95th Tour de France - Stage 1 Live
Eight riders away on the long escape as the peloton is eating away at the gap...
can they make it to Plumelec or will the sprinters have the first day and first
Stage 1 Brest - Plumelec 195 km
The peloton of 180 riders left Brest a little after noon and were
given the start by tour director Christian Prudhomme after a 7 km neutral parade
out of Brest under sunny skies. We didn't have to wait long for the action to
start as Lilian Jegou of Francaise des Jeux taking a flyer with and being joined
by 7 riders in first escape. 4 kilometers later the 8 riders Lilian Jegou
(Francaise des Jeux), Thomas Voeckler (BTL), the ever aggressive Stephane Auge
from Cofidis, Saunier Duval's David De La Fuente, Ruben Perez (Euskatel), Bjorn
Schroeder from Milram,, José Luis Arrieta (Ag2r), Lequatre (Agritubel), Bjorn
Schroeder (Milram) had a minutes gap on the peloton.
Team Columbia's Kim Kirchen at the start. Photo ©
2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti
29.5 km into the race, Schroder led over the Cat. 4 Cote de Ty-Jopic followed
by Thomas Voekler and David De La Fuente taking the 3,2 and 1 points on tap for
the KoM. Their time gap was eight minutes and fifteen seconds behind the
sleeping peloton. Silence/Lotto and CSC Saxo Bank led the tepid chase.
On the lower part of the second climb, the
Côte de Kerivarc'h at 48.5km the crazy Auge attacked again - alas, to no avail.
Voeckler took the points, with Schroeder second - a reverse of the order on the
opening climb of this years Tour.
62 kilometers in to the race; with their gap decreasing to the sub six-minute
mark, the riders crossed the first sprint of the day at Plonevez-du-Faou.
Although these will be of mere significance come Paris, the first points in the
Green Jersey competition went to Geoffroy Lequatre from Ag2R, Jegou second with
Ruben Perez trailing in third.
The race went rather quiet for around thirty minutes, with the
gradually-awakening Peloton closing the gap down to the four-and-a-half minutes.
At the top of the Col de Toullaëron (85.5km in, 4th Category), it was the lively
Jegou taking the honours, French darling Voeckler in second and Bjorn ('my
parents were ABBA fans') Schroeder in third. Following the climb, the first
three over, along with Arrieta, split from their original breakaway companions,
though a fifteen second gap they soon gained was reeled in just as quickly.
Again, the emerging protocol of climb - nothing to report on-sprint-nothing
to report on continues, as the race quietly progressed onto Gourin, the location
for the second Intermediate Sprint.
The points here at 90.5 kilometers were awarded as follows:
1. Geoffroy Lequatre (Ag2r) 6pts
2. Auge (Cofidis) 4pts
3. Jegou (Francaise des Jeux) 2pts
The first crash - and subsequent retirement - occurred in the feed zone.
Cofidis' Herve Duclos-Lassalle touched the wheel of the rider in front of him,
injuring his left wrist. The Lotto rider Johan Vansummeren also had some
problems at the Feed section; this caused a nasty cut on his right leg. As
unlucky as Duclos-Lassalle is, it is always better to have riders abandon early
into the opening stage as opposed to those not being allowed to start. Not that
we should dwell on 2006, eh...
2008 Tour mountain king Mauricio Soler before the start.
2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti
1509 CEST - 84 km to go, The
breakaway's gap is now 4'30". As exciting as the final ten kilometres will be
today, I'm not sold on the idea of opening the race with a road stage.
Conversely, many people feel that seeing small Spanish climbers losing forty
seconds in Prologues is in the paint-drying category. Our leaders are working
cohesively, and they are still maintaining a gap of over four minutes.
The clouds are coming in, too, and that's all there is to report. I
blame Prudhomme... if Astana were here, we'd be enjoying a Contador-Leipheimer
dual attack. Bring back Landis, too, as we could enjoy a Jack Daniels or two
with him as we roll along towards Plumelec.
1529 CEST - Caisse d'Epargne, Credit
Agricole and Rabobank have thrown a few riders up at the front to lead the
chase. Valverde has a glorious looking handlebar/brake arm set on his bike,
painted in an even nicer Yellow colour. With a red frame, the colours match the
Spanish flag, which is cunning as, if his quest for the Maillot Jaune were to go
wrong, it would look slightly foolish
70km to go - 3'48" is the gap between our
leaders and the Peloton. Voeckler, who led the Tour in 2004, won this years GP
Plumelec in May - the finish of that race replicates the final kilometers of
this Stage. 'I hope that winning here is a good sign for the Tour de France', he
said after his triumph.
The Cofidis team have confirmed that Herve Duclos-Lassalle has broken his
left wrist. The twenty-eight year old has never taken part in this race, so this
is hugely disappointing for him and his team. Born on Christmas Eve, clearly
this was no time of goodwill for the Frenchman.
