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Tour de France 2013: Stage 1

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Hello and welcome to the start of the 2013 Tour de France.

Good morning, you join us from Porto-Vecchio in Corsica for stage 1 of this year's Tour de France. Unlike most years the Tour kicks off with a road stage this time around, no prologues or time trials, instead 212km jaunt from Porto-Vecchio to Bastia.

The start is just over 30 minutes away and right now the buses have all parked up and the riders are making their ways to the sign on. Modest crowd turn out at this moment but we've got blue skies and warm sunshine so we should expect bigger numbers at the finish in a few hours time.

And we'll be covering every stage of this year's race, from start to finish, with complete live coverage throughout the biggest bike race in the world.

And we'll be covering every stage of this year's race, from start to finish, with complete live coverage throughout the biggest bike race in the world.

As riders carry on signing in lets take a quick look around at the news from this morning. In our Tour Shorts, Andre Greipel talks about the proud feelings that come with being national German road race champ, Roelandts finds out that he's starting the race with a broken rib and De Gendt talks about his dream of wining on Alpe d'Huez. You can read the Tour shorts, right here.

In other news Robert Millar will be writing another blog for CN throughout this year's Tour de France. The former KOM winner started his column about a week ago but his second instalment - which came in last night - is a must read. Here it is.

And this big non Tour news from yesterday came from the US with Lance Armstrong saying that it wasn't possible to win the Tour without doping during his era. (99-05).

Before we head to the start line we're  joined by Garmin - Sharp manager Jonathan.

CN: Hows the team shaping up coming into the race?

Vaughters:

We're all really relaxed. Jack Bauer was in the pool this morning. It's funny he's a newbie at the Tour but he was showing us how relaxed he was. I think in general the plan is clear for us and the guys are focused and relaxed. There's a good feeling in the camp.

CN: No Tyler Farrar this year in the sprints so  what's the plan for the opening stage?

Vaughters:

We're just going to stay out of trouble. That's our absolute objective. We've got more horsepower to expend on staying out of trouble and we dont have to worry about the sprint.

CN: You've got three guys in the team who have finished in the top ten in the Tour and two more who have the potential to this year (Talansky, Martin), is there a pecking order a leader?

Vaughters:

We've got a lot of riders capable of riding GC.  Our plan is to keep as many of those options open as long as we can. We have to keep those guys out of trouble and then see how things shake out in the mountains. They key is that we use the guys not focused on GC to keep our GC players out of trouble.

CN: What's Hesjedal's condition like?

Vaughters:

He's actually looking really good. He's on form, he crashed that one day at Suisse and they threw him in an ambulance and wasn't able to finish the race but his training has been good and he's used that time to recon some of the key Tour mountain stages.

That was Jonathan Vaughters, joining us ahead off this year's race. He's making is way to the Garmin-Sharp team car but I'm sure we'll be speaking to him again during the race. Thanks for your time, Jonathan.

Coming up, we'll have a closer look at the route and profile of the opening stage, and the an even closer look at some of the contenders for today's expected sprint win.

Vichot in his national champ jersey is on the start line and he rolls off with the rest of the peloton around him. The Tour de France has begun. We're in the neutralized zone for now and the pace is gentle.

 

Alberto Contador is also near the front of the bunch. It's going to be crucial that the GC guys stay out of trouble today and dont get caught up in any crashes and falls.

And don't forget that all our Tour de France coverage can be found here. So bookmark this page throughout the month of July (if you haven't already).

There's already an incident at the back of the bunch with a rider running into the curb but he manages to keep it together.

At the back of the bunch Peter Sagan (Cannondale) the winner of three stages and the green jersey last year. You can find a preview of his new look bike, here.

Problems for Froome in the first 1km and he has a puncture it seems. Four teammates have sat up and waited for him.

So to the route for today's stage:

Back in 2004, Robbie McEwen's victory in Guéret marked the first time the Tour de France had visited the department of Creuse, which had been the only administrative region in mainland France not to have welcomed La Grande Boucle. Nine years later, Corsica's absence from the Tour's roll of honour will end when the 2013 edition gets under way in Porto-Vecchio.

Sticking largely to the island's less rugged east coast, this stage provides a relatively gentle way in to the race. It starts off rolling but once past 60km, there is nothing to trouble the world's best riders, unless the wind gets up. Locals suggest that this would be unusual as conditions tend to be calm during summer.


