'Cyclists and oil are a bad combination' was the pragmatic view of a bruised but smiling Tom Boonen after he crashed towards the end of stage three of the Tour of Britain.
The treacherous weather conditions claimed many other victims including race leader Matt Goss who pulled out of the race with a knee injury. Goss, who has recently signed a three year contract with Team CSC, was one of eleven retirements on the stage from Bradford to Sheffield. The 112 mile stage, the longest of the six day race, included The Strines, a series of brutal, switchback climbs and narrow descents just north of Sheffield which, combined with the adverse weather, split the field to pieces and rearranged the general classification.
Although the weather conditions weren't typically Italian, they suited Filippo Pozzato, who escaped from the breakaway group with 15km to go and coasted across the finish line outside Sheffied City Hall 32 seconds clear of second-placed Michael Rogers. The 24 year-old Italian said of the English weather, "I don't think about it when I'm doing well."
Also happy today was 'home boy' Russell Downing, from nearby Rotherham, who kept the green points jersey that he won yesterday, but saying, "It would be nice to get a stage win." But the happiest of the 78 riders remaining in this race is first-year pro Martin Pedersen, riding for Team CSC, who took back the race leaders' jersey he won on the first day. With the toughest stage out of the way and a lead of 51 seconds over Luis Pasamontes, it might be hard to dislodge the 23 year-old Dane from the top spot.Today's stage
1. Filippo Pozzato - Quick-Step
2. Michael Rogers - T-Mobile
3. Nick Nuyens - Quick-Step
4. Martin Pedersen - CSC
5. Johann Tschopp - Phonak
1. Martin Pedersen - CSC 12h26'24"
2. Luis Pasamontes - Unibet @ 51"
3. Filippo Pozatto - Quick-Step @ 02'11"
4. Michael Rogers - T-Mobile @ 02'46"
5. Nick Nuyens - Quick-Step @ 02'47"