Tour de France 2008

July 5-27, 2008, Brest, France, Road - GT

Complete Live Report

Live commentary by:
Cycling News
  1. 13:07:00 CEST

    Good morning/afternoon/evening dear readers (depending on where you are reading this), welcome to our live coverage of the twelfth stage of this year's Tour de France. It's another transition-type stage today, heading east from Lavelanet to Narbonne.

    After a big breakaway yesterday, we are inclined to think that today's stage is a more likely candidate for a bunch sprint. The teams of riders such as Thor Hushovd, Mark Cavendish, Oscar Freire, Erik Zabel, Robbie McEwen and the other gallopers will be keen to have their fast guys slug it out at the finish. The route should also be conducive to that, with a lumpier first half becoming flatter and faster towards the end.
  2. 13:10:00 CEST

    Today's biggest news is the positive A sample for EPO returned by Riccardo Ricc
  3. 13:12:00 CEST

    According to l'Equipe's Damien Ressiot, one of the climber's urine samples collected by the French Anti-Doping Agency AFLD showed traces of a third generation EPO called CERA (Continuous Erythropoietin Receptor Activator).
  4. 13:21:00 CEST

    In presuming that Ricc
  5. 13:27:00 CEST


    Mountains classification (updated)
    1 David De La Fuente Rasilla (Spa) Saunier Duval - Scott 65 pts2 Sebastian Lang (Ger) Gerolsteiner 573 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner 56
    Young rider classification (updated)
    1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas 2 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Cofidis - Le Cr
  6. 13:34:00 CEST

  7. 13:48:00 CEST

    Returning to the racing, a slightly reduced field took to the start this afternoon.
  8. 13:57:00 CEST

    To sum up the action thus far far:

    Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel Euskadi) et Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d'Epargne) attacked five kilometres after the start. They were joined by Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas), Steven De Jongh (Quick Step), Freddy Bichot (Agritubel), Bram Tankink (Rabobank), Martin Muller (Milram), St
  9. 14:00:00 CEST

    Apparently Saunier Duval would have been able to start this morning's stage but the team has decided to both leave the race and also suspend all activities. Time will tell if it will collapse or continue racing later in the season.
  10. 32km remaining from 168.5km

    14:02:00 CEST

    More riders have tried to go clear but nothing has stuck as yet.

    Baden Cooke crashed but the Barloworld rider has been able to remount and return to racing.
  11. 14:07:00 CEST

    George Hincapie of Team Columbia gave his reaction this morning. "We can look at the positive side and that we're catching riders that cheat. The sport is doing what it can and it's [putting out] more effort than any other sport out there.

    "We have to look to the future and I think we're doing everything we can to clean up our sport."

    Hincapie's sports director, Rolf Aldag, was not too happy. "This is really disappointing. There have been a lot of rumours about him in the last few days but this a step back as he's a big fish and he's from a different generation. It was supposed to be a young and new breed but they need to know that they risk more than their careers. They risk the whole sport of cycling. He's caused a lot of damage to the Tour."
  12. 44km remaining from 168.5km

    14:15:00 CEST

    Arnaud G
  13. 53km remaining from 168.5km

    14:32:00 CEST

    The duo continue to ride well together, and are now a considerable 3'55 ahead of the peloton.

    57 kilometres after the start comes the summit of the day's sole categorised climb, the fourth category Col du Camperie. It's followed almost 20 kilometres later by the first of two intermediate sprints at Saint Paul de Fenquillet (76km). The second comes 142.5 kilometres after the start - and thus 26 from the end - at Thezan des Corbieres.

    There is also a feed zone at Maury, almost exactly halfway through the stage.
  14. 14:33:00 CEST

    The first hour of racing saw 51 kilometres being covered by the two leaders.
  15. 67.5km remaining from 168.5km

    14:50:00 CEST

    Dumoulin led G
  16. 14:50:00 CEST

    The bunch is lined out in the right-hand gutter...looks like there's some strong winds blowing.

  17. 14:53:00 CEST

    Mark Cavendish is hoping to take his third stage victory of the race today in Narbonne. Can he do it? Well, of course that will depend firstly on there being a bunch sprint, and secondly on what kind of lead-out Columbia can give him. If he's correctly placed, he could well do so.

    It's been a great Tour for a rider who is still only 23 years of age.
  18. 75.5km remaining from 168.5km

    14:57:00 CEST

    Columbia and Credit Agricole are at the front of the peloton. So too the Silence-Lotto team of Cadel Evans. Evans is himself close to the front, staying out of trouble.

