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Tour de France 2008: Stage 1

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Welcome to Cyclingnews' live commentary of the 2008 Tour de France. This year, Tour de France kicks off without a prologue (or time trial) for the first time since 1967; instead it starts with a rolling 195-kilometre road stage.
The riders started at 12:10 this morning under sunny, but windy conditions. Tour de France Director Christian Prudhomme had all the national champions line-up on the start line at the front, along with Australian and second last year, Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto). There were such champions as Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner), Fr

16km remaining from 197km

We have a breakaway of about six men with 3'22". We will get you an update on the riders in the move in one moment.

18km remaining from 197km

After crossing four fourth category climbs the stage finishes at the top of the C

The escape consists of Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom), St

24km remaining from 197km

The escape almost has six minutes, at 5'48".

"We decided to come to Brest, we have not been here for a while," noted Tour de France Director Christian Prudhomme at the start this morning. "No prologue and it is not really a sprinters stage [today], it finishes with a climb up to the town of Plumelec."

"There are riders like Philippe Gilbert, who can go well in this first day," noted 2006 Milan-Sanremo winner Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas) at the start. "I hope to have my chances, but also there are riders like Thor Hushovd."

28km remaining from 197km

The escapees have 7'22" in hand. Lilian J

Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom) jams off for the first mountains points

Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluw

41km remaining from 197km

The gap is now near eight minutes. Green machine Cr

44km remaining from 197km

Philippe Gilbert (Fran

"I finished fourth in the Grand Prix de Plumelec one time and it is a finish that suites me," John Gadret (AG2R La Mondiale) noted to Brecht Decaluw

47km remaining from 197km

Wim Vansevenant (Silence-Lotto), the flamme rouge in the past has some plays on repeating for 2008. "It is not a goal, but why not?" he stated to compatriot Decaluw

Here comes the C

St

It looks like Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom) nabbed the points over Bj

Baffled by the foreign terminology of the Tour? Procycling explains the key words and phrases? Read Tour lexicon.

53km remaining from 197km

The gap is at 6'39"

Simon Gerrans (Cr

61km remaining from 197km

The gap is down to 5'51"

62km remaining from 197km

Geoffroy Lequatre (Agritubel) takes the points at the intermediate sprint in Plonevez-du-Faou over Lilian J

Another Australian, Mark Renshaw, rides in the Cr

The roads are straight and surrounded by the green pastures of Brittany. This is the second largest cider-producing region in France! The skies above are partly cloudy. What a great day for racing for the first day of the Tour de France and our eight men who are fighting for freedom and glory.

68km remaining from 197km

The gap is at 5'30". We see Caisse and Liquigas helping out Cr

76km remaining from 197km

The gap is at 4'49" to the Rabobank-led peloton. The race is approaching Kerfranc. We see Saunier Duval's Riccardo Ricc

53km remaining from 197km

The gap to Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom), Rub

85km remaining from 197km

Lilian J

Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom) busts a move. He is charging hard for Lilian J

89km remaining from 197km

The mountains points so far are
Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom) 7
Bj

The sprint in Gourin went to Geoffroy Lequatre (Agritubel) over St

The peloton is a colourful affair; it is led by the lime green team of Liquigas, the black and reds of Caisse and splashes of orange from Rabobank and Euskaltel-Euskadi.

101km remaining from 197km

The gap is at 4'22" through the feed-zone.

The race has its first crash!

Herv

It does not look good for the 28 year-old Frenchman. His Tour de France could be over after only 100 kilometres of racing.

He appeared to touch his wheel with another rider while passing through the feed-zone.

106km remaining from 197km

Johan Van Summeren (Silence-Lotto) is treated while holding on to the race doctor's car. He has blood running down the back side of his right knee.

108km remaining from 197km

Our eight leaders are holding on to the four minutes' advantage over the peloton. The gap is being managed perfectly by the teams; if they catch the escape too soon they risk other riders attacking.

109km remaining from 197km

USA's Danny Pate (Garmin Chipotle - H30) looks smooth here at the back of the peloton. Compatriot William Frischkorn (Garmin Chipotle - H30) comes up to hand 'Dan' some food.

Herv

119km remaining from 197km

David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval-Scott) finished second in the Vuelta Ciclista Asturias stage four this year, but you might remember him from 2006. That year he took the maillot blanc

Where were David Millar and his Garmin mates in June? The first day of June was the last day of the Giro d'Italia and Millar, Ryder Hesjedal, Christian Vande Velde and Danny Pate left for Switzerland's St. Moritz the day after.

126km remaining from 197km

The flat countryside has changed to become thick forest. The riders are dwarfed by trees as they make their way east to Plumelec.

The final climb, the C

139km remaining from 197km

Water bottles are flying left and right here as the pace ramps. Riders are franticly taking sips and keeping hydrated before the stressful finale into Plumelec. It is fair game today, win the stage and you take the race leader's maillot jaune. Favourites include Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas), Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner), Thor Hushovd (Cr

144km remaining from 197km

'Pippo' Pozzato's Liquigas team leads the peloton with two of its men.

