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Tour de France 2008



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By Chris Bevan

1630: It's been another great day of cycling and it ended on a high note too with Mark Cavendish claiming his first Tour de France stage victory. Go Cav!

Credit must go to the French threesome who broke away after just 11km of the 232km route - Lilian Jegou, Nicholas Vogondy and Florent Brard - and particularly Vogondy, who sprinted vainly for the line and was also the subject of the best rider song title of the day (Vogondy Tyne by Lindisfarne and Gazza, courtesy of rambon).

Our other Brit in the field, David Mil;ar, finished in the pack along with maillot jaune Stefan Schumacher, who retains the overall lead.

Thanks for your info and banter that has helped keep me going for the last five hours and enjoy the rest of what is turning into an epic Tour. Au revoir.

1622: "Great sprint by Mark Cavendish. With 1km to go, I did not think sprinters would get it. But in the end a great effort pulled a great victory for Cav."
Ninad13 on 606

1622: "I went a bit further out than I would have liked and there was a headwind and uphill finish. But I've been working hard and I knew had to go then.

"It's the biggest thing to have happened in my career - I came here with the intention of winning a stage and I'm so happy to have done so.
Britain's Mark Cavendish after winning stage five of the Tour de France

1614: "Get in Cav!

Fair play to Vogondy-Tyne though."
rambon on 606

1611: Mark Cavendish timed that perfectly and was actually accelerating away from his rivals at the line. He came from a long way out too. Go Cav! He's got that first Tour stage win we were all wishing for!

1610: Wow. What a finish! Britain's Mark Cavendish has claimed a famous victory. He flew past Vogondy and crossed the line ahead of Erik Zabel and Oscar Freire before raising his hands in triumph.

1609: Nicolas Vogondy has gone early in a sprint to the line - the other two frontrunners have been caught by the peloton. Not sure they will catch Vogondy though.

1608: Less than 2km to go now. The front three are about to be sucked up and there is a straight run-in to the finish.

1603: Just 4km to go now and the gap is 20 seconds. A couple of crashes in the peloton - one saw Aurélien Passeron collide with a spectator - he looks alright and is back on his bike but she is receiving treatment.

1600: "I can see big Magnus Backstedt dragging Julian Dean towards the front for Garmin. You can't really fail to spot Magnus in the peleton, he's the one who looks like an adult in a kids race size-wise. With him and David Millar as possible leadout men, the former Credit Agricole man might be a dark horse vote for today's stage. A dream win for the Tour debutant team?"
BBC Radio 5 Live's Alex Murray on 606

1558: Just a 35-second lead now with 10.5km now - the front three are being reeled in quickly now.

1554: Right then. We're getting close to the crunch here. The gap is down to 55 seconds and we have got 14km left. The leading trio of Lilian Jegou, Nicholas Vogondy and Florent Brard have been clear since the first 11km of this 232km hike but they are not going to stay there for much longer...

1550: Blimey, you lot like your rider songs don't you...all these have just arrived by text on 81111. I don't think any of them are challengers for (Nicolas) Vogondy Tyne - Lindisfarne and Gazza...but let me know if you disagree.

(Cadel) Evans Knows I'm Miserable Now - The Smiths Rob
Pineau - Dexy's Midnight Runners Iain from Widnes
American (leonardo) Piepoli Anon
If (george) Hincapie And You Know It, Clap Your Hands Tim H
Wake Me Up Before You (Lilian) Jegou Go - Wham Anon
Gone Ridin - Chris Isaak Chris, bored at work
I Fiellu - Depeche Mode Anon

1546: "You can now tick off on your Le Tour 2008 I-Spy books "livestock running alongside the peleton" after that shot of cattle scattering across a field after being disturbed by the race and all its entourage passing."
BBC Radio 5 Live's Alex Murray on 606

1542: Mark Cavendish's Columbia team have joined Gerolsteiner at the front of the peloton. No sign of Cav at the moment though.

1533: Race leader Stefan Schumacher's Gerolsteiner team are still working hard at the front of the peloton. The gap is 1:23 with 26km to go.

