Paris, July 7 (IANS) Katusha rider Joaquim Rodriguez won the third stage of the Tour de France while Team Sky’s Chris Froome took the leader’s yellow jersey after a mass crash caught former leader Fabian Cancellara.
Rodriguez on Monday repeated his heroic victory at the Fleche Wallonne in 2012, kicking up the punishing Mur de Huy to wrap up the 159.5km ride from Antwerp, Belgium, in three hours 26 minutes and 54 seconds, reports Xinhua.
The Spaniard attacked about 400 metres from the line and held off 2013 Tour champion Froome to the second place by a narrow margin.
France’s Alexis Vuillermoz took a surprise third at four seconds ahead of Ireland’s Dan Martin with fellow Frenchman Tony Gallopin.
Froome, however, earned six extra seconds with his second finish and took over the yellow jersey by just one second from German Tony Martin of Etixx-Quick Step.
American Tejay van Garderen is in third place overall with 13 seconds off the pace after losing 11 seconds on the day.
“It is very unexpected, I was hoping to be up there today and to put more time on my rivals,” said the Briton.
Twenty riders were involved in the crash 100 km into the stage, just before climb No.1, that was caused by Frenchman William Bonnet. The pile-up took down the overall race Fabian Cancellara at the time and saw four riders abandon.
Bonnet was taken away by the race medical staff on a stretcher but he was conscious. His team said he was to undergo surgery on a broken cervical vertebra although his condition was not serious.
The organisers were forced to neutralise the race for about 10 minutes and to cancel one of the four short and sharp climbs.
“We were riding at high speed, about 85-90 kph, and we heard a huge noise,” said Rodriguez. “For the race to be neutralised it has to be pretty serious.”
Tuesday’s fourth stage will start out from Seraing and end in the northern French town of Cambrai, a 223.5 km ride with 13 km of cobblestone sections dotted around the route.