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95th Tour de France - Stage 20 Live
 
By Staff
Date: 7/26/2008
95th Tour de France - Stage 20 Live
 

95th Tour de France - Stage 20 Live
Judgement Day is upon us: Evans or Sastre? Join us for the race of truth which will decide this year's Tour de France.

Stage 20 Cérilly - Saint Amand Montrond ITT 53 km
Stage 20 Profile
Welcome to our live coverage of Stage 20 of the 95th Tour de France. Today's flattish 53-kilometre time-trial through the Cher departement will decide the destination of the final maillot jaune. There are three time-checks - at the 18km, 36km and 47.5km point, respectively.

Here are the start-times for the top 15 on general classification:
130. BOTCHAROV Alexandre 15:41:00
131. ASTARLOZA Mikel 15:44:00
132. CASAR Sandy 15:47:00
133. KREUZIGER Roman 15:50:00
134. SCHLECK Andy 15:53:00
135. KIRCHEN Kim 15:56:00
136. EFIMKIN Vladimir 15:59:00
137. VALJAVEC Tadej 16:02:00
138. SANCHEZ Samuel 16:05:00
139. VALVERDE Alejandro 16:08:00
140. VANDEVELDE Christian 16:11:00
141. MENCHOV Denis 16:14:00
142. EVANS Cadel 16:17:00
143. KOHL Bernhard 16:20:00
144. SCHLECK Frank 16:23:00
145. SASTRE Carlos 16:26:00

The question tantalizingly posed since Wednesday's stage to Alpe d'Huez will be answered - Carlos Sastre or Cadel Evans? Word from the press pack and peloton alike suggests that the Silence-Lotto man is slightly favoured to take Australia's first ever victory in this historic race. However, everyone agrees that it will be very close. Sastre will have the advantage of time checks on Evans as well as the immeasurable boost of having the yellow jersey on his shoulders. Evans, meanwhile, has been the race-long favourite and has a proven time-trial pedigree. In short, if he beats Sastre by 1.35 or more, the victory is his. It may all come down to who has recovered best from the efforts of the Alps and Pyrenees.

There is more to play for as well, as gutsy climbers Schleck and King of the Mountains winner Kohl will be giving their all to defend a place on the final podium against Denis Menchov, who is much better against the clock on paper. A phenomenal performance could even see him win the race overall, though he needs a minute on similarly-matched Evans. Race revelation Christian Vandevelde could also leapfrog Kohl and Schleck if he puts in a great showing, though the American needs to make up over three minutes on both.

Also, two potential Tour winners in the future will clash as they seek to win the maillot blanc of best U25 rider. Andy Schleck is currently in its possession, having ridden his socks off for brother Frank and Sastre. He will surely get his chance to ride for himself in the coming years. Today, he must fend off speedy Roman Kreuziger, who won the Tour de Suisse and its time-trial stage. The Czech's deficit is 1.58. More worrying for their young rivals, both will be eligible for this competition in 2009 as well...

The Top 10 this morning
1. Sastre Carlos 11 Team CSC Saxo Bank 82:54:36
2. Schleck Frank 17 Team CSC Saxo Bank - 01:24
3. Kohl Bernhard 115 Gerolsteiner 82:56:09 - 01:33

4. Evans Cadel 1 Silence - Lotto 82:56:10 - 01:34
5. Menchov Denis 131 Rabobank 82:57:15 - 02:39
6. Vandevelde Christian 191 Garmin Chipotle 82:59:17 - 04:41
7. Valverde Alejandro 31 Caisse d'Epargne 83:00:11 - 05:35
8. Sanchez Samuel 27 Euskaltel - Euskadi 83:00:28 - 05:52
9. Valjavec Tadej 109 Ag2r-La Mondiale 83:02:46 - 08:10
10. Efimkin Vladimir 104 Ag2r-La Mondiale 83:03:00 - 08:24

1320 CEST - 58 riders have left the starthouse in Cérilly this morning. Perennial Tour of Flanders runner-up and Belgian time-trial champ Leif Hoste has set the standard for the later guys, leading through all the time-checks so far to set a time of 1.07.40 at the finish. Second is currently Brett Lancaster at 0.20, with Christophe Riblon a provisional third at 0.37. With 130-odd riders to come in, that will all change over the next five hours though.

1330 CEST - More news from this morning: far away from the clamour and pressure of the race for the maillot jaune, Wim Vansevenant has (probably) secured the lanterne rouge for a record third consecutive time. Although Bernhard Eisel briefly held the position after losing 14 minutes yesterday, veteran Vansevenant lost 1'35" over today's time-trial course to overturn his 42-second deficit to the Austrian this morning. He should avoid the time-cut, and just needs to do the same tomorrow. However, he will be more happy today if his leader and team-mate Cadel Evans secures victory later.

