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Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage from stage 3 of the Critérium du Dauphiné. Today's stage is a 49km individual time trial from Monteux - to Sorgues.
The action kicked off around an hour ago with Joaquin Novoa from Cervélo the first rider off down the start ramp. The big hitters start much later on in the day, with Alberto Contador off last. There are a few big names to watch out for amongst the early starters though.
Let's have a little look at the route first though. It's flat for the majority, however there's a third cat climb of côte de La Roque-sur-Pernes that the riders will have to get over after 15km of racing. There will be two intermediate time checks, one at the top of the climb and the second in Velleron, after 32km of racing.
If you're looking for a favourite for today you could do worse that look at Bert Grabsch. He won the long TT in last year's race and teammate Tejay van Garderen - who is sitting second overall - just Tweeted. "Grabschie is 'sweating like a pork' on the rollers' he's probably gonna win today!"
Who needs news agencies when we've Twitter?
Don't answer that please.
But like I said, we've already had some riders start today and currently leading at the first time check is Edvald Boasson Hagen, with Thomas Vaitkus in second. Lars Ytting Bak, who made Columbia's short list for the Tour line-up currently leads at the second time check. We currently have no finishers but that will change in a few minutes, I'm sure.
Here are a few riders to watch out for today, compiled by Susan, as well as their start times:
13:32 CET (7:32am U.S.): Menchov
14:04 CET (8:04am U.S.): Malori
14:20 CET (8:20am U.S.): Sanchez S.
14:48 CET (8:48am U.S.): Moreau
14:50 CET (8:50am U.S.): Horner
14:56 CET (8:56am U.S.): Plaza
15:02 CET (9:02am U.S.): Millar
15:16 CET (9:16am U.S.): Brajkovic
15:18 CET (9:18am U.S.): Van Garderen
15:20 CET (9:20am U.S.): Contador
We need to mention the top ten overall as things stand too. Contador leads the way with TJ in second but we can expect some big changes by the end of the stage. Contador has said he's using the TT as training for the Tour as he gets to grips with his new machine. He's also not got the best of form in these events. We'll look back at the Dauphine TT results from the past in a few minutes.
1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 9:20:08
2 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) Team HTC - Columbia 0:00:02
3 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Team Radioshack 0:00:05
4 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team 0:00:10
5 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Quick Step 0:00:12
6 Rémi Pauriol (Fra) Cofidis, le Credit en Ligne
7 Jérôme Coppel (Fra) Saur - Sojasun 0:00:14
8 Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
9 Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:00:15
10 David Millar (GBr) Garmin - Transitions
But we have our first batch of finish results and Lars Ytting Bak, a new signing for Columbia, has set the fastest time so far. He might be Grabsch's reference point for later on today.
And Boasson Hagen goes through the second time check with a time of 44:12. He's now fastest at that point.
It's been a very mixed season for the Norwegian. He was almost unbeatable in February but perhaps raced too much, picked up an injury, missed most of the Classics, and hasn't done much since. It looks like he's finding some form now though.
More changes at the finish as Vaitkus goes to the top of the leader board with Bak dropping to second.
50 riders now on the road, another 120 in the start house and team buses.
We all know that Boasson Hagen is fast but this is incredible. He's 2:44 ahead of Vaitkus at the finish. 2:44. Two minutes, forty four seconds.
There are of course a lot of big hitters to come but that time will take some beating. Vaitkus and indeed Bak are no slouches.
Yesterday's stage winner Juan José Haedo is the next rider to start.
Looking back at last year and it's no wonder that Grabsch is one of the favourites today. He won last year's TT with Cadel Evans (not here) in second and David Millar (here) in third. Contador was fifth that day.
Our very own Hedwig Kroner is at the finish today. She lives nearby. According to Hedwig, "it's quite windy here today, 35 km/h up to 65 in gusts, coming from southeast.
Otherwise warm, 27° I'd say."
JL Augustyn is the next rider to start today's TT.
In today's news Ivan Basso, recent winner of the Giro, has said he's aiming for a spot on the Tour de France podium. Boasson Hagen says he's getting ready for the Tour - well that's clear from his result today.
Maarten Tjallingii has set the second best times at the first and second time check, still way down on Boasson Hagen though. Brian Vandborg (Den) Liquigas-Doimo and Pierrick Fédrigo (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom, have moved into second and third at the finish. Both over 2 minutes down on Hagen.
Menchov has started. The Russian needs a good ride today.
Apologies, Menchov has already started, he's gone through the second time check and he's 30 seconds down in second place.
Menchov was 18 seconds down at the first time check so he's losing time on the Norwegian.
83 riders have started, 83 riders still to ride down the start ramp.
Sivtsov (HTC) comes home in second place, a good ride from him. He's still 2:19 down on Boasson Hagen, who continues to lead the stage. Can anyone challenge the Norwegian today?
Augustyn, meanwhile comes home 7:37 down on the leader
Tjallingii comes home in 4th, 2:36 down on Boasson Hagen. Riders really seem to be fading in the last few kilometers.
Grabsch goes through the second time check.
The German can only manage 4th, 1:23 down. Has the German got anything left in the tank?
