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Tour de France 2009

Date range:
July 4-26, 2009
  • Tour de France, France, GT
  • Stages Expand the race menu
    • Stage 1

      Distance:
      15.5km
      Start location:
      Monaco
      End location:
      Monaco (ITT)
    • Stage 2

      Distance:
      187km
      Start location:
      Monaco
      End location:
      Brignoles
    • Stage 3

      Distance:
      196.5km
      Start location:
      Marseille
      End location:
      La Grande-Motte
    • Stage 4

      Distance:
      39km
      Start location:
      Montpellier
      End location:
      Montpellier (TTT)
    • Stage 5

      Distance:
      196.5km
      Start location:
      Le Cap d'Agde
      End location:
      Perpignan
    • Stage 6

      Distance:
      181.5km
      Start location:
      Gérone
      End location:
      Barcelone
    • Stage 7

      Distance:
      224km
      Start location:
      Barcelone
      End location:
      Andorre Arcalis
    • Stage 8

      Distance:
      176.5km
      Start location:
      Andorre-la-Vieille
      End location:
      Saint-Girons
    • Stage 9

      Distance:
      160.5km
      Start location:
      Saint-Gaudens
      End location:
      Tarbes
    • Rest day

      Location
      Limoges
    • Stage 10

      Distance:
      194.5km
      Start location:
      Limoges
      End location:
      Issoudun
    • Stage 11

      Distance:
      192km
      Start location:
      Vatan
      End location:
      Saint-Fargeau
    • Stage 12

      Distance:
      211.5km
      Start location:
      Tonnerre
      End location:
      Vittel
    • Stage 13

      Distance:
      200km
      Start location:
      Vittel
      End location:
      Colmar
    • Stage 14

      Distance:
      199km
      Start location:
      Colmar
      End location:
      Besançon
    • Stage 15

      Distance:
      207.5km
      Start location:
      Pontarlier
      End location:
      Verbier
    • Rest day

      Location
      Verbier
    • Stage 16

      Distance:
      159km
      Start location:
      Martigny
      End location:
      Bourg-Saint-Maurice
    • Stage 17

      Distance:
      169.5km
      Start location:
      Bourg-Saint-Maurice
      End location:
      Le Grand-Bornand
    • Stage 18

      Distance:
      40.5km
      Start location:
      Annecy
      End location:
      Annecy (ITT)
    • Stage 19

      Distance:
      178km
      Start location:
      Bourgoin-Jallieu
      End location:
      Aubenas
    • Stage 20

      Distance:
      167km
      Start location:
      Montélimar
      End location:
      Mont Ventoux
    • Stage 21

      Distance:
      164km
      Start location:
      Montereau-Fault-Yonne
      End location:
      Paris Champs-Élysées
  • Race history

July 06, Stage 3: Marseille - La Grande-Motte 196.5km

Complete Live Report

Live commentary by:
An Admin
  1. 12:49:00 CEST

    Hello, and welcome back to Stage Three of the 2009 Tour de France!  Today we travel west, 196.5 km from Marseille to La Grande-Motte.  We have two Category Four mountains early on, but the last 80 km will be just as flat as they can be.

  2. 12:58:00 CEST

    We already have our first drop out.  Quick Step's Jurgen Van De Walle went down in a crash Sunday only 35 km into the race.  He managed to finish the race, but was then promptly taken to the hospital, where a punctured lung and a fracture collarbone were diagnosed.

    That leaves us with 179 riders on the course today.

  3. 13:00:00 CEST

    You'll be very surprised to hear the weather forecast:  hot and sunny.  It is already over 30° Celsius.

  4. 13:06:00 CEST

     The neutralized phase is over and the real racing can start now.  How long will we have to wait for the first escape?

  5. 13:13:00 CEST

    We didn't have to wait long.  FDJ's Maxime Bouet and Cofidis' Samuel Demoulin have a 25 second lead over Ruben Perz Moreno (Euskaltel) and Koen de Kort (Skil-Shimano).  The peloton is letting them go and is currently 2:45 behind the first two.

  6. 182km remaining from 196.5km

    13:16:05 CEST

     Will this be the group of the day?

