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Tour de France 2008

Thor Hushovd wins the second stage of the Tour de France after an exciting sprint finish into Saint-Brieuc.

The Norwegian rider hit the front with 300m remaining and held off a spirited challenge from Kim Kirchen with Gerald Ciolek coming home third.

French riders Thomas Voeckler, Sylvain Chavenel, Christophe Moreau and David Lelay led for much of the race but were hauled in with three kilometres to go.

Britain's Mark Cavendish and David Millar finished in the peloton.

To get involved use 606 or text us your views & comments on 81111 - please put cycling before your message. (Not all contributions can be used)

By Peter Scrivener

1615: That's it from me this weekend. I'm back to my usual duties gearing up for the Olympics next week, so you'll have someone else taking you through stages three, four and beyond.

Gutted that Cavendish couldn't do the business on my shift, but I kind of knew that he probably wouldn't - here's hoping I get to call him home in Beijing instead.

Thanks for all your input over the last two days and enjoy the rest of the Tour - I'll be in France for its conclusion and if I can persuade the wife and kids, I'll be searching out a decent viewing point between Roanne and Montlucon.

"No matter how many times I watch the breakaway group being crushed in the last kilo I still hope and believe that a breakaway rider will stay away and win the day!"
Reallywheelie on 606

"Gotta love Cancellara for trying, some effort - time for young Cavendish to do something though, and Millar looking good for a day in yellow if he can time trial on Tuesday like we know he can." kimitastic49 on 606

1608: The result sees Valverde retain his yellow jersey after finishing in the peloton while British duo Millar and Cavendish were also in the bunch in 26th and 27th respectively.

1605: Hushovd takes the stage from Kim Kirchen with Gerald Ciolek coming home third.

1558: Chavenel is caught and Cancellara makes a dash for glory, but goes too early and Thor Hushovd comes by with 300m to go to take the win.

1555: Britain's Cavendish is being lined up as the peloton chase Chavenel down.

1552: The peloton has caught sight of the leaders as they climb up the final hill into Saint-Brieuc. And Chavenel has made a break with 2.8km to go. Lelay is snaffled up as is Voeckler.

"The peloton is really strung out - I don't know where the organisation is."
Peter Slater on 5 Live

1550: The leading Frenchmen are sharing the load as they try and defend their 30-second lead as they get into the last five kilometres.

Will they stay clear?

"They might be leaving this a bit too late. I'm surprised any breakaway with Moreau in it has been allowed to survive this long, even with the 40 second deficit he currently has."
Generic_Fanboy on 606

1545: Just 10km to go and the front four are not giving up their lead easily - 44 seconds is the advantage.

"You need to be in the first 30 or 40 as a sprinter if you want to be in with a shout of winning, even at 15km out."
Graham Jones on 5 Live

1537: Barloworld team leader Soler is over two minutes behind the peloton and it looks like his race could be over on stage two.

1535: Team Columbia and Quickstep pushing the peloton on at a fair old rate and surely it's only a matter of a few kilometres before France's finest are back with the field. Lead down to under one minute.

1530: Barloworld's Mauricio Soler, who was involved in a crash yesterday, is dropped by the peloton.

1527: 25km to go for the front four and they are about 80 seconds ahead of the peloton.

1525: Graham Jones, the former Tour rider, is on 5 Live and is backing Oscar Friere to come out the peloton and take the stage.

"Do you know if Wim Vansevenant (Predictor-Lotto) has plans to become the first cyclist in the Tour history to hold the Lantern Rouge 'honour' for the third consecutive year?"
Reallywheelie on 606

1520: Thanks to all you who spotted the deliberate mistake at 1355 and texted in - pont does indeed mean bridge and not river - it's rectified.

1517: The roads are damp again but the peloton continues to close in on the leading four - just 90 seconds behind now with 35km to Saint-Brieuc.

"FdJ really working hard in the peloton: Gilbert must feel he can get something out of this stage, and I wouldn't put it past him."
Lowlandbrit on 606

1510: Lead is down to 2 minutes with 39km to go.

1505: Just a reminder that live audio coverage with Peter Slater is available to those of you in the UK via the link on the right.

1502: I remember getting a day off school in the mid-80s to watch the Milk Race as it was called back then come through my village, Silsden. It's just sprung to mind now as I watched the back of the peloton disappear off into the distance and a couple of forlorn faces realised that that was the Tour.

