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  Sunday, 15 July, 2001, 18:28 GMT 19:28 UK
Brotherton's Tour moment: Stage eight
AP: Zabel leads home the peleton, 35 minutes behind the winner
Late arrival: Zabel leads home the peleton
Throughout the Tour de France, Simon Brotherton is providing daily race reports for BBC Five Live and stage highlights for Sport Online.

Today's moment occured 35 minutes and 54 seconds after the stage to Pontarlier had been won by Dutchman Erik Dekker.

That was when the main field crossed the line after a long, miserable day in the rain, having allowed 14 riders to escape and build up an extraordinary lead.

Julich and Voigt during stage eight of Le Tour
Julich and Voigt were in the tardy peleton
Strictly speaking, the peloton was outside the time limit and eligible for disqualification from the Tour.

But, in the interest of a good race, there was no chance of them actually being eliminated by the organisers.

Had the lead group stayed together and all riders been given the same time, it would have been the greatest winning margin in a stage of the Tour in the post war era.

That record stands at 22 minutes and 50 seconds by Spaniard, Jose Luis Viejo, on a stage from Montgenevre to Manosque, in 1976.

Hats off

As it was, the breakaway split in the closing kilometres, with nine men finishing two-and-a-half minutes after the winner.

Nonetheless, all 14 were still more than 22:50 ahead of the main field at the finish.

Chapeau - as they say in France - for a fine effort on a thoroughly gloomy, dispiriting day.

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