145km remaining from 197km

Yaroslav Popovych (Silence-Lotto) and Jimmy Casper (Agritubel) are involved in a crash.

Heinrich Haussler (Gerolsteiner) was in the mix too. German Champ Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) is rolling back to the peloton, but we don't know if he was part of the crash.

146km remaining from 197km

Jos

Bj

150km remaining from 197km

'Popo' Popovych (Silence-Lotto) is licking his wounds at the back of the pack. Team captain Evans will be concerned for his mountains lieutenant; losing a team-mate in the early stages of the Tour de France could jeopardise the entire French campaign.

153km remaining from 197km

The maillot blanc is up for grabs at the finish. The highest placed youngster today will win the white jersey of best under 25 year-old racer. Riccardo Ricc

156km remaining from 197km

Less than five kilometres to the final intermediate sprint, in Remungol.

159km remaining from 197km

There is harmony amongst the eight men, but this has to change now that the peloton is breathing down their backs.

Spaniard David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval-Scott) leaps up the road.

33km remaining from 197km

The aggressive rider is joined by local-kid Lilian J

I see a bad moon rising: Has the gap been closed too soon?

167km remaining from 197km

Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale) is holding up the rear of the peloton as the race enters the final 30 kilometres.

The 27 year-old Spaniard and the 32 year-old Breton are looking aggressive; both have their hands in the handlebars' drops.

171km remaining from 197km

The gruppo loses time while dodging roundabouts; riders going left and riders going right

172km remaining from 197km

Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom), Rub

172km remaining from 197km

The duo passes the 25km to go banner.

174km remaining from 197km

The finale is dodgy at best. Just after the 2km mark there is a tight bridge crossing. "Speed is the key," but also positioning.

There is a strong wind coming on the riders' right. This opening stage of the 95th Tour de France is really a difficult one.

St

Marcus Burghardt (Columbia) is near the front. Is the German working for USA's George Hincapie (Columbia)?

179km remaining from 197km

Lilian J

179km remaining from 197km

A small move gets with Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas) is making its way back onto the peloton.

181km remaining from 197km

There are some rain drops coming down, but it looks like anything serious will wait for the Tour's first stage to finish.

182km remaining from 197km

The duo has 48".

The peloton backs off the pace, letting the gap stay at a reasonable amount before pouncing on its prey.

182km remaining from 197km

The gap is 33 " as the peloton passes the 15km banner. Silence-Lotto and Cr

186km remaining from 197km

Johan Van Summeren (Silence-Lotto) is tapping out the rhythm on the front. The tall Belgian will be working for Evans and McEwen; keeping the former out of danger and the latter up front for the sprint.

187km remaining from 197km

F

187km remaining from 197km

Gap is now at 13".

188km remaining from 197km

Six Silence-Lotto men are on the front along with one Quick Step rider.

Oh no! Colombian Mauricio Soler (Barloworld) is down. Two team-mates stop to check if he is okay.

Bad luck for Barloworld, however, the winner of last year's maillot blanc

7km remaining from 197km

The duo is caught.

191km remaining from 197km

David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval-Scott) and Lilian J

Here we go. Place your bets!

Lotto continues to lead the peloton.

193km remaining from 197km

Columbia takes over the pace-making... for Hincapie?

194km remaining from 197km

They look strong here, but it won't be a finish for Mark Cavendish (Columbia). They lead with five or six men.

194km remaining from 197km

Robert F

Columbia still leads. Quick Step for Gert Steegmans is moving to the fore.

You got to keep the pace high and on the front if you want to win...

Lilian J

196km remaining from 197km

Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) is still near the front, trying to stay out of trouble.

An Agritubel rider rides up the right side of the road.

It is Romain Feillu (Agritubel).

196km remaining from 197km

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) moves up in the final K.

Someone needs to mark him or he is gone!

A Columbia rider is chasing it back.

Kim Kirchen (Columbia) catches and passes!

Ballan is chasing...

Ballan fades.

Kirchen is going to get this!

Valverde kicks!

The Spanish Champ catches and passes!

The Green Bullet Fires and wins the opening stage of the 95th Tour de France.

He takes the maillot jaune and the stage victory. What a punch by the 28 year-old Spaniard.

Mauricio Soler (Barloworld) struggles home. He wil have time losses galore.

Cavendish and other riders are finishing as well.

Kim Kirchen (Columbia) really had a good gap on that last right bend, but Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) was unstoppable after hitching on in the final 200 metres.

Philippe Gilbert (Fran

Viva Espa

The rain now starts to come down! What timing and luck with this finish.

Valverde gained one second on the others in that finish.

Evans and Ricc

Thanks for joining us today. Please come back for full results, photos and reporting.

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