The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

LONGWY, France: World cham­pion Peter Sa­gan suf­fered a pedal prob­lem in the fi­nal straight but slot­ted his shoe back into its clip in time and pow­ered to vic­tory in the third stage of the Tour de France yes­ter­day. The Slo­vak’s right shoe un­clipped as he was about to pro­duce his fi­nal burst of speed, and Olympic cham­pion Greg van Aver­maet (BMC Rac­ing) may have seen his chance to at­tack in the finale on the bru­tal last climb of the day. But Sa­gan (Bora-Hans­grohe) took a sec­ond to clip his shoe back in be­fore ac­cel­er­at­ing to out­sprint Aus­tralian Michael Matthews (Team Sun­web) and Ire­land’s Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors). Van Aver­maet had to set­tle for fourth at the end of the 212.5-km ride from Verviers, Bel­gium. Bri­tain’s Geraint Thomas of Team Sky fin­ished two sec­onds off the pace but re­tained the leader’s yel­low jersey. De­fend­ing cham­pion Chris Froome moved up to sec­ond over­all, 12 sec­onds be­hind his team­mate a day af­ter both crashed on a slip­pery cor­ner. “There was no crash but it was a very hec­tic fi­nal. Happy to get through un­scathed,” said Thomas. “It’s cer­tainly a great start (to the Tour for Sky) but there is still 18 days to go.” But yes­ter­day was Sa­gan’s day. “It was re­ally tough and I have to thank my team for all their hard work. “When I had the pedal prob­lem I won­dered what hap­pened, some more bad luck but I had no time to think and I went again,” said Sa­gan. Aus­tralian Richie Porte, one of the top con­tenders, launched an at­tack with about 700m left in the last as­cent – a 1.6 km climb at a gra­di­ent of 5.8 per­cent on the Cote des Religieuses – but it was too soon. In the end, the Slo­vak was too pow­er­ful for his op­po­nents and his win leaves him fourth over­all in the race, one place be­hind Matthews. – Test and Pic­ture: Reuters

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