Orica GreenEdge were all smiles after Simon Gerrans pipped Peter Sagan to the line and won stage three of the Tour de France in Calvi.

It was a first stage win for the Australian team in their second ever Tour, but was doubly welcome after they endured a torrid time on Saturday when their team bus became wedged under the finish line gantry in Bastia, the resulting chaos blamed for a major crash which ripped through a confused peloton baring down on the scene.

All that could be forgotten tonight as the team celebrated Gerrans' unexpected victory, edging Cannondale's favoured Sagan to the line by less than a quarter of a wheel.

"I guess I surprised quite a few people a little bit today, including myself," Gerrans said.

"I knew there weren't too many sprinters left in the front group. Peter Sagan is a guy who can often climb with the best climbers and sprint with the best sprinters so I'm really thrilled to be able to beat such a classy rider in a sprint finish like I did today."

It was a brilliant move from Daryl Impey which catapulted former Team Sky rider Gerrans to the front and Sagan could not find enough of a response.

"I could see him just on my shoulder coming up behind me," said Gerrans, celebrating his second career Tour victory after winning stage 15 back in 2008.

"I kept going and threw it to the line.

"I think I caught him by surprise a little bit - him and a few other guys - but I'm thrilled for Orica-GreenEdge to get a win here at the Tour de France."

There was some consolation for Sagan, who wrestled the points leader's green jersey he won last year from the shoulders of stage one winner Marcel Kittel thanks to another second place.

"I'm happy to put (the green jersey) onto my shoulders," Sagan said.

"We know it's going to be hard to keep it, but that's what we're going to try and do."

Movistar's Jose Rojas was just behind in third while Michal Kwiatkowski, wearing the white jersey of the best young rider, beat BMC Racing's Philippe Gilbert to fourth.

Missing from the sprint was Manxman Mark Cavendish, who endured another difficult day and finished in a group nine minutes 15 seconds back.

The yellow jersey will remain on the shoulders of yesterday's surprise winner Jan Bakelants after he crossed the line in 19th, credited with the same time as the winners.

Ireland's Nicolas Roche finished 23rd, while his cousin Dan Martin came 69th.

Roche is placed 11th overall, and Martin is 59th.

The sprint finish came at the end of 145.5km of what Tour general director Christian Prudhomme described as "up-down-left-right", a course of unrelenting hills, twists and turns - pretty much the last thing a peloton still battered a bruised from Saturday's chaos in Bastia wanted to see.

For the third day running there was a long breakaway, featuring another Orica GreenEdge rider Simon Clarke who put in a spirited attempt to take the King of the Mountain's polka-dot jersey.

He pulled level with Pierre Rolland in the standings by cresting three of the four categorised climbs first, but was caught by Rolland shy of the final summit as the Frenchman retained the maillot a pois rouges.

Rolland led the field down the slope towards Calvi but was caught by Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Lars-Petter Nordhaug (Belkin) and Euskaltel Euskadi's Mikel Nieve attacking off the front of the peloton.

It was a doomed escape, as was that of Argos-Shimano's Tom Dumoulin who went off the front inside the final two kilometres, only to be caught moments later.

Not everyone who had left Ajaccio had made it that far.

Astana's Andrey Kashechkin became the first man to withdraw from this year's Tour as he pulled over 15km into the stage, and Yoann Bagot of Cofidis would follow around 60km later.

Team Sky's Geraint Thomas, riding with what the team tonight called a cracked pelvis sustained on Saturday, was undeterred, even if he would finish 177th on the day, leaving him 194th out of 196 overall.

The teams will head for the French mainland and tomorrow's team time trial in Nice with no real moves yet made in the general classification battle.

All the contenders once again finished in the peloton to remain level on time, just one second behind the maillot jaune.