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Tour de France 2015: Stage 3 Results, Updated Standings and Highlights

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJuly 6, 2015

Scores of riders lie on the road after crashing during the third stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 159.5 kilometers (99.1 miles) with start in Antwerp and finish in Huy, Belgium, Monday, July 6, 2015. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Christophe Ena/Associated Press

Another day, another dramatic crash that greatly impacted Stage 3 of the 2015 Tour de France. Joaquim Rodriguez managed to hold on for a fantastic win on the Mur de Huy, but all fans will talk about is the spectacular crash that saw several riders abandon this year's Tour before the first rest day.

Former yellow jersey winner Fabian Cancellara lost over 11 minutes as a result of the crash, which saw the race stopped for minutes, and Spartacus looks doubtful to start Tuesday's Stage 4.

Chris Froome finished second and gained some valuable seconds on the likes of Vincenzo Nibali and Alberto Contador, who couldn't keep up during the final climb of the day. The Team Sky man is also the new race leader. Here are the results from Stage 3:

Stage 3 Results
PosRiderTime
1Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha3:26:54
2Christopher Froome (GBr) Team SkySame Time
3Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:00:04
4Daniel Martin (Irl) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team0:00:05
5Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal0:00:08
6Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team0:00:11
7Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro TeamSame Time
8Simon Yates (GBr) Orica GreenEdgeSame Time
9Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar TeamSame Time
10Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek Factory RacingSame Time
Sky Sports

Before the start of the stage, Belgian cycling legend Johan Museeuw made this bold prediction on Twitter:

Johan Museeuw @johanmuseeuw

According to me @petosagan will win today #TDF2015 #huy http://t.co/7d88puFpPl

Local hero Serge Pauwels was among the early leaders and even managed to grab the virtual lead in the general classification, as the peloton took its time to build momentum. He still held the lead when he passed by his own home, a special moment for the unfancied Belgian.

In the background, Rohan Dennis, who won the opening prologue before losing his yellow jersey on Sunday, was involved in the first real crash of the day, another setback for the speedy Australian.

The organisers of this year's Tour included a minor detour in the route for Monday's race, as the peloton passed through Meensel-Kiezegem, the birthplace of five-time winner Eddy Merckx.

Widely considered to be the greatest cyclist of all time, the 70-year-old greeted the peloton before a statue was unveiled in his honour, via Sir Gary Verity:

Sir Gary Verity @GaryVerity

@letour legend #EddyMerckx at the unveiling of a statue in his honour in the town of his birth Meensel-Kiezegem http://t.co/so4gH4hGbP

The peloton cruised from Flanders into Wallonia under clear blue skies, and with the finale just around the corner, it seemed as if all the drama would be reserved for the Mur de Huy. But with 55 kilometers left to go, on a perfectly straight road, disaster struck. A massive crash wiped out a significant part of the peloton, and for the second time in two days, chaos ensued.

As shared by British Eurosport, race leader Cancellara was among the victims:

While the peloton slowed to a halt and race organisers tried to neutralise the stage, Team Sky and Team Movistar pushed their advantage and actually increased their pace, to the fury of fans on social media.

Tom Dumoulin, one of the stage favourites, was forced to retire from the Tour de France, and he was joined in the ambulance by Simon Gerrans, another stage favourite, and William Bonnet. According to FDJ sports director Thierry Bricaud, the latter even required a neck brace, per Reuters' Julien Pretot.

Cancellara also looked badly injured, and Daniel Oss' face was so bloodied the rider was hard to recognise.

Oleg Tinkov, the outspoken owner of Team Tinkoff-Saxo, reacted to the carnage:

Oleg Tinkov @olegtinkov

Never seen something like that -lots of blood here and pain - bad part of our sport #TDF2015

After a lengthy delay, the peloton started moving again, and Astana and Tinkoff-Saxo wasted no time pushing the tempo. The riders nursing injuries struggled to keep up, and soon, the pack started to break, similar to Sunday's stage. This time, however, all of the top contenders had positioned themselves in the front in time, and none of them were forced to chase.

Andre Greipel increased his lead in the point standings during the intermediate sprint, beating John Degenkolb and Nacer Bouhanni to the punch.

Cancellara managed to hang with the peloton until the first real climb of the day, but Spartacus took too much damage during his crash and simply couldn't continue at the same pace. 

As a result of the crash and the following neutralisation, the peloton was still largely together at the start of the Mur de Huy, and from the very base of the climb, the pace was high. Retired cyclist Craig Lewis warned the riders not to take the Mur de Huy lightly:

Craig Lewis @craiglewis85

Lead Flèche Wallonne under the flame rouge in 2011, and I lost 3 mins to the winner. Mur de Huy - so short, so steep, so painful. #TDF2015

Thibaut Pinot, one of the dark-horse favourites for the general classification, couldn't keep up with the pace and lost valuable time, an incredible development this early in the Tour. 

Froome took the lead with 500 meters left but had no answer for Rodriguez, who blasted by everyone and continued his incredible jump until the finish line. Froome impressively held on for second place, sending a first real warning shot at his main contenders for the general classification. In the background, Pinot lost well over a minute.

Froome's fine effort means he will put on the yellow jersey for Stage 4, and while it's far too early to make any definitive statements on how the rest of this Tour will play out, the Team Sky leader certainly looks in fine form. Here are the current standings:

General Classification (Yellow Jersey)
PosRiderTime
1Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky7:11:37
2Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx - Quick-Step0:00:01
3Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team0:00:13
4Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal0:00:26
5Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:00:28
6Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo0:00:31
7Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx - Quick-Step0:00:34
8Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:36
9Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky0:01:03
10Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx - Quick-Step0:01:04
Sky Sports
Point Standings (Green Jersey)
PosRiderPoints
1Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal75
2Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo48
3Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky40
4Mark Cavendish (GBr) Etixx - Quick-Step37
5Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing35
6Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha30
7John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin28
8Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx - Quick-Step25
9Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale22
10Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits22
Letour.fr
Mountain Classification (Polka-Dot Jersey)
PosRiderPoints
1Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha2
2Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo1
3Michael Schar (Swi) BMC Racing Team1
4Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky1
Letour.fr

As reported by Sky Sports' live blog of the race, Froome told reporters it certainly wasn't his intention to grab the yellow this early:

I definitely didn’t wake up today thinking I was going to be in yellow by this evening. That was a real surprise. I knew there would be gaps up on that final climb but I really didn’t expect it to be that significant, to be able to get into yellow.

On Tuesday, the peloton will hit the cobblestones of northern France, following the route of the spring classic Paris-Roubaix until the finish line in Cambrai. Last year, Nibali raced to third place in dreadful, rainy conditions, putting his main contenders for the general classification at a distance they would never bridge.

The Italian is an excellent technician who has some time to make up after his crash and puncture in Stage 2, so don't be surprised if Nibali tries similar tactics in 2015. For all his climbing brilliance, yellow jersey Froome has struggled with uneven roads in the past, so he'll have to be very careful on Tuesday.

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