1544 CEST - 62 km to go, 3:45 the gap.
The eight up front are putting in a very determined effort; but the effort looks
to be matched by a combination of Rabobank, Liquigas and Caisse d'Epargne riders
stringing out the peloton in a long line as the chase heats up to control the
gap. The peloton spooks some cattle as they pass... it must be the sound of the
almost 400 wheels spinning.
57 km to go - the gap is down to 3'12".
Definitely, the peloton have started to mobilize; Rabobank, Credit Agricole and
Liquigas are doing a lot of the chasing switching off the lead at the front.
Today's finish in Plumelec is home to a mere 2337 (source: 1999 French Census),
which is the amount of people Riccardo Ricco has upset in 2008 so far. Cavendish
is closing in on that though... the Maillot Beeg Mouff is hotting up. The gap
hovers at 3:15 with the octet keeping pace with the increased effort of the
Crash! Jimmy Casper and Yaroslav Popovych are involved. This doesn't look as
serious as Duclos-Lassalle's earlier on. With 52km to go, the chase back to the
peloton shouldn't be that problematic
Final climb of the Cat. 4,
Côte de Guenervé, 146.5km At the top of the final climb, Saunier Duval/Scott's
David de la Fuente takes the points. Voeckler was second, followed by Schroeder.
This could mean that Voeckler and Schroeder are equal in the King of the
Mountains jersey, so this will be decided on count back at the stage finish. The
peloton is led over the summit by a Rabobank rider 3:23 down on our eight
1604 CEST - 45.8 km to go, the gap again
hovers at 3:15. Credit Agricole have done so much work at the front today;
surely the finale won't suit Hushovd. He rode well in the opening stages of
Paris-Nice, but I suspect other attacks will be too strong for him. A Credit
Agricole rider takes a long pull on the front and the gap goes under 3 minutes
as the chase starts take effect with 42 km to go the gap has gone down to 2:45.
1612 CEST - 40km to go - 2'25 gap, Final
sprint of the day in
Remungol (157km), Lequartre is leading out the sprint, Perez follows behind him,
Jegou takes the two points for third. So far, Lequartre has eighteen points in
the Green Jersey classification - obviously with thirty-five points on offer at
the finish he is unlikely to wear this jersey tomorrow.
Damn hilly course we don't expect any of the eight to be first into Plumelec
a long day on the attack for the eight and nothing up but a brutal up and down
to the finish definitely not, the gap is decreasing rather quickly. I predict
the race will be all together within the next fifteen kilometres, then it will
be up to the sprinters teams to control the front from escape attempts.
1619 CEST - Gap 1:25, The breakaway group
is starting to fragment. Auge (Cofidis) attacked first, Schroeder is struggling
at the back. He is going to rejoin, although I can't see him lasting long - Now
David de la Fuente attacks, no-one wants to respond. The Saunier Duval rider has
gained around 50m, Auge now goes, attempting to close the gap. This brief flurry
of excitement, as de la Fuente is caught by Jegou, will all be in vain - a fast
moving Peloton is rapidly closing in on them.
33km to go - The clouds above the riders
are turning rather dark, although the sun is still shining at the finish in
Plumelec. Two riders are clear, a group of six trail by a ten seconds, then the
Peloton is around 1'25 back. Barloworld are making their way up the pack, at
least three of their riders can be seen at the head of the Peloton. Gerolsteiner
are pulling, a couple of Lotto riders are in their wheels.
Quick-Step, still reeling from Boonen's antics with the wrong type of white
line, are nowhere to be seen. A lot of pressure will be on Gert Steegmans, who
will be their leader in Tornado Tom's absence. Today may not suit him, but he
has won stages in this race, as well as the Paris - Nice this year. Team
Colombia's jersey looks slightly similar to a Discovery kit circa 2006, complete
with horizontal yellow stripes on their sleeves. I wonder how South Americans
Barloworld will want to deliver Robbie Hunter to the finish as he wants to
win the yellow jersey as a prize for his wife and new daughter Mandy who was
born Thursday. Good Luck on your mission Robbie. Our two leaders are still
working well with each other, the trailing six have given up and are just thirty
seconds away from the Peloton.
1633 CEST - Nonetheless, with 28km to go,
Jegou (FDJ) and de la Fuente (Saunier Duval) will need more than the fifty-eight
seconds that they currently have for a gap to take the honours at the finish.
The six 'chasers' have now been caught. Caisse d'Epargne are leading the pack.
Will Valverde show his strength today, I wonder?
25km to go - Jegou/de la Fuente have a
1'26" gap on the Peloton. The terrain, so far, is still fairly flat. It is the
undulations of the final five kilometres that will decide the finish. There is a
tight bridge that comes within the final three kilometres, which will be
important. The salient part comes in the final 700 meters, where the road kicks
up until the finish. The peloton is spread out across the two lanes of the road
with two Gerolsteiner riders leading.
CRASH, Florenco and Goubert have gone down, looks like they touched each
other wheels. Florenco, the Bouygues rider, needs a new rear wheel. This is
typical as the pace increases in the pack. At least he didn't do what Bradley
Wiggins did in last years Tour, when he threw a rather expensive Mavic wheel
into a roadside mound.
