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Page last updated at 10:46 GMT, Wednesday, 16 July 2008 11:46 UK
Tour de France 2008



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

1622: Well, that's about your lot for today, even if we didn't make 100 posts on 606. Sniff.

Hope you've enjoyed the coverage. Tomorrow, there's a tussle as to who'll get to take you through the stage from Lavelanet to Narbonne - where a certain Manxman might be in the frame to make history.

But that'll be resolved before the neutral zone - I'm just off to let down a few tyres in the bikesheds to strengthen my hand. Ta ra and thanks for your company.

1612: No change at the top of the Classement General, with Evans still a squeaky second ahead of Schleck.

But Botcharov's efforts have lifted him to 18th, just behind Pereiro.

1605: And as we nose towards a revolutionary 100 posts, toffeesteveo neatly top and tails the chat:

"Andy - If you do collect your cards later you could clip them to your grifter with a clothes peg to make that authentic motorbike sound..."
toffeesteveo on 606

Quality.

1600: Thor Hushovd won the sprint from the peloton, 14mins 50secs behind Arvesen.

1556: "That's farcical Auntie Beeb... You get the techies doing an update at the end of the day's stage... What live gems of sport would we have missed if you had done your update an hour later?"
rambon on 606

Don't get me started or I'll be picking up my cards at the end of the day...

1555: Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the main bunch is still on the road, with a couple of clicks left.

Frank Schleck grins and shakes his head. Was he hoping to pinch yellow off Evans?

1550: And going all the way back to Cadel Evans' sponsors, apologies, Fran, I've only just seen your text:

"Is the Silence anti-snoring spray a banned substance? If the whole team is about the be thrown out we should have warning!"
Fran in Worcester, via text on 81111

1547: The Norwegian held off the challenge of Elmiger and Ballan, who probably paid the price for having to join the final attack.

Just waiting for the peleton to roll in to sort out where that leads the overall standings.

1543: Arvesen, champion of Norway, takes it in a sprint.

1542: Don't know whether the Techies have done their thing, but the race is going to be over soon!

Alessandro Ballan, Martin Elmiger and Kurt Arvesen broke off the break, but decided to slow down and look at each other just outside the flamme rouge, 1km banner.

Koos Moerenhout has joined them.

1530: The battle droids in our technical department need to do something clever and undoubtedly interesting to our publishing system, so I've got to log out for a few minutes.

Moinard's lead is now under 30 seconds, and the gap to the peloton is beginning to drop steadily; it's below 16 minutes.

But the attacks have started in the Botch Bunch with 15km to go.

1522: At last! We can rest easy:

"A WUM is a "wind up merchant" and WUMMING the act of being a WUM."
toffeesteveo on 606

1520: Mester Moinard is in the outskirts of Foix, with 22km to go, but he's going to have to go some to stay away - his lead is just one minute over the Botcharov bunch.

At this rate, Botch will join Pereiro in leapfrogging Valverde.

1510: Moinard's pulling some right old faces out on his own on the final climb, the third category Col Del Bouich. He'll not enjoy watching that back on the highlights later.

1506: Boy, Barloworld are falling apart. Felix Cardenas has abandoned, leaving the team with just five riders.

Moinard is slowly being caught by the Botcharov group, but the gap to the peloton remains just over 16 minutes.

27km to go.

1500: Don't forget to tune into Peter Slater and BBC Radio 5 Live's commentary, here on the Sport website and on the red button on your digital TV.

1453: More from Barloworld's team manager, Claudio Corti, on Nevado:

"I've asked the French police to fully investigate the case so that we can fully understand the seriousness of what Moises Duenas [Nevado] has done.

"We're absolutely stunned by what is happening and by the behaviour of one of our riders. He seems to have secretly used banned substances, hiding everything from everybody else in the team.

"It's terribly disheartening but because the team is not involved in what has happened, we hope that the whole truth can rapidly emerge so that we can take the necessary action and that Duenas [Nevado] can fully accept responsibility for what he has done."

1450: Pereiro's over the top and pulls out a can of a popular fizzy drink. The same one that Tom Boonen likes. If you follow me.

And Radio 5 Live's Alex Murray is back on his soapbox, as today's 606 climbs over the Col de 50-comments:

"More importantly, why the crivens do riders insist on the ludicrous 'everything must match' approach to the classification jerseys? What is wrong with team or black shorts with them?"
BBC Radio 5 Live's Alex Murray on 606

1441: Pereiro ploughs his lonely furrow through the big crowds on the ascent of the Portel. He's got almost two minutes over the main bunch, which would see him leapfrog Valverde and almost put him in the top 10.