1524: "Would love to see Cav win today, but I wouldn't count out Robbie McEwen. Even without his usual big lead out men, he can sneak in there and take it. Lampre are also going to be in the mix, so look for Alessandro Ballan or Napolitano. The key will be organisation of the sprinters' teams - I hope we have a scintillating (and non crash-marred) finish."
Im_partial - TDF tops on 606

1520: Back to business (thankfully) and with 39km left, the front three - Richelieu, Vogondy (Tyne) and Jegou - are 1:43 clear. They look quite relaxed really - it has been a fantastic effort on a long and hot day but I think they realise they are living on borrowed time now.

1515: Ah, a flurry (three) of rider songs have arrived via text on 8111. In no particular order (certainly not of merit!) they are:

(Jose Ivan) Gutierrez You Babe - Cher Olly, Biggleswade
Anything by Iggy Pop(ovych) Edward
(Bernhard) Kohl - Spandau Ballet Anon

Are there any riders left who don't have a song title now? Are there any that want one?

1508: Just 48km to go now and the lead is 2:05. The sun is shining and the sprinters are licking their lips and flexing their hips.

"Expect Thor Hushovd, Gert Steegmans, Robbie McEwen, Erik Zabel, Oscar Friere and Mark Cavendish to be in the first ten along with Robert Forster and maybe a couple more that I've forgotten to mention. "
BBC Radio 5 Live's Alex Murray on 606

1500: "(Re 1304) (Johan Van) Summeren '69 by Bryan Adams!"
Ali Walker, Isle of Lewis, via text on 81111

1456:That gap has come down to 2:19 now with 54km left. Not long now until the front three are back in the bunch.

1452: "Definitely a mass sprint today then. No way they can keep clear for 73km with only four minutes. The peloton will swoop them up with 20km or so to go I reckon, then there'll be the odd counter which will go nowhere. Finally, the big guns will be led out, with Cav edging McEwen into second."
rambon on 606

Our friend rambon has not put a foot wrong during today's stage (see 1317), unlike my goodself (see 1446 for example) so I'm happy to go with his prediction here. In fact, I hope he's right. Go Cav (I promise not to keep saying that).

1446: "Sorry to be picky Chris but that should be 'maillot jaune', not 'maillot jeune' (1116 and 1409) although I'm sure it probably is quite a young jersey. A bientot mon brave."
Italo in Exeter, via text on 81111

Merci, Italo. Je regrette énormément d'avoir dit ça.

1440: Oops, I forgot to bring you the results of the third intermediate sprint from a while back in Le Grand-Pressigny. Our friend Nicolas Vogondy (wearing a tricolor shirt as the French road race champion) took the honours, with Florent Brard second and Lilian Jegou third.

The gap is now under three minutes by the way, so it is just a matter of time before they are reeled in. Britain's Mark Cavendish is hanging around at the back of the pelotom, conserving energy for that big bunch sprint we've been talking about all day. Go Cav!

1435: "What's happening to Alejandro Valverde? I've got money on him to win the whole thing. I can't believe he's crashed. How hurt is he? Does he need someone to kiss his sore knee better?"
Anon, via text on 81111

Worry not, Anon. After his early mishaps, Alejandro is in the peloton, has not crashed for the past hour or two, and was actually smiling the last time he was caught by the cameras. It might have been a grimace, mind.

1430: It's as you were in this stage - Those three Frenchmen are still off the front of the peloton, with the chase still being led by the Gerolsteiner team of Stefan Schumacher. The gap is down to four minutes now with 73km to go.

1426: Almost simultaneously, over on 606, BigManOnCampus has also come up with Oasis and Van de Walle. No apologies from him though...

1424: "(Re 1304) How about (Jurgen) Van de Walle by Oasis, or even Cher and the (Johann) Tschopp Tschopp song? Yes, that's awful, I know. Sorry."
Stewart, via text on 81111

At least you apologised Stewart, I appreciate that.

1420: A reminder that you will be able to listen to live commentary of the end of this stage from BBC Radio 5 Live's Peter Slater right here on this website. If you have any questions for Peter, post them on 606 (using the link at the top of the text commentary) or text in on 81111.

