Stage 3 of the 2012 Tour de France is a pretty complex one, rolling into France via flat terrain and then immediately hitting the area that also provides the scenery for the Paris – Roubaix classic race and then offering the first Category 3 climb of the year.
Cobblestones (which carry increased risk of falling and puncturing for the riders and are part of the spring schedule) will not make an appearance, but the wind-swept final section of the stage and the climbs might lead to splits.
A quick primer on climbing and points: The Polka Dot jersey honors the winner of the Mountain Classification, where Hors Categorie climbs offer : 20, 16, 12, 8, 4, 2, Cat 1 give 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 and 1 points, Cat.2 top at 5, Cat 3 at 2 and the lowest category offer just one point for the winner.
There are some doubled points, but the arithmetic favors either riders who can go on long breakaways and constantly gather points or those who have the power to get first on the high mountains, although they might have bigger targets in mind.
I tried to get Tiago Machado into the break, to get some Mountain points, of the day but I failed that. So I settled for working with all my riders in order to keep it at a nice distance and then set up Frank Schleck for the finish.
This meant protecting him all through the stage and then slowly moving him ahead in order to have him in the first 15 to 20 riders at the bottom of the short but punchy climb.
Unfortunately, I failed to adequately supply my team with water bottles and my late attack with my leader lacked the necessary power, which meant that I ended up eighth, losing 18 seconds on the road included to new leader Cadel Evans of BMC.
Take a look at the stage and be ready to see how today is won by in the real world by Mark Cavendish.