The Portel's points went thus:

1. Amael Moinard (COF) 15pts
2. Fofonov (C.A) 13pts - 1'50"
3. Fedrigo (BTL) 11pts
4. Ballan (LAM) 9pts
5. Wegmann (GST) 8pts
6. Vaugrenard (FDJ) 7pts
7. Arvesen (CSC) 6pts
8. Pozzato (LIQ) 5pts

1435: Team CSC are again cracking the whip on the front of the peloton, as Moinard, two minutes ahead of the break which now has a 16-minute advantage, crests the Portel. 57km to go.

1430: "If this break stays away today, I like Ballan. He can sprint, and he'll want to give Lampre a bit of good news after Cunego's damp squibs of the past few days."
Im_partial on 606

Back to the important stuff - spokey dokeys - though:

"I remember me and my mates putting lollipop sticks in our spokes and then pretending we all had motorbikes!"
steviep1 on 606

1423: The 2006 Tour champion, Oscar Pereiro of Alejandro Valverde's Caisse d'Epargne team, has jumped off the front of the peloton.

Pereiro's in 17th place, 6mins 1sec behind, while Valverde is 14th at 4mins 41secs. Have Caisse concluded that the Valve has blown?

1419: Our Belgian correspondent has got some good Tour jargon chat, if that's your bag:

"If you see/hear anyone giving Pozzato grief, apparently he was the worst bus driver in history on Hautacam, going extremely fast one minute and much too slow the next. (for the tour rookies, the bus is the grupetto, the bus driver is the guy who sets the pace)"
TheGSgirl on 606

1415: Amael Moinard of Cofidis has broken clear of the break, which has maintained its 15-minute advantage, with 64km to go.

1412: "Once got a bright red racer with 3 x Sturmey Archer gears. Woke up Xmas morning with it on the end of the bed and severe leg ache. Sometime later souped it up with cowhorns, nobbly grips and tassels! Might even of had wing mirrors but I may be confusing that steed with a later chop job!"
BBC Sport's Paul Redgrove, stuck in a basement, on 606

I'd forgotten about cowhorns! Did you fit those short, aluminium 'racing' mudguards as well?

1410: "Pozzato has the best sprint of this group so if he can get over this cat. 1 coming up I fancy him to take the win today."
igmeister on 606

Pozzato's setting the pace on the front of the break, which is now over 15 minutes ahead. So much for me thinking the gap would come down on the climb.

1356: As Cadel Evans' Silence-Lotto team lead the main bunch alongside the river Salat, I'm going to pop out for some tucker and leave you with this gem: Silence, as in Evans's team sponsor, is, I'm told, an anti-snoring spray.

1352: "Still seems an open Tour but other than Menchov, none of the major players got within a minute of Evans in the TT. So, unless someone finds something really special, I still think it is between these two."
tipota on 606

1350: The escapees are on the foot of the Col de Portel, with the gap now over 14 minutes. What are the odds that'll drop rapidly over the next 12.5km?

1345: The climb up the first-category Col de Portel, at 110km, is very narrow, twisty and steep, unlike the descent, which is fast and wide. Should make for an interesting final third of the stage.

The break's got a baker's dozen; they're 13mins 21secs ahead.

1340: Sibling rivalry rears its head on 606:

"I remember my brother's first bike, it was a Grifter! The heaviest, most behemoth-like bicycle ever invented. But the best thing about it was when he rode his gleaming red pride and joy over a home made jump contructed from an oil drum and plank of wood. It was too heavy for his 9 year old arms, it nose-dived, threw him over the handlebars and snapped in two in protest! Still makes me smile now..."
Gianfranco_Cando on 606

1335: 84km covered and the gap has shot up to double figures - the Botch boys are over 12 minutes ahead.

1331: Apparently it's not Pieter Weening in the break, it's the aptly named Marco Velo. So now you know.

The second sprint results were:

1. Filippo Pozzato (LIQ) 6pts
2. Marco Velo (MRM) 4pts
3. Koos Moerenhout (RAB) 2pts

That will edge Pozzato into the top 20 of the points competition.

1327: "Pneumatic tyres - pah!

My first bike was a raleigh dart! solid rubber tyres. magic."
omgidbi on 606

Solid rubber tyres... reminds me of the tricycle I had before I graduated to two wheels. I've still got a photo of me on it next to my Dad. I'm coming over all misty eyed!