1419:"Big chance for Cav, but not sure he has the experience of some of the other boys. Thor Hushovd is the man. Didn't like Cav's post stage three interview either - he didn't come across very well.

Also, got to add: Money's to tight to (Denis) Menchov - Simply Red."
mape_ventura on 606

1415: That gap might grow a fraction now though because Schu and his team-mates are taking a toilet break on the side of the road. They're back on their bikes now though.

1409: The Gerolsteiner team of maillot jaune Stefan Schumacher are still leading the peloton in the chase of our three flying Frenchmen (Richelieu, Vogondy (Tyne) and Jegou). Schu is up there himself helping out too. The gap is five minutes and 12 seconds with 82km of the 232 to go.

"A small cheer for Schumacher for not opting for the "if it's yellow I'm having it" approach and sticking to yellow jersey and a yellow lid. Shorts to match the jersey is all wrong in my book. I think it should only be acceptable to wear team issue shorts or plain black ones with a leader's jersey."
BBC Radio 5 Live's Alex Murray on 606

1403:"(Re1350) Tipota, very good point about the sprint into Nantes. Rod Ellingworth, Mark Cavendish's coach/mentor, was there and was disappointed he didn't contest it properly."
BBC Radio 5 Live's Alex Murray on 606

1400: "(Re: 1304) Rat in the (Kim) Kirchen - UB40."
Wilko, via text on 81111

Nice try Wilko but rambon is still out in front at the moment on this one. If I had any prizes to give out I would make this into an official competition. Sadly I don't, although I will save a bit of my tuna baguette for whoever comes up with the best rider song.

At the moment it is (Nicolas) Vogondy Tyne - Lindisfarne and Gazza

1350: Plenty of chat on 606 about Mark Cavendish's hopes of a stage victory here...some mixed views too:

"I'm backing Cav for the stage win today with it being flat and surely he has to go for it today (saving himself yesterday) before the climbing starts."
kuzfan on 606

"I hate to bet against Cav but I will, I still think his inexperience shows, as in the last sprint into Nantes. Please don't try and tell me he didn't make the effort because it was only for fifth place because if you do you do not understand sprinters nor the importance of the Tour de France. "
tipota on 606

1350: "I'm a bit concerned about the amount of fuel Chris Bevan is taking on. Six grapes in nearly three hours. He'll surely blow before the end of the stage and drain the valuable resource of his lead-out men before the final gallop. Thus proving costly for the future of the race, leaving him to pick up the scraps in the final week.

He surely can't maintain any enthusiasm to keep us all focused for the next 100+km. Young Watkins should get himself to a well known retail coffee chain and buy coffee and doughnuts for all. Mine's a grande caramel machiato. Thanks."
toffeesteveo on 606

Thanks for your kind words of support...the good news is that I am now munching on a tuna baguette and will have plenty of energy for the bunch-sprint at the end of this stage. Watkins has done his job properly for once.

1343: The rider song titles keep coming on 606 (see 1304). Dare I say it is quantity not quality at the moment!?! (Rambon, I'm talking to you here!) I must admit I haven't come up with (a decent) one myself as of yet, but that hasn't stopped some of you!

1341: The peloton are sweeping through some very green looking farmland at a rate of knots...they are just five minutes and 19 seconds behind our escapees now and there seems little chance the breakaway will survive until the finish like they did on Monday.

1334: Hearing more about Alejandro Valverde, who has apparently had not one but two crashes today. He's injured his knee too - so, sorry Paul (see 1242), your boy may not make the mountains after all!

1328: The leaders have just passed the halfway mark of this 232km stage and that gap is on its way down again - just six minutes now. The Gerolsteiner boys ARE doing their job after all.

1317: As discussed earlier, the Gerolsteiner team of race leader Stefan Schumacher have the biggest incentive of catching this breakaway as they need to try to keep the German in yellow. It is not exactly going to plan, however, as the leading trio - Richelieu, Vogondy (Tyne) and Jegou - are again over seven minutes clear.