1340 CEST - Former Espoir world time-trial champion Danny Pate has unshipped Hoste from the lead at the first intermediate time-check (18.0km). The Garmin-Chipotle rider's time of 22.17 is eleven seconds faster than Hoste's. Down the road at the finish in Saint-Amand-Montrond, another Anglophone Stuart O'Grady has moved into third at the finish, 22 seconds down on Hoste.

In fact, Pate continued his progress through to the second time-check at 36km. He leads by 43 seconds over Sebastien Rosseler (Quick Step) and 49 over provisional stage winner Hoste. Still early days, but this is good riding from the American, and could put him in the hot-seat for a few hours.

1400 CEST - Well, perhaps not. In the past few minutes, Tour de France time-trial winners of recent years David Millar (Garmin-Chipotle) and Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC-Saxo Bank) have both left the départ in Cérilly. How much have the mountains taken out of the pair? Cancellara, in particular, has worked tirelessly for his leaders. Millar won the 2003 penultimate-stage time-trial from Pornic to Nantes, arguably the last time a race against the clock mattered to the final outcome so much. From that day, the image of Jan Ullrich crashing on a wet roundabout, sliding into a crash barrier and losing his fledgling victory hopes still lives in the memory.

Quick Step rider Sebastian Rosseler has taken the provisional lead from compatriot Hoste, bettering his time by 19 seconds with a 1.07.21. However, it looks likely that Danny Pate will soon take over that position.

1415 CEST - Yep, Pate crosses the line to record 1.06.45 - he is the new leader on the road, 37 seconds ahead of Rosseler. On the course, is-he-Kenyan-or-British Tour virgin Chris Froome (Barloworld) and Seb Lang (Gerolsteiner) are both going well, but not really threatening the Garmin man's mark Only fifty riders have finished so far though, about a hundred to go..


Fabian "Spartacus" Cancellara World TT Champion out of the saddle to the finish. Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Quel surprise, Fabian Cancellara has destroyed Pate's time at the first check, going 47 seconds faster - that's just after 18 kilometres. Millar is also going better than the American at the first check, but is still 43 seconds behind the motoring world time-trial champion. If he keeps this pace up, "Spartacus" will be hard to beat. Over barely ten miles, those differences are phenomenal. A Cancellara stage win may not soften the blow for CSC-Saxo Bank if Sastre loses narrowly, though...

1425 CEST - Cancellara looks super-smooth on his rainbow-banded Cervelo. His time is going to blow everyone out of the water. As Lang goes fastest at the chrono-2 point, youngster Chris Froome crosses the line giving it everything to take a good provisional second to Pate, only six seconds in arrears.

Here are the day's important start-times coming up by the way, folks, all in CEST:
105 Erik Zabel MRM 1446
108 Jens Voigt CSC 1452
110 George Hincapie THR 1456
115 Marzio Bruseghin LAM 1506
121 Stefan Schumacher GST 1518
*************************************
130. BOTCHAROV Alexandre 15:41:00
131. ASTARLOZA Mikel 15:44:00
132. CASAR Sandy 15:47:00
133. KREUZIGER Roman 15:50:00
134. SCHLECK Andy 15:53:00
135. KIRCHEN Kim 15:56:00
136. EFIMKIN Vladimir 15:59:00
137. VALJAVEC Tadej 16:02:00
138. SANCHEZ Samuel 16:05:00
139. VALVERDE Alejandro 16:08:00
140. VANDEVELDE Christian 16:11:00
141. MENCHOV Denis 16:14:00
142. EVANS Cadel 16:17:00
143. KOHL Bernhard 16:20:00
144. SCHLECK Frank 16:23:00
145. SASTRE Carlos 16:26:00

1440 CEST - Sylvain Chavanel second through the 18km time-check, 41 seconds down on Millar. He's probably still drunk from last night... all credit to "Mimosa", this is the zenith of his career. Can he go further or is it downhill from here? At the second time check (36km), David Millar is 31 seconds ahead of Lang. But Cancellara is coming through now... and he betters it by 1.03 (50.7km/h). Scary. He is going to be the man to beat today.


French Time Trial Champion Sylvain Chavanel races to the finish.
Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

In Cérilly, 21 year-old South African John-Lee Augustyn leaves the start-gate. He's had an incredible race, on course for a top-50 finish in his first Tour. He may be remembered for almost literally falling down a mountain on the twisty descent to Jausiers...

We have another new leader - Sebastian Lang of Gerolsteiner. After 53 kilometres, he crossed the line in 1.06.09, 35 seconds faster than Danny Pate. However, soon Millar and Cancellara are expected to break the tape even faster in Saint-Amand-Montrond.

