Tour de France 2008

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

Complete Live Report

Live commentary by:
Cycling News
  1. 13:03:00 CEST

    Hello and welcome back to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the 95th Tour de France. Today the riders will continue their eastbound journey, going from Narbonne to Nîmes over 182 kilometres. The overall contenders are expected to try to stay out of crash trouble and remain healthy until the Alps, when the real showdown will start. The only question today is if a break can take advantage of the little cat 4 rises to stay away or if the sprinters (or should we say *the* sprinter?) will try to get another one.

    Of equal interest will be the battle for the polka dot jersey. First it was two Saunier riders battling it out. Following the team's end of the Tour, we now have two Gerolsteiner riders, Sebastian Lang and Bernhard Kohl ahead, separated by two measly points.
  2. 13:07:00 CEST

    Maybe that should be measle-y points, given that the jersey is spotted red (groan).
  3. 13:10:00 CEST

    Today's stage is of course another transition one, bringing the riders from the Pyrenees ever closer to the Alps, and the big showdown of this race.

    It's relatively flat, with three four-category climbs scattered along the 182 kilometre distance. There are also two bonus sprints.
  4. 13:16:00 CEST

    The climbs are the Cote de la Resclauze (62km), the Code de Puechabon (105.5km) and the Pic Saint-Loup (126km).

    The bonus sprints take place in Saint Bauzille de Montmel (139.5km) and Villevielle (155.5km). If no break is clear, expect to see those in contention for the green jersey competition to fight it out. It's relatively close there: this was the overall standing of the points competition this morning.

    1 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank                                162 pts2 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia                                  1383 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cr
  5. 13:22:00 CEST

    Niki Terpstra (Milram) and Florent Brard (Cofidis) attacked in the first kilometre of today's stage.

    They currently have a lead of 2'15.
  6. 13:35:00 CEST

    Oscar Freire has taken three stage wins at the Tour; one in 2002 and two four years later. The injury-prone Spaniard has only once finished the race, placing 96th in 2003.
  7. 13:36:00 CEST

    Certainly, the addition of the maillot vert to his palmar
  8. 18km remaining from 182km

    13:39:00 CEST

    After nearly 20 kilometres, the breakaway duo are five minutes clear. A bunch sprint is expected today, but much will depend on how much control teams like Columbia, Credit Agricole and Milram can exhibit.

    One who would very much want to be in the fight today is Robbie McEwen. He hasn't had a great Tour thus far, and is currently only tenth in the points classification.
  9. 26km remaining from 182km

    13:49:00 CEST

    Brard and Terpstra continue to pull clear. They are now eight minutes ahead of the peloton.
  10. 13:57:00 CEST

    It's a beautiful day in France, with the sun shining and temperatures in the 30s. Celsius, of course, not Fahrenheit..
  11. 14:02:00 CEST

    Both the sprinters and the breakaway specialists need to capitalise on the opportunities presented today and tomorrow. On Sunday, the race heads into the mountains and will remain there for several days; there's three high mountain stages, interrupted by a rest day on Monday.

    The sprinters don't have much to hope for from next Thursday's stage to Saint Etienne, either. It's lumpy and has a second category climb 33 kilometres from the finish, so there's no guarantee that there will be a bunch gallop that day either.

    If that's the case, the only sprints next week will be on Friday and at the race conclusion in Paris.
  12. 39km remaining from 182km

    14:09:00 CEST

    The maximum gap of the break was recorded 21 kilometres after the start. At that point the duo were 9'55 clear. It started to drop slightly after that, and is currently down to 9'10.
  13. 45km remaining from 182km

    14:19:00 CEST

    Further reductions in the gap; it's now 8'20.

    The fallout continues after the positive test of Riccardo Ricc
  14. 14:22:00 CEST

  15. 14:25:00 CEST

    There is a gap of several days between samples being taken and results being returned.
  16. 51km remaining from 182km

    14:31:00 CEST

    The Frenchman and the Dutchman continue to work together, but their gap is now down to 7'45.

    Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown spoke to several riders at the start today. Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) is noticing the attention. "It is still crazy in the yellow, it is even getting crazier," he said. "There is a lot a pressure from the media."

    Carlos Barredo (Quick Step) is hoping for team success in N
  17. 14:33:00 CEST

    John Trevorrow also got hold of Evans, asking how it was going on his third day in yellow? "Busy, and getting busier," he replied. "It is a bit of a balancing act trying to keep relaxed and accommodating all the media requests. Then there's the fans of course, but that's all good.

    He was asked if there was still a special buzz in wearing the Maillot Jaune? "There certainly will be if it is in Paris. There is certainly a lot more attention when you are in yellow. I reckon today might be an interesting one. The wind is strong and there could be 'put in the gutter a bit. It should be interesting"
  18. 14:44:00 CEST

    We diga um alô para o Brasil - saying a hello to our Brazilian readers, who get up early to follow Le Tour and especially Murilo Fischer of Liquigas. The Brazilians hope Fisher can take out a stage win this year, but it all depends on the instructions from the team management. The South American work horse may have to give all his power for his leaders and may not get a chance to get into a break.
  19. 61km remaining from 182km

    14:45:00 CEST

    The gap is 7'10. Brard leads on the first climb of the day, the Cote de la Resclauze.
  20. 14:48:00 CEST

    John Trevorrow also had a chinwag with Robbie McEwen. "I wasn't too happy," he said about yesterday's sprint, where he was eleventh. "I had a good position as the sprint started but Chavanel chopped me as he was following the wheel past, and Casper was coming backwards at the same time.

    "That stopped me and then it happened again soon after. I virtually didn't get to sprint at all. But this is what happens when you haven't got a lead out. I'm feeling OK, actually, so we'll see how it pans out today."

    Brard got the climbing points ahead of Terpstra. The peloton is yet to reach the climb.
  21. 14:53:00 CEST

    Matteo Tosatto (Quick Step) spoke to Gregor Brown at the start. "Every day we are trying to get an escape. It is difficult, but we are trying. Yesterday we tried, but then we switched tactics to work in the finale for Steegmans. Today will be another day to try.

    "Today, it will be difficult to control the race and there will be a lot of battles amongst the teams that want to have a man in the escape. You always have to be ready, from kilometre zero on."

    He was asked about his 2006 win in Macon - does he think of following that up with another? "I would like to repeat this win," he answered. "But it is hard and everyone wants the same thing."
  22. 14:55:00 CEST

    Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner) jumped clear of the main bunch and easily took the point for third place on the climb. His team-mate Bernhard Kohl is his closest challenger, and a better bet once the race gets into the high mountains.

    The team doesn't have a sponsor for next season and, having already won a stage and held yellow with Stefan Schumacher, is relishing more time in the spotlight in order to highlight what it can offer to a prospective backer.

    If you've several million euro and are interested, contact Hans Michael Holczer.
  23. 68.8km remaining from 182km

    14:57:00 CEST

    The gap goes back up, reaching 7'07. The skies are virtually cloudless and our Hindenburg IV blimp cruises quietly onwards, having been taken out of storage and dusted down.
  24. 15:01:00 CEST

    Columbia and Fran
  25. 79km remaining from 182km

    15:11:00 CEST

  26. 15:12:00 CEST

    The riders are passing the cirque of dolomites de Mour
  27. 15:14:00 CEST

    Gregor Brown spoke to Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) prior to the drop of the flag. He wasn't putting his hopes on a big bunch gallop. "On a day like today, I think there is more chances of a break than a sprint. We will see.

    "I am working more for Menchov than for Freire today. Things look good for him and I am sticking at his side."

    Fabian Cancellara (CSC-Saxo Bank) was also in a chatting mood. "I will try for a win, however my goal is to win a gold in the Olympic time trial," he said. "If there is an escape and I have a chance, then I will go. When you are in the escape you risk to pay for your efforts the day after. I want to give my best for me and for the team, then leave the Tour and be able to go better at the Olympics."

