The third stage of the 101st Tour de France began in Cambridge on Monday, with Italian Vincenzo Nibali in the yellow jersey for the final day on UK soil.

The Tour returns to France on Monday evening after two stages in Yorkshire - watched by millions of people; five million was Tour director Christian Prudhomme's estimate - and the 155-kilometre route from Cambridge to central London.

The stage is expected to end in a sprint on The Mall, but without Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) after the Manxman suffered a shoulder injury on day one in Harrogate and withdrew from the race.

The peloton paraded through Cambridge's tight streets around the university's world-renowned colleges, before heading east into Essex.

Two riders escaped from the official start, with NetApp-Endura's Jan Barta and Jean-Marc Bideau swiftly establishing a lead of four minutes.

The sprinters' teams led the peloton, with the help of Nibali's Astana team, content to bide their time ahead of the Tour's second visit to London in seven years, after the 2007 Grand Depart took place in Westminster.