  7. 13:21:00 CEST

    Yes, this may well be the group of the day, at least if they all come together.  The two leaders now have 45 seconds over the two chasers, with the peloton four minutes behind those two.

  8. 13:23:00 CEST

    Today's start was in Marseilles, famous for giving its name to the French national anthem, "La Marseillaise". It was the Tour's 33rd visit to this harbour on the Mediterranean, first appearing in the very first Tour in 1903.

  9. 183.9km remaining from 196.5km

    13:25:02 CEST

     The four in front are all together now, with a lead of 4:45 over the peloton

  10. 15km remaining from 196.5km

    13:29:00 CEST

    >Either the leading quartet is very fast, or the peloton said, it's just too hot to bother.  At any rate, the gap has already grown to 7:10.

  11. 13:33:00 CEST

    What do we expect today?  An early escape group, most likely allowed to get away with a big lead but caught again in time for the sprinters' teams to set up another mass sprint.

    And what else?  Wind!  Lots of it!  Will it be enough to have an effect on the stage?  We'll see.

  12. 19.5km remaining from 196.5km

    13:35:00 CEST

    De Kort has just made the acquaintance of the local wildlife.  Some insect decided to check out his Dutch blood and had a nibble.  He is now at the race doctor's car to get something to make the itch go away.

  13. 176.5km remaining from 196.5km

    13:37:40 CEST

     And the lead is now up to 8:15.

  14. 13:40:00 CEST

    Who is wearing what jersey?  Let's take a look at some of the standings. Yellow is currently residing with Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank), followed 18 seconds later by Alberto Contador (Astana), with Bradley Wiggins of Garmin one second back.

  15. 13:44:00 CEST

    The green jersey now belongs to Mark Cavendish, and there are many who wouldn't be surprised if he kept it the entire race.  He has a five point lead over Tyler Farrar (Garmin) and nine points over Romain Feillu (Agritubel).  You may remember, that is the finishing order from yesterday's stage.

  16. 13:47:00 CEST

    Finnish rider Jussi Veikkanen of FdJ took the mountain jersey yesterday and is now three points ahead of Columbia's Tony Martin.  Cyril Dessel (Ag2R) is one point behind the German.

  17. 170.1km remaining from 196.5km

    13:49:41 CEST

     The gap continues to grow and grow, now up to 10:20.

  18. 13:52:00 CEST

    Martin is also second in the young rider competition, one second behind Liquigas' Roman Kreuziger.  Vincenzo Nibali, also of Liquigas, is third.

  19. 13:55:00 CEST

    To round out all the rankings, Astana leads the teams classifications ahead of Saxo Bank and Garmin-Slipstream.

  20. 13:58:00 CEST

    Who do you think will win today?  A sprinter? Or will the peloton say, the heck with it! and let this group through to the end?  You can discuss it at forum.cyclingnews.com

  21. 14:01:00 CEST

    The wind – what kind of wind are we talking about?  Well, in the last part of the race, we are not that far from the sea, where there is always wind.  But the bigger danger comes from the opposite direction, the Mistral from the north.  That is the one that blast some wind echelons into the peloton.  The favourites will all have to be on the look-out to be near the front of the peloton so as not to find themselves suddenly having fallen behind.  That will be noticed on the first half of the race.

  22. 14:05:00 CEST

    This looks like a sprint stage, so we will concentrate a bit on the sprinters today.  (And, yes, we realize that by so doing, we will probably jinx them).  A lot of the sprinters got caught up in or by that crash near the end yesterday, so they will be doubly motivated today to take the win.  Not that sprinters need any extra motivation, they seem to have only that finish line and winning on their minds when it gets down to those last few hudnred meters.

  23. 14:09:00 CEST

    Top pick for today's sprint is, who else, Erik Zabel.  Well, maybe not him exactly, but the sprinter he is coaching, Mark Cavendish.  Yesterday's win probably only served to whet his appetite for more.  The young Manxman is the dominant sprinter in the ProTour this year, with 14 wins.

  24. 156.5km remaining from 196.5km

    14:11:25 CEST

     The leaders have now covered 40 km today and have built up a lead of 11:15.

