Stage 1: Luxembourg - Luxembourg 192.5 km
Welcome to this afternoon's live coverage of stage one of the Tour de France.
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Christophe Mengin (France/Francaise des Jeux), Ludo Dierckxsens (Belgium/Lampre) and Stephane Berges (France/Ag2R) the three escapees now have a lead of 4.10''
Today is Erik Zabel's birthday, he is 32 - Rolf Aldag said this morning, "We know the finish very well -it was in the tour of Luxembourg two years ago - we hope to be able to give Zabel a birthday present today."
We join the race with 120 kilometres to go - three men, Stephane Berges (France/Ag2R), Christophe Mengin (France/Francaise des Jeux) and Ludo Dierckxsens (Belgium/Lampre) have gained about three minutes on the peloton with about 120 kilometres to go.
The peloton is being driven by Laurent Jalabert's CSC team - who because of time bonus gained is now level with Armstrong on the GC.
Yesterday's official communication from the Tour stated
Medical Communication Jerome Berne - pool of broadcasting corporations (FRA), had a wound at the head ("plaie you cuir chevelu").
Decisions of the racing Commissioners - none.
McEwan suffered a slight injury to his back yesterday - while the breakaway advantage goes up to 4 minute 15 seconds.
Perfect weather for racing today - sunny with little wind racing through beautiful countryside.
Armstrong commented on the Ullrich case this morning: "I really do not understand Ullrich - but he was right to put his cards on the table and admit to his enormous error."
Of the three escapees two have already had stage glory in the Tour: Christophe Mengin won in Fribourg in 1997 and Ludo Dierckxsens won in Saint-Etienne in 1999.
Huge crowds out today as Ludo Dierckxsens takes the bonus sprint at 117 km.
"I expect a group to win today, no mass sprint," said the sporting director of the Tour de France, Jean Jean-François Pescheux.
CSC still leading the field - the last time the first stage was not a mass sprint was in 1992 when Arnould won.
Telekom have confirmed Ullrich will stop with the team "a termination of contract without notice is intended after a break of contract if someone is using Doping with the intention of increasing his achievements. with Ullrich this obviously was not the case,it had nothing to do with his cycling career."
Stéphane Berges (AG2R) is a first year proffessional - and his presence in the break will encourage team manager
Very rolling countryside - CSC still at the front of the peloton - while Armstrong is keeping close to the front and out of trouble - Ekimov is making his 12th appearance in the tour - a remarkable record.
60 kilometres to go the lead still around the 3.30'' mark -Christophe Mengin in the three man break was born on 3 September 1968 at Cornimont, France, his pro teams have been
1996 Petit Casino
1997-2002 La Française Des Jeux
His biggest successes
1994 Circuit des Mines
1997 1 stage 3-days De Panne
1997 1 stage Tour de France: Freiburg
1998 1 stage Vuelte Castilla y Leon
1999 G.P. Plouay
Those who would like to discuss the events of the day, why not go to the Daily Peloton chat -
Ludo Dierckxsens is the oldest rider in the race - he was born in 1964.
CRASH!! About twenty riders Moreau amongst them - his team mates are quickly around him - Merckx is down too - everyone seems ok.
50 kilometres to go - everyone is ok from the crash and should rejoin the peloton without too much trouble - the leaders are still Ludo Dierckxsens (Belgium/Lampre), Christophe Mengin (France/Francaise des Jeux) and Stephane Berges (France/Ag2R), and the peloton is still lead by the CSC team.
Now approaching the Cote Wormeldange (km 148.5) the rolling parcours will be very tiring - as the Pink clad Once team take up the chase.
Oscar Freire, double world-wide champion said yesterday, "I had liked to come more in form, but as the days go on I hope to improve. I will try to help the teamt and to win a stage, but mainly it will be a preparation for the rest of the season," so the Spaniard has no ambitions for the Green jersey.
With the gap at 1.20'' Ludo Dierckxsens attacks on the Cote Wormeldange - he drops his fellow escapees the climb is very crowded and the climb has split the peloton.
A split in the peloton Rik Verbrugghe attacks on the climb and is joined by an alert Armstrong - in the 8 man break!!