    The bunch is right across the road. With just two riders clear, there is no major panic.

    Up front, G
  19. 15:00:00 CEST

    Oscar Freire looks concentrated; he wants the remaining points in this bonus sprint. And he gets them, quite easily.
  20. 15:01:00 CEST

  21. 15:09:00 CEST

    Quick Step's S
  22. 86.1km remaining from 168.5km

    15:12:00 CEST

    With the teams working on the front, the gap is now down to 54".

    Dumoulin and G
  23. 88km remaining from 168.5km

    15:13:00 CEST

  24. 92.5km remaining from 168.5km

    15:21:00 CEST

    Feeding time at the zoo enable the gap to go back up again. It's now 1'31. The roads are very exposed here, and so any wind will buffet the riders.

    They are now on an uncategorised climb. It's nothing serious, explaining the lack of a rating for it.

    Columbia and Chipotle riders are at the front. David Millar is prominent. The peloton is spread right across the road, and there's no sense of urgency. We imagine that this morning's news about Ricc
  25. 15:23:00 CEST

    Check out this interview by Daniel Friebe and how one doping expert is stunned by Ricc
  26. 96.5km remaining from 168.5km

    15:26:00 CEST

    Credit Agricole's Jimmy Engoulvent crashed, as did an Euskaltel rider. Both are up again. The break is a minute and a half clear. They look a lot busier than the bunch, so this move will come back whenever the sprinters' teams decide.
  27. 15:27:00 CEST

    The scenery is superb today, plenty of gorges and rivers. France is the most-visited country in the world, and with many non-cycling fans watching the race each year for the scenery, one has to think that at least some of the tourism is down to the race.

    We don't know of any studies that have been done to calculate how much of this is generated by the Tour, but would be very interested.
  28. 103.5km remaining from 168.5km

    15:35:00 CEST

    Engoulvent gets his wounds looked at by the doctor. The damage seems to be just scrapes.

    The weather is quite bright now. The peloton is content to soak up some rays, biding time and maintaining the gap at a minute and a half.

    Sections of today's route are quite isolated but there's pockets of cheering spectators scattered along the roads.
  29. 15:38:00 CEST

    The bunch is dropping down a winding descent, while the leaders are passing through the village of Paziols. It's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it sized place..
  30. 15:45:00 CEST

    Dirk Demol, the directeur sportif for Quick Step, rode a bit on the course this morning. He told Brecht Decaluw
  31. 112.5km remaining from 168.5km

    15:49:00 CEST

    The bunch remains right across the road, and appears not to be trying to hard to catch the leaders just yet. However the gap is dropping down all the time; it's now 35" and those in the peloton can see the following cars behind the break.
  32. 15:54:00 CEST

    Juan Jose Oroz (Euskaltel Euskadi) has scarpered across the gap. He goes to the front and the other two attach their invisible grappling hooks and try to hang on.
  33. 115.5km remaining from 168.5km

    15:55:00 CEST

    The added ooomph has pulled the gap out to 52". He's doing all the work and tries to get rid of the others on a small climb. They persist, though.
  34. 122.5km remaining from 168.5km

    16:04:00 CEST

    Oroz' driving has pulled the gap back up to 1'26. A bunch sprint is still expected, unless CSC decides to put the hammer down and try to get Frank Schleck into yellow.

    It's more likely that they'll wait until the Alps, though, allowing Cadel Evans' Silence Lotto team to wear themselves out a bit.
  35. 130.5km remaining from 168.5km

    16:16:00 CEST

    It is windy alright. And that's not unusual in this area. We see bunch of wind mills on the hillside on the right.

    Inspired by the draft, the bunch cuts the lead again, to 1'08. A French fan waves a large French flag. It looks good with the wind catching it full swing.
  36. 16:22:00 CEST

    Jimmy Casper flats, but despite a bit more movement in the peloton, the pace isn't too hard and Casper makes it back to the peloton in no time.
  37. 138.5km remaining from 168.5km

    16:29:00 CEST

    Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis) attacks, trying to get a gap before the sprint. The others close him down, though.
  38. 140.8km remaining from 168.5km

    16:32:00 CEST

    Barloworld's Kenyan-turned-Briton Chris Froome goes back to the team car and gets some bottles.