The sprinters' teams should have plenty of time to reel in any escape before getting down to the serious work of setting up their speedsters for a final fling that will reward the winner with at least one day in yellow. Mark Cavendish will be heavily tipped to take one of the two wins he needs to join André Leducq at third in the all-time list with 25.

Stephen Roche:

"I think Corsica's a great choice for the Grand Départ. The scenery is absolutely fantastic, although the roads are not quite up to that level a lot of the time. The riders are being eased into the race with this stage - no real difficulties and a sprint looks almost certain."

 

The riders pass through the 0KM zero mark and Prudhomme throws down the flag. The first attack comes and it's from Europcar.

The attack has worked and there are four riders clear with around a 50 meter lead.

There's no reaction from the peloton so we might already have our break of the day. There are five men in the move. Euskaltel, Saxo, Belkin, Vacansoleil are there.

World Champion Gilbert is at the back and he's got a puncture. He's quickly up and running again though.

So the five leaders are Jerome Cousin (Europcar), Juan Jose Lobato (Euskaltel), Lars Boom (Belkin), Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil) and Cyril Lemoine (Sojasun). Cousin kicked off the action and the other four riders simply followed his rear wheel. It wasn't the most devastating attack and it came from the very front of the bunch but it did the trick and it was perfectly timed. 

Omega Pharma Quick Step have now moved to the front and started to set the pace at the front of the bunch. They'll be aiming to keep the break in check and then set up a sprint finale for Mark Cavendish, who is looking for his first ever yellow jersey.

Cavendish, won the points jersey at the Giro earlier this year, picking up five stages along the way. He's won 23 Tour de France stages in total, Merckx holds the record with 34, but the British rider is the favourite for today's stage.

He won't have it all his own way though.  Marcel Kittel, Andre Greipel, Matt Goss, Sagan, Bouhanni, they're all here and everyone is going to be fresh. On top of that, some of slightly slower sprinters will be going for the win today and that adds extra danger and obstacles.

A few reports that Froome actually crashed and hit the curb, picking up a few cuts. We'll try and get some confirmation on that for you. At the moment he's in the bunch and riding. The gap to the break is at 2'49.

Lotto, perhaps the best leadout train in the peloton, move to the front and along with Argos and Omega, lead the peloton. .

191km remaining from 213km

191km remaining and the gap is at 2'10. It had moved out to just over three minutes before the sprinters' teams moved in.

There's a bit of a breeze coming in from the coast. That could certainly be a factor later in the race.

Cavendish says it's not 'a given' that he'll pull on yellow today and that's certainly the case. Argos have  a very strong team here, and so do Lotto, GreenEDGE and Cannondale.

 

Cavendish does have his strongest leadout though since perhaps since his Highroad days. Steegmans will be his final leadout man, but Trentin, Tony Martin, Velits, Chavenal and Terpstra will all play key roles.

The sprinters' teams certainly aren't taking any chances today either, the gap still around 2'40. Cadel Evans is near the front, where he'll hope to remain throughout this opening week of racing.

Joaquim Rodriguez is near the back of the bunch. He's had a fairly quiet build up to the Tour in the last month or so. On the podium in last year's Giro and the Vuelta he's a much improved rider in the last few seasons, mainly down to his boost in the time trials. He's a good shout for the podium in this race and will be a rider to watch in the mountains.

No sign from Cannondale on the front so far but that's no real surprise. Sagan isn't the fastest bunch sprinter so he'll be happy to see a breakaway stay clear today. If and when it all comes back together he'll sprint and try and limit his loses to Cavendish, Greipel and Kittel.

179km remaining from 213km

The lead has moved back up to 3 minutes and Peter Sagan remains at the back of the bunch, with the pace still fairly relaxed.

Just one climb on today's stage and that's coming up. Whoever wins that will pull on the KOM jersey at the end of the stage.

Cavendish in the GB jersey as national road champion sits at the back of the Omega train. Contador is also quite close the front too. The Spaniard has talked up his team to great effect this year, saying it's probably the strongest Grand Tour team he's had. The 2009 Astana team could probably match them in terms of power but they were hardly united around the Spaniard.