20 km to go, the gap goes up to 1:35.
It's cat & mouse time as the peloton will time their catch for the final 7 to
ten km. The gap is still remaining around the one-and-a-half minute mark. Things
don't look so ominous for our two leaders so far. I suspect the distance left in
the stage will be their downfall. A sighting of Quick Step leading the Peloton
has been reported. These, I stress, are unconfirmed reports...
1645 CEST 17 km to go, 1:05 the gap. A
mobilized peloton means one thing - breakway groups getting reeled in... the gap
is now under a minute. Even so, the pack is bunched together, and their efforts
look fairly leisurely. With no prize for kilometers in an attack as in the
Trofeo Fuga in the Giro and no time bonuses at sprints/finishes too the duo may
have more incentive soon to sit up.
Lotto are now doing a lot of work at the front. Johan Van Summeren is pulling
hard - no-one seems to have mentioned McEwen as a tip for the stage. Count him
out at your peril, I suggest.
11km to go - the gap is now just 18
seconds. The catch will occur somewhere around 9 and 10km to go from the finish.
True optimists the duo on the front continue to work to stay away.
Crash! Looks like Soler has gone down. The 2007 King of the Mountains winner
has gone down. He is clutching his wrist which has caused him problems in the
recent Giro. This will be a disaster for Barloworld. Meanwhile their sprinter
Hunter is still near the head of the peloton. Soler has remounted, though I
can't see him chasing hard I suspect.
The chase is about to take place - 7.8km from the finish. Behind them, the
Peloton are accelerating. Jegou, the local boy, has spent all day out front, but
the fairytale doesn't come true. On a straightaway the peloton have our brave
duo in sight... Soler nearly crashed at a tight corner on his way back to the
pack. He has two teammates waiting for him, that was a close shave.
The duo are swept up by the peloton as it settles in for the finish. It
appears the peloton has split into two; the pace and the crash a few kilometers
back has caused this. The main group is still rather large, I suspect the GC
guys are all in this part of the Peloton.
1700 CEST 5 km to go - Colombia, Liquigas
and Lotto are on the front. Five Team Colombia riders are pushing hard - Kim
Kirchen has been mentioned for both today's stage and the GC, and Cavendish
could certainly be prominent today. These roads are very narrow, this could be a
2 km to go, This is where the route comes alive. The pack go over the narrow
bridge, no problems at the front. Four Colombia riders still lead, Zabel is in
5th wheel. Steegmans is there too. Agritubel rider. Roman Feillu perhaps?
Schumacher goes! He's caught Feillu
1 km to go!! No response yet from behind.
Here come the peloton. Cancellara is there. Valverde too. Schumacher is digging
deep... Kirchen goes! Kirchen, the
Fleche Wallone winner looks good. Valverde has attacked too
150 meters Valverde passes Kirchen. Photo ©
2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti
Valverde has got him!
200 meters to go Valverde leads!
Vittoria Alejandro Valverde!! Photo ©
2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti
2. Gilbert. What a closing final kilometre! Jerome Pineau was third. Kirchen
looked so good with 300 metres to go, he caught Schumacher easily and seemed
destined to take the stage.
Alejandro Valverde the Spanish road champion leads the Tour for the first
time in his career, though he has won a stage in the race before. Soler comes in
3'08 behind Valverde.
Stage 1 Results (provisional)
7. Frank Schleck
Official Results and Photos
For what was a monotonous stage until the final 10km, the run into Plumelec
was thrilling... When have the GC guys shown their hand so early on in the Tour?
One would expect, and it was predicted that the sprinters would have their way
today, needless to say its quite a surprise to see most of the favorites in the
Valverde talking to the press - 'I'm extremely happy to have won the stage
and to take the Jersey. I felt very strong, I've got to thank the team, that's
very important.' 'I'm in good form, it's an important victory for me today. It's
important, too, to have my eyes on the Podium in Paris, I will try and keep the
A bold statement and challenge by Valverde - to try and maintain the lead
from start to finish... Jacques Anquetil accomplished the feat in 1961 and I
think one other rider, we'll try to find that. Anquetil took the maillot jaune
in the opening time trial, and then stayed with his rivals as they attacked in
the Alps and Pyrenees; each time trial he added to his gap to dominate the race
for 21 days. Leading from start to finish didn't do anything for Monsieur
Jacques popularity. Instead of embracing his success, the press castigated him
for acting like a cold and calculating accountant at the race to maintain his
lead resulting in a boring and passionless tour.
A few drops of rain fall on the podium as Alejandro accepts his flowers and
kisses for the stage win. He returns again for the maillot jaune and steps off
the top step smiling and laughing with joy. A quick handshake with the assembled
dignitaries and he is back for the maillot vert of point leader.
Thomas Voeckler takes the KOM jersey, as he finished ahead of Bjorn Schroeder in Plumelec.
Thanks for joining us for the first stage of the 95th tour. Join us for Stage
2 Auray - Saint Brieuc, 165km.
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