17:14 Zabel In Yellow
Erik Zabel finished in second place and will start tomorrow's stage in the yellow jersey.
17:13 Pick You Sprnter!
McEwen has jumped...
17:12 Lotto Again
Now a Lotto rider leads Hondo and then McEwen as they move toward the one-kilometer to go banner.
17:11 A Cofidis Attack
A Cofidis rider is now trying to break free, but he is marked well by the sprint teams. There is an ecclectic mix of riders from Alessio, Fassa Bortolo, Bonjour, Mapei, Telekom, FDJ... oh, they're all there!
17:10 Agnolutto Attacks
Agnolutto has attacked the front of the peloton. He was joined briefly by a Lotto rider who was policing the break to make sure that it all stays together for their sprinter, McEwen. The riders are now just 3km from the finish.
17:08 Sprint Fest Due Soon...
Bertogliati has vanished in the mix as all the sprint teams vye for position with just 5km to go. At the moment it's Lotto at the front.
17:07 Bertogliati Up Front
The yellow jersey is now at the front of the peloton. Zabel has acquired enough time bonuses today to become the virtual leader of the Tour de France. The current leader, Bertogliati, now knows that the best form of defence is attack...
17:06 All Over For Durand & Renier
The peloton is all together again. Renier and Durand have been caught after about 160km at the front of the stage.
17:04 US Postal Take Charge
Floyd Landis is now setting the pace at the front of the peloton, he is joined by four other Posties. They are now just 10" behind the two stage leaders.
17:01 10km To Go
Durand and Renier are still ahead with 10km to go. But their lead is a slender one. Behind them, the two pelotons have rejoined, and are just 30" behind the two day-long escapees.
17:00 40" Now
The leading pair have to resign themselves to capture soon. They are now just 40" ahead of the peloton which is intent on delivering the quicks to Reims for another sprint finish.
16:59 12km to Go
The leading pair are now 12km from the finish. The peloton is closing in fast and it seems that we can expect to see another sprint in Reims - as was the case when the Tour last finished here with Abdoujaparov leading the bunch home in 1991.
16:58 Lead Down To 52"
Durand won't give in.. he is still burying his head and trying to squeeze as much energy out of his legs as he can, but his daylong break appears doomed. He and Renier are now just 52" ahead of the peloton.
16:57 Two Pelotons Now
The latest surge has really split the bunch. There has been a decent wind in Reims, and that's becoming apparent out on the road. There is now the two escapees up the road, then a big group whcich is followed by a smaller peloton.
16:56 Mapei, Lampre, Telekom & Lotto Leading Bunch
The sprinter's teams are now all putting the hammer down in the chase group. The pace is splitting the peloton into echelons now... Mapei is working for Freire, Lampre for Svorada (and Bertogliati), Telekom for Zabel, Lotto for McEwen... and they are just 1'10" behind the leading pair.
16:54 Last Minute Effort From Durand & Renier
After being on the attack all day long, Durand and Renier are giving it one last surge. They are now just 1'25" ahead of the peloton, but their efforts appear to be doomed... they are losing about 10" per kilometer at the moment.
16:51 Lead Down To 1'34"
Now there are two Lotto riders at the front of the peloton. They have taken a few more seconds out of the leading pair's advantage. With 16km to go, the gap is 1'34".
16:50 Trampusch Also In The Mix
One of the two Austrian riders in the Tour, Gerhard Trampusch, is one of the Mapei riders at the front of the peloton. He may be small, but he's doing his bit to pace the peloton back up to the leading duo... and hoping that it all comes back together to give his sprinter, Freire, a chance at another sprint victory.
16:48 Peloton Now With 20km to Race
As the peloton passed under the 20km to go banner, they were still 1'40" behind the two leaders.
16:47 20km To Go
The two leaders are now within 20km of the finish. They have cooperated all day long, but their efforts appear to be doomed. Their lead is now less than 1'40".
16:46 Tafi & Hunter The Mapei Riders Up Front of Bunch
The winner of this year's Tour of Flanders, Andrea Tafi is now doing his part in the peloton's chase. They aren't exactly strung out at top-speed, but they are most certainly closing in on the two escapees who scampered clear at the 6km mark of the stage.
16:43 Mapei Now Up Front
There are now three Mapei riders joining the front of the peloton. Also getting involved are some riders from Euskaltel and Kelme.
