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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 July 2007, 14:36 GMT 15:36 UK
Le Tour prologue as it happened
World time trial champion Fabian Cancellara destroys the field to win the Tour de France prologue in London.

The Swiss records eight minutes and 50 seconds over the 7.9km route from Whitehall to The Mall toppling Andreas Kloden's excellent time by 13 seconds.

Bradley Wiggins' hopes of winning a home stage end in disappointment as he places a creditable fourth.

And compatriots David Millar, Mark Cavendish, Gerraint Thomas and Charlie Wegelius also put in decent showings.


By Alex Trickett


To get involved text BBC Sport on 81111 or use 606

1838: Perhaps the final word should go to the French Tour officials, who seem universally to be singing London's praise. Well done everyone. Same time again next year?

"It's a great day for London and the Tour de France. I knew it would be great but hadn't dreamed that it could be this great. I'm very happy and very proud"
Tour director Christian Prudhomme

"Oh well. No British yellow jersey today and so the crowds start to flood out of Green Park, hopes perhaps turning to Mark Cavendish for a win tomorrow."
BBC Sport's Andy Nicolson

1829: And so the first kisses from the podium girls go to Fabian Cancellara. Well done indeed. He should meet them again tomorrow because it's unlikely that anyone will take 13 seconds out of him until the Tour returns home to France.

1825: Cancellara is confirmed as the winner and a beaten Millar is quick to pay tribute. He said: "Cancellara just killed us. Even on the best day of my career, I wouldn't have been able to live with that. That was as good as I could be and the course was beautiful. It was like a wave of noise just following me. I'm going to pick my moment and win a stage in this race."

Let's hope so David! How about tomorrow? Realistically though, Mark Cavendish may be the best British hope in Canterbury.

1815: Cancellara finishes in an amazing time of eight minutes and 50 seconds. Hats off to the Swiss rider. That was simply brilliant.

1812: Hold on there you German fans. Time trial world champion Fabian Cancellara is seven seconds quicker than Kloden at the first check. The Swiss is an animal when up against the clock.

"Is it possible there's something wrong with the clock? I'm watching in the US and here the clock doesn't stop until after the line and then it adds on 6 seconds to the time. I think may be it didn't do that for Klodden! As a Wiggins fan I demand a recount."
Stirlo via 606

1803: And here comes Wiggins - you can tell it's him by the wall of noise that travels with him. But it's more disappointment I'm afraid as the Londoner finishes third quickest in 09:13. A good effort. Geraint Thomas recorded 09:37 and I'm still working on the Cavendish time. Apologies for this - official timings are proving erratic.

1800: Wiggins is the local lad - from Maida Vale (down the road from me!) - and he is getting the biggest cheer of all. He is eight seconds back at the check.

"Nobody in the park can see him but everyone's cheering as Wiggins passes."
BBC Sport's Andy Nicolson

1758: The time for Millar is 09:23, which places him ninth. Disappointing for him and for the crowd. Vinokourov - not known as a time trial expert - sprints in in 09:20.

1756: Millar is 11 seconds down at the check. That does not bode well.

1755: The noise is deafening as Wiggins pumps his legs off the starting block.

1754: Millar must take heart (and possibly a few extra seconds) from the crowd. They are really behind him.

"Millar's off and you can touch the anticipation in Green Park as the masses wait for the climax."
BBC Sport's Andy Nicolson

1749: Off goes David Millar - is this his moment after a tough few years? The crowd is massively behind the Scot. Just behind him is Alexandre Vinokourov.

1746: George Hincapie is second fastest in 09:13 and British hopes Mark Cavendish and Geraint Thomas are on the course.

"A French cop just took a lump out of his bike on Hyde Park Corner."
BBC Radio Five Live's Alex Murray

1735: Look out Vladimirs, Andreas Kloden is coming through and fast. He is eight seconds quicker than the Russians at the first check point. He finishes in an astounding 09:03. That was some ride.

1730: If there is to be a home win on this stage, we'll know about it in the next hour. The big guns are starting to roll out. Here comes Andreas Kloden, another top tip for the Paris podium.

