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Tour de France 2008



LATEST ACTION (all times BST)
606: DEBATE
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By Andy Nicolson

1630: Race over, I'm off for a rub down with the BBC soigneur; hope you've enjoyed the coverage.

Tomorrow sees the riders hit the mountains proper in the Pyrenees, with two Category 1 climbs - the Col de Peyresourde and the Col d'Aspin.

Look forward to seeing you then. Salut maintenant!

1621: It had looked like Columbia had blown it when Quick Step took the front, but Cavendish was awesome, coming from 5th place, several bike lengths back, to storm it.

"WaHoo! Great finish by Cav."
jmb on 606

"Backing up his claim as the fastest man in the world it seems."
Scottrf on 606

1617: Inside the last click... Quick Step on the front... but Cavendish is too fast!

The Cannonball left the field in his tracks, even having time to ease up across the line as he becomes only the second Briton to win two stages in the same Tour.

Phenomenal.

1614: Three kilometres to go, the break has been swallowed up and the Columbia train is again in full effect on the front, trying to lead out Mark Cavendish.

1612: The peloton can see the escapees; their day in the limelight is over.

"My heart says Cavendish but I've got a sneaky feeling it'll be McEwen, because he's good in the wet."
BBC Radio 5 Live's Graham Jones

1610: Twenty seconds is the gap with 6km to go... the sprinters' teams are jockeying for position on the front... and David Millar has punctured. Again.

1605: The pair of escapees are past the 10km banner, while Team Columbia once again materialise en masse on the front, with Cavendish in tow.

Can The Cannonball become the first British rider to win two stages in one Tour since Barry Hoban in 1973?

1600: It's still all Liquigas on the front. They'll be looking to deliver Filippo Pozzato or Francesco Chicchi in the sprint.

The breakaway group has split - Txurruka and Pineau have shot off the front.

1552: Meanwhile, back in Hollywood, somebody's got time on their hands:

"The Taking of Peloton 123" and "How Toulouse a Guy in 10 Days"
thisIsAMadeupName on 606

1551: "The stage is going to be won by a sprinter"
BBC Radio 5 Live's Peter Slater sticks his neck out.

1550: Liquigas are putting in an effort on the front of the bunch, perhaps trying to make a point after the overnight news.

But the gap's holding around 50" as the final 20km beckons.

1545: As for the finish, there are some turns on fairly narrow and patched roads before a very sharp turn into the final kilometre. And it's very wet...

1543: The gap's crept up to 50" with 25km left.

1540: So if it comes down to a sprint, who do you fancy? Mark Cavendish, Thor Hushovd, Robbie McEwen, Gert Steegmans, Erik Zabel?

1536: The live audio is back in business after some ISDN jiggery pokery from the engineers.

1535: Less than half a minute to the escapees with 30km left, and riders are beginning to launch themselves off the front in an attempt to thwart the ambitions of the sprinters' teams.

Ricco's back in the bunch after in-ride attention from the doctor.

1525: The bedraggled breakaway has less than a minute's advantage at the 40km-to-go mark, but there's one team taking up the reins at the front of the peloton.

1520: We're having a few technical problems with the live audio - bear with me while we get the gaffer tape out...

1516: It's beginning to come together for a bunch finish:

"So if it is to be the sprinters, who do you like? I'm thinking Freire or Hushovd."
Im_partial on 606

1513: All of a sudden, the gap's closed right up - it's now just over a minute.

1507: There's been a crash in Gaillac. Riccardo Ricco (Saunier Duval), who won in Super-Besse gingerly remounts and gets started again, but, oddly, is left behind by his team-mate.

1500: Welcome to BBC Radio 5 Live's Peter Slater and Graham Jones, who are now live on air - just clicky click on the link at the top of the page.

1455: It was staring us in the face the whole time:

"The Deer (Robbie) Hunter"
midnightOZZYBLUE on 606

1445: Riblon's rear wheel punctured, so he's had to time-trial himself back to the other three escapees.

Meanwhile, large numbers of the peloton pause to water the verges.

1440: Cadel Evans is popular in the movie chat:

"How about Evan(s) Almighty?"
Fulgore on 606

But the leader for me is still RidRed's "The (Baden) Cooke, the thief, his wife, and her Lovkist".

1430: The points at the Carmaux sprint were:

1. Christophe Riblon (AG2R) 6pts
2. Laurent Lefevere (Bouygues Telecom) 4pts
3. Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel) 2pts

1425: The whole field is through the feed station at Blayes-les-Mines without incident, but the peloton's cautious passage means the gap is just edging over five minutes.

1415: Laurent is lonely no more - the Amets trio have caught him, and the gap is now 4'23". It's lashing it down as Columbia take the front of the peloton.