Marcel Sieberg from Lotto has moved to the front as well, and starts handing out fresh bidons to his teammates.

Up ahead and the break has reached the climb. They're all watching each other now.

It almost comes to a standstill.

And Lemoine has attacked from the back.

Flecha is dropped.

It's a four man sprint with Cousin on the front.

Boom in second wheel.

And Lobato takes it from Cousin and now Euskaltel are guaranteed of a man on the podium come the end of the stage. Nice work from the Basque team to put their team sprinter in the move.

The peloton are now on the descent of the climb, still being led by Omega and Lotto.

Cyril Gautier looks to be in trouble with a mechanical and he's calling for the team car.

159km remaining from 213km

The gap is at 2'22 so the break really haven't been allowed to establish themselves in the stage. They know they'll be caught before the finish so it's all about television exposure now. Flecha of course could be riding for a new contract with his team still without a sponsor for next season.

Garmin's Daniel Martin has been at the back of the bunch for a couple of kms but he's looking comfortable. The winner of Liege Bastogne Liege will be looking for an improved rider in this year's Tour. Last year he was sick but rode for experience.

As the gap to the break dips under 2 minutes for the first time.

Bouhanni has talked to LeTour.com and said that "There is a 99 per cent chance that there will be a sprint finish in stage one. It’s useless to think up possible scenarios. This will be my first stage in the Tour de France, my first sprint, and I’ll be up there challenging for the yellow jersey.”

There are some clouds overhead but the roads are still dry and the rain should hold off.

The riders in the break are sitting up and taking on some food and it's the same situation in the peloton, with the gap going back out to 2'30. Greipel, he's at the back of the bunch in his national German champs kit.

142km remaining from 213km

Boom is on the front for the break and is trying to get the move organised once more. They can't afford to take the foot off the gas too much. While back in the bunch Cavendish has Hansen on his back wheel.

Cavendish wears number 151, the same number that Olano wore in 1997. Robert Gesink wore it last year.

Back to the race and the gap has come down to 39 seconds because the break have sat up.

It's decision time for the bunch. Do they really want to catch the break this year and then spark further attacks? The gap has moved out again to 59 seconds.

And Cadel Evans has stopped for two reasons. Nature break and picking up a new bike. No worries for Evans, the peloton have eased off the pace and allowed the gap to move out to 1'35. Evans is chasing back on his own though, no teamates around him.

There's one, so Evans is in fact given a bit of assistance in chasing back to the main field.

131km remaining from 213km

The gap has moved out to 3'11, the biggest margin the leading five riders have had all stage.

The bunch are now on the coast and it's south now for the rest of the stage. Argos, Lotto, and Omega continue all the pace work. There's been no sign of Cannondale or Orica so far in the race.

There's one intermediate sprint in the stage but the break should contest that. In the last 10 mins 79 per cent of the work at the front of the field has been done by Omega Pharma.

Weaving coastal roads with Omega still on the front. Pineau has been on the front of the bunch for some time now and he has the field strung out. All on his own, he's taken 30 seconds off the break's advantage.

Flecha and Lobato are easing up and chatting, with Flecha now on the radio talking to his team. The crowds are out as the break run through another small town on the coast. Flecha is in control of this break and all five riders have eased up now.

The gap drops down to 2'16 as the break come to the feedzone.

The gap comes down to 1'24. It wouldn't be a surprise to see them ease off again and then let the break continue once more.

 

Well the break has been caught but with 108km to go Cousin has continued. Smart move really, the bunch are keen on letting someone go up the road and Europcar could do with some positive publicity. Cousin, who instigated the move, has a gap of 1'39.

Well Lobato, Flecha, and Boom aren't giving up either. They've still managed to stay clear and will be hoping to catch the lone leader.

Lemoine is picked up by the Flecha group so we have Cousin, the rest of the break and then the peloton at 2;10. It's been a very cagey stage so far.

100km remaining from 213km

100km of racing remaining and Cousin has 30 seconds over the chase and 3'10 on the peloton.

And now Cousin is sitting up and waiting for the Flecha foursome.

And once again we have five leaders.

3'42 for the bunch now , and that's the largest it's been since the start of the stage. Pineau still monitors the front of the peloton for Cavendish.

The oldest man in the race Jens Voigt is at the back of the field. RadioShack riding without Hondo this year in the Tour.

