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Australia's Simon Gerrans, left, crosses the finish line ahead of Peter Sagan of Slovakia, right, to win the third stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 145.5 kilometers (91 miles) with start in Ajaccio and finish in Calvi, Corsica island, France, Monday July 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Laurent Rebours)
Simon Gerrans holds off Peter Sagan to win 3rd stage of Tour
Cycling » Bakelants overcomes heat to retain yellow jersey in Tour de France.
First Published Jul 01 2013 09:15 am • Last Updated Jul 02 2013 08:24 am

Calvi Corsica • Australian sprinter Simon Gerrans held off a late charge by Peter Sagan to win Monday’s hilly third stage of the Tour de France by less than half a wheel.

And Belgian rider Jan Bakelants did enough in the sweltering heat to keep the race leader’s yellow jersey.

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Tour de France

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Gerrans looked to have the finish line in sight with about 100 meters to go, though the Slovakian rider put on a late sprint and almost caught him.

But Gerrans dug deep to clinch his second career Tour stage win. Spaniard Jose Joaquin Rojas finished third.

"To beat a guy like Sagan in a sprint like that, I’m very happy," the 33-year-old Gerrans said. "It went perfectly for me."

Gerrans was slowing up, but just managed one last effort to throw his bike forward the way a 100-meter runner would dip for the line.

"I wasn’t sure if I had won — a half-wheel length?" Gerrans said. "All went perfectly well, my team took great care of me after the last climb."

Bakelants, the winner of Sunday’s second stage, finished in 19th place.

"The team worked very hard for me, and I’m very happy to keep the yellow jersey," Bakelants said. "It was a very hot day and the conditions were not easy."

Monday’s 90-mile trek started from Ajaccio, where French emperor and military mastermind Napoleon Bonaparte was born in 1769, and finished in Calvi after three moderate climbs and a steeper last climb tested the legs of the peloton.

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Gerrans clocked a winning time of 3 hours, 41 minutes, 24 seconds.

It was the last of the trio of Corsican stages before the race heads back to mainland France for Tuesday’s team time trial in Nice.

A five-man breakaway consisting of Frenchmen Cyril Gautier, Alexis Vuillermoz, Sebastien Minard, Clarke and Dutchman Lieuwe Westra was gradually pegged back as the stage snaked through the Corsican hills.

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