1322: It's not Barloworld's day. Or Tour. Longo Borghini of Barloworld has just abandoned after fracturing his right collarbone in a crash earlier today. Borghini follows Mauricio Soler out with injury, and of course Nevado with EPO.

The Botcharov break has extended its advantage to nine minutes, but Steegmans has been reeled in by the main bunch. 74km gone, 93 left.

1314: And get this one for a brilliant mental image:

"My Dad built a cycle circuit out of paving slabs around our back garden so that I could pedal round and round to my heart's content... one of my first memories in fact."
reallywheelie on 606

1312: Some lovely first-bike chat on 606:

"My first bike was a bmx from Halfords. I remember it had red padding on the bars and i fitted a speedo to the handlebars with a piece of string. It didn't work, i just loved dials and stuff like that."
jmb on 606

1310: Cadel Evans' Silence-Lotto team is at the head of the peloton, now 5mins 50secs behind the breakaway after 66km.

1300: The first climb of the day - the Col de Larrieu - has given up its secrets thus:

1. Alexandre Botcharov (C.A) 4pts
2. Pierrick Fedrigo (BTL) 3pts
3. Alessandro Ballan (LAM) 2pts
4. Amael Moinard (COF) 1pt

At the top of the climb, the gap was up to 5mins 30secs, and not to be outdone, the temperature at road level is now at 33 degrees. Hot stuff - hope David Millar's got his Caspar the Friendly Ghost cream on.

1256: There are indeed some interesting names in the break - amongst them Filippo Pozzato, Alessandro Ballan, Dmitry Fofonov, Fabian Wegmann and Pieter Weening.

And Gert Steegmans has joined Vicente Garcia Acosta in an attempt to bridge the gap.

56 clicks gone, 110 left.

1250: "I think Kim Kirchen will win today. He will be able to get over the climbs without too much trouble and has the sprinting speed as well. Also, after losing the yellow jersey he can now go for the green jersey where he is 2nd."
kuzfan on 606

1245: The best-placed, overall, of the breakaway is the Russian, Alexandre Botcharov, of Credit Agricole - he's in 35th place, 20 minutes down.

The gap is now 3mins 20secs, after 47km.

1240: Ping! Looks like the umbilical has gone; 11 riders are away with a two-minute gap after 45km.

Cadel and a slew of others are, meanwhile, watering the verges.

1237: It's Miguel Indurain's 44th birthday today - the Spanish legend is younger than me!

A few years ago I happened to be staying at a small, rustic hotel near Figueras in north-east Spain. I got into conversation with the owner who, after the chat turned to sports, took me into his office which was festooned with sporting memorabilia from teams that had stayed in the hotel.

Amongst which was one of Indurain's shirts, signed by the man himself. Quality.

Shame the owner's enthusiasm didn't extend to waiving the bar tab, but you can't have everything, I guess.

1223: And we're off and running on 606:

"I don't think Schleck'll try to grab the yellow jersey today. Even if it's only a second, why try to get away on a course with only one Category 1 mountain while next weekend you've got to deal with Alp d'Huez and others. Even if Silence-Lotto isn't that strong, the likes of Popovich, Aerts and VanSummeren will make it over the Col de Portel."
TheGSgirl on 606

1220: But guess what? Threat or not, Voeckler's back in the bunch. No mercy today, it seems.

1218: Meanwhile, back to the elastic chat - Frenchman Thomas Voeckler of Bouygues Telecom has got away after 28km.

Voeckler is 123rd overall, an hour and a half back from leader Cadel Evans, so is no threat.

1213: Barloworld's team manager Claudio Corti has responded to the news of Nevado's positive test:

"I want to find out more about what has happened before going into detail and taking further action. However the one thing I will say is that the team is not involved in this story at all and we'll take severe action against anyone who damages our credibility and the image of our team."

1209: The elastic almost snapped, as 13 riders broke free just before the first intermediate sprint, but the behemoth brought them back.

Results of the first sprint were:

1. Leonardo Duque (COF) 6pts
2. Thor Hushovd (C.A) 4pts
3. Oscar Freire (RAB) 2pts

1202: Riders are popping off the front trying to escape, but each time the peloton pulls them back in as if they were attached by elastic.

It's 23 degrees and sunny in the Pyrenean foothills, with a 10km/h headwind.

1150 BST: Morning all!

The riders are rolling out in the neutral zone, while I'm reeling with the news that Moises Deunas Nevado - team-mate of Geraint Thomas on Barloworld - has tested positive for EPO.

see also
Stage nine as it happened
13 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Stage eight as it happened
12 Jul 08 |  Cycling
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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