86km remaining from 213km

We're into the last two hours of racing and the gap is now 4'07.

And Voeckler, a winner of the KOM jersey last year, drops back to the team car to talk to his DS and pick up a drink. There are still 81 km to go and today he'll be looking to simply keep out of trouble and stay safe.

Astana have positioned their riders near the front. They come into the race with Jakob Fuglsang as a main top ten contender. He was fourth in the Dauphine, and although he's never really shone in the Tour, has been building up to this race since the start of the season. Astana have certainly shown a lot of faith in him too.

It's been a long day in the saddle for the sprinters' teams, primarily Lotto, Omega and Argos. They've controlled the bunch throughout the stage and it's not different now with Pineau again on the front for Cavendish.

The five leaders are working well together now and the pattern of the stage has settled  somewhat. The sprint is just about 6km away and that could be crucial in the green jersey today. The peloton have the break at 2'31.

Cannondale are now upping the work effort and have strung themselves out on the right hand side of the bunch. Sagan is in the middle of the line.

Cousin is on course to be the most aggressive rider on the stage. He instigated the move, then pressed on alone today as well. If he can remain out there the longest he'll pick up the award.

The sprint trains are getting themselves organised behind the break.

The jump in pace from the bunch has led to the break's advantage coming down to 1'20 and Flecha has attacked.

Boom goes after him

And Boom takes it. That was an impressive chase from the Belkin rider. Flecha finished second.

And now the bunch are coming for their sprint. Greipel takes the 6th place. Then it was between Cavendish and Sagan.

Cavendish finished just ahead of Sagan in the sprint. It looks like Lobato has sat up and has been caught by the peloton.

59km remaining from 213km

Just under 60km remaining and the break have an advantage of 59 seconds.

Andy Schleck is back in the bunch, currently riding on Gilbert's wheel. The RadioShack rider is lining up without his brother Frank, who is still on the sidelines following his ban related to  last year's race.

The lead of the break has fluctuated all day long. It's back up to 1'51 now.

Bouhanni a rider to watch in the sprint today, is riding his first Tour de France. He's having to be paced back through the cars at the moment though.

Voeckler is at the back of the field but at the front it's Argos now setting the pace. Kittel came into the Tour de France last year with a lot of expectations on his shoulders. He crashed, he got sick and he had to abandon the race, but this year's he back, and is hungry for a stage win.

The gap to the four leaders is at 1'32 but the sprinters are in complete control, as they have been for most if not all of today's stage. RadioShack are on the front with SaxoBank also near the head of  affairs.

41km remaining from 213km

 

Through the town of Follelli and the roads are quite narrow here. They need to be sensitive to the change because the pace is increasing and everyone wants to be near the front of the bunch.

There's a flat for Bouet. He has a pretty swift change though and he's back on his bike and chasing.

38km to go and we're getting closer and closer to the stage finish and the first yellow jersey in this year's race.

37km to go and the break has finally been caught.

Jens Voigt is setting the pace on the front of the bunch.

The pace has shot up due to the work from Shack and it's Contador's SaxoBank who are also pitching in. Omega are coming up, and BMC.

We've seen some very cagey and at times tense racing today but the pace has really increased in the last 15km. Contador is urging his men to move up and set the pace. There's a lot of road furniture out there and they take another tight roundabout. 

If there's a cross wind there could easily be a split here. There's no Sky riders near the front at the moment. They've been very quiet so far today.

A long sweeping left hand bend and Saxo are on the front and drilling the pace.

Contador if anything is sending a message today. He's here to win and he doesnt want to make any mistakes in the opening stage. The Sky train are starting to come up towards the front now.

There's signs of a small split in the field now and things could begin to break up.

Lotto and Omega have taken over from the GC teams with 23km to go.

The wind direction has changed and the peloton have bunched up once again.

Cadel Evans has moved up to the front with two teammates looking after him. Evans is always near the front on stages like this and his experience  will be key if he's to challenge this year.

20km remaining from 213km

There's a bit more order on the front now with a number of teams just preparing themselves for the finale. The final 2km is flat and straight but there are a number of tricky corners before that.

Along a straight section of road as the riders head towards the finish town. The pace is steady at the front for now.

Evans is still on the far side of the road with his two teammates. It's perhaps the safest place to be at the moment.

