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Tour de France 2014: Stage 20

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Bonjour and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of stage 20 of the Tour de France. The stage is a 54km individual time trial from Bergerac to Perigueux.

As the Cyclingnews blimp heads to the skies, we join the stage after 76 riders of the 164 rider left in the race have begin their ride.

It's a pleasant 24C with only light winds.

China's Ji Cheng (Giant-Shimano) was the first rider to start and he is set to become the first ever Chinese rider to finish the Tour de France.

The USA's Danny Pate (Team Sky) is currently the fastest rider to have finished. He set a good time of 1:09:22.

He was 22 faster than Canada's Svein Tuft (Orica-GreenEdge), who set 1:09:44, and his teammate Luke Durbridge, who set a time of 1:9:59.

Pate's time might not remain the best for very long. Maciej Bodnar (Cannondale) was faster at the first intermediate time split after 19km and the second after 39km.

However the Pole seems to be suffering. He was 11 seconds slower than Pate at the third split at 48km.

As ever, the final time trial stage is several races in one. World time trial champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and the other time trial experts are fighting for the stage victory. 

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) is looking to crown his Tour de France and work for the future by riding a good time trial before celebrating overall victory in Paris.

Other riders are fighting for the final places on the podium with Nibali. 

Thibaut Pinot (Fdj.fr) starts the TT in second place but leads fellow Frenchman Jean-Christophe Péraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) by just 13 seconds. Spain's Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is just 15 seconds behind Pinot.

France seems assured a place on the podium but Valverde is expected to move up too, with Pinot likely to slip to fourth. As ever, the race of truth will tell the final story. 

As expected, Bodnar failed to beat Pate and so the hugely respected and hard working American domestique remains fastest so far.

Gatis Smukulis (Katusha) is the latest rider to finish, in a time of 1:10:27. he takes fifth place so far after 57 riders have finished.

Read what Pinot said about his TT hopes by clicking here.

Thomas Voeckler has given his thoughts on the French battle for the podium:

"Jean-Christophe Péraud has an advantage because time trialling is his thing but then Thibaut Pinot seems fresher than the other two. It’s hard to make a prediction because it’s very uncertain."

There is a risk of thunderstorms later in the stage, with a slight, possibly increasing side wind from the west. It is a slight cross/head wind in the final 15km.

The 54km route includes four climbs and lots of twisting roads. It is a course for whoever has some strength in their legs.

Peter Sagan (Cannondale) is out on the road, riding in a green skinsuit.

The sun is still shining on the riders but Danny Pate is hoping that a rain shower will help his chances. Look at his Tweet.

 

Come on rain! RT @letour: @TheDPate toujours en tête depuis maintenant 2h / has been leading the TT for 2h now. #TDF pic.twitter.com/hFlFYNHrVY

Here we go! Tony Martin is off!

Can anyone beat him? Probably not.

Tony Martin has a special TT bike and is using a massive 58 tooth chainring.

We could have anew leader very soon. Jan Barka (NetApp-Endura) is fastest at the second time split, 37 seconds faster than Pate.

 Rafal Majka has taken off, his polka-dot jersey shining in the sun. Personally, we are happy that the team decided for a solid-red lower part of the skin suit, all dots is a bit much.

 

Popular rider Thomas Voeckler takes off. The crowd helped by chanting out the count-down.

 

Mikel Irizar of Trek puts in the second best time at the second time check. And meanwhile Tony Martin is nearing the man in front of him.

 

NetApp's Barta has just set a new best time at the finish, 1.08:08

 

No surprise, Martin has set the best time at the first time check, by 35 seconds.

 

Barta put in an excellent time, topping the former leader by 1:14. Also, Elmiger moved into third place. He might have placed higher if he had not lost time due to a puncture.

 

And Lavenu's thoughts on Romain Bardet: "I think he’s got a 50-50 chance of keeping his place in the top 5. If he comes up against a very good Tejay van Garderen, then it will be difficult, but Romain is going to fight like a lion. It’s up for grabs Time trialling is not his strong point. He’s done some work on his position but he still needs to gain power. His physique is that of a climber, not a rouleur. This is an exercise that requires a lot of power, which he lacks. But it’s the end of the Tour and he’s very determined. Our role in the team management is to be optimistic and to pass this optimism on to him. "

 

Martin continues on his steady way. He is of course wearing the rainbow stripes of the world time trial champion.

