Martin on podium to boost his GC standing
World champion Peter Sagan suffered a pedal problem in the final straight but slotted his shoe back into its clip in time and powered to victory in the third stage of the Tour de France yesterday as Ireland's Dan Martin finished on the podium.
The Slovak's right shoe unclipped as he was about to produce his final burst of speed, and Olympic champion Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing) may have seen his chance to attack in the finale on the brutal last climb of the day.
But Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) took a second to clip his shoe back in before accelerating to outsprint Australian Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) and Martin (Quick-Step Floors).
Van Avermaet had to settle for fourth at the end of the 212.5-km ride from Verviers, Belgium. Britain's Geraint Thomas of Team Sky finished two seconds off the pace but retained the leader's yellow jersey as the main overall favourites finished together.
Defending champion Chris Froome moved up to second overall, 12 seconds behind his team-mate a day after both crashed on a slippery corner.
"There was no crash but it was a very hectic final. Happy to get through unscathed," said Thomas.
"It's certainly a great start (to the Tour for Sky) but there is still 18 days to go."
While today's fourth stage looks set to end in a massive sprint, the GC (general classification) contenders will be in proper action the following day when the fifth stage takes the peloton up the punishing climb to La Planche des Belles Filles.
For Martin, third place yesterday will come as a confidence boost as he bids to stay with the general classification contenders.
Four bonus seconds for a podium finish move him up to 15th place, 43 seconds down on Thomas.
The Irishman posted a picture on the finish on Instagram and wrote: "I expected to post a photo of Spa Francorchamps Circuit as my highlight of today. Then this happened. Unexpectedly found my sprint legs."
Martin's cousin Nicolas Roche of BMC is 53rd after he finished 49th on yesterday's stage.
BMC's Richie Porte tried an attack with 800 metres left which brought a brief response from his general classification rivals, but when the Australian spotted Sagan on his wheels he eased off.