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Cholet - France - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - BMC RACING TEAM pictured during the 105th Tour de France - stage - 3 from Cholet to Cholet - 35KM - TTT photo VK/PN// Cor Vos © 2018

TOUR’18 Stage 3: TTT – BMC – GVA!

Stage Report: The team time trial stage 3 round the town of Cholet became a battle of the Belgians with Greg Van Avermaet and BMC fighting for the yellow jersey with Philippe Gilbert and his Quick-Step boys. In the end BMC put their man in the overall lead.

Peter Sagan? Still out there!

TTT: and it’s BMC with GVA en jaune Sky second, Quick-Step Floors third despite battling so hard. As Sagan EXPLODES!

Mitchelton–Scott are first off the ramp at Cholet, it’s a tad tricky and narrow to start so ‘tranquilo’ is the watchword; out of town, it drags up and the tempo knob is only turned up to nine. Sky next with some big chrono names – not least Geraint Thomas who won the GB Champs on Thursday last, Castroviejo, the Spanish TT champ, Gianni Moscon the Italian TT king and Kwiatkowski the Polish champ. But it’s a long time since they started this early in a TTT.

Movistar next, they’re one of the top TTT squads and not used to the early start either. Mitchelton-Scott are looking good but Nieve and Yates aren’t going through whilst Durbridge is pulling HUGE spells. Groupama-FDJ off the ramp now; it’s five minute intervals.

Team Sky, one second off the Aussie pace at check one.

TTT royalty now as BMC launch and no ‘settling in’ for these dudes, big pace through the tricky first K. The sun has brought out huge crowds and their many flags tell a story – it’s a stiff breeze. Education First-Drapac next – once masters of the art but Hesjedal, Zabriskie, Vande Velde and Millar are all no more.

Now here’s a shock! – Rowe and Poels have popped; not good news for Christopher and Sky.

Those brown, white and blue AG2R-La Mondiale boys roll, ‘damage limitation’ for Monsieur Bardet is the name of this team’s game, today. Movistar lose a man as Mitchelton-Scott hurtle home, just five of them still standing – 38:55, that’s your benchmark. Movistar go second at check one, ahead of Sky. Historically Sky finish fast but with two casualties already, that’ll be tough – although they’re into the last two K now and looking strong despite their casualties. They go top by five seconds but there are still big hitters to come.

Direct Energie on the road now; the Frenchmen won’t trouble the time keepers. Movistar sprint home now, 49 seconds is the deficit – that’s not a good performance. Lotto Soudal head off into the heat as BMC go top at check one, five seconds up on Sky. AG2R-La Mondiale may not be going to win but are riding in highly committed fashion.

EF at check two now – 24 seconds ‘off’ despite big Taylor Phinney pumping those watts. LottoNL-Jumbo drop off the ramp now as Groupama-FDJ drop 1:37 to Sky at the line. Roglic is a top chronoman but it’s not about one man’s speed on this day.

BMC, red kite, full gas with Swiss TT champ Küng to the fore, giving it all then dropping off like a spent firework; and they go top by four seconds with 54 kph plus average – impressive.

The Cofidis wagon rolls next; just a day to get through for the ‘credit by phone’ guys. Education First-Drapac come home at 35 seconds, that’s no disaster for Rigo & Co. World Champs Sunweb await the countdown – they roll, just the 35.5K to go.

Silvan Dillier goes off for AG2R-La Mondiale, that’s not bad form, those are his injuries talking. Dimension Data – another day to be ‘got through’ and Cav will be so glad to see that line. Kristoff leads UAE Team Emirates home; one-and-a-half minutes back – not a good day for Dan Martin. Look at those flags, calm it is not.

AG2R-La Mondiale gobble up two UAE Team Emirates refugees – those two’s DS won’t be chatty tonight. The French team battles home, 1:15 down – not a disaster but not great. Katusha-Alpecin get the beeps. Tony Martin will have been fed raw meat, last night – and team GC hope Zakarin is no mean time tester.

Bahrain-Merida on the ramp – has Vincenzo got another Grand Tour in him? Fortuneo-Samsic limp in @ 1:45. Not Barguil’s bag. . .