Fans encourage on a rider during the Tour de France prologue
Crowds are several deep along the route
1715: Valverde is in with a time of 09:33. Not bad form from a man who will come to life when the going gets tough in the mountains.

1710: Two start times to look out for: David Millar pushes off at 1749 and Bradley Wiggins follows at 1755. Meanwhile, a tired Wegelius reveals that he may start to enjoy the occasion when his "lungs stop burning" - only 3,500km to go Charlie!

1705: Alejandro Valverde is under way - he's unlikely to win today but is tipped to feature towards the top of the general classification in Paris.

1700: And the crowd goes wild. Charlie Wegelius, the first of the five British riders, completes the course 31 seconds off the pace. A respectable showing, but more is expected from Bradley Wiggins and David Millar.

"I like the video of Alp d'Huez (see 1640). Of course, there were no fans on that route. When we were there one of our drunken members decided to slap every descending rider on the back which I'm sure was well appreciated at 50mph!"
David by text

1645: A new Vladimir rules the roost after Gusev topples Karpets to set a new time to beat of 09:16. Karpets has had his provisional time moved back to 09:17.

1640: The first of the Brits is under way soon. Before that though, a glimpse of what is to come. Just found this on YouTube and it shows an amateur's descent of Alpe d'Huez from a camera mounted on his bike. D'Huez isn't on the route this year, but there are plenty of high peaks and terrifying drops for all the riders to negotiate. Rather them than me - I'll stick to bobbly canal paths (see 1530)

1630: McEwan breaks 10 minutes, but only just. No prizes for him today.

"Massive applause for McEwan - all of west London's bar staff must have the day off."
BBC Sport's Andy Nicolson

1620: Popular Australian Robbie McEwan is on the road and just passing the House of Commons. He doesn't look to be on the limit, but his aim is the green jersey. Expect to see him in the mix if it comes down to a bunch sprint tomorrow.

"The closer you get to the finish, the more enthusiastic the crowd gets and the more difficult it gets to see anything but the tops of the team cars."
BBC Sport's Andy Nicolson

"Stuart O'Grady wiped out just in front of me! Don't know why he clipped the curb though".
Jamesh, Constitution Hill, by text

1612: Vladimir Karpets is flying. He smashes the best time with a 09:16. These guys are averaging around 33 mph on the streets of London. With a 30 mph limit in town, they'd better hope that Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has turned off the speed cameras.

1609: Zabriskie takes a few chances along the way, manoevering his bike over a speed hump to cut down the overall distance. He hits The Mall in a best time of nine minutes and 22 seconds.

1600: As Big Ben chimes four times, American David Zabriskie starts his Tour. He is one of the favourites to win this stage, so we should have a much better idea of what represents a good time in just a few minutes.

German fan Didi Senft nicknamed El Diablo poses in front of Buckingham Palace
El Diablo takes time out from Hell to visit London
1550: It's official - Le Tour is in London. The race's most famous fan Didi Senft (AKA El Diablo) has been posing for the cameras outside Buckingham Palace. For those just getting into Tour cycling, expect to see a lot more of the devil, waving his pesky trident all the way around France.

1548: The first crash of the day. Stuart O'Grady falls hard and has to change bikes before continuing on. That's the Australian out of contention for the prologue. But he's made of tough stuff and will battle on in this year's Tour.

1530: I had no idea that my commute to work should actually take eight minutes. This morning, I did my own personal prologue, pedalling from Marylebone to TV Centre in Shepherd's Bush at what I considered a reasonable clip. I negotiated the bobbly canal-side course of roughly 7km in 18 minutes. By my calculations, these chaps would take eight minutes at most. Gutted.

1525: Frenchman William Bonnet is the current leader in 09:26. And most cyclists are breaking 10 minutes.

"The crowd is absolutely huge and is lapping this up. Every rider that passes gets a massive cheer as he flashes past. Just wait until the Brits hit the course."
BBC Sport's Andy Nicolson

1511: Be proud London - this is a fantastic route and the crowd is several people deep along its length. Degano is first to finish the time trial (or "race of truth") and he does so in a time of 10 minutes, 20 seconds. That won't survive the next few hours.

