Tour de France 2008

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

Complete Live Report

Live commentary by:
Cycling News
  1. 13:02:00 CEST

    Here we are again, with only three stages left. Today will most likely be one for the sprinters
  2. 13:18:00 CEST

    We have a very long neutralized zone today, 8.7 km. That will give the riders a chance to get used to today's weather. Sunny and hot
  3. 13:23:00 CEST

    We know that at least one rider wasn't at the start today. Damiano Cunego had a nasty crash early on yesterday and, battered and bloody, made his way to the finish eventually. A hospital visit showed that nothing was broken but the pain and problems were too great, and the Italian had to drop out.
  4. 13:34:00 CEST

    The race has started and the expected attacks are starting immediately. We will let you know if any of them get away.
  5. 2km remaining from 165.5km

    13:38:00 CEST

    Two km already gone, and none of the attacks have yet been successful! They are moving fast today. They know the Tour is almost over and probably want to get it over with as quickly as possible.
  6. 13:40:00 CEST

    Roanne is making its Tour debut as a Tour host town. This city lies on the Loire River, about 90km northwest of Lyon, and has some 40,000 inhabitants. It is known for its textiles and its gastronomy
  7. 9km remaining from 165.5km

    13:42:00 CEST

    The peloton is already at the base of the day's first climb. No one has yet been able to get away.
  8. 13:45:00 CEST

    The first of two ranked mountains of the day is La Croix du Sud, which has the honour of being the last Cat. III climb in this year's Tour. It is not particularly steep, having an average gradient of only 3.5%, but it is loooooooong
  9. 13:50:00 CEST

    The e-mails have started coming in already and Tomas of the Czech Republic wants to know about the neutralized zone. That is usually the first 5 km or so, and usually runs through a downtown area. No attacks are allowed in this zone. This allows the riders a chance to warm up, and gives the public a chance to see them. It also protects the riders from attacks and potentially dangerous riding in city streets with (hopefully) lots of fans on the way.
  10. 17km remaining from 165.5km

    13:57:00 CEST

    A foursome finally got away on its way up the climb. Alessandro Ballan (Lampre), Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel), Pierrick F
  11. 13:59:00 CEST

    Gert Steegmans of Quick Step jumped out to go after the four escapees, but he didn't make it. The field gobbled him back up quickly, and at the summit, the quartet has a 30 second lead.
  12. 23km remaining from 165.5km

    14:06:00 CEST

    Schumacher led the way over the mountain, followed in order by F
  13. 14:09:00 CEST

    Carl of Australia asks, "How is the weather looking from the blimp? I looked on the web and it seemed to suggest morning rain for Saturday. What chance the circuit will be damp for the ITT?" Right now we are slathering ourselves with suntan lotion, but unfortunately we will probably have to pull out our rain jackets for the final two stages. The weather forecast is for warm temperatures and "light rain".
  14. 14:13:00 CEST

    Whew, did we say it was warm today? Perhaps it would be better to say HOT. The air is 25
  15. 14:16:00 CEST

    Some of you have been asking why certain riders have negative points in the points classification. Cyclingnews' Bjorn Haake answers the question how riders who misbehave get punished. The rule book states several sanctions riders can face.

    If they do something really silly, like doping, they get of course excluded. Exclusion can also happen when riders throw water bottles during a sprint. Tom Steels tried that tactic in stage six of the 1997 Tour and had to pack his suitcase. He wasn't happy with Frederic Moncassin and threw his bidon at the Frenchman
  16. 34km remaining from 165.5km

    14:18:00 CEST

    The leading quartet now has a lead of exactly one minute. Is this going to be the break of the day?
  17. 14:22:00 CEST

    And to return to the "negative points" discussion.....

    People can get time penalties. Levi Leipheimer was fined 10 seconds last year, after he had a mechanical. His team car provided a bit more draft than usual to bring him back up to the break he was in. There is some discussion whether a French rider would have been fined in the same circumstances... The judges have some lee-way. Leipheimer himself profited in last year's Tour of California, when a crash outside the neutralised section would have left him losing the leader's jersey.

