By far the biggest crowd was in Antwerp where according to Mayor Bart De Wever (Flemish nationalist) “hundreds of thousands” of people were in the city to watch the start of the race.
The was also a big crowd in Meensel-Kiezegem to watch the Tour, but also to catch a glimpse of Eddy Merckx who had returned to his birthplace to unveil a statue made in honour of his 70th birthday.
The stage was won by Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha). He was the first across the line on the infamous Wall of Huy, a 1.3 kilometre climb with an average gradient of 9%.
“Purito” Rodriguez was just fractionally quicker that Britain’s Chris Froome (Sky). The French rider Alexis Vuillermoz (AG2R) was third, 4 seconds behind Joaquim Rodriguez.
Monday’s stage was marred by a mass fall about 60km from the end. The rider that then held the yellow Fabian Cancellara was among those that fell. The fall that also caused Tom Dumoulin and Simon Gerrans to call it a day, resulted in the stage being neutralised for a time.
Tuesday’s fourth stage is over 223.5 in Liège province to the Northern French town of Cambrai.