16:42 Lead Down To 1'40"
Durand and Renier are now just 1'40" ahead of the peloton which continues to be led by the Lotto and Telekom teams. It seems we can expect to see another sprint finish. Just don't bank on last year's green jersey runner-up, O'Grady, being a part of the action. He's been suffering at the back of the pack with a high heart-rate.
16:39 2'05" With 25km To Go
Durand and Renier's lead is now dropping fast. They are 2'05" ahead of the peloton with 25km to go.
16:33 Less Than 30km to Go
The leading pair are now within the final 30km of the stage. Their advantage is now 3'07".
16:30 Leading Pair 3'15" Ahead
The day-long escapees' advantage looks very tender now. They are just 3'15" ahead of the peloton.
16:29 O'Grady Back With Doctor (Again!)
Gerard Porte, the Tour's doctor is once again looking at O'Grady at the back of the convoy. The Australian is in obvious pain and Porte is checking his pulse.
16:27 O'Grady Being Pushed By Two Team-Mates
Stuart O'Grady is now being pushed by two team-mates. He has sought medical attention for a high heart-rate and is now really trying to suck in air and he looks anything but comfortable as Bessy and Voigt give him a helping hand.
16:26 35km to Go For Leaders
Durand and Renier are still at the head of affairs. They have been on the attack for 132km and they now have just 35km to race. Their lead is now down to 3'20".
16:23 Mapei Joining The Chase
There are now a few Mapei riders also at the front of the peloton. For the moment, it's Bodrogi at the front of the chasing group. They are currently 3'22" behind the leading pair.
16:19 Lead Down To 3'45"
At the Suippes sprint, the leading pair were 3'45" ahead of the peloton. Zabel didn't need to race anyone for the points and time bonus which now put him 2" clear of Bertoliati's overall lead. He is not, however, the virtual leader... yet. That honor is still Franck Renier's who began the day 41" behind Bertogliati.
16:17 Full Results of 3rd Sprint
The peloton has passed the site of the 3rd intermediate sprint. The results from the Suippes sprint (at 130km) are:
1. Durand (FDJ) 6pts
2. Renier (Bonjour) 4pts
3. Zabel (Telekom) 2pts.
16:15 O'Grady Complains of High Heartrate
Roger Legeay, O'Grady's manager, has explained that Stuart was talking to the race doctors about a high heart-rate which he was experiencing after the 2nd intermediate sprint. The Australian rider suffered a similar problem before the start of the team pursuit at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
16:13 Durand Takes 6pts
Jacky Durand pretended as though he was sprinting for the points at the intermediate sprint in Suippes, but in fact Renier simply followed his wheel to take second place (and 4pts).
16:12 3rd Intermediate Sprint Due Soon
The two stage leaders are about to reach the site of the 3rd intermediate sprint of the day.
16:11 'Stuey' Back In Peloton
O'Grady is now riding to the back of the peloton after a stint with the race doctor. He doesn't exactly look too happy about something... but it's not quite the picture of pain we saw on his team-mate, Thor Hushovd's face yesterday.
16:10 O'Grady Seeking Medical Attention
The rider who finished 10th in yesterday's stage, Stuart O'Grady, is now back with the race doctor behind the peloton. It's not clear just what his problem is, but he is being waited upon by his team-mate Jonathan Vaughters.
16:07 Udo Helping The Peloton's Chase
The Telekom rider who was called into the line-up just two days before the start of the Tour, Udo Bolts, is now doing what he has done since turning pro in 1989: work for his team. Bolts declared at the end of the 2001 Tour that that would be his last race... but he was a last-minute replacement for the injured Alexandre Vinokourov.
16:03 Lead Less Than 5 Minutes Now
The leading pair are loosing their grip on the stage. The latest time check has them 4'55" ahead of the peloton. At one stage Durand and Renier were 11'10" ahead of the peloton... this duo are now 50km from the finish in Reims.
15:58 Leading Duo Up Front For 111km
Durand and Renier are now at the 117km mark which means they have been on the attack for 111km. Their lead on the peloton has dropped rapidly recently and is now 5'15".
15:57 Renier Doing More Work Up Front
Of the two leaders - both of whom are from the city of Laval - Franck Renier is spending a lot more time in the wind than his cohort, Jacky Durand. The advantage of the pair which escaped at the 6km mark is 6'10" on the peloton.
15:51 60km To Go
The leading pair are now within the final 60km of the stage. Their latest leading margin is 6'10".
15:48 Lead Dropping Fast Now
The latest time check has Durand and Renier 6'35" ahead of the peloton.
