Tour de France 2016: Mark Cavendish claims 28th career stage win

Manxman moves joint second on all-time list with narrow sprint victory in Angers

Mark Cavendish moved level with Bernard Hinault with 28 Tour de France stage wins after edging out Andre Greipel in Angers on stage three.

The Manxman, winner of the first stage, made it two wins in three days as a slow stage finished with a superbly-contested sprint between the Dimension Data man and the German champion.

Both punched the air after the finish line, believing they had won, but it was Cavendish – who came off the Lotto-Soudal man’s win to pass him just in time – who claimed the stage win.

It moves him level with Hinault in second place in the all-time list of Tour stage wins – only Eddy Merckx (34) has more.

Mark Cavendish now has 28 Tour de France stage wins to his name (pic: Sirotti)

Armindo Fonseca, who had been slated as one of Dan McLay’s lead-out men, was given licence to join the day’s break instead, but the Frenchman found himself on his own up the road.

Despite the length of the stage, the Fortuneo-Vital Concept man forged on alone for a long day up the road – the Tinkoff-led peloton happy to let him go as they bedded in for a slow, steady stage.

Fonseca took the day’s only King of the Mountain points, but the peloton was always in control – Sagan, in the yellow jersey, on the front and enjoy a laugh with the other riders.

Well behind the slowest predicted time schedule for the stage, the peloton was clearly happy to use the stage as a transition day with a sprint finish always expected.

Finally, with 87km remaining, Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie) decided enough was enough and bolted off the front of the bunch in pursuit of Fonseca.

The two Frenchmen linked up less than five kilometres further down the road and worked well together, talking to each other as they came through and off with a 4’40” advantage over the bunch.

Voeckler’s injection of pace sparked the peloton into life for the first time, and the tempo was increased – the gap was down to just a minute as Fonseca was allowed to take the intermediate sprint.

Kittel took the kick from the bunch, with Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), Sagan and Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) following across the line.

Lotto-Soudal and Etixx-QuickStep had riders on the front of the bunch as a more purposeful chase ensued after the sprint – the leaders’ gap kept within a manageable minute thereafter.

It was down even further at the 15km-to-go banner, at less than 20 seconds, with the inevitable bunch sprint forthcoming.

They were in sight by the time the peloton passed the 10km kite, and the race came together two kilometres later with plenty of teams battling for position on the front.

Direct Energie were on the front as a big right-hander left some teams with some catching up to do inside the final four kilometres but all the sprinting favourites remained near the front.

An Orica-BikeExchange rider highlighted the technical nature of the finale, overshooting a corner and crashing into the barrier – his crash causing a small gap to open up.

Lotto-Soudal were on the front as they rounded the final bend, and Andre Greipel opened up his sprint first with Cavendish on his wheel looking to pass him on the left.

Kittel picked the wrong line and was out of contention as Greipel and Cavendish went wheel-to-wheel in a fiercely-contested sprint.

As they crossed the finish line, both men punched the air to celebrate victory, but the replays showed it was Cavendish by the smallest of margins after delaying his bike lunge slightly longer.

Peter Sagan, who finished fourth, retains the yellow jersey.

Tour de France 2016: stage three – result

1) Mark Cavendish (GBR) – Dimension Data – 5.59.54hrs
2) Andre Greipel (GER) – Lotto-Soudal – ST
3) Bryan Coquard (FRA) – Direct Energie
4) Peter Sagan (SVK) – Tinkoff
5) Edward Theuns (BEL) – Trek-Segafredo
6) Sondre Holst Enger (NOR) – IAM Cycling
7) Marcel Kittel (GER) – Etixx-QuickStep
8) Christophe Laporte (FRA) – Cofidis
9) Dan McLay (GBR) – Fortuneo-Vital Concept
10) Dylan Groenwegen (NED) – LottoNL-Jumbo

General classification

1) Peter Sagan (SVK) – Tinkoff – 14.34.36hrs
2) Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) – Etixx-QuickStep +8”
3) Alejandro Valverde (ESP) – Movistar +10”
4) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky +14″
5) Warren Barguil (FRA) – Giant-Alpecin – ST
6) Nairo Quintana (COL) – Movistar
7) Roman Kreuziger (CZE) – Tinkoff
8) Tony Gallopin (FRA) – Lotto-Soudal
9) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana
10) Daniel Martin (IRL) – Etixx-QuickStep

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