  25. 14:15:00 CEST

    How about Tom Boonen for the win today?  He would surely love it, having been allowed only at the last minute to enter the race.  The Quick Step rider has only five wins this season, including the prestigious Paris-Roubaix, and most recently the Belgian championships.  His headlines this spring have been for his non-cycling activities. 

  26. 44km remaining from 196.5km

    14:18:00 CEST

    The leading quartet is approaching the first intermediate sprint of the day, with a lead of 12:15.

  27. 14:21:00 CEST

    Speaking of someone who would dearly love to take this win, that would be Tyler Farrar of Garmin Slipstream.  The young American (who is actually a year older than rival Cavendish) has finished second far too often this year for his own taste, and is tired of seeing Cavendish powering over the finish line ahead of him.

  28. 14:25:00 CEST

    Thor Hushovd is another good possiblity.  The Norwegian is Cervelo's hope for the green jersey.   He has only four wins this year, one of which was the Catalunya time trial.  He was fourth yesterday, with his train getting derailed in the crash.

  29. 50km remaining from 196.5km

    14:29:00 CEST

    The leaders went through the first intermediate sprint with a 12:45 lead, in this order: Bouet, Dumoulin and De Kort.

  30. 14:32:00 CEST

    Richard Virenque has just predicted that Cavendish won't win today, because he will be caught by the wind.  He will find himself too far back when the wind echelons form and not be able to get back to the front, the Frenchman said. 

  31. 14:37:00 CEST

    Cavendish?  Another sprinter?  Or the escape group?  Who will stand atop the podium tonight?  Talk about it here: forum.cyclingnews.com

  32. 140km remaining from 196.5km

    14:39:25 CEST

     The gap is starting to come down slowly, and is now at 10:22.

  33. 14:42:00 CEST

    Speaking of wind, the French forecasters are calling for 30 kph winds, with gusts up to 55 kph.  That could definitely cause some gaps in the peloton!

  34. 14:44:00 CEST

    Saxo Bank leads the chasing peloton, of course, and successfully.  The gap is now down to 9:19.

  35. 61.5km remaining from 196.5km

    14:47:00 CEST

    The first mountain today came at km. 56, and is the Côte de Calissanne.  It has a 1.3 km climb with a gradient up to 5.5%.  De Kort was the first over the top, followed by Bouet and Demoulin.

  36. 134km remaining from 196.5km

    14:48:33 CEST

     The lead is dropping with every metre, it seems like.  It is now down to 8:45.

  37. 14:50:00 CEST

    You can never forget Rabobank's Oscar Freire.  The three-time World Champion has surprisingly only one victory this season.  He was another one caught up by the crash yesterday.

  38. 14:54:20 CEST

     The gap is 8:18 now.  There is, to be perfectly honest, not a heck of a lot happening.

  39. 14:56:00 CEST

    Heinrich Haussler of Cervelo had a good spring, but isn't too happy with the Tour so far.  He said he was too nervous before the time trial, where he finished 48th, and that it was just plain too hot yesterday.  He is the newest diarist at Cyclingnews, so check out what he has to say at www.cyclingnews.com/blogs/heinrich-haussler/together-we-roll

  40. 128km remaining from 196.5km

    14:59:38 CEST

     The gap is crawling back up, to 8:49.

  41. 15:00:38 CEST

     Andy Schleck has problems with his radio, and has dropped back to the team car to pick up a new one.  He has his Luxembourg Champion's jersey totally open on this hot day.

  42. 15:04:00 CEST

    The hot weather doesn't bother Caisse d'Epargne sprinter Jose Joaquin Rojas.  "The weather is really hot and I am used to that becuase in Murcia, where I live, it's just the same," he said.  Yesterday he was on the rear wheels of Boonen and Freire in the final sprint, but of course got caught in that final sprint and went off-course.  He finished 18th.

  43. 15:08:00 CEST

    Koen De Kort of Skil-Shimano is a 26-year-old Dutchman.  He rode with Liberty-Seguros and Astana before joining the small Dutch team this year.  He is still looking for his first win this year. 

