three as it happened

France's Samuel Dumoulin won stage three of the Tour de France after a stunning finish in Nantes.

The Cofidis rider finished just ahead of fellow Frenchman Romain Feillu, who takes over the yellow jersey from Spaniard Alejandro Valverde.

Dumoulin and Feillu, along with Paolo Longho Borghini and Will Frischkorn, broke away from the pack in the first five kilometres of the 208km stage.

Britain's Mark Cavendish finished 10th and David Millar lies eighth overall.

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By Chris Bevan

1652: Blimey. Quite a dramatic day all round ends with Samuel Dumoulin taking the stage victory and Romain Feillu in yellow.

It wasn't the stage win for Mark Cavendish we were all hoping for but he had another solid day and David Millar is also nicely placed ahead of Tuesday's time-trial - that should be interesting as he has every chance of ending the day with the yellow jersey.

Thanks for all your banter and info - hope you enjoyed the breakaway victory - storms, protests, crashes et al - and lets hope for more of the same drama in the days to come.

1649: "It's quite entertaining this Tour lark..."
SportingNonsense on 606

1642: Britain's Mark Cavendish was 10th in the stage and there is more good news for David Millar who was also in the first peloton and is eighth overall.

1639: Robbie McEwen wins that particular battle ahead of Erik Zabel but the good news for Mark Cavendish is that he was in that group too and finished strongly.

1637: Romain Feillu will take the yellow jersey - but here comes the first peloton to compete for the remaining sprint points.

1635: It comes down to a sprint for the line between the two Frenchmen and Samuel Dumoulin edges it on the line ahead of Will Frischkorn. Romain Feillu was third and Paolo Longho Borghini fourth.

1632: The leading four riders are certain to hold on now, which would mean Romain Feillu - a silver medallist in the World Championships in 2006 - taking the yellow jersey. The stage win is up for grabs though.

1625: The gap between the first and second pelotons is about 40 seconds. The leading four riders are still three minutes clear.

1625: Just over 8km to go and the lead is three minutes and four seconds. Credit to the leading four who, let's remember have been out on their own since the first 5km - almost 200km ago!

Still no sign of Mark Cavendish but the lack of Columbia riders at the front of the first or second peloton seem to suggest he is not in either of those groups.

1620: Rabobank are at the front of the second peloton, trying to get Denis Menchov back up to the first chasing group. It has been a chaotic stage and could have consequences for the overall race. I certainly did not expect this at the start of the day.

1619: Bad news for Angel Gomez who has been forced to abandon his race after that crash and is on his way to hospital in an ambulance. Not sure what his injuries were but it looked like he had broken something.

1613:The yellow jersey of Alejandro Valverde is in that first peloton which is four minutes back with 15.6km to go.

1610: Angel Gomez was one of the riders hurt in that fall and he is still receiving treatment. The others are back on their bikes.

It is raining again now (for a change today) and the peloton is all over the place. Not sure who is in the group behind the breakaway but it seems to contain about 40 or 50 riders - and there is no sign of Mark Cavendish up there.

1610: Quickstep are the team doing the work now at the front of the first chasing group. the gap is down to four minutes and 30 seconds with 20.6km left.

1609: Ouch. A couple of riders are on the ground after a crash in the peloton and, worryingly, they are staying down. It has also split the riders up into smaller groups and it is unclear where the big sprinters are.

1600: Roman Feillu would take the yellow jersey if these four riders do stay clear. As the sprinter of the quartet he would also be the favourite to win the stage on the line too - although he will be pretty tired after a full day out in front.

1557: The Peloton is thinning out as they head through Le Temple de Bretagne with under 30km to go. The narrow, twisting streets of some of these French towns are not built for large packs of cyclists moving at high speeds. Plenty of fans are lining the streets though.

1549: Italy's Paolo Longho Borghini is doing most of the work at the front of the breakaway and it is possible they might just hold on. I usually like a breakaway to stay out and win a stage but on this occasion I was hoping Cav would get a chance to do his thing.

Still, we will soon find out which way this is going. Under 33km to go now and the gap is five minutes and 37 seconds.