Hoogerland has crashed into the barrier. He's up and walking around but he wont get back on now.

At the finish the Orica bus - remember who they celebrated who big it was -  is trapped under the 1km to go banner.

Evans orders his men to stay on the far side of the road as Omega start to organise themselves. GreenEDGE too.

13km remaining from 213km

13km to go.

Will Sagan win today? Here's a look at his Cannondale race bike.

And there's a crash in the bunch. Again at the back of the field and number of riders are down. Moser is there. A Sky rider too. Two from Lampre.

Hesjedal was in the crash too. He's up and chasing back though with 11km to go. That's awful luck for the Garmin leader.

The Orica bus is still stuck under the 1km to go banner. This is going to be close.

O'Grady is on the front of the peloton. Will they knock off the pace?

Cannondale now take control of the bunch and we've got 10km to  go. They have ten minutes to move the ORICA bus.

Race radio are now saying that they will take the result of the stage with 3km to go. That's incredible.

Can they get that information to the riders in time? 

The Tour de France. The biggest bike race in the world, disrupted by a bus.

8km remaining from 213km

8km to go and Cannodale are lifting the pace. Surely they should have stopped the riders with 15km to go.

Race radio says that the finishline will now be at 3km to go. 3km to go.

Cannondale and Argos battle on the front with just a few km to go to.

Omega move up now and so do Lotto.

Cannondale look in control at the moment though with Sagan in third wheel.

At 3km to go at the 3km banner there's a roundabout. This is going to be tricky.

 

Omega are now on the front with Cavendish's men setting the pace.

The bus is now moving backwards. Will they have time to tell the riders?

A huge huge crash and Cavendish is there.

Sagan has crashed.

Lotto are now on the front.

The peloton has split to pieces.

Argos are still there in numbers but Sagan and Cavendish are off the back.

We still dont know where the stage finishes.

Evans avoided the crash.

Griepel is on the road side too. perhaps a puncture.

Movistar are setting the pace now but the lead group is down to less then 50 riders. I think Kittel is still in the lead group, Goss too.

Argos take control now.

A tight right hand corner and they're around it safely.

Can Kittel seize this opportunity.

Greg Henderson is in the mix too.

Contador was held up but race radio confirms that they'll all have the same time.

Steegmans is off the front.

Lotto try and lead out

And it's Kittel who takes the win.

Goss crashed in the last corner. It was a chaotic sprint, even in the last 300 meters but Kittel wins his first Tour de France stage and picks up the yellow jersey. Contador is about to come to the line now.

Contador went down hard and has a ripped jersey.

Sagan comes over the line too now.

In the end they had the sprint at the designated sprint finish and not with 3km to go.

David Millar was in the mix for the stage sprint in the end.

Kittel waited patiently and then swung out from the left and pushed clear. He pipped Kristoff on the line there.

Boy van Poppel, 19, finished third and will pull on the white jersey.

The full results will be delayed by some time but here are the top three:

1 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Team Argos - Shimano
2 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
3 Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM

General classification after stage 1
1 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Team Argos - Shimano
2 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
3 Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM

Kittel makes it to the podium and picks up his first stage win. In a few minutes he'll be presented with his first ever yellow jersey.

Reports that Gilbert and Tony Martin were also in that crash.

Froome wasn't caught up in that crash. Contador certainly was though. He crossed the finish line but looked in a lot of pain. Thomas and Stannard did crash though with Thomas going to hospital for an X-ray.

Froome at the moment is warming down. He looks fine.

“My team took perfect care of me, thanks to all of them,” Kittel said afterward. “I saw the crash but didn't know who was involved. At first we were confused as to what to do, but obviously figured it out.”

When told about the bus incident, he gave a shocked reaction. “I didn't know that, I am hearing it for the first time. I think we were pretty lucky.”

Tony Martin is out with a broken collar bone so we hear.

We're still waiting on the full results but in the meantime we've created this page, which lists the riders who crashed and their injuries. We'll of course add more information as we get it.

We finally have full results and they're right here with our stage report.

What an eventful stage to open the Tour de France with. We had crashes, attacks, sprints, a first time yellow for Kittel and a team bus stuck on the line.

Tune in tomorrow for complete coverage from stage 2 and thanks for joining us.

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