  44. 74.5km remaining from 196.5km

    15:09:30 CEST

     The gap has jumped back up to 10:21.  Is the peloton really not going to give chase today?

  45. 119km remaining from 196.5km

    15:15:38 CEST

     The gap is creeping up again to 11 minutes.

  46. 15:18:26 CEST

     The yellow jersey is quite near the rear of the peloton.  They are definitely not hurrying today, and putting in a nice slow pace.

  47. 15:20:59 CEST

    Bouet is 22 years old and in his second year with Agritubel.  The young Frenchman has several wins this season, having won a stage in the 3 Jours de Vauclause before finishing second overall, and a stage in the Volta ao Alentejo, on his way to the overall win there.  He also won he one-day race Boucles de l'Aulne.

  48. 15:25:27 CEST

    Saxo Bank is not leading the chase.   No one is leading the chase.  There is no chase. There are just 175 cyclist out for a nice ride on a hot day.

  49. 15:26:41 CEST

     Saxo Bank has woken up a bit, anyway, and has gathered at the front of the field again.  They have even picked up the pace a bit.

  50. 15:29:01 CEST

    The field rides through a nice wooded section where they have a bit of shade.  The pace has definitely picked up now, but the gap is coming down only minimally.

  51. 15:33:41 CEST

     Dumoulin is 28 years old and has been a pro since 2002.  He had an unfortunate experience with the Tour in 2004, when he hit a dog and crashed,  He was out four months, or the rest of the season.  He had a good experience with the Tour last year, though, winning the third stage.

  52. 15:39:07 CEST

     Team Columbia is continuing its winning ways.  Michael Albasini won today's stage at the Tour of Austria, ahead of Giampaolo Caruso (Ceramica Flamina) and Ruslan Pidgorny (ISD). Albasini took over the leader's jersey from teammate Andre Greipel.

  53. 103km remaining from 196.5km

    15:40:18 CEST

     Saxo Bank is doing the lead work and the gap is now down to 10:38.

  54. 15:43:22 CEST

     Here's a look at the last of our four leaders:  Perez Moreno is a 27 year-old Spaniard who has been with Euskaltel since 2006.  He is also looking for his first win this season.

  55. 15:49:13 CEST

     Gerald Ciolek is another good possiblity for the sprint today.  The German youngster got slightly derailed by yesterday's crash.  He was able to catch back up with the four leaders but didn't have enough strength to pass them.  The Milram co-captain has only one victory this season, in the Mallorca Challenge.  He had a number of top results again in the Tour de Suisse, though.

  56. 15:50:01 CEST

     Columbia's Tony Martin has a mechanical.  Bernhard Eisel drops back to help bring him back up to the peloton.

  57. 15:50:56 CEST

     No doubt you have missed the usual livestock reports.  Here you go:  the peloton has just passed by a field of large black cows.

  58. 15:53:52 CEST

     Jussi Veikkanen explains why he was so successful yesterday, being in the long break and winning the mountain jersey.   "I live about 20 kilometres away from Brignoles, so I know all the streets here," he said.

  59. 94km remaining from 196.5km

    15:57:40 CEST

     The gap is down to 9:07 now, as the four leaders hit the top of the second and last ranked climb.

  60. 16:04:13 CEST

     That last climb was the Col de la Vayede. De Kort took the top points, followed by Bouet and Dumoulin.

  61. 88km remaining from 196.5km

    16:06:16 CEST

     Rabobank has moved into help with the lead work.   Hoping to set up a sprint for Freire, perhaps?

  62. 88km remaining from 196.5km

    16:07:47 CEST

     The peloton has finally woken up, it looks like, and is really zipping along now.  And the gap is coming down, as might be expected, to 7:47.  Hm, sounds like an airplane to us...

  63. 16:09:28 CEST

     Mechanical for Rosseler of Quick Step.  He decides to take a new bike instead of getting some repairs.

  64. 80km remaining from 196.5km

    16:13:58 CEST

     The gap continues to fall and will soon hit the seven minute mark.