  28. 15:15:00 CEST

    Markus Burghardt got a musette in the feed zone. He's right on the front and so was very careful in disposing of it, reaching over to the side of the road and tossing it towards a spectator. That's safer than just chucking it over his shoulder :)
  29. 15:21:00 CEST

    News just in: The Saunier Duval has fired both Riccardo Ricc
  30. 93km remaining from 182km

    15:33:00 CEST

    Status quo: two leaders, the bunch behind is led by La Fran
  31. 15:40:00 CEST

    Frank Schleck was off the back a couple of kilometres ago, and was dragged back by his CSC - Saxo Bank team-mates. So too Cadel Evans, who was escorted by Silence Lotto. We doubt the first and second riders in GC took their personal marking of each other too far; maybe they both took a nature break at the same time.

    Whatever the reason, they are back in the bunch now.
  32. 97km remaining from 182km

    15:45:00 CEST

    Brard is doing 65% of the work in the break.

    Don't forget to check out the Live Rider Data and Positioning section, accessible via the link at the top right hand corner of this page. The riders you can monitor are KOM leader Sebastian Lang (Team Gerolsteiner), Ralf Grabsch (Team Milram), Adam Hansen and Markus Burghardt (Team Columbia).

    Thanks to SRM, you can see parameters such as their speed, heart rate, power output and cadence.
  33. 15:46:00 CEST

    Evans is back up near the front, sitting on the right hand side of the bunch. The wind is coming from left to right, so he's sheltering behind his team-mates.
  34. 105km remaining from 182km

    15:54:00 CEST

    Brard and Terpstra continue their bid to be birds in flight, but they are unfortunately more like sitting ducks. They have 4'33 lead now with over an hour and a half of racing to go.

    They are on the Cote de Puechabon, the day's second fourth-category ascent. Nice view, good crowds. Not particularly steep or long, hence the ranking.

    Terpstra looks a bit rough at this point. Brard gives him a bit of encouragement but the Milram rider doesn't come through before the prime line. So the Frenchman gets it.
  35. 106km remaining from 182km

    15:56:00 CEST

    There's a burned out bus/truck and car beside the road, as the bunch passes by. Perhaps some angry fans got hold of the Saunier Duval team vehicles. Okay, okay, we doubt that's the case...
  36. 15:56:00 CEST

    The fire engines are still there so it must have been a recent little bonfire.
  37. 15:57:00 CEST

    There's a bit of laughing and joking going on in the bunch. This is quite a relaxing day in the peloton, at least until things ramp up before the final sprint.
  38. 109km remaining from 182km

    16:01:00 CEST

    Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner) is close to the front, as he will go for the remaining point on the climb and thus extend his lead in the KOM classification. He's got spots on his helmet.

    He and Kohl ride clear, with the latter actually taking the point. We are likely to see Kohl go all out in the Alps for that jersey. He was a fine third in the 2006 Dauphine, so he's got some good climbing legs. He's also fourth overall right now.
  39. 16:02:00 CEST

    Leonardo Piepoli's home in Monaco has reportedly been searched by police.
  40. 16:06:00 CEST

    French television commentators are talking about a fourth positive on the Tour, namely Piepoli. It's unclear if this is speculation or if a fourth has indeed been officially confirmed.

    If that happens, we expect the team to disband.
  41. 118.8km remaining from 182km

    16:15:00 CEST

    3'06 for the two leaders. The white jerseys of La Fran
  42. 125km remaining from 182km

    16:23:00 CEST

    Terpstra is hanging on for dear life behind Brard up the Pic Saint Loup.
  43. 127km remaining from 182km

    16:25:00 CEST

    Tons of spectators line the top of the hill. One 'fan' sprays Terpstra with some water. It is hot, but the Dutchman is not happy about the wet surprise. Ever gotten unexpectedly shocked with cold water when you were really heated up? Not a good feeling.

    Brard takes the maximum points over the top as Terpstra has fought back on to the Frenchman's wheel.
  44. 16:28:00 CEST

    Lang moves clear of the bunch on the climb. Kohl came scampering after him and there were some smiles between the two. Lang got it, though.
  45. 16:35:00 CEST

    Our Brazilian spies have informed us that Fischer has indeed the green light from the green team to get into breaks. He just hasn't gotten into the right move yet.