 

Daniel Oss has done a good job and is now second at the finish.

 

Oss is 1:11 down on Barta, and therefore 3 seconds faster than Pate.

 

Irizar takes over the second place now.

 

Irizar came in at 1.09 flat, so he is 52 seconds behind Barta.

 

Martin easily slips right by Purito Rodriguez.

 

And Martin is about to pass yet another rider!

 

Martin is also the fastest by far at the second time split in a time of 48:03. He is 1:28 faster than Barta after 39km.

Martin stays tucked on his aero bars even on the climbs, grinding up the gradient.

Not surprisingly Martin is fastest at the third time split after 48km and now leads Barta by 1:38.

Meanwhile back at the start, Nibali has begun his warm-up routine. He leaves in just over 30 minutes.

Richie Porte (Team Sky) is already in action but it will be difficult for him to bring home a result today.

The Tasmanian is just hoping to reach Paris after being hit by a virus in the final week of the Tour and so loosing any chance of a shot at the podium.

Rafal Majka is riding in a polka-dot skinsuit but is not chasing an overall result.

Martin is close to the finish. 

Martin finishes with a last lunge to the line, setting a time of 1:06:21.

That is the time to beat for everyone and more than likely the winning time for the stage. He rode at an average speed of 48.8 km/h on the hilly course.

Martin raced with his left knee taped up but was still incredibly fast.

Chris Horner is the next to start. The veteran US rider will target the Vuelta a Espana after fighting to find some form during the Tour.

Read what he told Cyclingnews here.

We are entering the final 30 minutes of the TT. Frank Schleck (Trek Factory Racing) has just started. Pierre Rolland (Europcar) is next to go.

We will soon see if Tejay van Garderen (BMC) can do a great ride and move up to fifth overall. He needs to gain two minutes on Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale).

And ten Dams sets off. He's had another great Tour de France and is set to finish in the top ten. He is currently eighth but Konig could move past him or he could move past teammate Mollema and finish seventh. It is one of the many battles of today's time trials.

Mollema starts his ride. Belkin has three riders in the top 15 overall: Mollema, ten Dam and Steven Kruijswijk, who is 15th.

Van Garderen is on the start ramp.

The BMC team is confident he can finish fifth overall and confirm his huge Grand Tour potential.

Bardet is on the start ramps, while Valverde waits nearby for his start.

Bardet has an ice pack on his neck. Will he take it off before starting?

Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano) sets the second fastest time of 1:08:00. Well behind Martin but faster than Barta.

Pinot and Peraud sportingly shake hands before their time trial efforts. May the best Frenchman finish on the podium!

Peraud is in the start house and is about to begin the most important TT of his life.

Valverde is on the road and Peraud is also off.

Pinot is next and then race leader Vicenzo Nibali sets off wearing the yellow jersey.

Pinot wears a white skinsuit as best young rider.

Last year you may remember that Peraud crashed while training on the TT course and then crashed again near the end of his ride. He was lying ninth then but is aiming for the podium today.

Pinot gets a huge cheers as he sets off and tucks into his aero position.

FDJ.fr team manager Marc Madiot will no doubt be screaming at him from the team car.

Nibali is on the start ramp. He looks ready to ride. Can he extend his race lead to eight minutes?

3-2-1. He's off!

Nibali is wearing an all-yellow skinsuit, with yellow bar tape.

The first time check after 19km will give a good indication of the final result, if van Garderen can take fifth and who will finish on the final podium.

French TV is calculating a virtual GC between Peraud and Pinot.

Peraud has already gained 15 seconds and so is virtually second overall.

French national TT champion Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) finished a strong fourth place, 2:36 slower than Martin.

Van Garderen is sixth fastest at the first split in a time of 24:20.

Good news for Van Garderen, Bardet is very slow and has lost 59 seconds to his rival for fifth overall.

The American need just a further 1:07 to move up to fifth. He close to catching Mollema up the road, which will help him go faster.

Van Garderen is flying! Sadly a bad day on stage 16 has cost him a place on the podium.