  65. 16:16:54 CEST

    Yesterday we had a new face at the front of the bunch sprints - one of our two Japanese riders in the race, Yukiya Arashiro of Bouygues Telecom. His fifth place behind Hushovd was a great debut for this Tour de France rookie.

  66. 16:18:35 CEST

     Most of the last 80 km or so run through the protected nature preserve of the Camargue, a marshland with wild horses and flamingos. We will keep our eye out for the wildilfe.

  67. 77km remaining from 196.5km

    16:20:03 CEST

    Also making an impressive sprint was Agritubel's young speedster Roman Feillu. He has his brother Brice in the race with him this year.

  68. 75km remaining from 196.5km

    16:21:33 CEST

     Garmin has moved up just behind Saxo Bank now.  The gap is down to 6:30.

  69. 70km remaining from 196.5km

    16:29:27 CEST

     6:35 now for the quartet in front.

  70. 16:32:44 CEST

     The Camargue is also known for its mosquitoes.  So don't be surprised to see the riders batting at insects or scratching like crazy.

  71. 16:33:48 CEST

     Astana and Rabobank move to the front, and the speed picks up again.

  72. 16:37:53 CEST

    Astana, Ag2r, Columbia are all at the front, quite a mixed bag. And another field of cows, who run away from the road.

  73. 62km remaining from 196.5km

    16:40:01 CEST

     The gap is now down to 5:44.

  74. 16:44:42 CEST

     The landscape has definitely changed.  No more forests or fields here, but very definitely marshy.  Woudn't want to try to ride across that...

  75. 16:44:43 CEST

     The landscape has definitely changed.  No more forests or fields here, but very definitely marshy.  Woudn't want to try to ride across that...

  76. 16:46:53 CEST

     Columbia is helping seriously with the lead work now, and Cavendish in his green jersey is not far back.

  77. 16:49:47 CEST

     Skil is right up there with Columbia.  There were some problems between the two teams in yesterday's finale, but maybe they have put that behind them now.

  78. 54km remaining from 196.5km

    16:53:06 CEST

     54 km to go and a gap of 4:25.  We think the sprinters may have a chance after all.

  79. 16:54:41 CEST

     A big crash with several Saxo Bank and Liquigas riders going down.  Also Marzio Bruseghin of Lampre, who crashed yesterday.  He is up and going again, although he is bleeding quite a bit from his left knee.  Ouch!

  80. 16:55:56 CEST

     He is also bleeding from the elbow and is now at the team car for help.

  81. 16:57:07 CEST

     Bruseghin has been fixed up, more or less, and has joined some other riders who went down.  They will all work their way up to the front again together.

  82. 50km remaining from 196.5km

    16:59:23 CEST

     The pace has slowed down now, so that the injured can catch up again.  Stuey O'Grady was one of the Saxo Bank riders who went down.  They have now all nearly caught up again.

    The gap is at 5:07.

  83. 17:00:48 CEST

     Columbia has taken command of the lead work, with Cavendish at the back of the line-up.  Will the other sprinters try to get on his rear wheel this early?

  84. 17:02:16 CEST

     We see lots of sunglasses in the peloton with glimmering green or yellow lenses. Makes the guys look rather like insects.

  85. 17:03:23 CEST

     Grischa Nierman of Rabobank and Filippo Pozatto have a little chat with Lance Armstrong.

  86. 17:04:43 CEST

     Cancellara moves up near the front of the peloton.

  87. 17:06:42 CEST

     Dumoulin gets a bottle of water from his team car.  He is the smallest rider in this race, at 159 cm.

  88. 17:09:32 CEST

     Speaking of size, Columbia's Mark Renshaw says that is the secret of Mark Cavendish' success.  The Manxman is 175 cm tall and weight 69 kg.  "He's so much smaller than the other sprinters, and so saves a lot of watts."

  89. 17:10:38 CEST

     There was another casulty at that crash a while back.  The Astana car ran into the Milram car.  We haven't heard whether they were able to continue.

  90. 41km remaining from 196.5km

    17:12:37 CEST

     Rabobank and Liquigas move up near the front, with Columbia still at the lead.  

