And welcome to our live rolling blog from the third stage of the 109th edition of the Tour de France, the 182-kilometre run from Vejle to Sonderborg, the third and final day of the Danish grand départ.
Before we have a quick look at today’s stage, let’s have a quick recap from yesterday. It was a long day with much wind forecast, although in the end the strong winds were battering the riders in their faces and so other than a few spills, there were very few thrills. Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-EasyPost) crashed, as did a handful of others including then race leader Yves Lampaert (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl), but they all regrouped with the peloton before its fast finale.
A further crash saw Daniel Martínez (Ineos Grenadiers), Ben O’Connor (Ag2r-Citroën) and four-time winner Chris Froome (Israel Premier-Tech) also go down, but fortunately for them they were in the final 3km and so were awarded the same time as those they had been alongside when the crash happened. Defending champion Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) was caught up behind the pile-up and hit a barrier, but later said he was “okay”.
Fabio Jakobsen (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl) underlined why he was selected over Mark Cavendish when the Dutchman powered his way past Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) to land the first Tour stage of his career. An amazing achievement coming under two years after suffering an horrific crash at the Tour of Poland that resulted in him needing reconstructive surgery. A terrifying list of injuries sustained included a skull fracture, torn palate, brain contusion, broken nose, loss of part of both his upper and lower jaw as well as 10 teeth.
Van Aert, who earned a 6sec time bonus for his runners-up spot, leapfrogged Lampaert to top spot on general classification and so will wear the leader’s jersey at the Tour for the first time.
The Belgian also took top spot in the points classification, but Jakobsen – who trails Van Aert – will wear the green jersey on his behalf.
There were just three category four climbs in Saturday’s stage, with a single point up for grabs atop each. Having got into the day’s breakaway, Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost) scooped up all three and so the Dane will wear the polka dot jersey on home roads.
Pogacar kept hold of his white jersey as leading young rider, while Britain’s Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers), riding his maiden Tour, trails by 17sec.
So, what’s on today’s menu?
In theory, today’s stage should be a little more straightforward than Saturday’s. The three category four climbs look fairly benign, while the finale appears routine sprinters’ fare. That’s right folks, we are expecting another sprint finish this afternoon.
The smart money, you would imagine, will be on Jakobsen who would make it three wins in a row today for Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl if he can make in back-to-back wins for himself. Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal), Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Dylan Groenewegen (BikeExchange-Jayco) will be hoping to challenge him, while Van Aert will not want to lose too much ground in the race for the green jersey, something the Belgian is targeting this year.
Once again, there are just three category four points up for grabs in the mountains classification and so Cort may attempt to get into the day’s breakaway. Should he add one more point to his tally, he would keep hold of the polka dot jersey. If another rider mirrors what he did yesterday and takes all three points, then the leader will be determined on the general classification standings: whoever has completed the first three stages in the shortest time will lead the mountains competition.
And finally, the weather . . .
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