By Agence France Presse
AG2R Prevoyance’s Nicolas Portal won the third stage of the Dauphiné Libéré on Wednesday, a 180-kilometer race from 180 km from St Etienne to Aubenas.
Portal jumped out early with a small pack of rivals on the hilly route, crossing the finish line in 4:41:42.
Estonia’s Janek Tombak of Cofidis was second, and Euskaltel rider Iker Flores of Spain finished third. Both finished 51 seconds after Portal.
Five-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, teammate Floyd Landis and fellow Americans Levi Leipheimer and Tyler Hamilton finished in a group of 18, which finished 1:49 after the leader. That group also contained Phonak’s Jose Gutierrez, who continues to hold the overall leader’s jersey.
Meanwhile, Boulangere rider Mickael Pichon plunged down a ravine and suffered serious head and face injuries here Wednesday.
According to race organizers Cofidis team leader David Millar of Scotland gave the alert after he saw Pinchon plunge.
A medical report said the Frenchman had “serious head injuries, with injuries to the left side of the face”.
Pinchon was unconscious when the race’s medical services reached him but he regained consciousness as he was being taken to hospital.
“Fortunately he was wearing a helmet, which was still on him when we found him,” said Doctor Gerard Porte, the race doctor.
Race organizer Thierry Cazeneuve added: “It’s as though he fell three floors.”
The accident happened a few kilometers from the finish line of the stage on the descent of the Category 2 Col du Mezhillac, on which ground temperatures had reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Thursday’s fourth stage, one of the most important in the weeklong race, is a time trial along a 21.6-kilometer (13.4-mile) course from Bedoin to the famed Mont Ventoux.
Dauphine Libere – Stage 3 – Saint-Etienne to Aubenas:
1. Nicolas Portal, (F), AG2R Prevoyance, 180km in 4:41:42.
2. Janek Tombak, (Est), Cofidis, 51 seconds behind.
3. Iker Flores, (Sp), Euskaltel, same time.
4. Stuart O’Grady, (Aus), Cofidis, 1:49.
5. Thomas Voeckler, (F), Brioches La Boulangere, same time.
6. Baden Cooke, (Aus), La Francaise des Jeux, same time.
7. Jose Gutierrez, (Sp), Phonak, same time.
8. Iban Mayo, (Sp), Euskaltel, same time.
9. Lance Armstrong, (USA), U.S. Postal Service, same time.
10. Egoi Martinez, (Sp), Euskaltel, same time.
12. Levi Leipheimer, (USA), Rabobank, same time.
19. Tyler Hamilton, (USA), Phonak, same time.
1. Gutierrez, 15:31:52.
2. Mayo, at 0:08
3. Hamilton, at 0:09.
4. Armstrong, at 0:10.
5. Oscar Pereiro, (Sp), Phonak, same time.
6. Cyril Dessel, (F), Phonak, same time.
7. O’Grady, at 0:14.
8. Laurent Lefevre, (F), Brioches La Boulangere, at 0:18.
9. Oscar Sevilla, (Sp), Phonak, at 0:19.
10. Leipheimer, at 0:20.