The three men have only a small advantage: Christophe Mengin (France/Francaise des Jeux), Ludo Dierckxsens (Belgium/Lampre) and Stephane Berges (France/Ag2R) - while Armstrong, Botero, Millar, Verbrugghe, McGee - Armstrong looks back to see what gap they have.
The peloton is split in three - The Armstrong group - the main peloton - and a group containing Moreau - the CSC and Once are leading the chase against Armstrong.
The gap is down to six seconds between the Armstrong group and the main peloton - but Moreau is still stranded behind and cannot close the 20 second gap.
The escapees are brought back by the peloton - but another attack is instantly launched - Moreau is still struggling at the back surrounded by team mates with just 35 kilometres while 173 Gianluca Bortolami and 79 Piotr Wadecki try to attack - Bortolami gets the sprint bonus - but the peloton has split again Wadecki second and leading the peloton Durand takes third spot.
The pace is hard - Steels has lost contact with the main peloton, the Postal team have decided to take the lead of the peloton - wise move, the race is very nervous - and another attack lead by Fagnini escapes briefly 112 Walter Bénéteau is in the break too, but Postal pull them all back together.
151 Marco Serpellini (Ita) attacks - CRASH - it is Moreau again - he is having a unlucky day - once again the CA boys come back to help.
Attack after attack now. Sandy Casar attacks - Galdeano has a punctured - also attacks Cristian Moreni while Hincapie is at the front of the peloton looking very cool
Laurent Lefevre (Jean Delatour), Casar (FdJ), Marco Serpellini (Lampre), and Moreni(Alessio) are now about 45 seconds in the lead.
Approaching the Cote de Hostert - Armstrong is chatting to Benoit Joachim (Lux) the local rider for information on the last climb - which is used often in races.
21k to go, the escapees still around 43 seconds - but it is a useful group of riders - while CSC move up to help US Postal at the front - Jalabert will find the run in ideal for his strenghts - Laurent Lefevre is the best placed man in the break.
The 4 men are working well together - but behind them the peloton starts to string out, the gap is 38 seconds - Sandy Casar, of course, had an excellent Paris Nice. Now Rabobank take up the chase at the front of the peloton - they will be riding to keep 101 Levi Leipheimer (Usa) out of trouble at the front - just 14 kilometres to go!!
106 Karsten Kroon (Ned) leads the peloton after the escapees - whose lead is just 28 seconds - while Brochard comes to the front as well - like Jalabert he will like this finish - as the escapees hit the Cote de Hostert - Laurent Lefevre (Jean Delatour), leaves his fellow escapees behind on the steep sharp climb - the others are swallowed up by the peloton- as Basso (Fassa) and Brochard attack!!
72 Dave Bruylandts (Bel)is with Basso (Fassa) - but Brochard cannot keep the pace - meanwhile at the back of the peloton Moreau and Roberto Laiseca are in trouble. The escapees are pulled back and another attack is launched.
Landis covers the attack, Merckx, Sergei Ivanov Luttenberger are making the pace, Lotto pick up the chase at the front of the peloton.
The escapees are pulled back as the Telekom team move to the front - will Zabel get his birthday present of a stage win - Hondo and Fagnini close to Zabels while Aldag drives the peloton - Hondo at the front of the peloton while O'Grady takes Zabel wheel.
1 km to go! And a Lampre man attacks - he has taken the Telekom by surprise, he is storming ahead - and the Telekom team do not seem to respond Rubens Bertogliati who is powering to glory - it is an amazing ride - arms aloft he has won!!!
"It is something you dream about," he said. He talked to Robert Hunter this morning, his teammate last year, and decided if he felt strong he would go for it. Not only in yellow, he will also take the white young rider jersey.
Moreau lost 3.30 minutes on the day.
1 Rubens Bertogliati Lampre 4.49.00
2 Erik Zabel Telekom
3 Robbie McEwen Lotto
4 Fabio Baldato Fassa
5 Oscar Freire Mapei
6 Stuart O'Grady Credit Agricole
1 Rubens Bertogliati Lampre
2 Laurent Jalabert CSC 0.03
3 Lance Armstrong US Postal
4 Raimondas Rumsas Lampre
5 Santiago Botero Kelme 0.07
Thanks for reading - full report to follow.