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Nazon has third stage Tour triumph

Nazon snatches victory in Tuesday's third stage of the Tour de France

WASQUEHAL, France -- Jean-Patrick Nazon of the French AG2R team won the third stage of the Tour de France after a treacherous 210km ride from Waterloo in Belgium to Wasquehal on Tuesday.

Nazon claimed the win after throwing his front wheel across the finish line ahead of T-Mobile's Erik Zabel and Australian Robbie McEwen, of Lotto.

McEwen, who started the stage only a few seconds behind overnight leader Thor Hushovd of Norway, takes over the overall lead of the race.

He will pull on the yellow jersey as Hushovd arrived almost a minute later.

A number of riders crashed in the tough conditions during the five-hour ride which included two sections of cobblestones.

Race favorite Lance Armstrong, of US Postal, managed to stay out of trouble all day, as did his American counterpart at the Phonak team Tyler Hamilton.

But Armstrong, who ended the day in fifth overall, saw one of his most serious rivals run into trouble.

Spain's Iban Mayo, who humbled the five times Tour winner in the Dauphine Libere race two weeks before the Tour, crashed three kilometers before the first of the cobbles and lost nearly four minutes.

The Euskaltel team leader was able to remount with a bleeding left thigh but his crash after 143 km could not have taken place at a worse time.

Armstrong's US Postal team mates Viaceslav Ekimov and George Hincapie, two riders familiar with the cobbles which feature in the gruelling Paris-Roubaix classic, immediately set a furious pace, splitting the bunch wide open.

Despite the help of his team mates, Mayo failed to catch the main group.

With Wednesday's 64.5km team time trial likely to cost him even more time against Armstrong, Mayo's Tour chances now seem seriously damaged.

Caught in the same pile-up as Mayo, Italian's Marco Velo was forced out of the Tour with a broken collarbone.

Hushovd, the overall leader at the start of the day, was also dropped on the first cobbled sector

Nazon, meanwhile, was celebrating his team's second stage after Jaan Kirsipuu's victory on Sunday.

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