The hype and excitement was huge for the Milk Race, but the reality was the race whizzed past in a matter of moments and that was it - still, getting a day off school was great.

I can understand going up a mountain and camping overnight, but watching a flat stage doesn't quite do it for me.

1500: Nice stat for you - Moreau is the one pushing the breakaway - he's done 42% of the work over the last 10 minutes with Chavenel and Voeckler 30% between them - I suppose you can't blame them for wanting to take a bit of a breather, Voeckler in particular after his exertions yesterday.

1455: The lead is under three minutes - with four out front though, is there any chance they can keep this going to the end?

"I presume the bike lane (see 1435) is for sweet old ladies doing their morning rounds - not hundreds of fit young bucks pummeling their way to the finish line!?
DavidAttenborough on 606

1450: The locals are confident - there is a huge bicycle and the name David Lelay carved into a field.

1447: About 60km to Saint-Brieuc and any money going on Agritubel new boy Lelay taking the stage win in his home town? If he's going to do it, I guess he's going about it the right way - and he and Moreau have joined Voeckler and Chavenel at the front.

The French must be loving this - four home riders at the front of the Tour.

1445: In the middle of that little episode, Chavenel eased across the final intermediate sprint 20 seconds ahead of Voeckler, while Lelay took the final point.

1442: That has cost both leaders time - Chavenel eased up to allow Voeckler back, but the Agrituble duo are now just 50 seconds back.

To say thanks for waiting, Voeckler immediately goes in front of Chavenel. After a few dry kilometres, we are back in the wet.

1441: Problem for Voeckler who has to change his bike.

1437: Voeckler takes three points for getting over the final climb of the day first, Chavenel takes second but Moreau and Lelay are working well and are two minutes back.

1435: If you have any comments or questions for the 5 Live team who will be providing live audio commentary from 1500 BST, get on 606 (link above).

"The weather is decidedly dodgy - gusty winds, rain showers and temperatures that don't feel much like July.

"It's quite a technical finish. One pinch point at a mini-roundabout then a fast downhill section with a left hand curve. Riders will have to watch out for some drain covers, especially if it's wet. In the final couple of hundred metres there are painted sections on the left of the road - for a bike lane ironically - and these are very slippy."
BBC Sport's Phil Sheehan on 606 and in Saint-Brieuc

1427: Christophe Moreau is third over the top after jumping out of the peloton with Agrituble team-mate David Lelay - they have daylight between them and the peloton are just over three minutes behind the leading pair.

1425: Some of the riders have taken to putting on waterproofs, including Valverde, who is being held upright by his team-mates as he negotiates the tricky task of climbing a hill and getting dressed.

Voeckler and Chavenel are over the top but it is the Cofidis rider who is allowed to collect the maximum points. Will Voeckler live to regret that one when the mountain stages start?

1420: It's not a huge climb, only a couple of kilometres long, but it's the first category three of this year's Tour. And despite the weather, it is positively sidling it down now, the fans are out in force leaving just a narrow gap for the leading pair to get through.

1418: The long-time leaders continue up the Mur-de-Bretagne oblivious as Jalabert gets back on his bike, picks up his own food and gets on the back of the peloton which is now within four minutes of Voeckler and Chavenel.

1415: Crash in the feedzone, Frank Schleck failed to grab his feedbag cleanly and Nicolas Jalabert suffered, but all other riders managed to avoid him.

1410: Just over halfway through today's stage and the leading duo are still over four minutes clear of the peloton.

"Letting Voeckler get too far ahead probably isn't a great idea."
Lowlandbrit on 606

1408: Sporting Nonesense on 606 may be keen to hear talk from the Rabobank team. Rabobank are going to do no work to bring back the escapees - they want to look after Denis Menchov and Oscar Friere today as it's windy and the conditions are dangerous.

1405: Team CSC rider Fabian Cancellara loses a bit of time as he drops back to his car with a rear-wheel problem. A bloke leans out and checks it in similar fashion to Kuschynski (see 1345), sees nothing wrong and sends his Swiss rider on his way. Sixty seconds later Cancellara is back and his wheel is changed.

1400: The sprint certainly livened up the peloton which has now closed to 4 mins 25 secs with Gilbert taking the final point up for grabs as we approach the halfway point.

1356: As part of their ongoing gentlemen's agreement, Voeckler allows Chavenel to take the second intermediate sprint maximum.

