|Tyler Farrar celebrates his third stage victory on Independence Day [GALLO/GETTY]
Tyler Farrar became the first American to win a Tour de France stage on July 4, dominating a sprint finish in the third leg on Monday as teammate Thor Hushovd of Norway kept the yellow jersey.
It was the first Tour stage victory for Farrar, one of the world's best sprinters, and showcased the dominance of the Garmin-Cervelo team over the past two days at cycling's greatest race.
The 198-kilometer flat route from Olonne-sur-Mer to Redon in western Brittany favoured sprinters like Farrar, Mark Cavendish of Britain, Italy's Alessandro Petacchi, Tom Boonen of Belgium and Hushovd.
"I certainly would have taken it on any day," Farrar said of the stage victory.
"But as an American, winning on the Fourth of July, it's the icing on the cake. ... Lucky me."
As he crossed the finish, Farrar held up his hands to make out a "W" with his fingers to honour Wouter Weylandt, the Belgian who died in a crash during the Giro d'Italia in May.
Cavendish's HTC-Highroad team had lined up to escort the British speedster to the finish from near the 4-kilometer mark, but by the last few hundred meters Hushovd and Farrar had zoomed ahead.
"To have the world champion and yellow jersey work for you to launch the sprint, it's crazy," Farrar said of Hushovd.
"But as an American, winning on the Fourth of July, it's the icing on the cake. ... Lucky me"
At the finish, the American nosed ahead of France's Romain Feillu, who was second, and Jose Joaquin Rojas of Spain in third. Farrar and a pack of riders clocked the same time: 4 hours, 40 minutes, 21 seconds.
With his victory, Farrar became the first American to win a Tour stage since Levi Leipheimer placed first in the individual time trial in Angouleme in 2007.
The top standings didn't change: Hushovd retains a split-second edge over Garmin-Cervelo teammate David Millar of Britain, while Cadel Evans of Australia of BMC is third, 1 second back.
Defending champion Alberto Contador of Spain, who lost time on Saturday after getting entangled in a crash, is 69th overall - 1:42 back of the Norwegian leader.
Among other hopefuls for victory on the Champs-Elysees on July 24, 2010 runner-up Andy Schleck of Luxembourg, the leader of Leopard-Trek, is eighth overall, 4 seconds behind Hushovd.
Hushovd, the Norwegian world champion, took the leader's shirt after Garmin-Cervelo won the team time trial on Sunday.