Menchov crosses the line. He looks cooked but his time of 1.02.46 is enough to take second place. For now. He closed on Boasson Hagen in the final few Ks and finished just 11 seconds back.
Bodrogi comes over the finish in provisional 3rd, 1:30 down on EBH.
Ovechkin (Katusha) is having a good ride today. At the first check he was just 42 seconds off the pace.
We have the likes of Millar and Contador still to come but Menchov will be quietly pleased with that ride. He's been very quiet so far this season, skipped the Giro of course, and had some health problems but it looks like he's moving in the right direction now at least.
Apparently he's in the shop window, with a number of team sniffing around.
Sicard crosses the line, 3:10 down on Boasson Hagen. I dare say that's the longest time trial he's ever ridden. In fact Van Garderen who will set off second to last, told CN he'd never raced a TT over 40K.
Grabsch comes over the line. 4th place for the former world TT champion. 1:32 down on Boasson Hagen. Can anyone beat the young Norwegian?
Millar(Garmin-Transitions) is now on his way. Quickly into his aero postion.
Millar didn't really shine in the opening prologue so he'll be wanting to make an impact here today, especially as he has aspirations of doing well in the overall.
Verdugo now rides down the start ramp. He's in 9th overall at the moment.
Millar on the flat section of the course at the moment. He does look effortlessly smooth when he rides a bike, doesn't he?
Gretsch grabs 4th from Grabsch, pushing the German down into 5th.
Gusev hits the first time time check, 47 seconds down.
Horner goes through the first time check, 1:09 minute down on Boasson Hagen.
We're hearing some bad news. Apparently Michel Kreder (Garmin-Transition) has crashed after the first time check and was forced to pull out of the race.
Ribon (AG2R) has 35K to go. He takes a corner quite wide but quickly slips back onto the aero bars.
Samuel Sanchez comes up the line but he's well off the pace today. 3:30 down. Of course not a TT specialist but he would have wanted to do better than that.
And David Millar goes through the first time check 19 seconds faster than Boasson Hagen.
Van den Broeck is having a pretty good day today. At the second time check he was 1:16 down.
Pauriol hits the climb, gets out of the saddle and powers passed the crowds.Cataldo has crashed though. He's on his bike now but he's really struggling, his shorts ripped to shreds.
Duran comes home in 16th, nearly three minutes down.
Cataldo is on the climb now, the crowd don't know whether to winch or applaud has he moves through them with his ripped shorts.
Thomas, meanwhile, is on the course now and he'll be wanting to test himself today. 49K is the longest TT he will have done in the professional ranks. He's used to short bursts on the track.
Horner goes through the second time check 2:07 down but the big news is that Brajkovic has set a new best time at the first time check.
Kessiakoff now comes the line and slots into provisional 13th. That's not bad for the Swede, who had a serious crash earlier in the year.
Brajkovic's time was 8 seconds faster than Millar's.
Van Garderen is on the road now and was third fastest at the first time check. Contador was 32 seconds down at the same point
That's a strong start from the American, Millar meanwhile sets a new fastest time at the second time split, 6 seconds up on Boasson Hagen.
Gusev comes to the finish, takes the last corner, sprints to the line and sits in 7th.
Van Garderen on the long descent down after the climb. He could take yellow today if Contador continues to lose more time.
Contador was actually 31 seconds down at the first time check.
Contador, the last man off, has said he's just here to test his new bike, but that's a smoke screen. He'll want to send out a message that he's on form.
The Spaniard isn't holding back out on the road either. He's giving it everything on the corners. As Moreau, comes over the line in provisional 11th.
It's a really technical descent, Contador using every bit of road he can. Van Garderen is up ahead and on a flat section. The American is having a great debut in the pro ranks this year.
Contador doesn't look that smooth on the bike, He seems to be moving around in the saddle more than usual. Perhaps his position isn't quite right.
Knees comes home 1:25 down and into third place. That's impressive from Knees.
Millar should be coming towards the finish now.
Brajkovic goes through the second time check 16 seconds ahead of MIllar.
Here comes Millar.
He takes 1st, 17 seconds faster than Boasson Hagen.
Contador is over 50 seconds down at the second time check, so he's losing more time.
Those of you wonder what Brajkovic's credentials are, he won an uphill TT in the Tour of Georgia, he's the national TT champ too.
Contador 57 seconds down now and he'll lose yellow. Brajkovic could now take the stage and the race lead.
Van Garderen was 4th at the second time check , 30 seconds down on Brajkovic.
Brajkovic is about to catch Thomas as Cataldo comes to the line in 16th. That's a really good ride considering how much skin he's lost.
Just 200 meters left for Brajkovic
26 seconds faster than Millar. Surely that's the stage and yellow.
Brajkovic has led at every time check today.
Van Garderen now coming to the line. A good TT for the American who slots into fourth. Just Contador to come.
Millar should now move into second, Contador will drop down a few places.
Last km for the Spaniard. It's not been a great day for him. Certainly not a disaster, remember he was over a minute down last year in the Dauphine TT. He'll be content, especially with the mountains still to come.
6th for Contador, 1:46 down on Brajkovic.
So Brajkovic now leads, Millar in second, 36 seconds down, Van Garderen in third at 50 seconds, and Contador 1:41 down.
Thanks for joining us today.