1542: The Columbia team are setting the pace at the front of the peloton once again and the gap is down to six minutes and 42 seconds with 42.5km to go.

1540: News of how Team BBC - Paul, Andy and John - fared in in yesterday's Etape du Tour (which allows amateur cyclists to race over the same route as a Tour de France stage).

Our intrepid trio faced a 156km ride from Paul to Hautacam - it is classified as a high mountain stage and will be stage 10 of this year's race - and this is how they got on.

"Ninety-five miles of rain, pain, fog and cold and we missed the final cut-off at the foot of the Hautacam by a matter of minutes, 14km from the end - gutted. Paul, however, managed to slip through to compete the ride. Pleased to have ridden the Col du Tourmalet, even though I was, at times, in my own private, 39-tooth hell!"
BBC Sport's Andy Nicolson

1535: "Protesters, terrible weather, 208km of hard work. Oh, the joys of being a professional cyclist..."
Lowlandbrit on 606

1530: Right, back to the bare statistics of this stage - there is 50km to go and the gap to the peloton is a smidge under seven minutes. A lot will depend on how much energy the front four still have to spare.

1528: Christian Prudhomme has done a great job and has cleared the protesters - the peloton have just passed them. Not sure he can help out with the weather though - and it is a filthy day in Brittany.

1526: "Ah brilliant, it wouldn't be Le Tour without protesters of some sort making their point on the road. Prudhomme, listening to their complaints but they are blocking the course. The break's just got round them.

It's allowed France 2 to reel out the historical bit about the last time a stage was stopped. Famously, A Sunday In Hell features the riders at Paris-Roubaix rolling out through a print workers protest.

I seem to recall a stage in recent times having to negotiate farmers blocking the route with tractors. The famous Hinault incident that Peter and Graham are thinking of might be the Paris-Nice punch up."
BBC Radio 5 Live's Alex Murray on 6066

1522: The Tour's general director Christian Prudhomme is trying to persuade the protest to stand down but I am not sure how successful he is going to be. Oh, and it is raining again. Quel surprise!

1520: If that protest is still in the road when the peloton arrives then this stage is going to get a lot more interesting. There is no way 175 riders are going to squeeze through that gap in the road without any problems.

1518: A bit of movement at the front of the peloton, and more at the back too where the Euskaltel team have just arrived after helping Samuel Sanchez get back in touch after a puncture.

There is a protest blocking the road now, which could be interesting, but the four breakaway riders have got through.

1510: Mark Cavendish's team, Columbia, and Credit Agricole are among the ones working hard at the front of the peloton. Bouygues Telecom are doing their bit too and the pace is still rising.

1504: Romain Feillu, Samuel Dumoulin, Paolo Longho Borghini and Will Frischkorn are all working hard at the front and co-operating to share the workload too. They are looking a bit tired after several hours fighting a headwind but at least the weather has improved.

Under 70km to go and they have a lead of eight minutes and 13 seconds.

1500: A quick birthday mention to Tour veteran Erik Zabel who is 38 today and is competing in his 14th Tour de France. He has managed 12 Tour stage victories in his career, with the last coming in 2002, but do not expect anyone to gift him a win today as a surprise present!

1456: "As much as I'm loathe to do it with my prediction success so far, I'm going for Mark Cavendish today. This and stage five are both perfect for him, although I think Robbie McEwen will fancy his chances too."
igmeister on 606

1448: Not much doubt that this breakaway will be caught. However, a few teams seem reluctant to help out in the chase and are probably saving their energy and resources for the finish. There is just 79km to go and the front four are nine minutes clear.

1444: The peloton are passing a gigantic loveheart, carved in a farmer's field. I can't make out the writing it contains, unfortunately (and it was probably in French anyway), but hopefully whoever it was meant for appreciated the effort involved.

1438: Just a reminder that you will be able to listen to live commentary of the end of this stage from BBC Radio 5 Live's Peter Slater on this website. If you have any questions for Peter, post them on 606 (using the link at the top of the text commentary) or text in on 81111.

The gap between the breakaway and the peloton is still coming down by the way - not that you would expect any differently.