"(Re 1304) (Nicolas) Vogondy Tyne - Lindisfarne and Gazza. Can anyone beat that?"
rambon on 606

I hope so!

1310: The peloton is currently rolling through the feedzone, something I hope to be doing myself very soon. So far my domestique Alistair Watkins has given me the grand total of six grapes since the stage began two-and-a-half hours ago...that should keep me going shouldn't it?

That gap is still coming down by the way. Down to 6:40 and counting...

1304: Some interesting chat on rider song titles on 606...some good, some bad and some....well, you decide!

Here's a taster:

Diamonds are (Oscar) Freire ever - Shirley Bassey toffeesteveo
(David) Millar - Michael Jackson laurenceimich
Ballroom (Peter) Velits - The Sweet BBC Radio 5 Live's Alex Murray

Can you do any better? I hope so!

1259: Florent Brard wins the intermediate sprint in Richelieu, followed by Nicolas Vogondy and Lilian Jegou. Their lead has come down quite drastically though and is now just seven minutes.

1248: The front three are still giving it a good go and are now seven minutes and 40 seconds up on the peloton.

"(Re: 1225) Catch rate is about one minute each 10km. Having been in a break that got caught in my race last night (still paying for the effort now) it's always amazing how quickly the bunch can come back, especially when someone starts putting in big turns at the front.

The speed differential can be quite considerable I think, not mention the benefit of many vs few in terms of effort and energy available. Then again a small break can work when the roads are tight and the bunch has more difficulties negotiating the obstacles."
BBC Radio 5 Live's Alex Murray on 606

Thanks for that Alex. It will be interesting to see what happens to the three escapees!

1242: News of a crash in the peloton involving Spain's Alejandro Valverde, who wore yellow on Sunday and Monday. Nothing serious apparently but Valverde has a puncture and needs a wheel-change.

"Valverde has been accused in the past of not lasting three weeks in the Tour, I think he left something in the tank yesterday, look out for the mountain attack."
Paul S via text on 81111

Not the best timing for your text Paul but it does look as though Alejandro will be around for the mountain stages! For the record, he is currently 17th overall, one minute and 27 seconds behind Stefan Schumacher.

1233: Hmmm, the gap is widening again. Only slightly - up to 7:25 - but it shows the peloton are going to have to get their act together if they are going to catch Lilian Jegou, Nicholas Vogondy and Florent Brard. They have got time on their side though.

"Can't see the teams let another breakaway get home. Thor, Mark Cavendisah and Robbie McEwen are likely to be the contenders. I will go with Hushovd."
secretFootieFan on 606

1225: "I don't think the team managers have sat our GCSEs ! Mind you they probably did if they got it wrong! What is the average catch up rate for the peloton - is it about 10km per minute?"
Rob via text on 81111

I'll put that one out the Tour experts out there...

1218: The other two intermediate sprints in today's stage are at Richelieu (at 98.5km) and Le Grand-Pressigny (152km). The breakaway trio will definitely contest the next one but not sure whether they will still be clear for the third.

The gap is down to seven minutes and 15 seconds at around the 75km mark.

1210: Hmmm, I think the peloton have decided to respond to the comments below! That gap to the front three got to eight minutes and 15 seconds at one stage but it is down to 7:30 now.

1206: "Tuesday's failure by about half a dozen teams to answer correctly the question "If train A is going at X km/h and train B is going X+Y km/h along the same route, how long will it take train B to pass Train A?" was the sort of thing that would embarrass most GCSE students, Somehow I don't imagine they'll do it again today.

You'd have thought Caisse, CSC and Columbia (T-Mobile as was) wouldn't have made the same mistake as they did in 2006 when the let Floyd Landis go (doped or not, they let him ride away while they squabbled over whose job it was to close him down and he put time into them on the descents as well as the climbs).

It feels odd to be five days into the Tour without at least two proper bunch sprints. Then again we've had our share of crashes, retirements and surprises, so I can hardly complain."
BBC Radio 5 Live's Alex Murray on 606

1202: The all-French front three of Lilian Jegou, Nicholas Vogondy and Florent Brard are now eight minutes clear. Have the peloton learnt anything from Monday? We will be finding out over the next few hours - but it is early days yet!

