|After 146.9 miles, Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland pulls off a hand-raising finish to Stage 3 of the Tour de France. (CHRISTOPHE ENA/ASSOCIATED PRESS)|
Cancellara keeps yellow jersey
Swiss rider wins stage, extends lead
COMPIEGNE, France -- Tour de France leader Fabian Cancellara has a message for coach Bjarne Riis: Thank you, and wish you were here.
The Swiss rider and his CSC teammates popped open champagne after his opportunistic victory in yesterday's wind-swept third stage, the longest of the three-week race. Cancellara extended his overall lead as cycling's showcase event left Belgium and returned home to France.
Riis, however, had to miss the celebration. He is not at the race after confessing to using a banned performance enhancer during his 1996 Tour victory, a new blow for a sport battered by doping revelations the last 14 months.
Cancellara won Saturday's prologue and has been the only rider to wear the leader's yellow jersey. He credits his top form to Riis's instruction.
"I'd have to say 'Thank you.' He is the team," said Cancellara. "I was sure wishing he was here."
Riis's absence has been hard, he said, "but we are professionals."
Cancellara had feared losing the yellow jersey to one of four breakaway riders along the 146.9-mile route from Waregem, Belgium, to Compiegne.
The pack caught up near the finish. Cancellara, having been shielded from high winds by teammates, had enough left to surge ahead and overtake the four with hundreds of yards to go.
Erik Zabel of Germany was second and Danilo Napolitano of Italy was third. They and the trailing pack took 6 hours 36 minutes 15 seconds to complete the course.
Cancellara extended his lead by 10 seconds, gaining bonus points for the victory. He leads Andreas Kloeden of Germany by 33 seconds. David Millar of Britain is third, 41 seconds behind, and George Hincapie of the United States is fourth, 43 seconds back.