1355: Riders are filing through the medieval town of Pontivy. The town was named after a monk called Ivy who built a bridge over the river Blavet in the seventh century (pont being French for bridge) It has a fortified 15th century château and was used by Napoleon as a military base and he renamed it Napoléonville in the early 19th Century.

After Napolean's defeat, it went back to Pontivy.

1350: Bit of drizzle in the air - the roads are slightly damp as opposed to being soaked. Looks like the peloton have decided to get a bit of a wriggle on. Lead down to 5 mins 30 secs with a little over 90km remaining.

1345: Liquigas rider Aleksandr Kuschynski has some interesting running repairs done to his bike - one of his team hangs out the car window and attempts to sort something out near the back wheel - perillous stuff, but all appears to be good as he gets a pat on the backside after a couple of seconds and told to get on with it.

1342: The lead is up over six minutes as the riders pass through yet another impossibly perfect Breton village. The Drapeau tricolore and Breton black and white flags are being waved with some gusto by a hardy quartet from the top of the church.

You wouldn't catch me up at such height, I get dizzy looking out the window of the office here at TVC and I'm only five floors up.

"Chavanel and Voeckler are helping each other. If Voeckler wears the King if the Mountains jersey tonight he wears it till Thursday. Chavenel is picking up points as he will be one of those who tries to take the jersey from Voeckler on the first big climbing day - expect him to attack early and go for points."
rambon on 606

1333: Strange goings on in Melrand - lovely accordian playing from a young girl, but what the adults were thinking, dressed in black bin bags and white shirts? One bloke was concealing in his bin bag what can only have been a couple of watermelons across his chest - if he wanted to get a bit of fame, he not only got it on TV, but he gets a mention here too.

1327: The small French town of Bubry enthusiastically encourages its riders as Voeckler drops back momentarily to chat to his Bouygues Telecom team car. Bubry is twinned with Republic of Ireland town Macroom - and legend has it that Macroom is a town that has never reared a fool.

1325: The lead has shot up to over four minutes. Methinks Voeckler is looking for some reasonably easy King of the Mountains points on the comparatively easier climbs Brittany has to offer than the Pyrennes.

1318: First news of Britain's Mark Cavendish and it's not great - he's suffered a puncture. But it's no great drama as a new wheel is fitted almost as quickly as they do in F1 and his team is helping him get back up with the peloton.

By the way, excited shouting over my shoulder a few minutes ago as Lewis Hamilton took the lead at a wet Silverstone.

1317: Just gone past out first chateau of the day - nothing particularly spectacular about Château de la Villeneuve-Jacquelot other than it's free to visit if you are ever in the region.

1315: The early rain has disappeared and the riders are now enjoying the sunshine - odd sight of photographers in a farmers field looking for that extra special Tour shot. Looked more like they were waiting for an A list celebrity to pass by than a bunch of cyclists.

1309: Robbie McEwen drops briefly to the back of the peloton to get a new bike.

Valverde's Caisse d'Epargne team really do look in no rush and are leading a positively pedestrian peloton, some three minutes behind the duo up front.

1308: Both Chavenel and Voeckler take some fuel on board as they ascend Cote de Kergroix - the second points climb of the stage, and as Chavenel was allowed to take the sprint a few kilometres back, so Voeckler is allowed the same luxury as they reach the summit.

1300: Valverde's Caisse d'Epargne team have taken over at the front of the peloton, indicating that the leaders can continue their breakaway, and their lead grows rapidly to over two minutes.

1255: The peloton is strung out into two distinct groups as they cross a bridge over a dual carriageway. Those at the front of the peloton are over one minute adrift of the Voeckler and Chavanel who are working well together to stretch their lead.

1250: For those of you keeping up with the points scorers, Barloworld's Robbie Hunter picked up the final point - he was officially 34 seconds behind the leaders.

1243: French duo Voeckler and Chavanel continue their push to the delight of the fans lining the country lanes in their waterproofs. And the Cofidis rider gently eases round his countryman to win the first sprint of the day.

The peloton are some 30 seconds behind.

1241: No sooner had the peloton swallowed up the initial break than another one goes out - definitely in is Voeckler in his polka dot top and he's with Cofidis rider Chavanel who takes the first maximum of the day over the first climb.

Voeckler is second to keep up his good start and Schroder is third.