1412: Mark Kermode eat your heart out:

"What about that old favourite 'Menchov in Black'?"
Im_partial on 606

"As he's going over the tops of the mountains first - 'The White Lefevere'"
DrRichie on 606

1409: The Amets Trio, 5'00" ahead of the bunch, are closing on Laurent the Lonely, meaning that Pineau is now the virtual leader of the Tour.

1405: This is more like it:

"I'll raise it [the movie chat] by "The (Baden) Cooke, the thief, his wife, and her Lovkist"
RidRed on 606

Good work!

1400: The movie chat's edging its way forward, a little like me up the Tourmalet:

"How about 'Lefevre Pitch'; 'Last action Pereiro'; 'Mr and Mrs Szmyd' and 'Be Kohl' to keep you going?"
Lowlandbrit on 606

1355: The Cote du Port de la Besse, the last categorised climb of the stage, gave up its points to the breakaway:

1. Laurent Lefevere (Bouygues Telecom) 4pts
2. Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel) 3pts - 1'40"
3. Jerome Pineau (Bouygues Telecom) 2pts
4. Christophe Riblon (AG2R) 1pt

Laurent the Lonely now has a 5'00" gap, as Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne) punctures.

1350: The first intermediate sprint points went as follows:

1. Laurent Lefevere (Bouygues Telecom) 6pts
2. Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel) 4pts - at 1'30"
3. Christophe Riblon (AG2R) 2pts

Lefevre is now 4'40" ahead of the peloton, and Jerome Pineau (AG2R) has joined Txurruka and Riblon. Pineau started in 30th, 4'32" behind Kim Kirchen in yellow, so if he can bridge the gap to his team-mate, there should be a reaction from the bunch.

1334: A weather update from our boys in France:

"It's tipping it down here in Toulouse... scary final kilometre in such conditions... I really wouldn't be surprised if someone came off today."
BBC Radio 5 Live's Phil Sheehan on 606

1330: The Cote de la Guionie rewarded the escapees thus:

1. Laurent Lefevere (Bouygues Telecom) 3pts
2. Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel) 2pts - at 1'30"
3. Christophe Riblon (AG2R) 1pt

Our Laurent is now 3'45" ahead of the bunch.

1325: My attempt at rider-themed movie chat isn't going too well on 606, but the south-coast cavalry has appeared:

"There's the two Schleck films and Schleck the third..."
Paul R on 606

Somebody must be able to improve on that?

1318: Lefevre is now 1'30" ahead of Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel), Jerome Pineau (Bouygues Telecom) and Christophe Riblon (AG2R), and 2'30" ahead of the peloton.

It's going to be a long old day for Laurent if he fancies himself for the stage.

"Amets! Come on!"
Lowlandbrit on 606, who perhaps like me, remembers the interestingly named Basque rider from last year...

1307: More prizes atop the Macarou:

1. Laurent Lefevre (Bouygues Telecom) 4pts
2. David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval) 3pts
3. Yoann Le Boulanger (Francaise des Jeux) 2pts
4. Sandy Casar (Francaise des Jeux) 1pt

And Lefevre has gone off the front to establish a 52" lead! Woo hoo! Some action at last.

1302: We never did get those names. No matter; they've been caught on the slopes of the cote de Macarou.

But the attacks seem to be coming thick and fast.

jmb on 606 wonders why there's been no mention of Beltran and Liquigas's continued participation - Radio 5 Live's Peter Slater has just posted some thoughts on the matter.

1251: Twelve riders have broken away... names to follow as soon as race radio lets us know.

1247: In the first half hour they've covered 26km - that's some pace they're setting.

1240: Another early breakaway fails, as the punctures strike again. This time it's Julian Dean (Garmin) and Marcus Burghardt (Columbia) reaching for the patches and epoxy resin.

1230: They're over the first climb, a category four at Loupiac, and the points, which of course mean prizes, go thus:

1. David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval) 3pts
2. Simon Gerrans (Credit Agricole) 2pts
3. Egoi Martinez (Euskatel) 1pt

Martinez and Gerrans broke away, but were caught quickly - the bunch is cracking along today. So much for taking it easy ahead of the Pyrenees!

1223: An immediate breakaway of seven riders, featuring, naturally, Francaise des Jeux, failed - they were caught at the 4km mark.

1215: The 170 riders are out of the neutral zone, so the stage is underway.

"I think the start is too hard for a pure sprinter, so either a breakaway (and to pick a name out of the hat, Flecha), or a sprint between Hushovd and Freire."
RidRed on 606

1200 BST: The riders roll into the neutral zone in Figeac, where it's wet. As indeed it is at the finish in Toulouse.

see also
Sanchez seals Tour stage victory
11 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Stage Seven as it happened
11 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Ricco wins as Kirchen takes lead
10 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Stage six as it happened
10 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Tour de France stage six photos
10 Jul 08 |  Cycling
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
11 Jul 08 |  Cycling


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