It was only fitting that American sprinter Tyler Farrar won his first ever Tour de France stage on America's birthday. Though Farrar has been one of the better professional sprinters over the past few years he had yet been able to notch a win on the sport's biggest stage. Fittingly enough, he reached that goal just one day after his team, Garmin Cervelo, won its first ever Tour de France stage in the team time trial in stage two.
At first, it appeared that team HTC Highroad was going to drive the pelaton all of the way to the finish while providing a strong lead out for the sport's top sprinter in Mark Cavendish. However, it soon became clear that HTC had taken control of the pelaton too early and did not have enough men on the lead out train to sustain it to the finish. As HTC began to fall apart, Team Garmin Cervelo was there to take control leading Farrar to his first every Tour de France stage victory.
Over the past three years, sprint finishes at the Tour de France have been dominated by HTC Highroad star Mark Cavendish who has won 15 stages in that time. However, this year could be the year that Farrar has a break out performance in the Tour. Cavendish has not been his normally dominant self thus far this season and another former big time competitor of Farrar, Thor Hushovd, is now a teammate and one of his lead out men.
With the god of thunder now a part of his lead out team, Farrar has a lead out train that can compete with HTC Highroad, one of the most organized lead out teams in the sport and they showed it today.Today's stage could be the start of an epic battle between the Englishman Mark Cavendish and the American Tyler Farrar for stage wins in this year's Tour.
Meanwhile, Bay Area native Levi Leipheimer did a good job staying at the head of the pelaton throughout the day, ensuring that he finished in the same time as the rest of the general classification contenders. Though there were no crashes or big hills on stage three, there was a climb on a bridge that created a minor split in the field due to a strong cross wind. By staying towards the front of the field all day long, Leipheimer eliminated any chance of getting caught in a bad situation like that.