15:45 Lead Down To 7'00"
The race for points at Sainte-Menehould has helped close in on the two leaders. Durand and Renier are now 7'00" ahead of the peloton which is still being led by the Telekom and Lotto teams.
15:40 Zabel Equal With Bertogliati
With his two second time bonus for 3rd place at the 2nd intermediate sprint, Zabel has worked his way to equal time with Bertoliati. For now, Renier is the virtual leader of the Tour after starting the stage in 73rd place (41" behind Bertogliati).
15:39 Peloton Behind By 7'20"
When the peloton passed the site of the 2nd sprint, they were 7'20" behind the two escapees.
15:38 Peloton At 2nd Intermediate Sprint
The peloton has passed the 2nd intermediate sprint. The results of the Saint-Menehould (100.5km) are:
1. Jacky Durand (FDJ) 6pts/6"
2. Franck Renier (Bonjour) 4pts/4"
3. Erik Zabel (Telekom) 2pts/2"
15:33 Red & Pink Peloton
The front of the peloton is now dominated by the red jerseys of the Lotto team as well as the pink tops of the Telekom squad. The bunch's deficit to the two stage leaders is 7'50".
15:30 Results of Cote de la Biesme
The results of the 2nd climb today were:
1. Franck Renier (Bonjour) 5pts
2. Jacky Durand (FDJ) 3pts
3. Christophe Mengin (FDJ) 1pt @ 7'50".
15:29 Three FDJ Riders Leading Peloton
As the peloton approaches the summit of the Cote de la Biesme, two FDJ riders led their King of the Climbs, Christophe Mengin to the top. Mengin will wear the polka-dot jersey for tomorrow's fourth stage.
15:27 Steels In Trouble At Back of Bunch
The sprinter who won the Belgium championship last Sunday, Tom Steels, has dropped off the back of the peloton. He finished yesterday's stage in 2nd-last place, 20'53" behind the world champion, Oscar Freire.
15:22 Lead Now 8'00"
The leading duo now have an advantage of 8'00" on the peloton.
15:21 Renier Takes 5pts
Franck Renier has led Jacky Durand over the top of the Cote de la Biesme to take the 5pts for the polka-dot jersey competition.
15:19 Second Climb Due Soon
The two stage leaders are now near the 2nd climb of the stage - the cat-4 Cote de la Biesme. This small rise drags on for 2km at an average gradient of 4.8 per cent.
15:15 Dry Road; Grey Skies
There were a few drops of rain on the race earlier today, but for the moment the roads are dry. There is a heavy cloud cover today and a forecast of showers.
15:13 85km To Race...
The leading pair are now 85km from the finish in Reims. Their advantage on the peloton is 7'10". They have been at the front of the stage for 84km.
15:10 Lead Down To 7'10"
The peloton's chase is finally eating into the lead of the two escapees. The latest check has the Lotto-led peloton 7'10" behind Durand and Renier.
15:08 Aggressive French Riders Early In This Year's Tour
The Tour has a classification which judges the 'Most Aggressive' rider of each stage. The rider who currently leads this classification is Stephane Berges. He was part of a long escape in stage one, and again yesterday - although Sylvain Chavanel was judged the most aggressive in stage 2. Now, the winner of this classification in 2000, Jacky Durand is on the attack - the style of racing for which he is famed.
15:02 Lead Back Under 10 Minutes
The leading pair reached what appears will be a maximum lead of 11'10" (at the 68th kilometer). The peloton is now 9'48" behind Durand and Renier.
15:01 Lotto Aware of Durand's Cunning...
Claudy Criquielion, the director of the Lotto team, has said that he's aware of Jacky Durand's strength in a situation like the one we are currently witnessing. Claudy said that he hopes the Telekom team will cooperate in the chase of the rider who now shares an 11+ minute lead over the peloton with Franck Renier. Lotto's ambition for the day is to allow Robbie McEwen a chance to improve on his 2nd place yesterday.
14:56 2 Lottos; 2 Telekoms & Some Posties...
There are two riders from the Lotto team at the front of the peloton. Then comes the Telekom rider, Bobby Julich and his team-mate, Steffan Wesemann. Behind this quartet are several US Postal riders with Lance Armstrong staying up front to keep an eye on things - and stay out of trouble.
14:52 100km To Go
The two leaders now have 100km to race. They began their attack at the 6km mark and are currently 11'10" ahead of the peloton.
14:51 Lotto Now Also Chasing
With the peloton's deficit to the two leaders now up to 11'10", the Lotto-Adecco team is now joining Telekom at the front of the peloton. Both teams featured in the sprint finish yesterday with Robbie McEwen finishing 2nd (behind Freire) and Zabel 3rd.
