Mark Cavendish never makes things easy for himself, does he?
Another early sprint disaster, more precious green jersey points deducted for muscling his way into position and a few choice words for a rival which will antagonise the peloton. It has become a  familiar situation.
The Manx Missile misfired in the Breton town of Redon, almost colliding with a barricade and recovering only for fifth place behind America’s Tyler Farrar, an appropriate stage winner for July 4.
American dream: Tyler Farrar celebrates winning the third stage of the Tour de France
It might have been worse, with only instinctive balance keeping Cavendish upright in order to force his way back into contention and into a positive interpretation of events, but news of his disqualification from the intermediate sprint earlier in the stage will have darkened his mood over dinner.
A familiar foe, Thor Hushovd, cut across the Briton’s line as they entered the town of Saint-Hilaire-de-Chaleons 65 miles from the  finish. Cavendish leaned his upper body into the Norwegian to regain his racing line and dashed away to claim the maximum 10 points on offer to those riders not in the breakaway group of five.
As a wheel-to-wheel altercation it hardly compared with Mark Renshaw’s butt in Valence 12 months ago or even the jostling which resulted in Cavendish being punished in 2009 in another  incident with Hushovd. Unlike on that occasion, both riders were disqualified yesterday, also  suffering a fine of £150 apiece.
Had that happened two years ago, Cavendish would have won the green jersey. As it is, he faces another game of catch-up similar to those he has narrowly lost on the past two Tours.
There’s always tomorrow: Mark Cavendish had a day to forget after being beaten at the finish
He tweeted later: ‘Just  discovered Thor and I have been disqualified from the intermediate sprint today. Seriously no idea why?! Devastated.’
First week calamities have become the Cavendish Tour calling card. As a debutant in 2007, he crashed on the run-in to Canterbury after colliding with a spectator. Then, last July, he forgot about a sharp right-hand bend on the run-in to Brussels, went straight on into a hay bale and came off.
One mishap is an accident, two an unfortunate coincidence, three begins to look like carelessness, especially when an overdue first green jersey is at stake.
As for the choice words, they were directed at Frenchman Romain Feillu who, according to Cavendish, veered wildly in front of him at the final left-hand bend.  ‘Ask every sprinter who causes havoc. You might get a couple of Garmin guys saying me, but most of the guys will say Romain Feillu,’ said Cavendish.
‘He took me out on the last  corner. I was fighting with (Jose Joaquin) Rojas and kamikaze Feillu came flying in. I thought I was going to crash. I thought I was coming down at one point but I managed to stay upright.
 Proud: Farrar takes to the podium after his stage win on Independence Day
‘I was 40m behind with no speed whatsoever. I went full gas, gained 40m and finished with the front four. It just shows my form. It was just a bit of bad luck today.
‘Some people will write me off as they always do. Some will write off my team as they always do, but it would take an uneducated person to do that right now.’
The stars aligned to present  Farrar with his first Tour stage win — not just the Cavendish mayhem and American Independence Day but the opportunity to pay a personal racing homage to his best friend in cycling, Belgian rider Wouter Weylandt, who died in a horrific crash at the Giro d’Italia.
A grieving Farrar withdrew from that race, too upset to continue. He said: ‘It has been a horrible last two months with everything that happened at the Giro. I wanted to come back and do something to pay tribute. It’s hard to believe at the moment that I managed it.’


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