1432: "My mum and dad are in Nantes today. Unfortunately I can't persuade them to watch the finish. Such a waste..."
James, at work in Farnborough, via text on 81111

1426: The leaders have entered the feedzone and the sun is out at last. The roads are still wet, however, and their lead continues to fall away. It stands at nine minutes and 14 seconds.

1418: Cofidis are the latest team to take the initiative at the front of the peloton and the pace continues to increase as the gap to the front four decreases.

Those four - Romain Feillu, Samuel Dumoulin, Paolo Longho Borghini and Will Frischkorn- have been out in front all day and have just gone past the halfway mark in this 208km stage, but are just nine minutes and 53 seconds ahead now.

1408: The bad news for the front four is that, with just over 100km to go, their advantage is down to 10 minutes and 23 seconds. The good news for me is that my tuna baguette has finally arrived, courtesy of Alistair 'Lanterne Rouge' Watkins. Thanks Al.

1400: Oh dear. If the front four were not feeling bad enough already at the fact their lead is disappearing in double-quick time, it has started raining again. The gap is down to 11 minutes and 27 seconds.

1354: "As exciting as sprint finishes are (especially with a Brit in with a chance), I can't wait for the mountain stages. They sort the men out from the boys and really test the riders as the field is spread out all the way down the mountain."
timmy_went_missing on 606

1348: It is not just Columbia leading from the front now...riders from Credit Agricole, Liquigas and Caisse d'Epargne are up there too and reeling in the breakaway - that gap down to 12 minutes 11 seconds now and falling fast.

1342: Columbia are still working hard to reduce this gap with Adam Hansen - Mark Cavendish's room-mate - leading the peloton in their chase. He is doing a good job too - the lead was down to 13 minutes and 39 seconds the last time I looked.

Fabian Wegmann needed a new bike in the end so he is trying to catch the back of the peloton again. He looks in good shape though.

1336: German champion Fabian Wegmann goes down in a fall after a tangle in the peloton but he is back on his bike without serious injury.

The gap to the leading quartet is now just over 14 minutes and is being reduced almost as quickly as I write (so, not that quickly at the moment!). I cannot see them holding out for long though.

1332: The peloton are now almost 15 minutes back but the signs are that they have had enough of this breakaway and moves are under way to chase down the front four. The Columbia team of Mark Cavendish are starting to make the running now.

1324: Not sure whether the peloton have taken on board their energy bars or jam sandwiches yet today but I know I could do with a tuna baguette to give me a quick boost. I have sent my faithful domestique Alistair Watkins back to our Team Car to pick it up but no sign of my lunch yet.

1316: That gap is still growing steadily, if not spectacularly, and the front four now have a lead of 13 minutes 25 seconds on the peloton.

1314: "Good afternoon from a wet and windy Nantes. Perhaps the Tour brings some kind of weather jinx when it visits here? Last time - in 2003 - it hosed it down all day for the penultimate time-trial. Ullrich slid off, leaving Armstrong to play it safe and seal a fifth Tour victory, and the winner on the day was a Briton - David Millar.

Will it be another Brit on the top step of the podium today? Mark Cavendish fancies his chances and this is the first truly flat classic sprinters' run-in. There is a fair bit of white paint on the road in the last three kilometres though, and it wouldn't surprise me if there were a crash.

The weather will be a big factor for the guys out there today. I went for a 50km spin this morning, much of it in the same direction as the stage. It felt a bit like doing heavy leg presses at the gym.

The peloton faces 208km of this, so the sprinters and GC favourites will be well sheltered but spare a thought for the riders in the break - they'll be pretty knackered tonight!"."
BBC Sport's Phil Sheehan on 606

1309: The third intermediate sprint of the day, at Montauban-de-Bretagne at 62km, and our third different winner. Will Frischkorn takes the honours, and the points, ahead of Feillu and Dumoulin.

1300: The front four have just reached the 57km mark and have 151km of today's stage to go. They are 11 minutes 30 seconds ahead of the peloton but that gap has not grown significantly for a while now.

1248: We have just had our second sprint of the day, in Becherel at the 48.5km mark, and this time Paolo Longho Borghini takes the six points, with Feillu second and Frischkorn third.

