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Tour de France 2008


Stage 20: Marcoussis to Paris (146km)


To get involved text 81111 or use 606

SNAPSHOT:Spain's Alberto Contador wins the Tour de France after Italian Daniele Bennati claims victory on the Champs-Elysees in the final stage.

By John Sinnott

1653: Italian Daniele Bennati clinches stage 20 of the Tour de France in a bunch sprint finish as Alberto Contador claims a remarkable win in the overall classification.

The Spaniard is the first first rider to win both the white and yellow jerseys in the Tour de France since Jan Ullrich in 1997.

The stage win is Bennati's second of the 2007 race.

1649: The Lampre-Fondital team is at the head of the peloton with just over a one kilometre to go.

1648: Just under 4km left and everything is set up for that much anticipated bunch sprint.

1646: Just over 5km to go and the breakaway group are swallowed up by the peloton.

1645: The peloton is picking up pace and are now just seven seconds behing the breakaway group.

1643: With just one more lap to the breakaway group's lead is down to 16 seconds.

1640: With 10km to go rain is falling on the Champs-Elysees and the breakaway group are managing to hold their lead to 20 seconds.

1639: With just 12km to go the peloton is just 21 seconds behind the breakaway group.

1637: The breakaway group is losing some impetus as its lead slips to 25 seconds.

1634: With the Barloworld team seemingly incapable of reeling in the breakaway riders, the Credit Agricole team moves to the front of the peloton to up the ante.

1631: The Caisse d'Epargne team have two riders in that 10-man breakaway group, which also includes Juan Antonio Flecha, who has previously won a stage of the Tour de France. Three laps to go now.

1627: Texter Mike goes in for the kill with the mention of four cricket World Cups and the small matter of that Ashes urn. Touche

1626: There are four laps to go and the breakaway group has established a 42-second lead.

1622: There are 29km to go in the 2007 Tour de France as the breakaway group ups its advantages to 34 seconds over the peloton.

1619: The peloton is proving unable to close the gap on the 10-man breakaway group, who are now 30 seconds ahead.

1618: Mike hits back with a text - see below - writing: "1966 was a long time ago wasn't it?" One World Cup is better than none Mike........

1615: Lance Armstrong is reportedly waiting at the finish line to greet Alberto Contador.

1614: The Barloworld is leading the peloton charge to catch the breakaway group.

1612: The 10-man group is increasing its lead over the peloton - it's 28 seconds now. Alberto Contador is less than an hour from claiming Tour de France victory.

1610: As the third lap starts a 10-man group has broken clear and has established a 15-second lead over the peloton.

1607: The peloton is getting strung out as the riders bid for a prestigious stage win.

1603: Freddy Bichot's bid for glory is short-lived as the Frenchman is swamped by the chasing peloton.

1602: Freddy Bichot has built up a 15-second lead over the peloton.

1559: The first attack of Stage 20 as Freddy Bichot breaks clear of the peloton just before the riders enter the Champs-Elysees for the second lap.

1554: Nearly three hours after the race began and finally some action as the riders pick up the pace on those eight laps of the Champs-Elysees.

The Discovery team is leaving nothing to chance with the whole of the team at the front of the peloton to protect leader Alberto Contador.

1549: The peloton, or should that be the procession, is approaching the Champs-Elysees.

1544: While Anglo/US relations remain tense on 606 I've just received a fiesty text from Mike - "Being Australian we have lots to cheer for when it comes to sporting events." Very true Mike, but I think if you take a cursory look at the general classification your nation is second and your team's performance in the Asian Cup left a lot to be desired.

Not that as an impartial BBC journalist I'm anti-Australian, I hasten to add Mike - my father-in-law is Australian and in the spirit of Commonwealth relations we often go cycling together.

1542: The race has reached Issy-les-Moulineaux, home to French sports newspaper L'Equipe.

1529: Spitting with rain again in Paris where a large expectant crowd is waiting. There are lots of Aussies in Paris ready to cheer on Cadel Evans. I've also spotted a solitary Crewe Alex flag! BBC Sport's Chris Russell.

1532: Not that David Millar will be pulling up any more trees with Saunier Duval-Prodir - reportedly he is joining the Slipsteam/Chipotle team.

1523: Shock! Horror! A good new story from the Tour. Since the Tour started David Millar's Saunier Duval-Prodir team have planted 35,000 trees in Mali as part of a humanitarian project it is taking part in. So far in 2007 the team has planted 400,000 trees and is hoping to plant another 600,000 trees over the next year.