Trek-Segafredo set out as Direct Energie come home – 1:51 down, oops, but not surprising. Sunweb; and Theuns misses a spell; it’s savage out there with that wind. Astana with LL Sanchez absent – those early Tour crashes can be cruel. Lotto Soudal come in with four men; 1:51 down but that’s irrelevant for a stage hunting team. LottoNL-Jumbo drop 1:15, not great.

Wanty roll, ‘no big deal’ for them today. Kittel’s not enjoying this TTT at all as he dangles on the back of Katusha-Alpecin. The watch is telling us that Sunweb will have to turn it on late if they’re to usurp BMC. Bahrain-Merida look in charge of their efforts as the Quick-Step Galacticos charge – Jungels, Terpstra, Gilbert, Lampaert. . .

Cofidis finish @ 3:23 – oh dear.

Sunweb approach the red kite; they have a deficit of 11 seconds at the line – by no means a bad day for Dumoulin.

Sagan and Co. are on the road now. Katusha-Alpecin; it’s not happening, way down and four gone – it’s not going to be a good day for Zakarin. Bahrain-Merida are shedding bodies; Vincenzo is just too strong – four survivors only. Cav brings Dimension Data in at 1:52 off the pace; no surprise there.

Martin brings Katusha home; they drop 52 seconds – that could have been worse. Quick-Step Floors drop De Clerq; you can’t ride on the front for two days then be strong in the TTT. Sagan doesn’t look at his best today; nor does Gaviria as he slides off the back – Quick-Step not at their most organised today.

Bahrain-Merida drop 1:05, not too bad but certainly not great. Quick-Step are back together, six riders – but Gaviria is history. The floor layers are still well in the fight though, within a couple of seconds of BMC. A rare sight, Sagan in difficulty, his train has to ease off the throttle. Trek come home now – five men @ 1:17, not great for Mollema.

Richeze pops off the Quick-Step Express, five left through the endless camper vans. Quick-Step Floors have a six second deficit at check two. Astana drop 51 seconds, acceptable with just seven riders. Quick-Step fight hard but Terpstra is suffering; as is Sagan who’s missing spells – unusual for him. Burghardt has gone for Bora as Sagan completely explodes – they’ll have to keep riding for Majka. Wanty-Groupe Gobert come in @ 2:24, job done.

Just Quick-Step Floors and Bora-Hansgrohe to come. Quick-Step are down to four with a gap of five/six seconds on BMC. Gilbert drives hard, hard, hard. But the boys in blue are six seconds shy. It’s BMC! GVA en jeune. Bora-Hansgrohe come home @ 50 seconds – not a bad result given the Sagan tragedy. A great day of racing under blue skies – parfait!

Stage Four tomorrow, don’t miss it, here on PEZ.

Tour de France Stage 3 Result:
1. BMC in 38:46
2. Sky at 0:04
3. Quick-Step Floors at 0:07
4. Mitchelton-Scott at 0:09
5. Sunweb at 0:12
6. EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale at 0:35
7. Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:50
8. Astana at 0:52
9. Katusha-Alpecin at 0:53
10. Movistar at 0:54
11. Bahrain-Merida at 1:06
12. AG2R-La Mondiale at 1:15
13. LottoNl-Jumbo at 1:16
14. Trek-Segafredo
15. UAE Team Emirates at 1:39
16. Groupama-FDJ at 1:42
17. Fortuneo-Samsic at 1:47
18. Direct Energie at 1:52
19. Lotto Soudal
20. Dimension Data at 1:53
21. Wanty-Groupe Gobert at 2:24
22. Cofidis at 3:23.

Tour de France Overall After Stage 3:
1. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC in 9:08:55
2. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC
3. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky at 0:03
4. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors at 0:05
5. Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors at 0:07
6. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors
7. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Sunweb at 0:11
8. Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Sunweb
9. Michael Matthews (Aus) Sunweb
10. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:34
11. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:50
12. Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
13. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 0:51
14. Richie Porte (Aus) BMC
15. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin at 0:52
16. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:53
17. Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar
18. Chris Froome (GB) Sky at 0:55
19. Taylor Phinney (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale at 0:56
20. Adam Yates (GB) Mitchelton-Scott at 1:00
21. Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott
22. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida at 1:06
23. Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
24. Michael Valgren (Den) Astana
25. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 1:15.

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