By NBF News

Thor Hushovd's win put him the green points jersey

Norway's Thor Hushovd outsprinted Team Sky's Geraint Thomas to win the 213km third stage of the Tour de France.

Defending champion Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong both lost time on the tricky cobblestone sections, while Frank Schleck crashed out of the race.

Swiss Fabian Cancellara regained the yellow jersey from Sylvain Chavanel on another dramatic day in the Tour.

But there was consolation for Thomas as he climbed to second overall and secured the young riders' white jersey.

His superb ride means he is only 23 seconds behind Saxo Bank's Cancellara in the general classification.

After a frustrating go-slow at the end of Monday's stage that denied him the chance to gain more points towards the green jersey, Hushovd was very happy to win Tuesday's stage, which started in Wanze in Belgium and crossed into France to finish in Arenberg.

“I've won the green jersey twice, and this morning I said to myself I was going to war in a bid to get it back,” said the Norwegian. “I will do everything to keep it.”

Team Sky leader Bradley Wiggins finished eighth, 53 seconds behind Hushovd (Cervelo) but ahead of Contador (Astana) and Armstrong (Radio Shack), to move himself up to 14th overall, one place ahead of fellow Briton, Team Garmin's David Millar.

Wiggins' felt that his bid for a podium place in Paris on 25 July is now back on track: “We're back in business,” he said.

“I responded well from the crash yesterday. I knew this morning that it was going to be those who went out there with a fighting mentality would come out the other side well today. Fortunately it worked out.”

Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank), who finished fifth in the 2009 Tour and was expected to be among the challengers to Contador, crashed on one of the cobbled sections and is out of the Tour with a broken collarbone.

His accident, which brought down several other riders, came one day after his brother Andy almost crashed out of the race in another ugly incident.

Armstrong, the seven-time champion, suffered a puncture after Cancellara increased the pace towards the end of the stage, which featured seven cobblestone sections.

The American fought back to come home in 32nd place, but he lost 1:13 on Contador, to leave him 18th in the standings, nine places behind his Spanish rival.

Armstrong said he was “very frustrated” but that the race was far from over.

“We lost significant time, so we just have to keep our head up and take our chances on the climbs,” said the American.

Lance Armstrong battled back alone
“Sometimes you're the hammer and some days you're the nail. Today I was the nail.”

Australia's world champion, Cadel Evans (BMC), gained 16 places and almost three minutes to move up to third in the general classification, after taking third place in Tuesday's sprint finish.

Frenchman Chavanel (Quick Step) dropped to fifth place with Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) only a few seconds behind.

The stage, which started in Belgium before crossing into France for the final 30km, used some of the same “pave” sections that feature in the Paris-Roubaix classic and was expected to cause the riders problems.

Canada's Ryder Hesjedal, helped by Team Sky's Steve Cummings, led a seven-rider breakaway before surging ahead on his own in the final 30km.

Behind them, the dusty, cobbled sections took their toll, splitting the peleton into several groups.

Cummings, Hushovd, Cancellara, Andy Schleck, Thomas and Evans took full advantage, pushed the pace and caught the Team Garmin rider in the final 7km, before Hushovd timed his finish to perfection to take the honours on the line.

Britain's Columbia sprinter, Mark Cavendish, recovered well from an early puncture to finish 25th, in the same group as Armstrong.

In an echo of the fractious relationship he endured in 2009 with former team-mate Armstrong, defending Tour champion Contador was left with plenty of food for thought.

Not only was he unable to keep up in the closing stages with the second group on the road, that group included his currrent team-mate, Kazakhstan's Alexandre Vinoukorov. Stage three results:

1. Thor Hushovd (Nor/CTT) 4hrs 49mins 38secs
2. Geraint Thomas (GB/SKY) at same time
3. Cadel Evans (Aus/BMC) at same time
4. Ryder Hesjedal (Can/GRM) at same time
5. Andy Schleck (Lux/SAX) at same time
Overall standings:
1 . Fabian Cancellara (Swi/SAX) 14hr 54min 0sec
2. Geraint Thomas (GB/SKY) at 23″
3. Cadel Evans (Aus/BMC) at 39″
4. Ryder Hesjedal (Can/GRM) at 46″
5. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra/QST) at 1'01″
6. Andy Schleck (Lux/SAX) at 1'09″
7. Thor Hushovd (Nor/CTT) at 1'19″
8. Alexandre Vinoukourov (Kaz/AST) at 1'31″
9. Alberto Contador (Spa/AST) at 1'40″
10. Johan van den Broeck (Bel/OPL) at 1'42″
Selected others:
14 Bradley Wiggins (GB/SKY) at 1'49″
15 David Millar (GB/GRM) at 2'06″
18 Lance Armstrong (US/TRS) at 2′ 30″
69 Stephen Cummings (GB/SKY) at 4'10″
110 Mark Cavendish (GB/HTC) at 9′ 11″
141 Jeremy Hunt (GB/CTT) at 15′ 07″
150 Daniel Lloyd (GB/CTT) at 17′ 32″
180 Charlie Wegelius (GB/OPL) at 24′ 06″