1517: The race is approaching the town of Chatenay-Malabry. The observant among you will know that it is the home to the French anti-doping laboratory that has exposed several cycling cheats this year.

1514: Bad news to break to you. Not sure we're going to see any more chateaux. The race has just gone past Orly airport as the peleton moves into the Paris suburbs.

1513: Alberto Contador's Discovery Channel take a turn to lead the peloton.

1508: Just got a text from BBC Sport's Chris Russell, who is in Paris waiting for the race to arrive in the capital, which was very rainy this morning. From outside the cafe he is sitting his weather forecast is of brighter skies.

1500: Nearly 60km ridden and the race flits past a chateau of a more modern type - the French Atomic Energy Commission.

1452: The crowds are starting to thicken as the race moves closer to Paris. There is light rain which could make things interesting on the streets of the French capital.

1443: For those Francophiles out there who are ticking off those chateaux the race has just passed Chateau de Coubertin.

1440: News just in that retired former Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich will compete in an amateur race in Germany on 3 October.

Sacked by T-Mobile last July after he was linked to a doping scandal in Spain, Ullrich will take part in an amateur race in Weil der Stadt, 30km from Stuttgart, with friend and Team Astana cyclist Andreas Kloeden.

The proceeds of the race will go to organisations who help handicapped children.

1438: Another kilometre, another chateau, this time the Chateau de la Madeleine -

1434: The race is in the Vallee de Chevreuse with quite a strong wind blowing, though the trees provide some shelter for the riders with 100km to go.

1429: More chateau action - this time the Chateau de Mauvieres -

1424: The race moves past Chateau de Dampierre - - which looks well worth a visit. TF2 give it the full Gallic treatment, waxing lyrical for a good couple of minutes.

1418: Just over 100km from the finish line and as he closes in on victory Alberto Contador is all smiles. The T-Mobile team is taking a turn at leading the peloton.

1402: A transatlantic debate has broken out on 606 which is brewing up nicely. Journalistic impartiality forbids me from taking sides, but what I will say is that I'm enjoying the French television coverage provided by channel TF2.

Every time the race passes a chateau, the television coverage pans away from the riders to give viewers a brief history on said historical building. Nice.

1357: Up to the 26km point and you can tell the riders are taking it very easy as they are being outsprinted by a horse rider.

1348: The race is past the 20km, with the Quickstep team leading the peloton.

Already fans are gathering behind barriers on the Champs-Elysees, with the race still some hours away from the capital.

1338: Royal Blue Mersey, who is in France, writes on 606: "I went to see the ITT between Cognac and Angouleme on Saturday.

"There were large, enthusiastic and knowledgable crowds, local folk with a page of L'Equipe in one hand and stop watch in the other, comparing times.

"Regardless of scandal, regardless of the mauling at the hands of the press, the people still love 'Le Tour'."

1327: Britain's third rider left in the race is Geraint Thomas, who is in 140th place, an impressive performance given he is the youngest rider in this year's Tour de France.

1319: If David Millar was scowling, Charly Wegelius was able to raise a smile when he was interviewed before the start of the race, particularly when the subject of a post-race beer was mentioned.

An experienced domestique, the 29-year-old Wegelius has had a good season.

He was key to Danilo Di Luca winning this year's Giro d'Italia and is Britain's top-placed rider - 45th - in this year's Tour.

1314: A very gentle start to the race with the riders looking demob happy. Less so David Millar, who promises to talk about his future plans after the race ends later on Sunday.

1304: The peloton, comprising 141 riders, has left Marcoussis. That is 48 riders fewer than when the Tour started three weeks ago.

1259: Both Alberto Contador and Cadel Evans have been close to death.

In 2002 Contador recovered from a near-fatal stroke in the Tour of Asturias which left him in a coma for three weeks.

Evans has also been in a coma after being kicked in the head by a horse at the age of seven.

1235: It seems a lifetime since the Tour de France made its Grand Depart from London.

To be precise it was just 22 days ago that about one million people crowded the route of the prologue.

Those scenes prompted a delighted Tour director Christian Prudhomme to enthuse: "If this is not a success, I don't know what a success is."

But what has occurred since then - positive drugs tests for pre-race favourite Alexandre Vinokourov, Cristian Moreni and Patrik Sinkewitz plus the sacking of race leader Michael Rasmussen - has been anything but a triumph.

Even controversial musician Pete Doherty might blanch at the drugs revelations this race has produced, while the International Cycling Union Tour and Tour organisers continue to squabble over the best way to stamp out doping.

Which is a pity because the race has provided one of the closest finishes since Greg Lemond snatched victory from Laurent Fignon in 1989.

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