NANTES, France - On a day that belonged to French cycling, Romain Feillu finished third to claim the yellow jersey yesterday and Samuel Dumoulin won the third stage of the Tour de France with a victory he hopes will heighten the sport's image.
Dumoulin was the quickest in a group of four riders that broke away almost from the start of the 129-mile route from Saint-Malo to Nantes. They were left to wage a tight sprint finish as others rolled behind.
"It is a dream come true," said Dumoulin, who rides for the French-owned Cofidis team. "It is hours and hours of training, braving the rain, the cold, the heat. It took a lot of sacrifice."
Feillu was just beaten to the line and took the overall lead from Alejandro Valverde, the Spaniard who led since winning Saturday's first stage. Valverde finished in the main pack of riders nearly two minutes back in 68th place.
William Frischkorn of the United States finished second, a fraction ahead of Feillu.
French stage wins and yellow jerseys have been a rarity at the Tour de France since Bernard Hinault won the last of his five Tours in 1985.
No French rider wore the yellow jersey last year, and Cyril Dessel held it for just a day in 2006. Thomas Voeckler had it for 10 days in 2004, but Lance Armstrong got it back on the way to his sixth straight Tour triumph.
The breakaway group led by nearly seven minutes heading into the last 25 miles. With less than 16 miles to go, the lead was more than five minutes as wind slowed the group.
As the race entered the last mile, Dumoulin briefly pulled ahead, but Feillu passed him. Dumoulin then accelerated and moved in front again about 300 yards from the line.
Feillu is followed in the overall standings by Italy's Paolo Longo Borghini, who finished the stage in fourth place and is 35 seconds behind.
Frischkorn is 1:42 back in third and Valverde is 1:45 behind in fourth.