Cycle//Tour de France
by Jonathan Davies
Chris Froome has taken the yellow jersey after just three stages following a second place finish on the gruelling Mur de Huy in an action packed day.
Team Sky's Froome finished second behind Katusha's Joaquim Rodriguez on the short climb that averaged 19%, gaining time on rivals Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali and Nairo Quintana.
Froome was able to take the yellow jersey after Fabian Cancellara failed to keep pace following a nasty crash. With the race heading to a hugely exciting climax at 60km to go there was a huge crash in the peloton, with another 500m later. Cancellara flipped over his handlebars, but with the race neutralised, he was able to catch up. As the race edged towards the tough climbs in the closing kilometres, the Swiss rider was unable to keep pace and eventually finsihed more than 11 minutes behind Rodriguez. It was later confirmed that Cancellara had in fact fractured two vertabrae and was forced to abandon the rest of the Tour.
Tim Dumoulin, the white jersey holder, and Simon Gerrans, who was considered as one of the favourites for the stage win, were also caught up in the crash and abandoned the race.
“I didn’t wake up today thinking I was going to be in yellow,” Froome said.
“That was a real surprise. Today was treacherous; lots of crashes. Not too different from the Fleche 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.”
Froome's unexpected hold on the yellow jersey and his advantage over his rivals will come as a welcome cushion heading into stage four, which sees the riders tackle the dreaded cobblestones that proved to be the end of Froome's Tour last year.
Classification after Stage 3
1 - Chris Froome (Team Sky) - 7hr 11' 37"
2 - Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick-Step) - +1"
3 - Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing) - +13"
4 - Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) - +26"
5 - Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) - 28"
6 - Peter Sagan (Tinkoff Saxo) - +31"
7 - Rigoberto Uran Uran (Etixx-Quick-Step) - +34"
8 - Alberto Contador (Tinkoff Saxo) - +36"
9 - Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) - +1' 03"
10 - Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-Quick-Step) - +1' 04"
13 - Vinenzo Nibali (Astana) - +1' 38"
16 - Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) - +1' 51"
17 - Nairo Quintana (Movistar) - +1' 56"
26 - Roman Bardet (AG2R) - +2' 54"
27 - Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) - +2' 58"
46 - Richie Porte (Team Sky) - +5' 48"