British cyclist Mark Cavendish tied Bernard Hinault by securing the 28th Tour de France stage win of his career on Monday (4 July). The Manx Missile narrowly pipped Lotto–Soudal's Andre Greipel in an exciting photo sprint finish that lit up an otherwise mundane day three journey from Granville to the western city of Angers.
Team Dimension Data's Cavendish donned the coveted yellow jersey for the very first time over the weekend after outsprinting Marcel Kittel and Peter Sagan to triumph at Utah Beach in Sainte-Marie-du-Mont on Saturday. He is now six victories behind five-time race winner Eddy Merckx.
"I wanted to be behind Greipel," said the 31-year-old, who has had to balance his training for the Tour with preparing to take to the track for his third Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next month. "Like me last year, after I didn't win the first stage I was hitting out too early and I knew Andre would do the same. I knew he would hit out.
"Andre had another wind. When I came past I thought I would have it easy, and he went again. It took me by surprise but I am so happy to have got that. It was uphill that finish. It was about waiting and waiting. I laid off, got the run and he nearly got it, but I'm super-happy with that win."
Stage three represented the second of seven flat stages in this year's race, with Frenchman Armindo Fonseca leading the way for much of the 223.5km distance following an early breakaway. However, he was later overtaken by compatriot and Direct Energie rider Thomas Voeckler, whose counter-attacking prowess earned him the combativity award. The duo were eventually caught by the peloton with approximately 8km left to go.
Sagan finished fourth behind Cavendish, Greipel and Bryan Coquard to retain his place as general classification leader ahead of Julian Alaphilippe and Alejandro Valverde. His advantage currently stands at eight seconds. Team Sky's Chris Froome, meanwhile, crossed the line in 22nd to move up into fourth position overall.
Stage four on Tuesday is also mainly flat and provides the longest test of the entire Tour, encompassing 237.5 km from Saumur down to Limoges. The sprinters are likely to be in their element once again before the climbers relish a ride to Le Lioran.