TOUR DE FRANCE
Date: 4 July - 26 July
Coverage: BBC Sport website: text commentary of each stage and streamed BBC commentary of the last 90 minutes of each stage available; commentary on selected stages on BBC 5 Live sports extra
Cavendish celebrates his second successive Tour stage win
Mark Cavendish made history by winning the third stage of the 2009 Tour de France following a pulsating finish.
The 24-year-old is the first Briton to hold the green jersey for two days in a row, after his second successive Tour stage victory, and sixth in total.
He edged Thor Hushovd on the line to lead home a group of 27 riders.
The breakway group included seven-time champion Lance Armstrong, who moves third overall, and Fabian Cancellara, who keeps the yellow jersey.
It was a thrilling end to a day that had seen the race travel 196.5km from Marseille to La Grande Motte.
The peloton seemed unconcerned when Maxime Bouet, Samuel Demoulin, Ruben Perez Moreno and Koen de Koert broke away right at the start of the stage.
That quartet led until around 30km from the end when Cavendish's Team Columbia, who had been leading the chase, made their move.
The entire Columbia team raced clear and, while Armstrong and Cancellara were able to stay in touch, other contenders for the yellow jersey like Cadel Evans and Alberto Contador were unable to make up the gap.
That left the battle for the stage victory and yet again Cavendish found a superb finish when it mattered most.
Thor's one of the best sprinters on the planet. Again Mark Renshaw did everything right to launch me perfect and I was able to finish it off
The Manxman won by only two bike lengths but he was moving away from Hushovd when he reached the line and looks in dominant form.
His triumph justified the efforts of the Columbia team to force the pace on a day when other teams seemed to be conserving their energy for Tuesday's team time trial.
Cavendish said: "Everybody's nervous about the team time trial - we were the only team who were willing to take it on. What a way to stick it to them.
"It was closer than it was on Sunday. Thor's one of the best sprinters on the planet. Again Mark Renshaw did everything right to launch me perfect and I was able to finish it off.
"I'm just taking the victory for the team. The small group was caused by my team riding 100%.
"It was not really tactical. We did not initiate this. No other team worked and we just happened to be at the front when the wind changed.
"The other teams eventually had to ride hard anyway just to close the gap. We used a lot of energy but it paid off. We got two stage wins."
Cancellara now leads Germany's Tony Martin by 33 seconds in the general classification, with Armstrong another seven seconds back in third.
Contador was 22 seconds ahead of his Astana team-mate Armstrong before the stage began but the Spaniard is now 19 seconds behind the American and drops to fourth.
Frenchman Christophe Le Mevel claimed it was Contador's failure to stick to the wheel in front of him which caused the split with around 30km to go.
"When the split happened I was right on Contador's wheel," said the Francaise des Jeux rider, who came over the line with the main bunch, some 41 seconds adrift.
"If it's true there were 29 guys in front he must have been 30th and I was 31st. It was him who caused the split.
"With a lot of leaders stuck, it was complete panic."
Bradley Wiggins, who had hoped to clinch the yellow jersey in Tuesday's Team Time Trial, also lost time and slips to fifth place, a minute behind Cancellara.
Belgium's Jurgen van de Walle, who broke his collarbone in a fall during Sunday's second stage, became the first rider to retire from the Tour when he failed to resume the race on Monday.
Stage Three result:
1. Mark Cavendish (GB/Team Columbia) 5 hours 1 minute 24 seconds
2. Thor Hushovd (Nor/Cervelo) same time
3. Cyril Lemoine (Fra/Skil-Shimano) "
4. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra/Cofidis) "
5. Jerome Pineau (France/Quick Step) "
6. Fabian Cancellara (Swi/Saxo Bank) "
7. Fabian Wegmann (Ger/Milram) "
8. Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn/Skil-Shimano) "
9. Maxime Bouet (Fra/Agritubel) "
10. Linus Gerdemann (Ger/Milram) "
19. Lance Armstrong (US/Astana) "
32. Cadel Evans (Aus/Silence) +41 secs
35. Bradley Wiggins (GB/Garmin) "
49. Alberto Contador (Spa/Astana) "
1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi/Saxobank) 9 hours 50 minutes 58 seconds
2. Tony Martin (Ger/Columbia) +33 secs
3. Lance Armstrong (USA/Astana) +40 secs
4. Alberto Contador (Spa/Astana) + 59 secs
5. Bradley Wiggins (GB/Garmin) +1 minute
8. Cadel Evans (Aus/Silence) +1 minute
18. David Millar (GB/Garmin) +1 minute 29 secs
26. Carlos Sastre (Spa/Cervelo) +1 minute 47 secs
142. Mark Cavendish (GB/Team Columbia) +3 minutes 14 secs
172. Charlie Wegelius (GB/Silence) +6 minutes 14 secs