Post Stage Analysis

Double Victory for Niki Terpstra
A breakaway survives, Terpstra takes stage and leader's jersey

13 Big Photos from Stage 3sirotti and colin flockton

June 9 update: The break survived today, and Niki Terpstra of Milram celebrated the stage win. Terpstra also took over the lead of the general classification, thanks to a 1:30 advantage at the finish. Rémi Pauriol, who took over as leader of the mountains classification, sits second in the general classification, 26 seconds behind Terpstra, while Yuri Trofimov of Bbox Bouygues is third at 27 seconds. Former race leader Cadel Evans is now 1:01 down in the general classification, though it is doubtful that he will lose any sleep over the gap with so many difficult stages yet to ride.

The Story

The stage started out fast and nervous as numerous riders attempted to escape. The four categorized climbs tempted the breakaway riders, though the last climb of the day sat nearly 30 kilometers from the finish. Still, the course offered the breakaways a chance at success today, and plenty of riders wanted to try their chances, including Jerôme Pineau of Quick Step, who told L'Équipe yesterday that he wanted to win today. No luck for Pineau today.

After 34 kilometers of constant attacking, a break of five managed to gain the magic minute over the main field. Voilà, the break of the day: Niki Terpstra of Milram, Ludovic Turpin of AG2R-La Mondiale, Yuri Trofimov of Bbox Bouygues, Rémi Pauriol of Cofidis, Iñigo Landaluze of Euskaltel-Euskadi. The main field, led by Silence-Lotto, proved content to let the five ride, and by kilometer 70, they held an advantge of 5:30.

Over the four categorized climbs, Rémi Pauriol of Cofidis patiently scooped up the points on offer, and solidified his lead in the mountains classification. Behind, Silence-Lotto worked on the front with no sign of the sprinters' teams. With 50 kilometers to go, the BMC team came to the front in support of their sprinter Markus Zberg, who finished second on yesterday's stage. Still, Quick Step and Katusha showed no interest in the proceedings. Yesterday's stage winner, Angelo Furlan, meanwhile, went out the back of the main field. Not one for the climbs is Furlan.

On the final climb of the day, the côte de Château-Gaillard, the break held 3:47 over the main field. Français des Jeux took over the pace-making with Mathieu Ladagnous putting in a big effort on the front. Still, with 27 kilometers to race, the break held 2:40 in hand and continued to work smoothly together. Inside 20 kilometers to go, Caisse d'Épargne and Quick Step came to the front, but soon abandoned the chase. The sprinters now conceded the day to the break.

With an eye toward the general classification, Niki Terpstra took hard pulls on the front of the break and kept the speed high. Terpstra began the day 41 seconds behind race leader Cadel Evans and saw a chance to take over the lead. The group of five remained together, content to follow Terpstra and wait for the sprint.

As the break passed under the one kilometer to go banner, Terpstra began to soft-pedal and for a moment, the break played stare-down. With no one willing to ride, Terpstra accepted the inevitable, went back to the front, and began to ride steadily. Terpstra had no choice now but to lead out the sprint. Ludovic Turpin sat in second wheel, Yuri Trofimov in third. Iñigo Landaluze waited patiently at the back.

The first move came from Landaluze. The Euskaltel-Euskadi rider shot up the gutter on the right-hand side. Attacking from the back offers the advantage of surprise. At the same time, with the group strung out single file, Landaluze had a fair amount of ground to cover before he could break free of the group. The move up the gutter had its share of cheekiness, but it also put Landaluze within reach of Terpstra, who continued to ride on the front.

Still, it seemed for a moment that Landaluze's tactic would work. As the line approached, he held a small gap over Terpstra, who now increased his tempo. Terpstra is a many-time Dutch national champion on the track and won a silver metal at the 2005 World Championships in the team pursuit. The Dutch rider is no slouch in the final kilometer. Terpstra soon overtook Landaluze and neither Turpin nor Trofimov could come around him. Niki Terpstra won the stage, and gave Milram its sixth win of the season. The main field followed 1:32 behind, and Nicolay Trussov of Katusha won the bunch sprint for sixth.

Here is the current general classification:

1. Niki Terpstra Milram
2. Rémi Pauriol Cofidis :26
3. Yuri Trofimov Bbox Bouygues :27
4. Ludovic Turpin AG2R-La Mondiale :36
5. Cadel Evans Silence-Lotto 1:01
6. Iñigo Landaluze Euskaltel-Euskadi 1:04
7. Alberto Contador Astana 1:09
8. Alejandro Valverde Caisse d'Épargne 1:24
9. Sébastien Rosseler Quick Step 1:34
10. Vincenzo Nibali Liquigas-Doimo 1:35

Niki Terpstra takes over as the race leader, followed by Rémi Pauriol of Cofidis at 26 seconds, and Yuri Trofimov of Bbox Bouygues at 27 seconds. Race favorite Cadel Evans sits 1:01 down, while Alberto Contador trails Terpstra by 1:09. Last year's winner Alejandro Valverde is currently eighth at 1:24.

Tomorrow, we can expect the general classification to change yet again, as the riders face a 40 kilometer crono. The course traces a U-shape between Bourg-Lès-Valence and Valence. There is one categorized climb, a category 4, but the majority of the course is flat. This crono is for the specialists, and the pure climbers will find nothing to smile about here. Terpstra finished 41 seconds behind Evans during the 12 kilometer stage 1 crono, so it would take a big ride for the Milram rider to keep the leader's jersey after tomorrow's stage. Look for a tight battle tomorrow among the race favorites, Evans, Contador, and Valverde.

For more details on tomorrow's course, please turn the page.

Course Preview

Stage 3: Tournus — Saint-Étienne 182 km

Stage 3 continues the southward trajectory of these early stages. The course travels from Tournus to Saint-Étienne over 182 kilometers. Tournus sits on the Saône River, a tributary of the Rhône, and is located between the cities of Dijon and Lyon. Four category 4 climbs interrupt the mostly flat roads of this stage. Though the sprinters’ teams could control the race, this course may allow a breakaway to survive to the finish. The final climb of the day, the Côte de Château-Gaillard, comes with 28 kilometers to race, a tempting distance for a an attacker. The finish is a descending false flat in Saint-Étienne.

There are four category 4 climbs on the profile today. After just over 80 kilometers of racing, the riders will climb the Côte de Pommiers. The côte is 2 kilometers in length and gains 155 meters in elevation. The course covers another 30 kilometers before the next climb, the Côte d’Albigny. This second climb of the day gains 60 meters over 1 kilometer. From the summit of the Côte d’Albigny, there remains 66 kilometers to race.

After another 16 kilometers of racing comes the Côte de Duerne at kilometer 132.5. The Côte de Duerne lasts 6.5 kilometers and rises 195 meters. This is the longest climb of the stage. The final climb of the day arrives 15 kilometers later. The Côte de Château-Gaillard is also a category 4. At 2 kilometers in length, the côte climbs 100 meters. From the summit, there remains 28 kilometers to race.

The course climbs gradually after the Côte de Château-Gaillard before the descent begins with 15 kilometers to go. The final 15 kilometers descend slightly, though the profile is mostly flat here. The finish is on the Rue de la Tour in Saint-Étienne.

Gavia (updates to this preview will be made during the race and especially the day before the stage with current analysis)<-->