  91. 17:17:11 CEST

     And there is one of the flamingos!  Wearing a straw hat, cool sunglasses and Hawaiian shirt!  

    Too bad it wasn't real...

  92. 17:18:18 CEST

     Word time trial champion Bert Grabsch leads the parade, followed by Bernhard Eisel.

  93. 17:21:20 CEST

     So what can we look forward to eating tonight?  No surprise to find seafood on the menu:  fish, shellfish, even stuffed squid.  (No thank you!)  But how about some Gardianne de tarueau? That is a stew made of wild boar meat slowly cooked with the local wild rice.

  94. 17:22:16 CEST

     Another cow!  But this little black and white fellow isn't running anywhere.  His little fuzzy stuffed legs don't work.  He's just an onlooker!

  95. 33km remaining from 196.5km

    17:25:27 CEST

     The gap is just barely over two minute now.  Looks like the escapees won't make it after all.

  96. 17:28:12 CEST

     The peloton has fallen apart into many groups.  Ciolek for one is in a back group.  All of Columbia it looks like leads the first group, including Cavendish.  We'll see if we can figure out who else is in the group.  We think we saw Armstrong.

  97. 17:30:05 CEST

     The Schlecks are in the second group.  There are maybe 20 riders in the first group, including WEgmann and Gerdemann, and of course, Cancellara.

  98. 17:30:55 CEST

     The Columbia grou can now see the first four riders.  Their time at front is nearly over.

  99. 17:31:31 CEST

     They are caught.  The large chase group is maybe 15 seconds back?

  100. 17:32:06 CEST

     Columbia has blown this race apart.

  101. 17:33:02 CEST

    The four previous leaders have been caught by the Columbia train, and a Skil-Shimano rider has remained off the front. There are about 25 riders in this front group with the entire Columbia-HTC team. Armstrong made it. Contador didn't.

  102. 17:33:04 CEST

     The huge chase group is desparate to get up to the front.  But is it too big?

  103. 17:33:44 CEST

     Wegmann and Gerdemann do their part of lead work.  Armstrong rides next to Cancellara near the back of the group.

  104. 17:34:36 CEST

    The Columbia team split the peloton in the strong cross winds. We see 3 Astana riders in this group of 27 - Armstrong is there, but who else? They will turn into a head wind soon which will make the chase even harder.

  105. 17:35:01 CEST

     We have 4 Skil riders in teh group, and virtually all of Columbia.  Contador and Evans are not in this group.

  106. 23km remaining from 196.5km

    17:36:18 CEST

     30 seconds now for the Columbia group.  All nine of them are there!

  107. 17:37:42 CEST

     If this group comes through, it seems unlikley that the others would wait and let Cavendish take the sprint all by himself.  We would look for further break attempts nearer the finish.

  108. 17:39:31 CEST

     We have three Astana riders in the group:  Armstrong, Popovych and Zubeldia.

  109. 17:40:20 CEST

    No one team is leading the chase.  Have they given up hope?

  110. 17:41:25 CEST

     Grabsch has done his work for the day and falls back out of the lead group.  The Columbia group has a 23 second lead.

  111. 17:42:08 CEST

     Skil helps with the lead work in the first group.

  112. 17:43:49 CEST

     Wind echelons are forming at the front of the chase group.  A good chance for even more riders to drop off the back if they don't watch out.

  113. 17:44:19 CEST

    The riders in the front group are as follows: Thor Hushovd and Hayden Roulston (Cervelo Test Team), Lance Armstrong, Yaroslav Popovych and Haimar Zubeldia(Astana), Fabian Cancellara (Team Saxo Bank), Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi, Mark Cavendish, Bernhard Eisel, George Hincapie, Kim Kirchen, Tony Martin, Maxime Monfort, Mark Renshaw and Michael Rogers (Team Columbia - HTC), Stéphane Auge, Samuel Dumoulin, and Christophe Kern (Cofidis), Jérôme Pineau (Quick Step), Maxime Bouet (Agritubel_, Linus Gerdemann and Fabian Wegmann (Team Milram), Cyril Lemoine, Fumiyuki Beppu, Koen de Kort, Simon Geschke, Jonathan Hivert and Thierry Huppond (Skil-Shimano)

  114. 17:44:31 CEST

     It looks like chase group is slowly catching up with the lead group.

