Cancellara falls victim to major crash in stage 3, and Chris Froome is able to take Tour de France GC lead on the Mur de Huy

Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) delivered a devastating attack in the final few hundred meters of racing on the Mur de Huy to win Tour de France stage 3, Monday in Huy, Belgium.

After Chris Froome (Sky) went to the front early on the Mur, with 500 meters to go, the front group disintegrated. Rodriguez was ready for the final, steep kicker and attacked to win just ahead of Froome. Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r La Mondiale) finished third.

“The Mur de Huy is something that I know extremely well — I’ve seen it before,” Rodriguez said.

“It was a little bit complicated. I could see that I was starting to feel pretty good, and then the last little move that I made, I was able to make the difference in the end.”

Off the back, in pain from a major crash, Cancellara relinquished the yellow jersey he won only 24 hours earlier.

But his loss was Froome’s gain. The Sky rider couldn’t respond to Rodriguez’s acceleration, but he rode a blistering pace over the false flat at the top to finish second, grab a time bonus, and take the overall lead. Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick-Step) is merely one second behind, in second-place overall; Tejay van Garderen (BMC) is third, 13 seconds back.

“I didn’t wake up today thinking I was going to be in yellow,” said Froome. “That was a real surprise there.

“Today was treacherous. Lots of crashes … Not too different from the Flèche Wallone classic this year. I couldn’t be happier to be in yellow.

“I’m not banking on anything at this point, For sure I’d rather be in the position I’m in now rather than having to make up time on yellow.”

Top 10, stage 3

 

Top 10, GC

The 157km run from Antwerp to Huy, Belgium was marred by a major crash that ruined the day for Cancellara and several other notable riders.

At about 59km to go, a rider clipped wheels near the front end of the peloton, causing a crash that was impossible to avoid for riders powering along the right side of the road.

At least 12 hit the tarmac, many with serious injuries. Race leader Cancellara was sent catapulting into the grass. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin), Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge), and Laurens Ten Dam (LottoNL-Jumbo) were among those who abandoned.

The race was temporarily neutralized, then stopped at the base of the Cote de Bohissau.

Once the race regrouped and restarted after the category 4 climb, Astana split the peloton with 40km left. Tinkoff-Saxo was in the mix as well, as the crosswinds guttered riders at the back of the field.

Cancellara was caught behind the split and appeared to be in pain.

After the intermediate sprint in Havelange, won by green jersey Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal), the race regrouped.

However, Cancellara was clearly struggling, dropped by the field with 20 kilometers to go.

As the peloton climbed the Cote de Cherave, in advance of the Mur de Huy, Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) drove the pace.

Trek Factory Racing’s Bob Jungels kicked off the hostilities just before the final kilometer, but he was soon swallowed up by the peloton.

As one of Katusha’s pacemakers sat up on the Mur, Froome went to the front with 500m to go, and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) was right on his wheel.

Rodrgiuez then made his move, grinding up the steep pitch on the right side. None could respond, and the Spaniard punched the pedals all the way to the line to win ahead of Froome.

On Tuesday, the Tour takes on the cobblestones with a fearsome 221.5km ride from Seraing to Cambrai, France.

Stage 3 results

 

General classification

 

Best young rider

 

Stage 3 points

 

Points classification

 

Mountains classification

 

Teams classification