REDON, France — Two months ago, Tyler Farrar was demoralized, sleeping 20 hours a day. He had stopped riding, overcome by sorrow after his best friend died in a crash at the Giro d'Italia.
On Monday, Farrar became the first American to win a stage of the Tour de France on July 4, and he dedicated the victory to the late Wouter Weylandt of Belgium.
"It's a little bit unbelievable to me at the moment that it actually happened," said Farrar, who pulled out of the Giro after the accident.
"This has been a horrible last two months with everything that happened in the Giro," Farrar said. "I've had a lot of ups and downs. But in the end, I wanted to be able to come back and do something special to pay tribute, and this is certainly the biggest stage in the world to do that."
Farrar, a sprint specialist from Wenatchee, Wash., who rides for Garmin-Cervelo, sped ahead in the last few hundred yards of the 123-mile course from Olonne-sur-Mer to Redon to win the third stage. He has now won a stage in each of cycling's three-week major tours — France, Italy and Spain.
The previous American to win a Tour de France stage was Levi Leipheimer, who in 2007 was first in the individual time trial in Angouleme.
"I certainly would have taken it on any day," Farrar said. "But as an American, winning on the Fourth of July, it's the icing on the cake. …Lucky me."
Norway's Thor Hushovd kept the yellow jersey. Hushovd, a sprint specialist, is not expected to hold his lead through the mountains in the second and third weeks.
Three-time Tour champion Alberto Contador, who lost time Saturday after becoming entangled in a crash, is 69th — 1:42 back.