1450 CEST - Jose Ivan Gutierrez out on course, he's looking laboured and not going so well. Meanwhile, fan favourite and CSC workhorse Jens Voigt leaves the start.

Some words from the very-early provisional leader Leif Hoste on what is a straightforward course: "Cadel is old enough and experienced enough. The circuit has no dangerous points, it's not raining. Cadel has already done it three or four times. The atmosphere [in the team] is relaxed, we have fun, we laugh - it hasn't changed in three weeks. I believe in him, it's all in his favour. Not an easy time-trial, so it's good for him."

At the third intermediate check at Les Piots Doux (47.5km), Millar goes through ahead of Lang, but immediately afterwards Cancellara beats his timing by 1.10. From this check, it's six mainly downhill kilometres to the finish. Cancellara should register something like a 1.04.20 at the finish, which would be a difficult time to beat for the stage win.

1405 CEST - World time-trial champion Fabian Cancellara shows his class, coming across the line in 1.04.12 - that's 49.5km/h. Who can beat that? To put it into perspective, only Millar and Lang are currently within two minutes at the finish. Indeed, two minutes or so up the road, David Millar had gone over in 1.05.27, but his mark will quickly broken by the Swiss star.

Lampre man Marzio Bruseghin "it'll be a big battle. Cadel on paper is faster, but Carlos, for me, was looking stronger. The time-trial is always different, we'll have to see. The whole team hope that he can do it. The best information to give is to push, push, give everything out, I did the same! Bjarne knows what Carlos has to do. I did a pretty good performance and when I do a good one, I'm very fast."

Lampre man Marzio Bruseghin leaves the start house... fast-forward 53 kilometres and Tour stage winner and Spanish champion Luis Leon Sanchez crosses the line in 1.08.03 for provisional twelfth, 3.51 down on Cancellara. Chavanel was 2.48 down on Cancellara in sixth.

 David Arroyo leaves the start house. I am of the opinion that nothing beats Caisse d'Epargne's set-up for cool - black kit that goes with any leader's jersey, beautiful Campagnolo wheels and smooth Pinarello curves on the bike. The essence of beauty.

The Tour's lone Canadian Ryder Hesjedal goes through the 36km check in sixth, 1.58 down on Cancellara and just a smidgeon slower than team-mate Pate. Nobody has put Menchov into the Sastre vs. Evans equation, but he could yet knock Sastre into third if the Spaniard doesn't have a good day. It would take something special for him to take back 1.04 on Evans to win the yellow, though.

Stefan Schumacher leaves Cérilly - he won the 29km time-trial in Cholet two weeks ago. Can he repeat it? He knows what he has to do, given Cancellara's fine performance.

We're getting down to the last of the riders separated by two minutes. At 1529 (ten minutes time) is the first of the three-minute men, Dmitri Fofonov who is 20th overall.

1524 CEST - Thomas Lovkvist going well at the second check at 36km, fourth and 1.38 down on Cancellara. This guy is ridiculous - still only 24 and on course to finish his fourth Tour de France. This will be comfortably his highest finish, plus he briefly wore the maillot blanc after the Cholet test.


For Crazy Jane: George looking good in blue... Photo © 2008 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Readers, I'm putting my hat on the line now. Prediction: Evans to beat Sastre by 2.10 and win the race by 35 seconds. I rather like Hincapie's TT bike... may not be stunning, but it sure looks fast. Ok I'll commit to Sastre winning by 3 seconds and nonstop fiestas in Spain next week for Sastre and Freire. Evans to win by 10 seconds, just missing out on Lemond's 1989 Victory.

The Australian has beaten Sastre in 14 Grand Tour time trials, Sastre has finished above the Lotto rider once (the 2005 opening stage) - history alone makes me favour Cadel. History suggests Evans, but let's not forget recovery, condition, the motivation of the yellow jersey, luck... all could play a part for Sastre. For the sake of the race excitement, let's hope that Evans doesn't lead Sastre by a minute after the 18km mark. I think the course is the salient factor today.

Cancellara proved it's a course for the TT specialists, and while Evans isn't in the CSC riders' league, he is proven on this type of route. My pick is based on the mystique surrounding the power of wearing the yellow jersey.

To recap, here are the provisional top-five. Bear in mind, there are still over 50 men to finish:

Current top 5
1. Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC-Saxo Bank) 1h 04m 12s
2. David Millar (Garmin-Chipotle) 1.16
3. Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner) 1.58
4. Danny Pate (Garmin-Chipotle) 2.33
5. Chris Froome (Barloworld) 2.39

Our live coverage continues in: Stage 20 Live Part 2

 
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