Monday 7 July / Stage 3: Saint Malo–Nantes—208km
Like the big Loire River, the Tour De France flows on day by day. Today in France’s largest port city of Nantes, at the mouth of the Loire, the ebb and flow of the 95th edition of the Tour carried two native sons
of le Hexagone to the summit of Le Tour. 27 year old Cofidis rider Samuel Dumoulin won Stage 3, his first career Tour stage win, while 24 year old Agritubel rider Roman Feillu took over the Maillot Jaune. Both riders came out of a break of four riders that included American Will Frischkorn of Garmin-Chipotle and Italian Paolo Longo Borghini (Barloworld).
Choked with emotion after his win, Dumoulin embraced his fiance’ Magalie Lavenu on the finish line, then blurted out “this is really extraordinary! We worked hard (in the break) to stay away all day and it was really hard but we succeeded.” A former junior national champion in France, Dumoulin crashed out of the 2004 Tour when he hit a dog and badly fractured his leg and put him out for that season. In the finale, Dumoulin and Feillu battled it out for the win over the last kilometer but in the end, the punchy little Cofidis rider prevailed. “When Feillu counter-attacked at the end, I didn’t know if we would bring him back, but I won so I’m really happy”.
New Maillot Jaune Feillu almost didn’t make it to the 2008 Tour De France, Stage 3 was only his 20th day of racing in 2008. He was knocked out of racing by a parasitic infection (toxoplasmosis) this spring and didn’t return to the peloton until a few weeks ago. Feillu has been talked about as a major French talent and won 4 races last year in his rookie season, including a stage and final gc in the Tour Of Britain.
“Well I was knocked out this spring (by toxoplasmosis) so this is really extraordinary!,” explained Feillu after he donned his first Maillot Jaune. “We had a good break all day and the riders all worked well. When we were almost 15’ ahead, I knew we might stay away. Eventually the gap came down but we really believed in our break and it worked.” When asked about his chances to retain the Maillot Jaune, Feillu laughed nervously and exclaimed “I don’t know if I can keep the Maillot Jaune at all. We’ll just have to see tomorrow; I have 1’52” on Cancellara which isn’t much at all”. With 29.5km to race in tomorrow’s Stage 4 time trial, it’s likely that CSC-Saxo Bank’s World TT champ Cancellara will take away the Frenchman’s treasured yellow tunic in Cholet.
Just 27 in June, American Will Frischkorn had a great solo win in the 2007 Univest Grand Prix for a big win and then got himself in the break of the day in the 2008 Milano-Sanremo, but today was the greatest moment ever for Frischkorn and his Garmin-Chipotle squad. “I just went with the first attack today and it worked!”, declared Frischkorn after his great performance today. “This is great for the team and I’m really happy.” Frischkorn described the tactics in the break, saying “When we had an 8’ lead with 50km to go, I knew we could stay away. My director was screaming in my earpiece ‘just keep going, your going to get a tailwind and they’ll never catch you!’” Frischkorn is now in 3rd place on gc, 1’42” behind Feillu.
Former Maillot Jaune Alejandro Valverde didn’t seem too worried about losing his race lead; in fact, his Caisse d’Epargne team didn’t seem too concerned about the situation. “It’s the same for me; if I lose the jersey today or tommorow, that’s the way it goes.” But Valverde is still looking to ride into Paris clad in yellow.
How It Happened:
Stage Three started in front of the Saint-Vincent Cathedral in Saint Malo at 12:31pm under cool, threatening skies with a strong southwest wind blowing across Brittany from the English Channel. 179 riders headed out along the Chausee du Sillon with breakers pounding against the seawall. In the wind-propelled first kilometer, American Frischkorn (TSL) attacked and was joined by at three riders, Feillu (AGR), Dumoulin (COF) and Longho Borghini (BAR). It turned out that the peloton would never see the four riders again until the finish. After 5km in Le-Minihic-Sur-Rance, the quartet already had 1’40” on the lethargic peloton
At the first sprint in Saint Piat after 21.5km, it was “Lil’ Sammy D” Dumoulin, the smallest rider in the peloton at 5’4” who was first and the gap had grown to 6’55” over the peloton, with the average speed for the first hour at 39.9km/hr. Caisse d’Epargne was on the front at a slow tempo, happy to let the four man break of non-Tour contenders ride away. After 66km in the tiny hamlet of Boisgervilly, the quartet had their maximum advance of 14’50” and the Columbia team had a call to action and began to chase the break. Because of the cold rain and strong sidewinds, the average speed of the front runners for the second hour of Stage 2 was just 35.1km/hr. Feillu had already been Maillot June virtuel since the outskirts of Saint Malo.
100km out from the finish in Nantes, it was Columbia as well as Credit Agricole, Liquigas and Bouygues Telecom leading the chase and the gap had dropped to 10’00”. The average speed for the third hour was 38.2km/hr ad the gap meant that the peloton had to ride about 10” faster per kilometers than the break to bring them back by the finish, a task made harder by the wind and rain that occasionally buffeted the peloton.
Outside of Blain with 57km to go, local protestors tried to close the road. The four break riders got through, while race director Christian Prudhomme got the peloton through the manif 6’45” later.
The chase pace behind continued to ratchet up as the peloton realized they had left too much room for the break to succeed and they were stretched out indian file as gaps began to appear. Suddenly riders touched wheels and about 5 riders hit the deck, with Gomez (SDV) Sprick (BTL) and Sorensen (CSC) most affected. Gomez was forced to abandon from his injuries and was brought to Nantes Hospital.
The crash split the already strained peloton, with Menchov (RAB) and Ricco (SDV) on the wrong side of the action, while Quicksteps cranked up the pace in the front. The weather began to clear as Nantes approached and with 20km to go, and the break turned east and the 30km tailwind pushed them home with a gap of 4’10”, with the Menchov / Ricco) group at 4’35”.
On the run through the grimy industrial outskirts of Nantes, it was Lil’ Sammy D. who made the first move, but he was covered by Frischkorn. These three duked it out and eventually pocket powerhouse Dumoulin triumphed, while non-sprinter Will Frischkorn showed his determination by beating new Maillot Jaune for second. Dumoulin grabbed his first-ever Tour stage win, while 24 year old Feillu took the Maillot Jaune. 2’03” later, Robbie McEwen sprinted home for 5th place. Barloworld’s Mauricio Soler managed to stay with the second group today, while crash victims Sprick and Sorensen came home 12’ and 13’ down respectively.
Stage 3 Result:
1. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis
208kms / 5h5’27”
2. William Frischkorn (USA) Garmin-Chipotle
3. Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel @ same time
4. Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) Barloworld @ :14”
5. Robbie McEwen (Aus) Silence-Lotto at 2.03
6. Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram
7. Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
8. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole
9. Robert Förster (Ger) Gerolsteiner
10. Mark Cavendish (GB) Columbia
General Classification After Stage 3:
1. Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel 13h27’05”
2. Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) Barloworld @ :35”
3. Will Frischkorn (USA) Garmin-Chipotle @ 1’42”
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
5. Kim Kirchen (Lux) Columbia @ 1’46”
6. Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank @ same time
7. Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
@ same time
8. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Chipotle @ same time
9. Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto @ same time
10. Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Liquigas @ same time