Stage winner Peter Sagan of Slovakia, wearing the best sprinter's green jersey, throws flowers to fans on the podium of the third stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 197 kilometers (122.4 miles) with start in Orchies and finish in Boulogne-sur-Mer, northern France Tuesday.
Associated Press Enlarge
BOULOGNE-SUR-MER, France — Once upon a time in Hollywood, the cry was "Run, Forrest, Run!" The message was not lost on Peter Sagan at the Tour de France.
The 22-year-old Slovakian won Tuesday's ride toward the English Channel in dramatic fashion, and then went cinematic — pumping his arms in the running style of fictional antihero Forrest Gump at the behest of his Liquigas teammates.
Competing in his first Tour, Sagan earned his second victory in the three full stages so far. He is picking up where he left off in May at the Tour of California, where he won a stunning five of eight stages.
On Tuesday, he mastered a tricky uphill finish and schooled many older riders on the last of five small climbs over the 122-mile ride from Orchies to the fishing port of Boulogne-sur-Mer.
With the pack split up because of crashes, Sagan bolted ahead with less than 300 meters left. He crossed the line several lengths — and one second — ahead of 46 other riders in his wake.
Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara was one of them, and he retained the leader's yellow jersey for a fourth straight day after winning the opening-day prologue on Saturday.
Tuesday's ride marked the first crash-related withdrawals from this 99th Tour, which ends July 22 on Paris' Champs-Elysees.
The race remains wide open. After flat early stages, the Swiss rider has 43 rivals within a minute of his overall time, and that's likely to change when the pack heads to the Alps in the second week and the Pyrenees in the third, if not sooner.
Overall, Cancellara leads runner-up Bradley Wiggins, who is hoping to become Britain's first Tour winner, and third-place Sylvain Chavanel — both seven seconds back. Defending champ Cadel Evans of Australia rose one spot to seventh, 17 seconds behind. Sagan was 15th, another six seconds slower.
With Sagan's Stage 1 victory Sunday, he became the youngest rider to win a Tour stage since Lance Armstrong in 1993 at 21. Sagan enjoys putting on a show for fans. To that end, he churned his arms, as a runner might, in a nod to the title character in the movie Forrest Gump.
"It's a thing I'd discussed with my teammates about what kind of gesture I'd do on the line," Sagan said. "Everybody said, ‘Do a Forrest Gump' because when he was told to run, he ran. And when I'm told to win, I win."
American Tom Danielson, who at eighth was the top American finisher at last year's Tour, crashed hard but finished the stage. He separated his right shoulder and it wasn't clear if he would start today.
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