    It always takes a bit of luck to be represented in the break. There are still 158 riders left and an escape is often only a handful of people strong. Today only two.

    We are certain that if Fischer would have been in the break he would have had at least some advantage with the temperatures. It is really hot out there.
  46. 136km remaining from 182km

    16:37:00 CEST

    Yesterday's stage winner Mark Cavendish moves up in the bunch, looking chirpy. Can he take win number four today? His supporters from the Isle of Man and the British mainland will hope so.

    Terpstra pushes along on the front, appearing more comfortable on the flat. Meanwhile, 2'05 behind, Columbia lead the bunch. The pace has clearly picked up.
  47. 139.5km remaining from 182km

    16:44:00 CEST

    Terpstra has a nice aero position, getting low on the bike as he plugs away. He takes the sprint in Saint Bauzille de Montmel ahead of Brard. The peloton is 1'34 back. Oscar Freire has sent Rabobank team-mate Juan Antonio Flecha up the road to nab third place, thus saving his legs.

    It could mean one of three things; Freire might not be confident about his chances in the intermediate gallop, he might be tired today, or perhaps he wants to go for the stage and thus save all his gas for that.

    Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel Euskadi) has a flat tire.
  48. 16:45:00 CEST

    Flecha now waits for the peloton.
  49. 16:48:00 CEST

    Both Francesco Chicchi (Liquigas) and Jerome Pineau (Bouygues Telecom) are stretching at the back of the bunch. Right foot up and behind, onto the saddle, then left food. Perfectly synchronised, of course...
  50. 145.3km remaining from 182km

    16:49:00 CEST

    The gap is going out's now 2'01".
  51. 16:54:00 CEST

    Brecht Decaluw
  52. 16:57:00 CEST

    Brecht also spoke to Garmin Chipotle's Martijn Maaskant. He asked him if he would try to get into a break. "Well, my task is to stay with Christian [Vande Velde], get him to the front as much as possible. I will do that with a few others on the team.

    "In the final, I have been trying to set up Julian Dean for the sprint, but it hasn
  53. 151.9km remaining from 182km

    16:59:00 CEST

    The two leaders go over a speed bump and both do a bunny-hop. They push on but it's really only a matter of time; they've now got 1'15.

    A spectator gets a bit too enthusiastic and steps into the road. Fortunately they are far enough away to avoid him.
  54. 17:02:00 CEST

    Brecht Decaluw
  55. 152km remaining from 182km

    17:05:00 CEST

    Brard pushes the pace on a small drag leading up to the next sprint. Terpstra is a couple of lengths back, but then puts in a great acceleration and opens up a clear lead. He takes the sprint and keeps going, making his bid for the stage.

    Behind, Flecha is clear again, looking for third in the sprint. But he's got company this time; St
  56. 17:05:00 CEST

    We can attest that Wim Vansevenant (Silence-Lotto) is not the lanterne rouge because he is a slacker at the back. He is working really hard for the team every day, sticking his wild hair out into the wind for Evans. He will take it relatively easy in the time trials and in the autobus up the mountains. That allows him to 'gain' time against his closest rivals. Vansevenant is riding towards the third title in that inofficial competition.

    Recall that before stage 1, Vansevenant told Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluw
  57. 158km remaining from 182km

    17:06:00 CEST

    Was Terpstra bluffing? He was weaker on the previous hills but is flying along now.
  58. 158.5km remaining from 182km

    17:08:00 CEST

    Brard is now 35 seconds back. The peloton is 1'29 in arrears.