1500: We are racing. Enrico Degano is first on the route - he must be a strong favourite to set the time to beat.

1455: The London prologue route should be fairly quick because there are wide roads and relatively few sharp turns. Conditions are also dry for almost the first time in a month. Let's hope we don't see any spills today, certainly none like this head over handle bars job - brilliantly recorded for posterity on the isporty cycling community.

Meanwhile a freebies update...

"I got a free hat, most useful in this weather, and we got sprayed, which was nice."
Jamesh, Constitution Hill

1445: London is really warming to this event and the crowd numbers are swelling. Even the French are betraying signs of excitement. Sports newspaper L'Equipe paid homage to the first London Tour start by publishing its front page in English for the first time in history under the headline, "God save le Tour". Bravo!

"Crowd chaos getting into Hyde Park - sheer volume of people has forced closure of a foot bridge. Orgainisation of access to the fans' village leaves a lot to be desired but the mood still feels good."
BBC Sport's Andy Nicolson

"Mr Trickett I think you've got it right, Cancellara should be seen as favorite given his Tour de Suisse showing. I suspect it will be Cancellara, Wiggins, Zabriskie. Hoping for top 10 for Millar and top 30 for Thomas and Cavendish. Looking forward to the commentary. Let's not have any moles please."
David by text

1435: Let's talk about the cyclists who will be speeding around London's streets in the coming hours. Setting aside any controversy surrounding the sport, they are supremely fit by any standards. What I didn't realise is that you can be so fit that you get fat. According to a piece by a colleague in BBC News, Tour legend Miguel Indurain "had lungs so big they displaced his stomach, leading to his trademark paunch".

1423: Word on the London street is that there will be 1-2m people lining the route today. That's phenomenal by any standards. The first rider they will see is Enrico Degano, who goes off at 1500. The first Briton is Charlie Wegelius at 1651.

"Just got to Hyde Park and there's precious little space along the barriers already. Crowd's huge, weather's good (for a change) and there's no sign of Wiggins yet."
BBC Sport's Andy Nicolson

1410: Apparently I may have oversold the freebies (see 1330). A BBC colleague in the thick of it has just described the offerings as "general tat". He has plundered nothing at all from the "caravane". Do let us know if you do any better. Personally, I'm surprised. I recall doing quite well when the Tour last came to England in 1994. But then again, I was a poor student in need of pens, pencils and car stickers.

1400: From two wheels to four. Lewis Hamilton bags pole position for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Does this auger well for a British triumph in the cycling prologue as well? Probably not, but it's worth a try. Here's hoping...

1350: The early 606 money appears to be on time trial world champion Fabian Cancellara winning this prologue stage. I'm still hoping for a wonder ride from Wiggins or Millar. Feel free to chip in with your thoughts via 606 or text (see above).

"I've been here outside Buckingham Palace since 2100 last night. Hopefully today we'll see Bradley Wiggins win by a significant margin."
Chris Evans from Crewe

"I was cycling round the course a couple of hours ago and I heard this whirring sound behind me when I was on Carriage Drive. When I looked round it was the Quick Step team - I saw Tom Boonen in his rainbow stripes as he went past. They weren't going too fast so I tucked in behind the team car for a couple of miles - quite an experience."
Ian Hall via text

"The caravane is coming through with its surreal blend of London buses and ten-foot high soft toys."
BBC Radio Five Live's Alex Murray outside Canada Gate

1330: Good afternoon bike fans. The big day is finally upon us as the Tour de France visits London for the first time. Thousands are already lining the prologue route, which sweeps from Whitehall past Downing Street, Parliament Square and Buckingham Palace before finishing on The Mall. The action doesn't start until 1500, when each of the 189 riders will tackle the short 7.9km route on his own and against the clock.

But before that, it's freebies time. The word from Wimbledon is that handouts at SW19 have been very poor this year. Expect better from the fabled Tour "caravane". It traditionally comprises dozens of sponsor trucks, parading pretty promotion girls handing out goodies and can stretch for miles. Bring your sacks along Londoners. At the very worst, there should be some stocking fillers for Christmas in it for you.



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