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Page last updated at 15:47 GMT, Monday, 7 July 2008 16:47 UK

Feillu takes yellow from Valverde

TOUR DE FRANCE (5-27 July)
BBC coverage: Daily text commentary, reports and gallery on the BBC Sport website and live audio commentary from BBC Radio 5 Live

Romain Feillu
Feillu holds a 35-second lead in the overall standings

France's Romain Feillu took the yellow jersey as compatriot Samuel Dumoulin claimed a thrilling win in a dramatic third stage of the Tour de France.

Feillu and Dumoulin were part of a four-man group that broke clear early in the 208km stage and hung on before Dumoulin won the sprint for the line.

Britain's Mark Cavendish and David Millar were both in the first peloton and finished 10th and 27th in Nantes.

Feillu replaces Spain's Alejandro Valverde as the Tour's overall leader.

The Agritubel rider - a silver medallist in the Under-23 world championships in 2006 - holds a 35-second advantage over Italy's Paolo Longo Borghini, with America's Will Frischkorn one minute and 42 seconds back in third place.

Longo Borghini and Frischkorn were the other two riders to join Dumoulin and Feillu in an early break in the first five kilometres after the race had left Saint-Malo.

It would have been great to win the stage too, but to hold the Tour de France yellow jersey is probably something which is even more difficult to achieve

Romain Feillu
The maximum lead they held was almost 15 minutes when the peloton was at the 64km mark but it appeared that they would be quickly reeled in.

But in a stage disrupted by a protest, horrendous weather and a crash that forced Spanish rider Angel Gomez to abandon the race, the quartet courageously hung on.

The peloton was split just after the crash that forced Gomez out but it was unclear whether that or the strong wind had contributed to around 50 riders breaking away.

It soon became clear that they would not be able to catch the front four, who fought out their own pulsating finish after just over five hours in the saddle.

Feillu had overtaken Dumoulin in the final few hundred metres but Dumoulin responded magnificently to edge back past his compatriot, who was also beaten into third by Frischkorn.

"It is a dream come true," said the 27-year-old Dumoulin. "It is hours and hours of training, braving the rain, the cold, the heat. It took a lot of sacrifice."

"I just lacked a bit of strength to get the stage win," Feillu said. "But I got the leader's jersey.

"It would have been great to win the stage too, but to hold the Tour de France yellow jersey is probably something which is even more difficult to achieve.

"But it's good that another Frenchman won the stage. We discussed this possible outcome with Samuel and it worked."

Valverde and race favourite Cadel Evans were in the next group, along with Cavendish and Millar, but two of the Tour's other main contenders, Denis Menchov and Riccardo Ricco were further back and lost time.

Millar lies in eighth place overall and could snatch the yellow jersey depending on how he fares in Tuesday's time-trial - a discipline he excels at - while Cavendish lies in 85th.

For now, however, Feillu is in the spotlight, and he is making the most of it.

After a year where he was restricted by injury and illness, the 24-year-old counts himself fortunate to be on the Tour at all.

Feillu, who also holds the white jersey of the Tour's best young rider, said: "I was really hampered by toxoplasmosis in the winter and I only resumed training in April."

He then twisted his ankle in May and looked certain to be overlooked by his team Agritubel.

"It was only natural they did not want me on the Tour. I only resumed racing in mid-May and you don't pick a rider who has not proved anything," he added.

"Fortunately, I won a race - les Boucles de l'Aulne - in May and they realised I could recover quickly.

"I was really lacking power when the Tour started but fortunately everything clicked back into place today.

"Maybe the two months off the saddle in the winter, when I could hardly walk, were a motivation for today."

Stage three results:

1. Samuel Dumoulin (France/Cofidis) 5:05:27

2. William Frischkorn (United States/Garmin Chipotle) same time

3. Romain Feillu (France/Agritubel) same time

4. Paolo Longo Borghini (Italy/Barloworld) +14 sec

5. Robbie McEwen (Australia/Silence-Lotto) + 2:03

6. Erik Zabel (Germany/Team Milram) same time

7. Oscar Freire (Spain/Rabobank) same time

8. Thor Hushovd (Norway/Credit Agricole) same time

9. Robert Forster (Germany/Gerolsteiner) same time

10. Mark Cavendish (Britain/Team Columbia) same time

Overall standings (after stage three of 21):

1. Romain Feillu (France/Agritubel) 13:27:05

2. Paolo Longo Borghini (Italy/Barloworld) + 35 sec

3. William Frischkorn (United States/Garmin Chipotle) + 1:42

4. Alejandro Valverde (Spain/Spain, Caisse d'Epargne) +1:45

5. Kim Kirchen (Luxembourg/Team Columbia) +1:46

6. Oscar Freiere (Spain/Rabobank) same time

7. Jerome Pineau (France/Bouygues Telecom) same time

8. David Millar (UK/Garmin Chipotle) same time

9. Cadel Evans (Australia/Silence-Lotto) same time

10. Filippo Pozzato (Italy/ Liquigas) same time

OTHER: 85. Mark Cavemdish (UK/Columbia) +3:45

King of the Mountains (after stage three of 21):

1. Thomas Voeckler (France/Bouygues Telecom ) - 19 points

2. Sylvain Chavanel (France/Cofidis ) - 11

3. Bjoern Schroeder (Germany/Milram ) - 9

4. David De La Fuente (Spain/Saunier Duval ) - 4

5. Christophe Moreau (France/Agritubel ) - 3

Points (after stage three of 21):

1. Kim Kirchen (Luxembourg/Columbia) 69 points

2. Thor Hushovd (Norway/Credit Agricole) 64

3. Oscar Freire (Spain/Rabobank) 55

4. Alejandro Valverde (Spain/Caisse d'Epargne) 49

5. Erik Zabel (Germany/Milram) 46

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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