Thomas stays in yellow after Sagan’s golden finish at the Tour de France
World champion loses his footing in final sprint but still wins stage three
Geraint Thomas is still wearing the Tour de France yellow jersey, although the British rider couldn't prevent world champion Peter Sagan winning stage three in a dramatic sprint finish uphill.
The 27-year-old Slovak, who rides for Bora-Hansgrohe, powered over the line in front of Australia's Michael Matthews, with Ireland's Dan Martin third. Thomas finished eighth, two seconds behind Sagan, with Chris Froome ninth.
Remarkably, Sagan won the stage even though his right foot slipped off the pedal as he launched into the final sprint 300m from the finish line in Longwy. Keeping his cool, Sagan clipped his shoe back in and held off Matthews for his eighth stage win in the Tour de France.
"After Richie Porte attacked I decided to go and I said to myself I was going too early," said Sagan. "But I sprinted and my foot came out, another mistake, but I got my foot back in and I won. Matthews almost got me but I'm happy for the victory."
Also happy is Thomas, who will wear the leader's jersey for today's fourth stage, which takes the peloton on a 207.5km route from Mondorf-les-Bains to Vittel.
"It was a hectic day," said Thomas. "When those three guys got across, the peloton had to speed up a lot. It was not relaxing, so I am happy to get through it with Froomey. One day down, and it’s certainly good to get through days like that unscathed."
The Welshman is 12 seconds clear of defending champion and Team Sky team-mate Froome, who is second overall.
Froome kept out of trouble for most of the race, tracking Belgian riders Philippe Gilbert and Greg van Avermaet, Spain's Alberto Contador and Australia's Richie Porte, who was the first to attack as the leaders jostled for position on the twisting climb to the finish.
"It wasn’t at all [premeditated]," Porte said of his bid for glory. "The guys put me in a fantastic position, and I felt good. But then with 500 metres to go, it was a little far out. It was probably out of the question for me once Sagan came up."
Froome described the finish as "interesting", and the three-times champion was clearly relieved to have got the stage out of the way, especially given Sunday's spectacular mass pile-up that unseated him from his saddle.
"Everyone was nervous," he said. "Everyone saw what happened yesterday [Sunday] in the last 25 kilometres and everyone wanted to be on the right side of that if that was to happen again."