Valverde is not riding well. He set a time of 25:23 at the 19km split time. Peraud is faster, much faster, gaining 1:06 on the Spaniard.

Pinot is fighting for a place on the podium. He's is only 25 slower than Peraud in 24:40.

At the finish Richie Porte (Team Sky) stops the clock with a time 58th fastest so far.

The virtual podium with Nibali has Peraud in second place and Pinot in third. Valverde remains fourth.

Peraud dives through the corners in a village. He does not seem worried about crashing out last year.

Nibali sets a time of 24:21, an excellent time for the Italian. 

The next time check is after 39km.

Nibali is tucked over his aerobars. He looks comfortable and fast after working on his position with the Specialized Performance staff in the last 18 months.

Valverde is riding the climb not tucked in his aero position. That will cost him further seconds.

The last time two French riders finished on the Tour podium was back in 1984 with Hinault and Fignon. The French will go crazy about that and dream of winning in 2015.

Ten Dem is fighting hard but Leopold Konig is having a great day and is set to move passed him and Mollema and so take seventh place overall. 

Van Garderen is on the second climb of the day and still looks strong, mixing efforts out of the saddle with blasts in his aero tuck.

Here comes Tejay.

He sets a time of 49:27.

Rear flat for Peraud. He takes a new bike.

He has lost at least 20 seconds, the bike change was not very fast.

Mollema is suffering and has lost a huge chunk of time. 

Romain Bardet sets a time of 51:14.  He has lost close to two minutes to van Garderen and will surely loose fifth place too.

Peraud and Pinot are fighting for second overall. Pinot is now only six seconds behind Peraud in the virtual overall standings.

Valverde is suffering out there. He sets a time of 51:41 and now has virtually no chance of finishing third overall. 

Konig finishes with a good time of 1:08:23. fourth fastest on the day. That will lift him to seventh overall.

At the second intermediate Peraud set a time of 49:55. That's almost two minutes better than Valverde. His place on the podium is secure. But will it be second or third?

Pinot sets 50:19. That is 23 seconds slower than Peraud but he is set for third overall. 

Vincenzo Nibnali is last through the second time split. He continues to ride well, despite having overall victory secure. He is fourth fastest.

Van Garderen finishes fast. He sets a final time of 1:08:29. If he is 2:06 faster than Bardet he will take fifth place overall.

Bardet has a rear flat and so that will mean he looses more time to van Garderen.

Valverde is having a terrible day. He is losing time in every kilometre.

Mollema lost a massive 9:36 to Martin, slipping to ninth overall.

Bardet sets a time of 1:10:38 so Van Garderen takes fifth by two seconds. 

Bardet's flat cost him dearly.

Valverde finishes in a time of 1:10:49. That will leave him fourth overall in Paris.

Jean-Christophe Peraud finishes much faster in 1:08:48 and so is set to take second overall behind Nibali.

Pinot is next to finish, followed by Nibali but nobody can stop Tony Martin from winning the time trial.

Pinot sets a time of 1:09:33. That means he slips to third overall but will put him on the podium in Paris with Nibali and Peraud.

Here comes Nibali. He's also done a good ride today to enforce his overall lead.

Nibali will join the exclusive club of winners of all three Grand Tours.

Nibali sets a time of 1:08:19 to finish the stage fourth behind Martin.

That's a great ride by the Italian.

He can be a Tour contender in years to come as well as winner in 2014.

Tony Martin celebrates his stage win. He's ridden a long way awaiting today but confirms he's the best time trialist in the world.

Provisional results show Nibali now leads Peraud by 7:52, Pinot is third at 8:24.

Valverde is fourth overall at 9:55. Van Garderen moves up to fifth overall at 11:44.

Peraud is in tears after hearing he is second overall.

After the important time trial stage, only the final road stage to Paris remains before Vincenzo Nibali is crowned as the winner of the 2014 Tour de France. 

Nibali will be joined by Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Thibaut Pinot (Fdj.fr).

Thanks for joining us for the live coverage of the time trial. Join us tomorrow to celebrate the end of the Tour de France.

There will be a full stage report, photo gallery and exclusive news and interviews on Cyclingnews very soon.

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