Monday, July 4, 2011

Farrar celebrates July 4 with first Tour de France stage victory

Farrar takes 3rd Tour stage, Hushovd still leads

Canada's Hesjedal moves up to 57th in overall standings

Tyler Farrar, front, won Monday's third stage of the Tour de France.  
Tyler Farrar, front, won Monday's third stage of the Tour de France. (Laurent Rebours/Associated Press)Tyler Farrar became the first American to win a Tour de France stage on July 4, dominating a sprint finish in the third leg Monday as teammate Thor Hushovd of Norway kept the yellow jersey.
It was the first Tour stage victory for Farrar, one of the world's best sprinters, and showcased the dominance of the Garmin-Cervelo team over the past two days at cycling's biggest race.
The 123-mile flat route from Olonne-sur-Mer to Redon in western Brittany favoured sprinters like Farrar, Mark Cavendish of Britain, Italy's Alessandro Petacchi, Tom Boonen of Belgium, and Hushovd, the world champion.
"I certainly would have taken it on any day," Farrar said of the stage victory. "But as an American, winning on the Fourth of July, it's the icing on the cake. ... Lucky me."
After he crossed the finish line, Farrar held up his hands to form a "W" with his fingers and thumbs to honour his friend and training partner Wouter Weylandt, who died in a crash during the Giro d'Italia in May.
Farrar had pulled out of the Giro after Weylandt, a 26-year-old Belgian, clipped a wall in a sharp descent, fell off his bike and slammed his head on the ground in the third stage of the race, dying almost instantly.
"This has been a horrible last two months with everything that happened in the Giro," Farrar said. "I've had a lot of ups and downs. But in the end, I wanted to be able to come back, and do something special to pay tribute — and this is certainly the biggest stage in the world to do that."
"It's a little bit unbelievable to me at the moment that it actually happened," he added.
In Monday's finale, Cavendish's HTC-Highroad team had lined up to escort the British speedster to the finish from near the 2.4 mile mark, but by the last few hundred yards Hushovd and Farrar had zoomed ahead.
"To have the world champion and yellow jersey work for you to launch the sprint, it's crazy," Farrar said of Hushovd.
At the finish, the American nosed ahead of France's Romain Feillu, who was second, and Jose Joaquin Rojas of Spain in third. Farrar and a pack of riders clocked the same time: 4 hours, 40 minutes, 21 seconds.
With his victory, Farrar became the first American to win a Tour stage since Levi Leipheimer placed first in the individual time trial in Angouleme in 2007.
The top standings didn't change: Hushovd retains a split-second edge over Garmin-Cervelo teammate David Millar of Britain, while Cadel Evans of Australia of BMC is third, one second back.
Defending champion Alberto Contador of Spain, who lost time on Saturday after getting entangled in a crash, is 69th overall — 1:42 back of the Norwegian leader.
Among other hopefuls for victory on the Champs-Elysees on July 24, 2010 runner-up Andy Schleck of Luxembourg, the leader of Leopard-Trek, is eighth overall, four seconds behind Hushovd.Read more:

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