  59. 162km remaining from 182km

    17:10:00 CEST

    So it's one against two up front, with quite a few more in pursuit behind. Terpstra is going well, pulling out the gap to 57 seconds.
  60. 162.4km remaining from 182km

    17:11:00 CEST

    The leader is 1'43 ahead of the peloton.
  61. 17:12:00 CEST

    As they go under the 20 kilometre to go banner, Brard reaches over and grabs a drinks bottle from the motorbike. He's had a long, hard day out front (remember, he and Terpstra attacked in the first kilometre) and with this heat, every drop of fluid is welcome.
  62. 164km remaining from 182km

    17:12:00 CEST

    Terpstra looks good, getting really low in a bid to beat the wind.
  63. 17:13:00 CEST

    La Fran
  64. 17:14:00 CEST

    French champion Nicolas Vogondy is also up the front, showing off what is a very nice jersey.
  65. 166km remaining from 182km

    17:15:00 CEST

    Terpstra is getting plenty of encouragement, although we wager the two French chasers will be urged on that bit more by the spectators.

    They need all the cheers they can get, as the gap is still a minute. It's not looking good for their chances.
  66. 17:18:00 CEST

    Brard and Aug
  67. 168.5km remaining from 182km

    17:19:00 CEST

    Terpstra is slowing, tiring, and has just 52" now.
  68. 17:21:00 CEST

    Brard and Aug
  69. 170km remaining from 182km

    17:22:00 CEST

    Riders from Agributel, Credit Agricole, Quick Step and Columbia are up front, making easy work of reducing this lead. Just 20" now...
  70. 17:22:00 CEST

    Terpstra is a picture of pain. He's really suffering now.
  71. 17:23:00 CEST

    Cadel Evans is well placed, sitting behind some team-mates on the right of the peloton.
  72. 171.5km remaining from 182km

    17:25:00 CEST

    Terpstra is well within view, holding a gap of 6 seconds. A Bouygues Telecom rider accelerates clear and passes him, holding a slight lead under the inflatable banner signifying ten to go.
  73. 17:25:00 CEST

    It's Stef Clement. He's not looking too happy out there, almost willing the peloton to catch him and put him out of his misery.
  74. 17:27:00 CEST

    He's goooooone.

    Sven Kraus (Gerolsteiner) ploughed into some traffic furniture and went flying.
  75. 174km remaining from 182km

    17:28:00 CEST

    He's up and limping. His bike is in two halves. There was no Village People warning there, unfortunately.

    Sylvain Chavanel has attacked. The Cofidis rider is flying along, with the whole Milram team chasing now.
  76. 175km remaining from 182km

    17:29:00 CEST

    Chavanel persists, but has a big stomping bunch to hold off. It's unlikely. However, worth a shot...
  77. 17:30:00 CEST

    Liquigas are now moving up, with Garmin Chipotle also trying to get up to the front. They are working for Julian Dean.

  78. 177km remaining from 182km

    17:31:00 CEST

    Chavanel uses every inch of the road, nearly hitting the curb. He's fully committed, although some in the peloton must think that he should be committed for trying such a move.
  79. 179km remaining from 182km

    17:33:00 CEST

    He has been caught...all together now...
  80. 17:34:00 CEST

    Quick Step are pushing it, hoping Steegmans can repeat his win of last year.
  81. 180km remaining from 182km

    17:34:00 CEST

    Liquigas is also there...
  82. 17:35:00 CEST

    Still Liquigas...
  83. 181km remaining from 182km

    17:35:00 CEST

    They are riding for Chicchi. Under the kite...
  84. 17:35:00 CEST

    Milram lead out...
  85. 17:36:00 CEST

    Zabel is well placed...Cavendish waits but gets blocked..
  86. 17:36:00 CEST

    Cavendish versus McEwen...
  87. 17:36:00 CEST

    Four for Cavendish!!
  88. 17:36:00 CEST

    He was blocked in with about 400 metres to go but then got clear, hitting the jets..
  89. 17:37:00 CEST

    Four for the rider who has dominated the sprints in this He's still just 23 years of age, too...
  90. 17:38:00 CEST

    McEwen took second, with Romain Feillu (Agritubel), Heinrich Haussler (Gerolsteiner) and Oscar Freire (Rabobank) next across the line.
  91. 17:38:00 CEST

    Feillu pats Cavendish on the back as he rolls past.
  92. 17:46:00 CEST

    Thanks for joining us in today's live coverage. The sprinters made sure they won't let one of the last opportunities slip away.

    Please join us again tomorrow at 13:00 CEST.

    Au revoir!
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