Racing has begun: The peloton have let a group of five escapees break away, among them Ide Schelling, who will be hoping to hoover up the few King of the Mountains points on offer.
The Stage 3 roll-out begins
189km to go: The riders begin their gentle meander out of Lorient, with racing not scheduled to begin for another six kilometres. They are led by the main jersey wearers, with Ide Schelling, the Dutch Bora Hansgrohe wearing the King of the Mountains jersey because its rightful holder, his compatriot Mathiu van der Poel is in yellow for the first time in his career.
Caleb Ewan speaks: The Lotto Soudal sprinter is the hot favourite to win today’s stage. “It should be the first sprint opportunity,” he tells Eurosport. “It’s going to be quite technical in the last part. Narrow roads, I think it’s going to be raining so it will be nice for you guys to watch on TV but probably not so nice to race.
“I’ve told my team positioning is everything in that last part. If I’m too far back there it’s going to be super hard to move back up. I’ll probably try to use guys a bit early, make sure I’m in a good position. If I’m left by myself I can find my way but at least I’ll be in the position that I need to be in.”
More on today’s stage: “Pontivy is actually just a fifteen minutes drive away from Mûr-de-Bretagne where Mathieu van der Poel took his first Maillot Jaune in the name of his grand-father Raymond Poulidor,” according to the Tour de France website.
“Stage 3 is very different from the first two of the 108th Tour de France. It’s a long visit of the Morbihan department soon to be headed by the president of the Union Cycliste Internationale David Lappartient, starting from Lorient, the town of the Jean-Yves Le Drian French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs.
“It’s a land of politicians who love cycling. The course makes a little detour through Radenac, the village of Jean Robic who won the 1947 Tour de France. Moreover, it’s the first stage that definitely suits the sprinters. Caleb Ewan, Arnaud Démare, Mark Cavendish, Tim Merlier, Jasper Philipsen, Wout van Aert, Peter Sagan, Mads Pedersen, André Greipel, Nacer Bouhanni and Bryan Coquard have ambitions to win in Pontivy where a technical run-in awaits them.”
On Saturday’s cardboard sign carnage …
“It is reasonable to assume that the spectator whose cardboard sign caused the mass crash on stage one of this year’s Tour de France had never been to a bike race before,” writes Jeremy Whittle.
“It’s almost certain too, that she won’t ever go to a bike race again – that’s if she ever feels able to appear in public. French police are still scouring north-west France for the spectator concerned.” Read on …
Stage 3: Lorient to Pontivy (182.9km)
From Will Fotheringham’s stage by stage guide: The first routine stage, with more nods to Brittany’s cycling past and present. The start close to Barguil’s home town of Hennebont will draw plenty of “Wawa” fans, and the route travels down the coast to Carnac of stone row fame, then passes Plumelec and the Cadoudal hill, a celebrated local race venue. A bunch sprint finish looks inevitable; Mark Cavendish returns to the Tour with Deceuninck-QuickStep after Sam Bennett was ruled out through injury, with Australia’s Caleb Ewan a big rival for stage wins and favourite for the green jersey.