14:47 Durand & Renier Both From Laval
The two riders in the lead of the stage, Jacky Durand and Franck Renier, were both born in the city of Laval, in the Mayenne region. They have been sharing the workload evenly after attacking at the 6th kilometer. They are now 11'00" ahead of the peloton.
14:46 54 Chainring For At Least Two FDJeux.com Riders...
After finishing fourth in the 2nd stage, FDJeux.com's Baden Cooke said that he needed a bigger gear for the sprint. "I might have had a better chance against Oscar (Freire) if I had a 54-tooth chainring," said the first-time Tour rider. "Both Brad (McGee, his team-mate) and I will be using a 54, instead of the usual 53, for stage three."
14:37 Rain Begins To Fall
Rain has begun to fall in the Meuse region of France. It's only a light drizzle at the moment, but there is a forecast for storms after a warm start to the stage.
14:36 Svorada Takes Two Points
The peloton has passed the site of the intermediate sprint. The results are:
1. Franck Renier (Bonjour) 6pts
2. Jacky Durand (FDJeux.com) 4pts
3. Jan Svorada (Lampre) 2pts.
The peloton was behind the leading duo by 9'45" when the peloton passed the sprint site in Verdun.
14:34 Durand Hoping For 4th Tour Stage Win
One of the riders in today's break, Jacky Durand, has won three Tour stages in the past. His first victory was in Cahors in 1994. He then won the prologue of the 1995 Tour. His latest victory was in Montauban in the 1998 Tour.
14:29 Lead Up To 9'20"
The escape of Durand and Renier is still well clear of the peloton. Telekom lead the bunch, but the two escapees are now 9'20" ahead.
14:25 First Intermediate Sprint Passed
Franck Renier has collected six sprint points after rolling through ahead of Jacky Durand at the site of the first intermediate sprint (in Verdun, at the 57.5km mark).
14:23 Lead Still Over Nine Minutes
We can tell you that the leading pair still have an advantage of over 9 minutes (9'10" to be precise), although there are still problems with the signal from race radio. (Okay, that's the last time these woes are mentioned.)
14:18 Telekom Come To The Front of Bunch
The latest advantage of the two escapees - Jacky Durand and Franck Renier - was 9'15" and that was likely to have grown (although there's no race radio today to confirm this). But the Telekom team have decided enough is enough of the peloton's apathy. There are now six Telekom riders at the front of the peloton and they are beginning to pick up the pace.
14:15 A Quiet Day Before Team Time Trial
None of the teams in the peloton are putting in much effort in the pursuit of the two leaders early today. Perhaps they are considering the fact that tomorrow's stage is the team time trial - a good chance for teams like ONCE-Eroski, Rabobank and CSC-Tiscali to push their overall hopefuls higher up in the general classification.
14:09 Peloton At 40km Mark
The peloton has just reached the 40km mark and they are showing little interest in racing early today. They are currently 9'15" behind the two riders who have actually opted to race today - Durand and Renier.
14:07 Huge Leading Margin For Two Leaders...
Durand and Renier have taken advantage of the peloton's apathy. They are pushing ahead with an attack which they began at the 6km mark and are now 9'15" ahead of the bunch.
14:06 Kroon Back In Bunch...
Kroon has not persisted with his attack. He is back in the relaxed peloton now.
14:04 Passive Peloton
What we can relay about today's stage is that the riders who began their attacks at the 6km mark - Durand and Renier - are still at the front of the race. The peloton is showing little interest in chasing these two down. What we don't know, however, is if Kroon has joined the leading pair, although that is highly likely.
14:02 Silent Radio...
Sorry for not relaying any news about the attacks of Durand, Renier and Kroon, but there are some technical problems with race radio early in today's stage.
13:56 The Leaders' Jerseys
There has been no news from race radio for some time now, so we'll report on the riders in the Tour's leaders' jerseys... Rubens Bertogliati is still in the yellow of overall leader - he also leads the 'Best Young Rider' classification (but the white jersey is worn by David Millar, currently 7th overall). The green jersey classification is led by Erik Zabel (who is 5pts ahead of yesterday's stage winner, Oscar Freire). The polka-dot jersey is worn by Stephane Berges - although he has lost his grip on the climbing classification early today when Mengin took the points at the Cote de Gravelotte.
13:51 A Good Region For Armstrong...
