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Page last updated at 18:51 GMT, Saturday, 4 July 2009 19:51 UK

Tour de France stage one as it happened

LATEST ACTION (all times BST)

606: DEBATE

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By Paul Fletcher

1850: That is just about it from me - many thanks for all your comments and texts. Do join us on Sunday for the second stage, 187km from Monaco to Brignoles. Pranav Soneji will be the captain of your ship on Sunday. Safe hands indeed.

1846: What a cracking opening day to the Tour - with plenty of the pre-race favourites showing that they are in form. Well, part from Denis Menchov perhaps. Cancellara races to win in opener

Brilliant from Cancellara - it will be interesting to see how his Saxo Bank team goes during the team time trial on Tuesday.

1843: As a consequence of reaching the Category Four split in the quickest time, Contador ends the day wearing the polka dot jersey. Not sure how long he will keep that for.

1837: Cancellara looks very happy indeed - and why not - as he takes to the podium. Very much job done for him as he puts on the yellow jersey. Plenty of the big hitters looked good today - Armstrong, Contador, Evans etc But something

1835: Just for the record, Cancellara blasted his way around the 15.5km course in 19 minutes and 32.14 seconds. Fast.

1830: By the way, Armstrong finished 10th - a very respectable effort from him I think.

Yellow jersey
1828: Cancellara will wear yellow this evening - but what a disaster for Menchov, who was caught by the Swiss rider. Sastre finishes more than a minute behind Cancellara.

1827: Aussie Cadel Evans comes home fifth fastest. A very decent ride from him. No one is going to stop Cancellara now as only Sastre is yet to come home.

1826: Cracking ride from Contador, who finishes one second faster than Wiggins to snatch second place.

1823: Cancellara blasts past Menchov and finishes in an incredible time - taking 19 seconds out of the time posted by Wiggins. Amazing, remarkable.

1822: By the way, Sastre was way down at the split - 36 seconds I think.

1820: Wiggins comes home in the fastest time so far, almost three seconds quicker than previous leader Kloden.

1819: Just a reminder than the lead riders are on a downhill section at the moment, with some very technical bends to negotiate.

1818: Cadel Evans is fifth fastest - seven seconds behind Contador.

1816: Cancellara goes over in the same time as Wiggins. Hold the front page - Contador goes over six seconds faster than the Wiggler and Cancellara.

1815: Menchov goes over 43 seconds down on Martin. Terrible time for the Russian who won the Giro.

1814: Here we go - Wiggins is second fastest at the split - one second behind Martin, who is currently fourth fastest for the stage.

1812: Contador is wearing the white, red and yellow strip of the Spanish road race champion. Still awaiting news of the split times.

1810: Don't forget the only time check we get is at 7.5km - thus it is tricky to see exactly where we are at the moment with regards to Wiggins and the rest. I'll be keeping you updated as soon as I have any info.

1808: Cadel Evans leaves the starter's gate, followed shortly after by Carlos Sastre. No one left to come.

1803: Wiggins is obviously wearing the same outfit as Garmin team-mate Millar. Not great chat. Cancellara - a big, powerful man - is on the course, as is Contador.

BBC's Phil Sheehan Twitter's from Monaco: "I rode some of the course yesterday - it's a real rhythm-breaker with lots of up and down and twists and turns."

1801: Wiggins is on the course. Big hitters all the way from here on in.

1758: Kim Kirchen is on his way - just Spain's Mikel Astarloza before the Wiggler.

1757: The sun has retired for the day in Monaco. Cloudy, to say the least. Andy Schleck has finished 12th fastest so far, 40 seconds behind Kloden.

1756: A quick recap on where we are before the remaining big guns enter the fray.

1. Kloden 19 minutes 54 seconds
2. Leipheimer +9 seconds
3. Kreuziger +11 seconds

Armstrong is now sixth, 18 seconds down.

1750: Thomas Voeckler, a man who wore yellow for a few days a couple of years ago, rides down the ramp. Andy Schleck is 21 seconds down at the split - BBC Radio 5 Live summariser describes it as "respectable".

1746: Wiggins, Menchov, Cancellara, Contador, Evans and Sastre will all be out soon. Tom Boonen has finished some way down the standings. As with Cav, not really the stage for him.

Get involved on 606
From tgsgirl on 606: "Oh, Kloden. Nice ride! Astana seems to be in fine shape."