  115. 17:46:13 CEST

     Armstrong just raised his hand and urged all on to share the lead work.  He and his teammates move up to the front.  Now the group has a good chance to come through.

  116. 17:47:40 CEST

    The chasers are now strung out single file, while the gap has grown to 27 seconds. 

  117. 17:48:51 CEST

     Has Astana decided to give up on Contador?  Why would they pick up the tempo when their captain has been caught behind?

    And will Columbia use up all its strength today and have nothing left for the team time trial tomorrow?

  118. 11km remaining from 196.5km

    17:49:44 CEST

     Thirty seconds now.

  119. 17:50:39 CEST

     Columbia, Astana, Milram share the lead, as they pass by a 10 metre high flamingo.

  120. 10km remaining from 196.5km

    17:51:31 CEST

     And the gap is getting bigger again.

  121. 17:52:03 CEST

     33 seconds now.

  122. 17:52:39 CEST

     Zubeldia moves into the lead work.

  123. 10km remaining from 196.5km

    17:53:35 CEST

    Just 10km to go and the time gap to the lead group is going out. One team who missed this move is Garmin-Slipstream, and they don't seem to be chasing. They may have had a slim chance of taking yellow tomorrow after the team time trial, but if they can't bring this gap down to Cancellara, that will be less and less likely.

  124. 17:54:08 CEST

    Dumoulin has already been named as the most aggressive rider on the stage.

  125. 7km remaining from 196.5km

    17:54:40 CEST

     35 seconds now.

  126. 17:55:00 CEST

    Wouldn't you like to be a fly on the wall of some of the team buses later?  Those teams who didn't manage to get anyone into this group?

  127. 17:56:41 CEST

    The Columbia team not only wants to give Cavendish the stage win, they also hope to extend Cancellara's grip on the yellow and move Rogers up in the GC. Cavendish is saving his legs for the sprint, but with a headwind, it will be less predictable. Could Skil-Shimano have a chance today with De Kort? What about Pineau? He's pretty good with a tough finish.

  128. 5km remaining from 196.5km

    17:57:16 CEST

     HIghly concentrated faces on those the leading group, with a 38 second lead and 5 km to go.

  129. 18:00:05 CEST

     36 seconds and 2.5 km to go.

  130. 4km remaining from 196.5km

    18:00:24 CEST

    The peloton is being split apart in the winds, and the front group is still pulling away now that Skil-Shimano has begun to contribute to the work.

  131. 18:00:47 CEST

     Columbia, Astana and Skil still sharing the lead.

  132. 18:01:55 CEST

     Almost at the last km marker.  Cavendish's green jersey is showing.

  133. 18:02:28 CEST

      A Skil rider leads, followed by Cofidis.  Then lots of Columbias.

  134. 18:03:19 CEST

     Hushovd gives his all to catch the speedy man in green, but in vain.  Two in a row for Cavendish!

  135. 18:03:55 CEST

     Evans and Contador are among the losers today, as they cross the finish line some 39 seconds later.

  136. 18:04:11 CEST

    We think the rider in third was De Kort of Skil-Shimano with a Cofidis rider in fourth behind Cavendish and Hushovd.

  137. 18:04:26 CEST

     Over a minute later, small groups are still dribbling over the line.

  138. 18:05:28 CEST

     There will be some changes in the overall today.

     

    Cavendish took the win ahead of Hushovd and Lemoine.

  139. 18:07:05 CEST

     And here is our new GC:  Cancellara still in first, 33 seconds ahead of Tony Martin, with Armstrong moving up to third place, 40 seconds down.

  140. 18:08:21 CEST

     Well!  That was something!  Thanks for joining us today and come back tomorrow to see what happens in the team time trial.  Will Armstrong slip into yellow?

     

  141. 18:09:16 CEST

    It was actually Cyril Lemoine in third for Skil-Shimano, and our other Japanese rider in the race took a top ten! Fumiyuki Beppu led out Lemoine and took 8th.