Froome in charge after crash-marred Tour de France third stage

Mon Jul 6, 2015 1:58pm EDT
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By Julien Pretot

HUY, Belgium (Reuters) - Chris Froome seized early control of the Tour de France, the 2013 champion snatching the yellow jersey after a crash-marred third stage won by Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez on Monday.

Katusha rider Rodriguez had the best kick up the punishing Mur de Huy, where the Fleche Wallonne classic ends, beating Team Sky's Froome by a narrow margin while France's Alexis Vuillermoz ended up third, four seconds back.

Rodriguez, who won the Fleche Wallonne in 2012, attacked about 400 meters from the line and held off Froome.

"It is very unexpected, I was hoping to be up there today and to put more time on my rivals," Froome told reporters at the end of the 159.5km ride from Antwerp, Belgium.

Overall, Froome leads German Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick Step) by one second with American Tejay van Garderen in third place 13 seconds off the pace after losing 11 seconds on the day.

Swiss Fabian Cancellara, in yellow at the start, was caught in a massive crash that forced organizers to neutralize the race for about 10 minutes.

Colombian Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) also lost 11 seconds but they are still in the game 1:56 and 1:38 behind Froome respectively.

Spain's Alberto Contador lost 18 seconds but lies only 36 seconds off the pace before Tuesday's tough fourth stage that features much feared cobbled sectors.   Continued...

Team Sky rider Chris Froome of Britain celebrates as he wears the race leader's yellow jersey on the podium of the third stage of the 102nd Tour de France cycling race from Anvers to Huy, Belgium, July 6, 2015.  REUTERS/Eric Gaillard