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Gerrans pips Sagan by a whisker

ESPN staff
July 1, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Mark Cavendish dropped out of the peloton before the final descent © AP
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Orica rider Simon Gerrans was named winner of Stage Three of the Tour de France, beating Cannondale's Peter Sagan by a quarter-of-a-wheel in a thrilling photo finish.

Team Sky rider and Tour favourite Chris Froome was in the final race for the line and takes 15th overall, but compatriot Mark Cavendish suffered in the final climb and dropped from the peloton before the finish - the Mancunian now sits 184th in the standings after finishing 26 minutes off the peloton.

The third stage, a 145.5km up-and-down between Ajaccio and Calvi, comprised a shorter trip than the previous two days, over more testing terrain with four categorised climbs and little flat available to the field.

Froome started Monday's ride a second off the overall lead, set by stage two winner Jan Bakelants.

Britain's David Millar started the day in second while Pierre Rolland donned the polka dot jersey - plus matching hat and gloves.

Froome's Sky team-mate Geraint Thomas began in last place, after finishing over 17 minutes behind the peloton in stage two - Thomas carried on despite late scans revealing he had suffered a small fracture to his pelvis following the catastrophic events at the end of the opening stage.

Five riders soon established a four minute lead over the peloton - Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM), Sebastien Minard (AG2R), Alexis Vuillermoz (Sojasun), Cyril Gautier (Europcar) and Simon Clarke (Orica) reached the first category four summit, Clarke pipping the breakaway to the first point of the day.

Astana's Andrey Kashechkin became Le Tour's first withdrawal just 15km in, with the team tweeting 'digestive problems' as the reason for the Kazakhstani 's abandonment before Yoann Bagot became the second casualty of the race, pulling out with food poisoning later in the stage.

The intermediate sprint came 28km in to the ride; Minard took the first 20 points, unchallenged from the group before stage one winner Marcel Kittel held off Andre Greipel and Britain's Cavendish.

Team Sky and Radioshack sat at the front of the peloton with 90km to go and the second climb approaching, content with a gap of three minutes - Thomas continued at the back of the group, receiving spray-treatment on his troublesome groin.

Clarke and Vuillermoz battled out at the top of the category two second climb, the former snatching the points as the pace of the peloton picked up under leaders Saxo - looking to set up proceedings for Alberto Contador. Sky responded, pushing ahead before Belkin made their move.

For a third successive time, Clarke took the points as he reached the summit of the category three third climb ahead of the leading pack, moving level with Rolland in classification.

Cavendish briefly dropped from the peloton as the gap to the leaders grew over a minute, before the Brit's Omega team-mate Niki Terpstra came out worse in a crash with four other riders in the feed zone.

Froome continued to sit safely in the peloton with rivals Contador and Cadel Evans.

A man looking suitably refreshed on horseback was probably the last thing that the tired pack wanted to see as they approached the final climb - a category two monster. Simon Clarke took up a lone lead, but was soon challenged by the polka-dot clad Rolland - as Cavendish dropped out of the back of a peloton for a second time.

Rolland rallied to take the points at the summit while Clarke could not keep up, but soon came the challenge of the advancing pack - Sylvain Chavanel first to catch the leader, before the race culminated inside the final stretch when Gerrans narrowly got up for victory.

Radioshack rider Bakelants retains the yellow jersey ahead of the 25km team time trial on Tuesday. Pierre Rolland will keep the polka dot, while Sagan has a small crumb of comfort by taking the green jersey.

Stage Three, Ajaccio - Calvia
1. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 3:41:24
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale
3. Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar
4. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega
5. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing
6. Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Vacansoleil-DCM
7. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana
8. Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R
9. Julien Simon (Fra) Sojasun
10. Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi

General classification after Stage Three
1. Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack 12:21:27
2. Julien Simon (Fra) Sojasun 0:00:01
3. Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
4. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma
5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky
6. Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge
7. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Sharp
8. Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM
9. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing
10. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R

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