The best thing you can say about Stage 3 of this year’s Tour is that it’s over.
Thor Hushovd, the God of Thunder, took the stage win in a battered sprint, and Fabian Cancellara reclaimed the yellow jersey with a pounding out of the final kilometers of cobblestones mixed with pavement.
But the day will be remembered most for innumerable bike breakdowns and crashes, including one that left last year’s No. 5, Frank Schleck, writhing on the ground holding his head in pain and apparently a question-mark for continuing. [UPDATE: Schleck withdrew with a broken collarbone.] We wish him the best. And Tyler Farrar as well, who despite a broken wrist continued through today’s punishing stage in hopes of healing on the bike and eventually challenging in sprint stages.
Frank’s brother Andy, a pre-Tour favorite, hooked up with teammate Cancellara, a cobblestone specialist, to provide the day’s drama as Saxo Bank vied for the win.
You have to applaud Ryder Hesjedal as well, the big Canadian who, as a former mountain biker, knows how to handle the cobbles. Ryder (who also possesses the best first name in cycling) did a thrilling breakaway over the cobblestones to put pressure on the peloton and show how a breakaway is done.
Best line of the day: Commentator Paul Sherwen, on Fabian Cancellara’s magnificent pull toward the end: “Let’s hope he has plenty of AAA batteries in his pack for this one!” A puckish reference to the ludicrous controversy over “bike doping” by Cancellara (running a battery-powered motor in his bottom bracket).
Full VeloNews coverage here.