Stage Three of the Tour de France started today, and finished today as well, though it was looking like it mightn't for a few minutes. And, well, you can avoid the highlights, almost nothing happened. Armindo Fonseca may have been very optimistic when attacking this morning, but as soon as he was off the front, he realised that he didn't have any friends, forging on alone for the majority of the 223.5 kilometre stage until Thomas Voeckler sensed a kindred sprint and attacked up to him. Naturally, they were caught at a time of the peloton's exact choosing, at eight kilometres to go, the sprint trains took over, and it finished like this, with Mark Cavendish sprinting to victory, as on stage 1.
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And instead of a stage review of one of the most boring days of cycling I've had the displeasure of viewing, lasting just six seconds short of six hours, at a speed of 37.2 kilometres per hour, with an expected, if very close, sprint finish, I’ll just pick some stuff out of it for you.
The intermediate sprint was contested! Yes, the real sprinters are still giving Peter Sagan a little bit of competition. Behind the leading duo, Marcel Kittel took maximum points of the peloton, but Cavendish, Greipel and Kristoff all made it difficult for the Slovakian. I said that the "real" sprinters might be able to give the green jersey a go last week, and so far, they seem to be. Sagan isn't even in green any more, with 116 points to Cavendish's 123, and with a few more flat stages to come, and the route not exactly in favour of the world champion, perhaps his reign over the competition could be halted.
Kittel, yet again had a bad day, timing his sprint poorly after a terrible attempt at positioning. The incline to the finish wasn't too much for him, was it? I championed him as the best sprinter going in here, and it looks like I was wrong to do that, after being soundly beaten once again by Mark Cavendish.
Oh, and here's a disgrace for you. Remember I mentioned Armindo Fonseca attacking, and spending 215 kilometres in the break, 130 of them by himself? Yeah, well that's not enough for the people who decide the winner of the combativity prize. I'm sure Thomas Voeckler, who has been on a Tour de France podium four times as a stage winner, twenty times to accept the yellow jersey and goodness knows how many times as the combativity prize winner when he actually deserved it, will really treasure this particular red number. Who even decides this anyway? I know the public has a say, but I never saw anything asking me to vote for it, did any of you? Anyway, how many French housewives are still in love with Thomas Voeckler? Clue: Apparently more than Fonseca, who by the way didn't lose it because of the sort-of acceptable rule of "give it to the French guy, being...French.
Oh well, I'm looking forward to Luis Angel Maté’s attack tomorrow.