Gerrans swamps Sagan to make Tour history

Orica-GreenEDGE's Simon Gerrans made history at the Tour de France, outsprinting Canondale's Peter Sagan to win the 145km third stage from Ajaccio to Calvi.

I had Cameron Meyer and Michael Albasini riding on the front in the final and Daryl Impey leading me out. He finished off the work for me and I was able to come off him in the last 200 metres and hold off Sagan.

Gerrans completed an eventful trip to Corsica by becoming the first man to win a stage for an Australian outfit at the Tour, beating Sagan on the line, with José Joaquín Rojas (Movistar) coming in third.

"The stage went perfectly for me. It was fantastic," said Gerrans, who has won stages in all three Grand Tours and also won last year's Milan-San Remo.

"It was like riding one of the Ardennes Classics. We spent the entire day going up or down.

"I wasn't sure if I had won because it was so tight on the line. It was like a drag race between me and Peter at the end."

“It was a perfectly executed stage today," said Gerrans. "The plan was to have someone in the breakaway and Simon Clarke did a fantastic job with that.

"He took all the mountain primes (points) when he was out there and then he was able to pull a turn in the final to chase back that last little group that was off the front.

"I had Cameron Meyer and Michael Albasini riding on the front in the final and Daryl Impey leading me out. He finished off the work for me and I was able to come off him in the last 200 metres and hold off Sagan.

"I think I caught him by surprise a little bit, him and a few other guys."

Podcast 1 July 2013: Simon Gerrans TdF press conference by Cycling Central

Jan Bakelants of RadioShack-Leopard retained his yellow jersey after finishing in the main peloton. Julien Simon (Sojason) and Gerrans round out the general classification podium.

“The team was always in control so there was no need to really panic today. Everything went according to plan," said Bakelants.

"The last climb was hard, you could see the top from a long way away and first I started to doubt that I would be there because it looked much harder and steeper than what was described in the road book but we never really had to panic because when Rolland attacked I knew he would open a decent gap but also that it was pretty far to the finish line."

Full results and standings

The stage featured no flat sections and came with four climbs, including the Category 2 ascent of the Col de Marsolino 13km from the finish.

Gerrans's Orica-GreenEDGE team-mate Simon Clarke, Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM), Sebastien Minard (AG2R), Alexis Vuillermoz (Sojasun) and Cyril Gautier (Europcar) broke away early on the winding roads up the Corsican coastline to a lead just short of four minutes.

The peloton was content to let the break soak up the intermediate sprints and king of the mountain points (KOM) while keeping the time gap under control.

Clarke was the most motivated of the quartet as he hoped to take the polka dot jersey off the shoulders of Pierre Rolland (Europcar), aggressively soaking up the points in desperation.

With 21.5km to go, Clarke attacked the lead group with Minard hanging off his wheel for a short time before Rolland reacted out of the closing peloton.

The KOM leader, resplendent in full polka dot kit, crested Col de Marsolino and led the race down the descent toward Calvi.

Rolland was then joined on the descent by Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), with Lars Petter Nordhaug (Belkin) and Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel-Euskadi) as Orica-GreenEDGE and Cannondale drove the chase.

The Australian team then executed a perfect finish with Daryl Impey shepherding Gerrans through to the finish before sitting up to watch him complete the sprint.

The victory was Gerrans's second in a stage of the Tour de France (his first was in 2008) while Sagan's second place finish gave him the lead in the points classification.

“I want to wear the green jersey all the way to Paris and I'm happy to be in the lead of this category again," said Sagan. "If you want to know about the sprint, you'll have to ask the winner, not me. I was just second.

“I did my sprint but I didn't feel very good after the crash in the first stage. But I'm happy to have the green jersey and I hope that, day-by-day, I feel better because I need to recover after the crash.

“I'm happy to earn points which I also did today but we will see how we can manage in the days to come, especially in the sprints but I hope that the first crash is the only one I have and that I don't crash anymore.”

The Tour now moves to mainland France for the first time in its 100th edition, with the fourth stage, a 25km team time-trial, taking place in Nice on Tuesday.

SBS will broadcast all stages of the Tour de France live.

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