Quintana one position up -Valverde remains in 3rd overall- after delayed stage three finish, prelude to the whooping 237km on Tuesday. Mark Cavendish (DDD) takes second stage success after perfectly-timed bike throw, bests Greipel (LTS)
The 223.5km stage three of the 2016 Tour de France, crossing through Brittany from Granville and into Angers (Pays de la Loire) started off with an unexpected, solo attempt by local hero Armindo Fonseca (FVC). Alone in the lead with more than ten minutes over the small climbs in the beginning, including the Côte de Villedieu-les-Poêles (Cat-4), the Frenchman was joined by countryman Thomas Voeckler (DEN) as Tinkoff refused to establish a real chase against the two. Caught with Etixx and Lotto-Soudal with 8km remaining, a reduced sprint leadout was formed into a stage that came across the finish 40 minutes later than the average scheduled timetable. Dimension Data and the two Belgian squads overtook Sagan's team, which lacked any intention to make things hard for its leader, and started outlining what would be a twisty, unpredictable bunch kick in Angers.
The Movistar riders directed by José Luis Arrieta and Chente García Acosta took care, just as expected in such stages, of Nairo Quintana to perfection until the very finishing line, where Mark Cavendish (DDD) claimed his second stage success against Andre Greipel (LTS) by just a few milimeters gained into the last bike throw to the line. Nairo Quintana profits from the account of positions in a pretty equal GC to gain one place up, now 6th, against Belgian Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), with Alejandro Valverde still in 3rd. Tuesday's stage four will be the longest in this Tour, 237.5km between Saumur and Limoges, in the eve of the Massif Central's climbs towards Le Lioran, on Wednesday.
Dani Moreno: "It was overall a calm stage from the beginning, but the final 40 or 50 kilometers were a very diffetent story. You always ride in the finale with those nerves, that need to keep focus because you never know what's gonna happen, plus you must keep Nairo safe. It was a 'rest' day, between many quotation marks, already before that point – that final push turned the stage into a quite demanding one. Still, I think it was quite a relaxed day for Nairo, apart from that ending course. Let's hope we can keep him in good place also tomorrow. It will be a long stage, and should the break take long to form, the finale could get more exciting and tougher than today's."