As we wait for news from race radio about today's stage, there's a bit of time to report that the region of today's stage has been a good hunting ground for the three-time Tour champion, Lance Armstrong. The US rider won his first stage of the Tour back in 1993 in Verdun (where today's stage races through, at the 57.5km mark). He also won his first long Tour time trial back in 1999 in the city of today's start, Metz.
13:44 Eighth Tour Stage Finish In Reims
Today will mark the eighth time the Tour de France has had a stage finish in Reims. The city in the Marne region has also hosted the 'Grande Depart' (back in 1956). The last rider to taste victory on the streets of the champagne-rich area was Djamolidine Abdoujaparov in 1991.
13:40 The Situation After 29km
Durand and Renier are now 1'35" ahead of Kroon and 2'15" ahead of the peloton. The peloton is now at the 29km mark. The bunch is showing little interest in chasing these early escapees.
13:37 25km Raced...
Karsten Kroon has decided to get amongst the action today. He's attacked the peloton near the 25km mark and the situation now looks like this: Durand and Renier have a lead of 1'09" over Kroon and 1'30" on the peloton.
13:35 Lead Changes Little
Jacky Durand and Franck Renier are still at the front of the stage. Their advantage on the peloton is now 1'07". They began their attack at the 6km mark.
13:29 Leading Pair At 1'15"
Durand and Renier are still at the front of the stage. The latest leading margin is 1'15". They are near the 20km mark of the 174.5km stage.
13:25 Credit Agricole Lead Peloton's Pursuit
The Credit Agricole team is now at the front of the peloton. They have been joined by the US Postal Service at the head of the group which is now chasing the two early escapees, Durand and Renier.
13:23 1'10" At 16km Mark
Renier and Durand are 1'10" ahead of the peloton after 16km of racing.
13:22 Second Virtual Yellow Jersey for Bonjour
With Renier's current leading margin putting him in the virtual lead of the Tour, he is the 2nd Bonjour team member to do this in two days. In yesterday's stage Sylvain Chavanel was the virtual leader after being part of an attack which began at the 11km mark.
13:20 Renier The 'Virtual Leader'
With his efforts early this morning, Franck Renier, is the virtual leader of the Tour de France. The Bonjour rider began the stage in 73rd place, 41" behind the overall lead of Rubens Bertogliati. Renier and Durand are 1'25" ahead of the peloton.
13:18 Lead Jumps Up To 1'25"
Renier and Durand are now 1'25" ahead of the peloton.
13:15 Two Remain Clear
Jacky Durand (FDJ) and Franck Renier (BJR) are now 42" ahead of the peloton. They began their attack at the 6km mark.
13:11 32" Lead Now
Durand and Renier have pushed their advantage on the peloton up to 32".
13:09 New Attack At 6km Mark
There has been another attack at the 6km mark. The rider involved is Jacky Durand - he has been joined by Franck Renier.
13:08 Flickinger Caught
The peloton has chased down the early attackers and the race is all together at the 5km mark.
13:07 Flickinger On The Attack
Andy Flickinger has continued his efforts after the climb. He is now at the front of the race with a lead of 14". He is being chased by Baldato and Kroon.
13:06 Mengin Back In The Virtual Lead of Climbers Comp
The first climbing points have already been awarded. The rider who began the day in 2nd place in the polka-dot jersey classification, Christophe Mengin, took first place - so he is now the virtual leader of the climbing contest.
1. Mengin (FDJeux.com) 5pts
2. Halgand (Jean Delatour) 3pts
3. Flickinger (AG2R) 1pt
13:03 Climbing The Cote de Gravelotte
The peloton is already climbing to the summit of the first categorized rise today. The Cote de Gravelotte is at the 3km mark. It's a cat-4 rise which is 2.8km at an average gradient of 4.1 per cent.
12:34 The Weather Conditions For Stage Three...
The perfect weather which Germany turned on for the Tour's visit to Sarrebrucke yesterday may not greet the peloton today. The forecast is for a mild conditions at the start (with a forecast maximum of 25 degrees Celsius), with the chance of a thunderstorm near the mid-way mark of the stage. According to the weather bureau, we can expect an overcast conclusion with about 20 degrees.
12:29 Welcome To Stage Three of the 2002 Tour de France!
The 3rd stage of the 2002 Tour de France is scheduled to start at 12.45pm. The riders will roll through a 7.7km neutral zone before they reach the site of the official start. The 174.5km stage takes the peloton from Metz in the Moselle region of France to Reims in the Marne region.
17:14 Zabel In Yellow