1740: Just 20 riders are yet to start. Andy Schleck started a few minutes ago. He will be hoping to do better than his brother.

1737: We have a new leader - a brilliant ride by Kloden sees him finish in an unofficial time of 19 minutes, 54 seconds. Top draw effort and eight seconds quicker than Leipheimer (at least according to my awful maths).

Text in your views on 81111
From Rob via text on 81111: "Can hardly see Lance fulfilling the role of domestique. Despite what he claims when questioned, he'll want to win."

Plenty of debate as to exactly what Armstrong's intention are for the Tour. This aspect of it is going to make fascinating viewing.

1734: Andreas Kloden goes through the split in fourth place.

BBC Radio 5 Live summariser Graham Jones: "Kloden is one to keep an eye on when it comes to the finish."

1733: Liquigas rider Roman Kreuziger puts an early marker down with an excellent ride. He moves in to second place, coming home in 20 minutes, four seconds.

From BBC Radio 5 Live's Alex Murray:
"Cancellara warming up with a desk fan perched on a cardboard box to keep him cool. Cycling, truly the sport of high-end technology."

Text in your views on 81111
From Sam, Cumbria, via text on 81111: "Lance will win the tour barring injury. He wouldn't be there if he didn't think he could do it."

BBC's Phil Sheehan Twitter's from Monaco: "I think it will be a while before anyone challenges Leipheimer's time."

1720: Andreas Kloden, like Armstrong, Contador and Leipheimer an Astana rider - is out on the course. Fabian Cancellara is warming up as he prepares to make a challenge on the leading time.

1718: Frank Schleck has just finished one minute and six seconds behind Leipheimer. That is a lot of time to lose on the opening stage.

Text in your views on 81111
From Mark Turton via text on 81111: "Just wait till Lance gives them the 'killer look' and as for him racing for Contador - watch when they get to the lumpy stuff."

Mark Cavendish
1716: Cav has finished in 112th place - a slight improvement on his split time if nothing else.

1715: Big George Hincapie is on the course, as is Oscar Pereiro. An update on Cav - his split time was 115th out of 119 riders to reach that point. Not for him this time trial lark.

1710: Van Hummel was first out and at 199 has the highest number in the field. Perhaps somehow appropriately, he is currently bringing up the rear in terms of the standings, 103rd out of the 103 riders to finish the stage.

Get involved on 606
From Hamster of Fury on 606: "Lance is racing for Contador. While Contador is in contention, which is highly likely, Armstrong won't win the Tour even if he IS on ridiculously good form.

"Armstrong will follow team orders and ride himself to ruin up the mountains to make sure that Contador can follow behind him and win the yellow."

You might be right - but I will need some convincing about that.

Text in your views on 81111
From Andy, Lancs, via text on 81111: "Lance today - as expected. Top 10 today, top 10 overall. Only if Bertie and Levi explode spectacularly does Armstrong have even a sniff."

1700: Just to correct the line from 1652 about the audio - it is available worldwide.

1655: Cav is out on the course. It could be a big, big Tour for him but it is not really about today for the crackerjack Manxman.

1652: Hey, starting at 1700 BST there will be live coverage available for UK and worldwide users of the last 90 minutes of the time trial from BBC Radio 5 Live.

Text in your views on 81111
From Mark Turton via text on 81111: "Don't think Lance cannot win the Tour because he has not won the time trial. He will get better as the days go by."

1646: Rolling, rolling, rolling - 105 of the field of 180 have now gone down the ramp, Sebastien Rosseler being the latest to take to the course. Not long until Cav makes an appearance.

1642: Twitter - everyone is at it. Levi Leipheimer has twittered the following: "I finished a few min ago, got best time right now:) means I have to wait around until someone beats me, I doubt it will hold up."

1639: My bike ride to work is a shade over 8km. It takes me about 20 minutes providing the barriers are not down at the railway crossing. I'd love to have a go at this course and see how long the 15.5km would take.

Lance Armstrong
1635: What did Lance make of it all?

"It is very technical, it is hard to find a rhythm but that's logical after years away," he said. "What a beautiful race. It was fun. I felt pretty good, overall, I feel good. I was a little bit all over the place."

Fun? That's not a very Armstrong-like race adjective.

