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Cavendish takes stage 3 in another amazing sprint

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LA GRANDE MOTTE, France (Reuters) -- Briton Mark Cavendish won the Tour de France third stage while seven-times champion Lance Armstrong climbed up to third overall in the standings on Monday.

Cavendish, who also won the stage on Sunday, outsprinted Norway's Thor Hushovd after 196.5 kms from Marseille to La Grande Motte, with France's Cyril Lemoine coming home third.

Swiss Fabian Cancellara of the Saxo Bank team retained the overall leader's yellow jersey and now leads German Tony Martin and American Armstrong by 33 and 40 seconds respectively.

Hot favourite Alberto Contador, who was trapped behind after a sharp acceleration by Cavendish's Team Columbia by the end of the stage, dropped to fourth overall, 59 seconds off the pace.

The peloton split into two parts some 40 kms from the finish after a sudden acceleration by Team Columbia that surprised almost all the favourites, including Contador.

Among top contenders, only Armstrong, back on the saddle after 3-1/2 years in retirement, was in the front group of some 25 riders who caught four early fugitives.

However, the American did not help Columbia widen the gap, staying in the middle of the small pack with team mates Haimar Zubeldia and Yaroslav Popovych -- at first.

But with 15 kms remaining, Popovych and Zubeldia started to work with Columbia as the gap finally reached 41 seconds on the finish line.


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