- Tour de France, Stage Three
Sagan takes Stage Three; Wiggins bid dealt blow
Debutant Peter Sagan won an incident-packed Stage Three as Bradley Wiggins' hopes of winning the Tour de France suffered a blow on Tuesday.
At 22, Sagan - who became the second-youngest rider (after Lance Armstrong) to win a Tour de France stage when claiming the opening stage on Sunday - once again showcased his talent to safely negotiate a late crash and take the 197km trip from Orchies to Boulogne-sur-Mer.
As the 2012 edition took to the roads of France for the first time, a route that included six categorised climbs in the final 70km caused problems for a host of riders.
After a fairly incident-free first half, the race came to life when the peloton was broken up by two crashes. Team Sky's Kanstantsin Siutsou broke his leg in one, becoming the first of 198 starters to abandon the Tour and, in the process, dealing a blow to team-mate Wiggins' chances of winning a first Tour de France title.
A five-man break was eaten up by the peloton, before Sylvain Chavanel made a late push on the descent of the penultimate climb. The Frenchman faded, allowing a motoring peloton to pass him, before another crash involving around 20 riders caused chaos ahead of the finishing sprint.
Despite the late crash, Sagan held his nerve to take a comfortable victory, finishing a second clear of Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky), with Peter Velits (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) taking third.
Wiggins came through unscathed and, with the Brit held up by a crash less than 300 metres from the finish, the current 3km rule meant he did not lose time on Fabian Cancellara in the General Classification.
Tour de France, Stage Three, Orchies - Boulogne-sur-Mer results
1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale - 4:42:56
2 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling - 0:00:01
3 Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
4 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan
5 Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team
6 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
7 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale
8 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
9 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
10 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
General classification after Stage Three
1 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan - 14:45:30
2 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling - 0:00:07
3 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
4 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team - 0:00:10
5 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling - 0:00:11
6 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team - 0:00:17
7 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale - 0:00:18
8 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Sharp
9 Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan - 0:00:19
10 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team - 0:00:21