1632: A refresh - the top three as it stands (66 of 180 riders have finished):
1. Leipheimer 20 minutes, three seconds
2. Martin +3 seconds
3. Armstrong +9 seconds

1625: Since 1999 Armstrong has raced 19 individual time trials in the Tour and finished outside the top three just once. I cannot help but wonder whether I have been expecting too much this year from a man of his age returning to the race?

Get involved on 606
From Sparta on 606: "Armstrong's performance showed what I expected. He's in incredibly good shape considering his age and the time out of the sport but he is not good enough to win. I may be proved wrong over the next few weeks but I doubt it.

"I expect Leipheimer to be in the top 10 so I can't see the winning time being all that quicker than the current best."

I am massively keen to known what everyone has made of Armstrong's performance - better or worse than you expected? If he was hoping to put a marker down has he done it?

1615: Millar finishes with a time of 20 minutes, 20 seconds - currently putting him in fifth.

1615: Just to mark your card on the time trial front. There is a team time trial on Tuesday and a further individual time trial on 23 July. Plenty of mountains in between. The team TT is 39km and the individual TT is 40.5km.

1611: Break, break, wobble, wobble. Bit of a rear wheel skid, a tidy adjustment to avoid the barriers as Millar approaches a corner too quickly and precious seconds are lost.

1607: 2000, 2002 and 2003 - years in which Millar has won Tour time trials. He is fourth through the 7.5km split. And his riding gear is not really growing on me.

Get involved on 606
From pigeons in the park on 606: "I do hope the camera follows Cav round like it did with Armstrong - just for the laugh!"

1600: Leipheimer - an Astana team-mate of Lance and Alberto - is the new leader, two seconds faster than Martin and nine quicker than Armstrong.

1557: A quick word on the other Brits in the race. Cav leaves in just under an hour from now, while the Wiggler departs at 1801 BST. Just five riders are left after him, though they are Menchov, Cancellara, Contador, Evans and Sastre. Big hitters the lot of them.

1553: Correct that - Tony Martin was seven seconds ahead of Lance. David Millar is out on the course. Shocking colours for the Garmin outfit, if you don't mind me saying. That fleshy/browny coloured super tight upper arm is a shocker.

1551: Levi Leipheimer is slower than Tony Martin but faster than Armstrong through the 7.5km split. It is a very technical descent through the second half of the race, with lots of tight corners. Hold on - we have a new leader. Martin has finished three seconds ahead of Armstrong (unofficially speaking).

1548: Wegelius, a late entry into the race, has finished one minute, nine seconds behind Armstrong. Twenty riders have now finished.

1545: Oh, here is something worth hearing - German Tony Martin of Team Colombia has reached the split 11 seconds faster than Armstrong.

Lance Armstrong
1538: A light, milky sun appears in Monaco as Armstrong finishes in a time of 20 minutes, 12 seconds. Very solid indeed from the American who is comfortably the quickest so far. A total of 23 of the 180 riders have reached the split point.

1537: A quick word on Wegelius, who is third at the split, 27 seconds adrift of Armstrong.

1532: Armstrong is through the 7.5km split a full 22 seconds faster than his nearest rival, Maxime Monfort of Team Colombia. Of course, plenty of big hitters are yet to come.

1530: To answer Sporting Nonsense on 606 - Charlie Wegelius is on the course. He was the 19th man out.
Join the debate on 606

1526: The fastest man to the 7.5km split at Cote de Beausoleil so far is Luis Pasamontes of Caisse d'Epargne with a time of 12 minutes, 11 seconds. The fastest man to the finish is Agritubel's Brice Feillu with a time of 00:21:50, more than a minute quicker than Van Hummel.

1522: Good luck to Spaniard Inigo Cuesta. I, a mere 36, have enough trouble cycling the few miles or so to work. Cuesta starts the Tour today registering an impressive 40 years and 31 days. Show us how it's done Inigo.

Lance Armstrong
1516: And he is off, he being Armstrong, number 22 on his back as team leader Contador wears 21.

1514: Van Hummel has just crossed over the Cote de Beausoleil at the 7.5km mark. I don't think he will be figuring in the mix today.

Lance Armstrong
1515: The riders are lining up before the start ramp. Armstrong is close to the front. Perhaps not surprisingly, the cameras are very much focused on him. I cannot quite work out whether he looks nervous or relaxed, though he definitely seems focused.

1510: Not since 1939 has a stage of the Tour started and finished in Monaco. That was won by France's Pierre Gallien and at 101.5km was far longer than than today's 15.5km time trial.