    Or people can get points subtracted. And if they happen to have less points earned than fined, they will have negative points. A minor offense like peeing in public can result in such a penalty. Riders are of course allowed to take a nature break, but shouldn't do so when there are spectators around. We don't know if Marcus Burghardt was handed such a penalty yesterday, but it seems he broke the rule when he took a quick time-out after the Croix de Montvieux, while riding of course. And with fans waiting on the side of the road.

    All that can be accompanied by financial fines as well. The Swiss Franken has been replaced by the euro as the official Tour currency.
  18. 39.5km remaining from 165.5km

    14:26:00 CEST

    The field is now 1'10 behind the leading four.
  19. 42km remaining from 165.5km

    14:29:00 CEST

    Here we have our second and last ranked climb of the day, the Cote de la Croix-Rouge. This cat. IV climb is only 1.4 km with an average gradient of 6.4%.

  20. 14:31:00 CEST

    And those speedy devils are already over this not-so-monstrous climb. Once again Schumacher took the honours, ahead of F
  21. 14:36:00 CEST

    Carlos Barredo was yesterday's unhappy second-place finisher, and today he is a water carrier. The Quick Step rider just stuffed a number of bottles down the back of his jersey. The cool bottles probably feel good today.
  22. 52.5km remaining from 165.5km

    14:38:00 CEST

    Liquigas and Caisse d'Epargne are leading the chase and it seems to be effective. The lead is down to 42 seconds.
  23. 14:40:00 CEST

    And here is another water carrier who we saw yesterday in a different role: Marcus Burghardt. The big blonde German from Team Columbia is back at the team car loading up for his team-mates. Today he is wearing the red number for being the most aggressive rider yesterday.
  24. 56km remaining from 165.5km

    14:41:00 CEST

    This is a lovely, rolling ridgey countryside. The field just went by a field full of totally disinterested cows.
  25. 14:46:00 CEST

    CSC-Saxo Bank has just officially announced that it has extended its contract with World Time Trial Champion Fabian Cancellara for another three years. "Now I have the perfect horizon in relation to my career and I look forward to the next three years with my teammates and the results we're going to achieve together," the Swiss rider said.

    It had been rumoured that Cancellara had received a multi-million offer from the new Russian team.
  26. 61.5km remaining from 165.5km

    14:48:00 CEST

    Everyone is in the city of Vichy now, with the chasing field only 36 seconds back. This escape group is working well, but never really has been able to build up a significant lead.
  27. 14:51:00 CEST

    Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) told Cyclingnews' Hedwig Kröner before the start that "it is important for Gerolsteiner to be in the break. If I will be in it depends on the situation." Well, the situation is that Schumacher *is* in the break, but the four are losing ground. Schumacher hoped "to just get by as good as possible. I just want to make it through the next three days."
  28. 65.5km remaining from 165.5km

    14:53:00 CEST

    100 km to go, and the lead is down to 20 seconds. Looks like it will be over soon, so we now start to wonder who will take off when this group is gathered back into the fold?
  29. 14:54:00 CEST

    Guess we won't see Luis Leon Sanchez in the next break
  30. 14:56:00 CEST

    The leading quartet fights bravely on, but they look nervously behind them. And they see a peloton which is not very far away. It is being led by Liquigas, Quick Step and Caisse d'Epargne.
  31. 69.1km remaining from 165.5km

    14:57:00 CEST

    That was it, they are caught. Now there will be some jockeying until another group gets away.
  32. 14:58:00 CEST

    A number of riders accelerate and hope for the best, but can't get away.
  33. 14:59:00 CEST

    Martyn Masskant of Garmin isn't having any part of these games. He is comfortably riding at the back of the field.
  34. 71.5km remaining from 165.5km

    15:01:00 CEST

    Two riders have moved a few meters away. Geoffroy Lequatre started the move and was joined by S
  35. 15:02:00 CEST

    A handful of riders have joined them but the field won't let anyone go. Now a Cofidis rider gives it a try.
  36. 15:03:00 CEST

    Sylvain Chavanel is persistent an keeps on going. Yaroslav Popovych gives chase. The Cofidis rider is perhaps 15 meters ahead of the peloton.
  37. 15:04:00 CEST

    Milram is doing its best to get a rider into a successful break. It wanted to do so yesterday, too.

