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2010 Tour de France Stage 3 Wanze to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut

July 10, 2010

I don’t really know how to describe this awesome Tour de France stage. The Tour organizers thought that it would be really good to include a few cobblestones in this year’s Tour in this stage. In total, there were 7 sections over 18km of cobblestones. Needless to say this made for a very interesting race.

This by far is one of the most exciting stages of the Tour that I have ever seen. Everything starts as usual. Naturally, there’s a breakaway. Things started to get interesting when the peloton hit the cobblestone paths. They were brutal. Once again something very surprising happened. Frank Schleck took a spill and didn’t really get up. He’s since been pulled from the Tour. But this caused the peloton to split. The lead pack of riders were oblivious to this, but it had severe consequences for the of the racers.

To start off with, Cancellara paced Andy Schleck out of there in pursuit of the pack in order to make time. This had been planned, as Saxo Bank had been pacing the head of the peloton for miles. Now that the peloton was in disarray, it was the perfect opportunity, and Cancellara knew this. They pulled away and quickly made up some time. They eventually caught the breakaway late in the stage.

But that’s not all. The peloton was split. Contador was able to join a bunch of riders who were in hot pursuit of the breakaway. Armstrong suffered a flat tire and had to stay in pursuit of those two groups for the rest of the stage. There were still more groups behind him.

This amazing stage, which was won by Thor Hushovd, who is wearing the green jersey for his effort, returned the yellow jersey to Cancellara. This wasn’t really the objective. The main goal was to give Andy Schleck a serious advantage over Contador and Armstrong, and this was managed as Schleck was at 1:09 after Cancellara’s time. Contador was at 1:40 and Armstrong was at 2:30. While Contador will have no trouble with that time, Armstrong is another matter. He’ll have to work hard to make it up.

What a riveting stage. It was simply amazing and I hope that the cobblestones will make a return next year. Some teams, like Team Sky, were using cobblestone-specific frames like the KOBH 60.1. Interesting enough, I didn’t see that Caisse d’Épargne, who are also sponsored by Pinarello, were using this frame. The Caisse d’Épargne riders that I saw were riding the Dogma frame.

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