Cycling: Rodriguez wins Tour stage as Froome strikes blow

Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez celebrates as he crosses the finish line ahead of Great Britain's Christopher Froome.
Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez celebrates as he crosses the finish line ahead of Great Britain's Christopher Froome.PHOTO: AFP

HUY, Belgium (AFP) - Joaquim Rodriguez won the third stage of cycling's Tour de France on Monday, as Chris Froome took over the leader's yellow jersey and struck another blow to his overall rivals.

Froome, the 2013 champion, took second on the crash-marred third stage over 159.5km from Antwerp to the infamous Mur (wall) de Huy in Belgium that saw four riders abandon their challenge.

Twenty riders were involved in the spectacular crash 100km into the stage that took down Fabian Cancellara, who was the overall race leader at the time.

He was not among the four to give up but, visibly hurt, he struggled to keep up and was definitively dropped with 20km left, giving up several minutes by the finish.

Froome took over the yellow jersey by just one second from Tony Martin who, for the third day running, saw the overall lead hovering agonisingly just out of reach.

And for the second day running it was bonus seconds on the finish line that denied him.

Having finished second on the opening stage time trial he lost the yellow jersey by 3sec to Cancellara on Sunday, after the latter picked up four bonus seconds for finishing third.

Froome's second place gave him six extra seconds and that put him into yellow.

Frenchman Alexis Vuillermoz took a surprise third on the stage ahead of Ireland's Dan Martin with Tony Gallopin next over the line.

Froome gained 11 seconds on his overall rivals, defending champion Vincenzo Nibali and Nairo Quintana, while Alberto Contador lost 18sec.

Froome is now 36 seconds ahead of Contador, with Nibali at 1min 39sec and Quintana at almost two minutes.

Tejay van Garderen is third overall at 13sec, ahead of Frenchman Gallopin and Belgium's Greg van Avermaet.