1239: Predictably, that gap to the front four keeps getting bigger. It is almost 11 minutes now.

Just to remind you, the leaders are:

Romain Feillu (France) Agritubel (58th overall)
Paolo Longho Borghini (Italy) Barloworld (70th)
Will Frischkorn (USA) Garmin Chipotle (122nd)
Samuel Dumoulin (France) Cofidis (158th)

1234: "Never mind Cav's chances, I want to know how Paul, Andy and Jon got on yesterday?

As for Cav's chances, well the fact I've talked him up in an article pretty much guarantees his failure I'm afraid. I've got a proven record with this. Sorry about that."
BBC Radio 5 Live's Alex Murray on 606

Still no news of how Team BBC fared in yesterday's Etape du Tour - although I have just sent Andy a text so hopefully we will find out soon.
Team BBC's progress

Alex predicted success for Cav in a pre-Tour feature on the BBC website, which makes a good read if you haven't seen it yet.
Cavendish ready to step up

1224: Romain Feillu, Samuel Dumoulin, Paolo Longho Borghini and Will Frischkorn are now nine minutes and 50 seconds clear of the peloton, who seem content to let them build their lead at the moment. No news yet on Mark Cavendish, David Millar or Alejandro Valverde but I'll keep you posted.

1218: If Cavendish does sprint to victory today in a bunch-finish, then he will the first Briton to win a stage in that manner since Barry Hoban's triumph at Bordeaux in 1975. Hoban managed eight stage wins in all by the way, and still rides regularly now at the age of 68 - good going that!

1214: The four riders in the breakaway have increased their lead on the peloton to eight minutes and 20 seconds. It is still raining too - and the weather is not expected to get any better as this stage progresses.

1208: "Cavendish has got a good chance today. The flat stage should suit him as he isn't that good on hills. Hopefully he can keep up the British success with Laura Robson winning the girls singles in tennis and Lewis Hamilton winning the British Grand Prix!!!"
Kuzfan on 606

Yep, it is not just Spain who have had a stunning summer of sport! I was at Wimbledon for the first 10 days and followed Robson from the early rounds - I missed her moment of glory in the final though!

1200: Today's first sprint came at the 21.5km mark and France's Samuel Dumoulin won it, picking up six points, ahead of Longho Borginhi and Feillu. Two more of those coming up fairly soon too.

The gap is still growing too - over six minutes at the last time-check.

1157: Plenty of riders are dropping back to pick up their rain jackets and the breakaway quartet - Romain Feillu, Samuel Dumoulin, Paolo Longho Borghini and Will Frischkorn - are now five minutes and forty seconds ahead.

"I'm a bit surprised Feillu has gone in the break, as a sprinter I would have thought today's finish suited him."
SportingNonsense on 606

1150: Spain's Alejandro Valverde is still wearing the yellow jersey, and, like his compatriot Carlos Sastre, he is definitely a contender this year too.

And after Euro 2008 and Wimbledon would you bet against another Spanish victory this summer?

That gap is up to four minutes and 50 seconds after 10km - and it has started to rain.

1145: That leading quartet are around three minutes ahead of the peloton now, with 7km gone.

1139: Phew, early breakaways seem to be the order of the day so far in this year's Tour and we have another one already. Romain Feillu, Samuel Dumoulin, Paolo Longho Borghini and Will Frischkorn have opened up a 30-second lead on the peloton.

1134: The third stage is under way. We're still in Brittany, for a 208km hike from Saint-Malo to Nantes that is pretty much flat from start to finish. There are no climbs of note but there are three early sprints to keep everyone on their toes.

The course is perfect for Britain's Mark Cavendish as he chases a stage victory but he should watch out for the finish in Nantes - plenty of roundabouts and traffic islands to potentially cause havoc.

So has Cav got a chance here? Let me know via 606 (using the link at the top of the text commentary) or send texts to 81111.

1132: Morning all, and welcome to day three of the Tour de France - are you ready for another long, hard day in the saddle?



see also
Hushovd sprints to Tour success
06 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Valverde triumphs in Tour opener
05 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Tour de France 2008 preview
02 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Cycling on the BBC
30 Jun 08 |  Cycling


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