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97th Tour de France - Prologue Live
By Mark Sharon
Date: 7/3/2010
97th Tour de France - Prologue Live

97th Tour de France - Prologue Live
Iban Mayoz leads the parade start in Rotterdam but it is Tony Martin setting the first benchmark

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Saturday 3rd July
Rotterdam - Rotterdam, ITT 8.9km

Welcome to the 2010 tour! As expected,  Cervélo TestTeam  will start the tour one man short after withdrawing Xavier Florencio yesterday after finding out the rider mistakenly used a medication on saddle sores that controlled the banned item ephedrine. An appeal to the UCI to replace the rider at the last minute was turned down. Start order for the prologue.

While the day is overcast and dry, the riders have a wet parcours after some rain today. Iban Mayoz of Footon Servetto led off the parade today with a time of 11:09 it wasn't long after that Rabobank's Maarten Tjallingii bested the Spanish rider's time aside going under ten minutes at: 10:49.

BMC's American Brent Bookwalter an Atlanta resident riding took the lead with a good time of 10:35. But it wouldn't stand long as HTC's fast man Tony Martin set the hallmark at 10 minutes and 10 seconds. This time may stand until the finish.

Graphic © 2010 Tour de France

 Yep Tony Martin is an odds on favourite. Bradley second, no third, Cancellara will actually win, but Lance Armstrong will be in the top five, maybe third. Contador will be close maybe fourth Nicholas Roche is a birthday boy today! He is team leader of the French team AG2r.

We have 123 riders left to start and Martin's time has withstood the challenge of Boasson Hagen, Levi Leipheimer and Tyler Farrar all at a quarter minutes gap off the German.

 Let's have a look at the route...The route is an 8.9 km circuit in the shape of a wonky 'p' around the inner harbour area of Rotterdam. Virtually dead flat the only rises are a couple of bridges. The first and last 3 km run in parallel with the centre second being a square loop.

Vande Velde, Garmin/Transitions leader comes up 50 seconds short on Martin, with Astana's Alexandr Vinokourov shwing well in his return to the tour 28 seconds off the Martin's pace.

About 83 riders have now finished. Weather conditions have been variable with rain for some of the day. That's eased off and times look to be improving.

Brit Thomas Geraint has leapt to second place behind Tony Martin (10') with a time of 10:13. There are still 100 riders to go including the big names of Armstrong, Schleck and Contador. The tour has packed the final fifteen riders with the top timetrialists and G.C. favorites .Our final five riders today are Juan Antonio Flecha, Lance Armstrong, Fabian Cancellara and Alberto Contador.

 The crowds are immense, undeterred by the rain - they're Dutch they are used to it!  Big favourite for both the prologue and the overall Brad Wiggins is in 24th place with a time of 10:48.  It's back raining, which even on this relatively tame course will cause potential dangers. The Dutch love their traffic calming and excess road markings so plenty of slippery surfaces. One of those who have already tumbled is Matthias Frank

1800 CET - Crowd favorite JensVoigt (Saxo Bank) is about to start - probbaly has a pretty good chance today. Simon Gerrans of Sky is looking good out on the course, in fine form, using his electric Di2 derailleurs.

Oscar Freire has departed while Robbie McEwen has just got back in - he'll be heading for a hot shower Tony Martin was explaining that his legs weren't that good, and with the wet he was having to take it easy. He doesn't expect to be in first come the end

1814 CET - At km 4'2 Voigt is in 33rd place on splits.  It looks like teams might be using their own cars this year. Usually they are supplied by the Tour de France vehicle sponsor. We'll check and confirm.

 1820 CET -Jens Voigt didn't quite light any fires, 36th and 49" down at the end. Alessandro Ballan is on the course which is very slick. Manuel Cardoso crashed and needed 20 stiches including a whack on the head. He still finished!

 David Zabriskie was very unhappy about the conditions. Looks like he's damaged his bike too.  Andreas Kloden - super domestigue and climber - is in the blocks and is... off. Riding for Radio Shack of coure, so this is one of his few oppos to ride for hmself, not The Boss.

The roads look like mirrors, and every rider is taking corners like a threepenny bit (and old Brit coin with eight sides).

Ah, apparently Zabriskie was quizzed about a red sticker on his bike. He said his bike needed to go to the hospital which was a bit of an odd thing to say, except what he meant was that his bike was off to be x-ray scanned to check for bike-doping - so there! No secret motors on the bike, just old Super Z-Man....  I wonder if the bike will have to pee in a jar too?

So can anyone tell us what make and model of helmet was Cardoso wearing - sounds a good advert if he still managed to finish despite head-butting the tarmac.

 Armstrong is warming up - he must be under immense pressure. The Wall Street Journal resisted a RadioShack injunction and published a full article about Floyd Landis' comments.

1840 CET - Mark Cavendish is off! His bike handling skills are second to none, teh Hausler incident notwithstanding, so he will be one to push to the limit.

Nobody has managed to best Tony Martin so far...

CET 18.42 CET - Cavendish is powering on. The fastest man in the world in the sprint and he is probably pushing himself very hard, physically and mentally.

David Millar is ready, steady... go - Millar looks smooth a perfect show of time trial panache and position. Riders over the Erazmus bridge are greeted by fans 5 deep cheering them on.

Theoretically Millar has a good chance, but he is in a different team set-up. There is no Wiggins, but Christian Vande Velde is now leader. Millar is 3 seconds off Martin's pace - Let's hope he has a good ride. Voigt is saying he is good to be back, but the prologue was hard. He is out of breath and found the course tough, vicious.

 Frank Schleck is about to start. This will be his last Tour de France for Saxo Bank. Next year it's a Luxemburger team for him and his brother Andy... apparently or so the rumors go.

1851 CET - Cavendish has managed to stay up OK but is 83rd a minute down - easy time. Will do - 43 now.

Robert Geskink has left, but the mountain man will be content to just get round.  We are getting close to the last big 30 but who knows whether they will be able to overhaul the early pace-setters.


1855 CET - David Millar's intermediate time is second only to Martin which shows real promise. He drives to the finish head down around the final turn... David Millar is gutting it out; he's not going to do it ... he's in second now only ten seconds off Martin's time in at 10:20.

It looks like the crowds have swelled - courtesy of the end of the World Cup match ending. Argentina 0 .... Germany 4. Ooops. Poor old Maradona - let's see you stru tit now - hand of God gave you a good slapping. English footie fans will understand the sentiment! Martin in Yellow today would give German fans more to celebrate today.

18.58 CET - Frank Schleck arrives in 51st place 47" down. Safety first obviously.  Thomas Voeckler is en route - number 151 for BBox Telecom. Alessandro Petacchi has put in a time of 10:48:49 - not bad Alejet!

Carlos Sastre out on the course now, not exactly burning up the road playing it safe on the corners.

Robert Gesink is arriving and won't do much 10:51. He is getting raucous applause from his country folk though. Fabian Cancellara is warming up, and so is the course. Sastre is enjoying better conditions. What state is he in though, because his Giro was very hard. Sastre is in 50th at the first time check.

Heading into the final thirty riders folks... sparks to fly with Tony Martin still in the virtual leaders jersey we'll see if Contador, Cancellara, Armstrong or Evans can do better soon....

Our live coverage continues in Part 2

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