    Milram's Christian Knees was quite frustrated by yesterday's stage
  38. 15:05:00 CEST

    The ever aggressive Cyclingnews diarist Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) had an outlook for Hedwig Kröner this morning. "Today is another attacker's day. The advantage over yesterday is that it's uphill right from the start, so it'll be about pedal strength rather than tactics, like it was yesterday. I see if I have recovered from last night, as my back was hurting again. Yesterday evening it was horrible. My legs are OK, though."
  39. 15:06:00 CEST

    Another handful of riders pull away from the peloton and hope to join Chavanel.
  40. 77.5km remaining from 165.5km

    15:07:00 CEST

    The Frenchman is building up a nice little lead
  41. 15:08:00 CEST

    A St. Didier farmer has plowed a heart into his field, welcoming the Tour.
  42. 15:08:00 CEST

    Chavanel added "After Alpe d'Huez, where I suffered a lot, I recovered well." Chavanel had some local knowledge. "There ISBN a small climb with about five kilometres to go, so you never know if it comes to a sprint. I could try once again to get a away, like I did twice before during this Tour. But this time the hill is closer to the finish, so I might be luckier."
  43. 79.5km remaining from 165.5km

    15:10:00 CEST

    And with that his solo escape is over. He has now been joined by Jeremy Roy of Fran
  44. 83.5km remaining from 165.5km

    15:14:00 CEST

    Chavanel and Roy have about a 30 second lead right now. The peloton looks to have slowed down. Are they willing to let these two go?
  45. 85.5km remaining from 165.5km

    15:15:00 CEST

    To answer our own question: yes. The lead is now over a minute.
  46. 86.5km remaining from 165.5km

    15:18:00 CEST

    Either the two ahead are flying along or the peloton has put the brakes on and decided for a comfortable day. The lead is now 1'56.
  47. 15:22:00 CEST

    It's lunchtime now for the peloton - bon appetit!
  48. 15:27:00 CEST

    Jack of New York City wants to know how many teams still have all their riders. Seven teams still have a full nine-man squad. Eight teams have lost one rider, three teams have lost two and one team is down three riders. Hardest hit is Barloworld, which has only four riders left in the race.
  49. 15:29:00 CEST

    Columbia's Marcus Burghardt and Gerald Ciolek are having a nice time at the back of the field. Not having such a nice time is Christophe Brandt of Silence Lotto, who has just dropped out.
  50. 15:30:00 CEST

    So that makes only six teams who still have a full squad: CSC-Saxo Bank, Euskaltel, Credit Agricole, Gerolsteiner, Rabobank and Milram.

    Gerolsteiner would be especially happy to arrive in Paris with nine riders. They ended the Giro with only two!
  51. 15:33:00 CEST

    Kate from Australia wants to know: "In regards to the discussion of "negative points" and rider penalties, do the race umpires have the power to disqualify or penalise a rider while a stage is still in progress for non-performance enhancing activities or can such actions only formally take place at the end of the stage? If so, have any riders been penalised in this fashion over recent years, resulting in them being kicked out of a tour mid-stage?

    Cyclingnews' Bjorn Haake responds. Concerning disqualification: There are referees (arbitres) and commissaires. The referees will note behaviour against the rules. Referees cannot take riders out of the race. Their reports will be reviewed by a panel after the stage. On the other hand, the commissaires have more power and can take out a rider immediately (not literally, though).

