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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 July, 2005, 10:32 GMT 11:32 UK
Racewatch: Le Tour stage eight

Pieter Weening won the 231.5km eighth stage of the Tour de France en route to Gerardemer.

The Dutchman came from behind to beat Andreas Kloden in a sprint finish.

Alejandro Valverde led the sprint for third coming home at the head of a group that included Lance Armstrong, Jan Ullrich and Alexandre Vinokourov.

Race leader Armstrong had to defend against multiple attacks on the race's first major climb, the second category Col de la Schlucht.


1547: Pieter Weening just pips Andreas Kloden on the line. Lance Armstrong and the big names come in 27 seconds back.

1545: With two kilometres to go Andreas Kloden and Pieter Weening are 22 seconds clear.

1542: The race goes under the five kilometre banner. Andreas Kloden and Pieter Weening are holding on to their advantage from a group of 30 or so riders.

1538: Andreas Kloden and Pieter Weening are 10 seconds ahead of the field as the race hurtles down the other side of the Col de la Schlucht.

1533: Andreas Kloden flies past Pieter Weening at the summit of the Col de la Schlucht.

1528: Now it is Andreas Kloden who has attacked. The T-Mobile rider jumps off the front. Lance Armstrong, who has lost all his team-mates, opts to track Jan Ullrich.

1524: T-Mobile's Alexandre Vinokourov - third overall - attacks. He is tracked by Lance Armstrong and the Discovery Channell team. He goes again as the peloton passes Nicki Sorensen, Juan Antonio Flecha and Salvatore Commesso and Lance Armstrong has no choice but to go with him. Christophe Moreau leads the peloton.

1522: Pieter Weening is five kilometres from the summit and has a lead of almost a minute. Further down the road Ronny Scholz and Nicolas Jalabert have been enveloped by the peloton.

1520: The peloton sucks up the first of the stragglers from the group of seven - Cedric Vasseur. Illes Balears are on the front with a string of Discovery Channel riders lined up behind them. The peloton is under two minutes behind Pieter Weening.

1514: Riders litter the hillside as the leading group and the peloton splinters. Pieter Weening is 12 seconds ahead of Nicki Sorensen, Juan Antonio Flecha and Salvatore Commesso at the head of the race. The peloton is two minutes back.

1509: As the peloton hits the lower slopes the gradient begins to bite early for Robbie McEwen and Thor Hushovd who have been shelled out of the back.

1507: The Tour de France's first major ascent begins in earnest. Pieter Weening makes a break for it on the lower slopes of the Col de la Schlucht. The group spilts in two behind him. It is a 17km climb before a 15.5km downhill stretch to the finish in Gerardemer.

1456: There are 35km to go as the leaders pass through Munster. Their lead is down to three minutes and 30 seconds with Liquigas-Bianchi still working hard.

1438: The road is gradually - and gently - beginning to climb upwards and with less than 50km to the finishing line the leaders hold an advantage of a little over four minutes and 30 seconds.

1424: The time gap between the two groups ticks down to under five minutes as Illes Balears move to the front of the peloton to help drive the pace with Liquigas-Bianchi.

1413: With the race lead having topped six minutes, Liquigas-Bianchi hit the front of the peloton and attempt to up the tempo as the Vosges mountains hone into view.

1408: Salvatore Commesso takes the points at the final intermediate sprint of the day. From now the road starts to go up, initially on a little climb before the second category Col de la Schlucht.

1400: The Discovery Channel team is happy to let the seven leaders have their fun in the sun and the gap is going up all the time. But their relaxed view on things has enabled Tom Boonen and those who were dropped earlier in the day to catch up with the peloton.

1350: The race re-enters France as the leaders cross the Rhine. There are now 82km to go in the day.

1348: The leading seven are working well together. AG2R Prevoyance's Ludovic Turpin's attemtps to bridge the gap look doomed and he trails them by one minute and 15 seconds, although he is almost a minute ahead of the peloton.

1339: After almost 10km out on his own Nicki Sorensen is joined by six riders who will now look to open up as much time as possible on the peloton before they reach the Col de la Schlucht. They are: Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo), Salvatore Commesso (Lampre), Cedric Vasseur (Cofidis), Pieter Weening (Rabobank), Ronny Scholz (Gerolsteiner) and Nicolas Jalabert (Phonak).

1325: Three of the escapees are enveloped by the peloton with Nicki Sorensen having jumped off the front in a bid to go it alone with just over 100km remaining in the day.

1323: Thor Hushovd takes the points at the intermediate sprint to edge to within five points of Tom Boonen in green, and with those safely in the bag it now seems inevitable that the group of four will take their foot off the gas.

1316: The peloton have put a post-lunch rush on and the gap has come down to under a minute. Davitamon-Lotto are leading the chase with Discovery Channel shadowing them.

1300: Thor Hushovd joins the chasing pack and there are now four riders who lead the peloton by two minutes, 45 seconds at the 103-km stage. The riders are now picking up their food from their teams too.

1231: Sandy Casar has now been caught by two other riders, who surged away from the peloton - Fabian Cancellara (FAS) and Nicki Sorensen (CSC). The trio are now 30 seconds ahead of the pack.

There is a secondary group of about 40 riders, who are three minutes, 45 seconds behind the peloton and that group includes two-time stage winner and green jersey holder Tom Boonen.

1222: The five leading riders allow the peloton to catch them as they go into the sprint section in Sasbach as heavy rain begins to fall. Frenchman Sandy Casar is the only rider now going it alone - it appears Jens Voight told him to take up the pace - and Casar is 40 seconds ahead of the peloton.

1213: Erik Dekker of the Rabobank team finally catches up at the back of the peloton after changing his bike. Dekker paced himself by following the team's car.

1207: George Hincapie, of Lance Armstrong's Discovery team, is now the virtual leader of the Tour as the peloton are now one minute, 5 seconds behind. The T-Mobile team are having to work really hard at the front of the peloton as they do not have a representative in the breakaway group.

1200: The points are dished out for the fourth climb - the Cote de Zimmerplatz: Rasmussen (4pts), Kaschechkin (3pts), Voigt (2pts), Hincapie (1pt).

1152: All nine T-Mobile riders, wearing bright, pink tops, lead the peloton which is now one minute, 45 seconds behind. And the points from the third climb were distributed as follows: 1. Rasmussen (4pts), Jens Voigt (3pts), Hincapie (2pts), Kashechkin (1pt).

1149: There are 182 riders now left in the Tour after Isaac Galvez of the Illes Balears team and Sylvain Calzati (A2R) retire on stage eight - both were struggling after a fall and injury respectively. Christophe Mengin (FDJ) and Serhiy Honchar (DOM) did not register for the start of Saturday's race so are out too.

1130 BST: Michael Rasmussen is caught by George Hincapie of Lance Armstrong's Discovery team, Jens Voigt (CSC), Sandy Casar and Andrey Kashechkin as they move clear of the peloton by one minute, 38 seconds.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: Dutch rider Pieter Weening


Report: BBC Five Live's Simon Brotherton



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