"Should just be a straightforward gallop today and something of a lottery (at the finish) I guess - as long as they don't let the break get too far, a schoolboy error on Monday!"
toffeesteveo on 606

1158: If you think the 232km that the riders have to cover today is a big ask then spare a thought for the competitors in the 1921 Tour. Stages were a tad longer then (and the bikes were heavier too!) and they had to cover 483km between Les Sables-d'Olonne and Bayonne.

That's still the longest Tour stage ever and I can't see that changing soon!

1152: "Kim Kirchen is starting to build a fairly decent lead in the green jersey standings. Considering the general lack of really flat stages I'm starting to wonder if he might actually hold on to it untill Paris. By my reckoning as long as neither Thor Hushovd or Oscar Freire win today he should hold on to it."
Lowlandbrit on 606

1148: As expected, race leader Stefan Schumacher's Gerolsteiner team are at the front of the peloton trying to close the gap. They want to keep their man in yellow so they need to snuff out any breakaways.

That gap is still getting bigger though - up to six minutes and 30 seconds at the last glance.

1145: "Schumacher rode like his Formula One counterpart yesterday - an unbelievable effort. I expect Cavendish to be higher placed in today's stage than any other, but I can see Robbie McEwen taking this one!"
TaKeAlUkE on 606

1140: The front three have passed the 40km mark and are five minutes and 40 seconds clear of the peloton. They have a decent pedigree too - Nicolas Vogondy is the French road race champion and Florent Brard is the former French time-trial champion.

1134: "Today must be the day for Mark Cavendish. David Millar in yellow by Sunday evening."
Barry Gale in Plymouth via text on 81111

Hope you're right Barry. If we do have a mass sprint at the end of the day then he has got a chance. Not sure what this Tour has in store for us today though so er, expect the unexpected!

1132: There are three sprints during today's stage and the front three have just contested the first one at Argenton-les-Vallees. Jegou won it to collect the six points, ahead of Vogondy and Brard.

1126: You might remember Soler's magnificent win on stage nine of last year's race when he went out on his own in the Alps for what he called a "dream victory". What a shame he is out of this race before we even get into the mountains.

The leading trio are now five minutes and 30 seconds clear by the way.

1123: Bad news for last year's King of the Mountains winner Mauricio Soler who has just abandoned the tour because of an injured wrist.

Soler bravely carried on despite fracturing a bone in his left wrist in a crash during Saturday's first stage but had another fall in the neutral zone before the start this morning. The Colombian tried to continue but has had to pull out.

1116: Of the trio at the front, Jegou is best placed overall in 94th place, 5min 45 sec down on maillot jaune Stefan Schumacher. Brard is 117th (5:56) and Vogondy is 119th (7.02). The gap is up to four minutes now, and still growing.

1109: A quick weather update for you and, for a change, it's good news for the peloton. No rain, just glorious sunshine. Mind you, they don't want it to get too hot - this is going to be a long, long old day.

1106: Stage five got under way a few minutes ago and, just for a change in this year's Tour, we had an early breakaway - after just four seconds!

That attempted escape was quickly reeled in but three Frenchmen are clear now - Lilian Jegou (FDJ), Nicholas Vogondy (AGR) and Florent Brard (Cofidis) - and they opened up a gap of just under three minutes.

1102: German rider Stefan Schumacher is, surprisingly, the man in yellow today after his stunning performance to win Tuesday's time-trial. He holds a 12 second lead over Luxembourg's Kim Kirchen and Britain's David Millar.

Today is the last day before we hit the mountains and, should it end in a bunch sprint, fellow Brit Mark Cavendish is again in contention. Fingers crossed for him.

Let me know how you think today will go via 606 (using the link at the top of the text commentary) or send your texts to 8111.

1100: Get the Jaffa Cakes out! Today is the longest stage of the 2008 Tour - 232km from Cholet to Châteauroux. At least it's flat.

see also
Hushovd sprints to Tour success
06 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Valverde triumphs in Tour opener
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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