  52. 99.5km remaining from 165.5km

    15:35:00 CEST

    The lead is now at five minutes. Has that woken up the peloton from their after-lunch snooze? The peloton is now strung out and moving faster.
  53. 15:37:00 CEST

    And here the rest of Bjorn Haake's response: Severity of the fine can depend on the rider's GC standing, which may explain Leipheimer's 10-second penalty last year.

  54. 15:39:00 CEST

    Concerning our list of teams, we have been reminded that the hardest hit of all is of course Saunier Duval, which has no riders left in the Tour at all.
  55. 102.5km remaining from 165.5km

    15:41:00 CEST

    The escapees have just gone through the first intermediate sprint of the day, in Chantelle. There wasn't any sprint as Chavanel rolled through ahead of Roy. Their lead has now shrunk to 4'28.
  56. 15:43:00 CEST

    Milram moves to the front as the peloton nears the intermediate sprint. Erik Zabel and Oscar Freire are both to be seen hoping to pick up the final points.
  57. 15:44:00 CEST

    Zabel pulls out and sprints
  58. 15:49:00 CEST

    "Given the competing interests of increasing (or narrowing) the time gaps at the top end of the General Classification and preserving as much energy as possible for the long Individual Time Trial tomorrow, what are the chances that CSC/SaxoBank or Gerolsteiner or Silence-Lotto or Rabobank or Garmin-Chipotle might launch some form of whole-team-attack today?," asks Paul L.

    We think the chances are slim. The leads right now are much too slender to gamble on such a chance as that. And there is also Sunday's final stage to consider. There are traditionally no attacks, but there is always the chance that the captain might crash or puncture, and need his team-mates (in good condition) to pull him back.

    On the other hand, anything is possible, and it would be fun to watch!
  59. 110.8km remaining from 165.5km

    15:51:00 CEST

    There aren't any more ranked climbs today, but there are some pretty significant bumps in the road in the last 50 km. Will they be enough to throw back the sprinters and their tired legs, or are they so determined to have another chance that it won't matter?

    And more importantly, will the peloton be able to make up the 4'07 to catch the two escapees?

  60. 15:55:00 CEST

    The Blimp Lady thinks she needs new reading glasses. Julian has pointed out that Credit Agricole has only 8 riders in the race, having lost Mark Renshaw. After much squinting at our crumpled start list, we must agree that he is correct.
  61. 113km remaining from 165.5km

    15:57:00 CEST

    The lead is now dropping slowly but steadily, and has come down to under four minutes.
  62. 15:59:00 CEST

    Another large field full of large sunflowers graces side of the road.
  63. 117.5km remaining from 165.5km

    16:08:00 CEST

    The peloton has slowed down again, and the lead for Chavanel and Roy has promptly jumped up again to 4'23. There is another group underway
  64. 16:12:00 CEST

    Mike of Minneapolis wants to know which teams have won stages so far, "Just curious to see which teams are really desperate!" Columbia leads the way with five wins, Caisse d'Epargne, Credit Agricole and CSC Saxo Bank all have two wins, and one each go to Cofidis, Gerolsteiner, Rabobank and AG2R.

    The joker here is that Saunier Duval won three stages, including two by Riccardo Ricc
  65. 123.9km remaining from 165.5km

    16:15:00 CEST

    CSC has sent Stuart O'Grady to the front, as the duo's lead nears the five minute mark.
  66. 16:18:00 CEST

    Eric of Washington, DC, had some general questions about team cars. Cyclingnews' Bjorn Haake explains: Each team has two cars in the caravan. So a team better not break up in three. The car order in the peloton is determined by each team's best placed rider on GC before the stage. If there is at least a minute between the break and the bunch, cars of the riders in the break are allowed to leave the peloton and pull up behind the escapees. Team cars are equipped with GPS and TV.
  67. 16:20:00 CEST

    There is another big name in that group that has fallen back so far
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