1240: Some good news for the Tour this morning. 36 riders from Lampre, CSC, Columbia and Saunier Duval were subjected to doping controls with no positive results.

I've deliberately stayed away from the drugs issue so far, but I think this deserves mention as we are all hoping for a clean race.

1238: A rather short-lived break ends just after the 20km mark and we are back as we started.

"In this relatively open Tour I don't think a lot of the riders will share your attitude! (see 1220) I think the profile and weather will mean lots of gutsy breakaway attempts before the Cat 3."
reallywheelie on 606 (That's probably why I'm sat here bashing the keyboard instead of pushing pedals.)

1235: The Bouygues Telecom team are leading the pursuit and clearly visible in his yellow jersey is Valverde who is tucked in behind alongside Thomas Voeckler in his polka dot King of the Mountain jersey.

1230: Five of the riders give up the ghost early and drop back to the peloton, but Murilo Fischer, Sylvain Chavanel, Wegmann and Pate persist, although Pate soon drops off the pace to leave just three out on their own at the 15km mark - lead hovering around 20 seconds.

1225: The escapees include Jens Voigt, Fabian Wegmann, Bernhard Eisel and Danny Pate - there are now nine in the leading group, which broke in the opening kilometre and hold a lead approaching 30 seconds.

1220: In almost carbon copy fashion from yesterday, eight men have leapt out from the peloton early doors. Think I'd be tempted to stay in the relative comfort of the main bunch in such windy conditions.

1212: And we are off, a little earlier than anticipated, by three whole minutes. And it's raining in Brittany, the roads are wet and long sleeves are generally the order of the day as the 179 riders leave Auray.

Only one rider pulled out on day one - Cofidis' Herve Duclos-Lassalle fractured his left wrist in a crash - let's hope there's not too many accidents today in the wet conditions.

"I agree with SN (see below), today's finish looks perfect for Freire, although Steegmans is very good on uphill drags too.
igmeister on 606

1200: The pre-race starts as the riders make their way through Auray. The weather is dry at the moment, but there is the chance of a spot of rain.

Although it's likely to be not quite as disruptive as the rain forecast for the men's singles final at Wimbledon between Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal which is due off around 1400 BST.

Piers is again providing the coverage.

Meanwhile, Sam is on hand if you fancy a bit of a look at the British Grand Prix, which starts at 1300 BST.

There, I've done my bit for helping out my colleagues, now let's get some focus on the real top sporting action of the day.

1149: The caravane is already well out of sight of Auray and should be approaching Kervalan, some 50km up the road.

Auray is a town of only 12,000 people and considering the caravane consists of around 4,500 people, that's quite a swell on the population for 24 hours.

After all the hype surrounding the Tour you probably can't blame them if they spend this afternoon in the coffee shops and bars breathing a sigh of relief that it's all over.

"After my close prediction yesterday, today I believe that Oscar Freire will be the winner. The route map shows a rise in the road close to the finish, and while it will not be as signifcant as yesterday, I wonder if Cavendish will struggle a little on it? Heart will always say Cavendish on a flat stage, but today, head says Freire."
SportingNonsense on 606 (Kim Kirchen almost did the business for SN yesterday)

1135: Today's stage starts in a little under 30 minutes as the riders make their way through the streets of Auray, which is hosting the Tour for the first time.

With 197.5km of the 3559.5km that make up this year's race completed, Alejandro Valverde is the man in yellow after his stunning turn of pace up the Côte de Cadoual saw him take the win on Saturday's opening stage.

1130: Bonjour mes amis!

Before we get going with today's professional action, let's spare a thought for those hardy souls competing in this year's Etape du Tour.

You may have been following the fortunes of three of my colleagues who are endeavouring to complete the 156km ride from Pau to Hautacam which is classified as a high mountain stage and will be stage 10 of this year's race.

Apparently, it's a reasonably flat start with just the two category three climbs in the opening 67km, but the stage finishes with the legendary ascents of the Col du Tourmalet and Hautacam - both hors category climbs.

Hopefully we'll hear more from our intrepid riders later in the day, but have you ridden the Etape? And if so, what are your memories of it?

Get in touch via 606 (link at top of text commentary) or text in to 81111.

Enjoy today's racing.

see also
Hushovd sprints to Tour success
06 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Valverde triumphs in Tour opener
05 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Tour de France photos
05 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Tour de France 2008 preview
02 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Cycling on the BBC
30 Jun 08 |  Cycling

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