1505: Very much an uphill proposition for the riders for the first half of the time trial. Not too long before Armstrong is off. Get him out before the weather turns I say. After all, has already broken his collar bone once this year.

1503: Quick Step rider Tom Boonen has been in the news recently. A French arbitration court decided on Friday that he can ride even though in April he had been banned by organisers after testing positive for cocaine in April.
Boonen handed late Tour reprieve

Now it turns out that the Belgian is suffering from diarrhoea and abdominal pains. Not great news for him.

1500: Kenny van Hummel of the Skil-Shimano team is off and away. Some of the route takes the riders along roads used by the Formula One teams.

It is cloudy in Monaco with a strong possibility of rain later. That could be messy.

1500: I'm not going to bang on about Armstrong all afternoon but if he or one of his compatriots wins today's it will be the first time an American has won a tour stage on 4 July.

Lance Armstrong
1458: I watched a little bit of the presentation of the teams the other day. I was very interested to hear the crowd's reaction when Lance's name was boomed out. A very warm reception for the Texan.

1454: Lance was the last man to win the first stage/prologue and win the Tour. He did it in 1999 and 2002.

However, I have seen plenty of interviews over the last day or so in which Lance is adamant Contador is the Astana team leader. We'll see......

1451: Quick Step rider Tom Boonen has been in the news recently. A French arbitration court decided on Friday that he can ride even though in April he had been banned by organisers after testing positive for cocaine in April.
Boonen handed late Tour reprieve

Now it turns out that the Belgian is suffering from diarrhoea and abdominal pains. Not great news for him.

Text in your views on 81111
From Simon, Bristol, via text on 81111 (See below): "Hi, it was 10 miles. Bradley has done a 17:58 for ten miles."

1446: Don't worry if you are relatively new to the Tour de France and don't understand all its wonder nuances as there is a guide to the race on the cycling index.
Understanding the Tour de France

1440: The first rider out today, by the way, is Dutchman Kenny van Hummel. In all honesty, not a man I know a great deal about.

Text in your views on 81111
From Simon, Bristol, via text on 81111: "Hi, Bradley Wiggins recently did an 18 minute '10' in Kent. So he's my tip to be in yellow at the end of the day."

I am very much assuming the 10 is kilometres. One wonders what else it could possibly be.

1432: I'm excited by the start of the Tour every year but this time more than most. Armstrong and Contador are back and I cannot wait to see how the whole Astana team goes through the next few weeks.

Then there is the whole Cav green jersey bid - can the Manx flier last until Paris?

With Evans looking to finally finish first and Menchov in form after the Giro there are plenty in the mixer. So much so that defending champion Carlos Sastre seems to be something of a forgotten man.

Get involved on 606
From pigeons in the park on 606: "Fabulous Fabian is my bet - but I'd place Wiggins above Millar for highest ranking Brit - it's hilly, and Brad has got much better at hills this year."

Get involved on 606
From Kuzfan on 606: "It's gonna be great. I think Contador will win the Tour but I'm more excited at seeing Cavendish in the sprints. Today's stage - expect Kirchen, Wiggins, Cancellara, Millar, Armstrong, Contador to be at or near the top!!!"

1420: The time trial starts at 1500 BST, with the last man out at 1808 BST. Expect the stage, which includes one Category Four climb and is uphill for the first half, to take the riders approximately 20 minutes.

1415 BST: So, here we go. The waiting is finally over as the 2009 Tour de France opens with a 15.5km time trial around the famous streets of Monaco.

Astana rider Alberto Contador will be looking to put a marker down and claim the yellow jersey but he faces stiff competition in the form of Swiss time trial ace Fabian Cancellara.

Lance Armstrong
And of course, there is Lance Armstrong as the American competes in the race for the first time since the last of his seven-straight Tour wins in 2005.

Armstrong is an Astana team-mate of Contador and it will be fascinating to see how he goes today - and indeed I cannot wait to see how the entire team politics plays out over the coming weeks. Will Lance really settle for riding for Contador?

And then there is Levi Leipheimer, Denis Menchov and Cadel Evans.....

Today isn't about crackerjack sprinter Mark Cavendish but British interest should focus on Bradley Wiggins and David Millar.



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see also
Cancellara wins first Tour stage
04 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Tour de France photos
04 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Tour de France ones to watch
03 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Understanding the Tour de France
03 Jul 09 |  Cycling


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