    Still no major urgency in the peloton...
  39. 16:35:00 CEST

    Oroz sits behind Dumoulin but as the latter is one of the smallest riders in the peloton, he doesn't get much shelter.
  40. 142.5km remaining from 168.5km

    16:36:00 CEST

    Dumoulin leads them over the sprint line, with G
  41. 16:40:00 CEST

    Quick Step and Liquigas come to the front, ramping up the speed. Not long now...

    CSC is also there.
  42. 149.5km remaining from 168.5km

    16:44:00 CEST

    The break is putting the hammer down in response, stepping it up a gear. A tactic is for those up the road to keep something in reserve, accelerating when the bunch does likewise.

    Oroz is on the front, pumping out the Watts. Dumoulin is also giving it loads.
  43. 16:52:00 CEST

  44. 157.1km remaining from 168.5km

    16:53:00 CEST

    Liquigas and Columbia are keeping the gap sweet until the moment when the teams really want this break back. They don't want to do it too soon, as that will just encourage others to go after the win.

    The leaders are in sight, having eight seconds now.
  45. 16:54:00 CEST

    Oroz drives it and then waves his elbow for Dumoulin to come through. Now G
  46. 158.5km remaining from 168.5km

    16:55:00 CEST

    The bunch has eased back a little, toying with the break. The gap is ten seconds.
  47. 159.5km remaining from 168.5km

    16:56:00 CEST

    C'est fini. All together. CSC hits the front.
  48. 16:56:00 CEST

    This stage is full of spectacular scenery, including some ruined - and not so ruined - chateaux.
  49. 16:58:00 CEST

    The bunch is very disorganised this year, in terms of teams trying to set things up for a sprint. Instead of a train of guys, there's a few here and there, most of them from different squads.
  50. 16:59:00 CEST

    Quick Step and CSC are near the front. Stuart O'Grady is driving it now, back to good form after his crash in this race twelve months ago.
  51. 17:00:00 CEST

    CSC riders wear yellow back numbers today - they lead the teams classification.
  52. 17:00:00 CEST

    Evans is near the front. It looks quite nervous in there, with riders moving around and trying to get into good positions.

    Dumoulin and G
  53. 17:00:00 CEST

    Liquigas and Columbia, with less than four kilometres to go...
  54. 17:01:00 CEST

    The riders now go around a big roundabout, with those on the right having a shorter route and thus gaining a good advantage.
  55. 165.7km remaining from 168.5km

    17:01:00 CEST

    It's almost certainly going to be a bunch sprint, unless Cancellara pulls a Cancellara and clips away...
  56. 166.5km remaining from 168.5km

    17:02:00 CEST

    Columbia are leading, looking for win number three from Cavendish. Can he do it?
  57. 17:03:00 CEST

    It's quite messy, with riders moving up and back..
  58. 167.5km remaining from 168.5km

    17:03:00 CEST

    One kilometre to go!
  59. 17:03:00 CEST

    There was a big, sweeping right hand bend, now the bunch is getting back up to speed...
  60. 17:03:00 CEST

    Credit Agricole are there for Hushovd..
  61. 17:04:00 CEST

    Cavendish is in third place now...
  62. 17:04:00 CEST

    Here we go...
  63. 17:04:00 CEST

  64. 17:05:00 CEST

    It looks like it was the young Manx rider, getting his third win. He crosses the line and holds up three fingers. Sebastian Chavanel got second, nearly a bike length back.
  65. 17:06:00 CEST

    Cavendish gets it all right. He sat up to celebrate his win and some riders got by, but that was after the line. Impressive....
  66. 17:09:00 CEST

    Steegmans (Quick Step), Zabel (Milram) and Freire (Rabobank) were third through to fifth.

    Cavendish embraces his team-mates. He's still got bandages on his arms from his crash earlier this week, but it hasn't slowed him down.

    Chavanel was right on his wheel when he went, but wasn't able to do anything about it, other than nab second.
  67. 17:09:00 CEST

    No change in the overall, other than the absence of the Saunier Duval riders from the top ten.
  68. 17:10:00 CEST

  69. 17:12:00 CEST

    Team Columbia was targeting two stage wins plus a top five place overall in the race. It's now got three stage victories, and Kim Kirchen is seventh in GC. He's 59" behind fifth-placed Denis Menchov (Rabobank).
  70. 18:08:00 CEST

    Thanks for joining us today. Depending on who you ask today was terrible (for those who think there are still too many cheats) or great (for those who think the controls are working).

    Either way, we hope you are back tomorrow to follow Cyclingnews' live coverage. Maybe there will be another surprise waiting, whatever it may be. See you then.
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