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Right, that's it from me - a nice start from Mark Cavendish, let's hope he continues his rich vein of form in the 196.5km stage from Marseille to La Grande-Motte on Monday, when Chris Bevan will be your guide. Laters.
The Standings:Yellow jersey
- Fabian CancellaraGreen jersey
- Mark CavendishKing of the Mountains jersey
- Jussi VeikkanenWhite jersey
- Roman Kreuziger
Mad_for_Chelsea on 606:
"Blimey, just saw a replay of the finish, Cav was two or three bike-lengths ahead of his followers, just too good."
Cavendish's time is four hours, 30.2 minutes, with Farrar in second and Agritubel's Romain Feillu finishing third while Thor Hushovd crosses the line in fourth. Fabian Cancellara looks as if he has held on to the yellow jersey going into Monday's stage after finishing in 38th spot. Astana's Lance Armstrong finishes in 80th spot, while Bradley Wiggins rolls over in 114th.
Tour de France stage two winner Mark Cavendish:
"I didn't know how open my legs would be, it takes me a few days to get riding. But I wasn't wasting energy and it was a pretty long sprint, but I didn't want to make the mistake I did in the Giro."
Brilliant work from the Manxman, set up beautifully by his team-mates. Cavendish went a little earlier than I anticipated, but has the legs to hold off the challenge of Garmin's Tyler Farrar by a good wheel and a half. The drama was made the more intense following a crash and judging by the lack of Tom Boonen's presence at the front of the peloton, the Belgian was involved in the melee.
1613:MARK CAVENDISH WINS THE SECOND STAGE OF THE TOUR DE FRANCE 1612:
We've had a crash! But Cav's still in position with 400m to go
Cavendish is boxed in as the peloton attacks, wonder if that's a tactical move from the other teams. The riders split symmetrically around the final roundabout coming into the final 1km stretch.
Here we go as Ignatiev is enveloped by the peloton, led by Milram, aiming to set something up for Gerard Ciolek, a former team-mate of Mark Cavendish's. Lampre are also up there too. Three km to go...
BBC Radio 5 Live's Alex Murray on 606:
"Here comes the catch and there goes the first of the digs from Katusha. It's Ignatiev, a man who never shies away from getting his sponsor some airtime. Ballan is hovering near the front of the bunch, might he try something?"
The man at the front of the peloton is Mikhail Ignatiev, although not too sure what his tactics are - I think Alex Murray (below) has hit the nail on the head. We have six kilometres to go as Milram move up in force alongside Team Colombia at the front of the peloton. However, Ignatiev has opened up an 11-second gap.
The peloton is 20 seconds behind the quartet of breakaway riders. Rabobank's Stef Clement looks absolutely spent. The Team Colombia riders are in sequence as Bernhard Eisel, the man who has done so much dog work for Mark Cavendish, leads his team with 11km to go.
A Cervelo rider has halted, something wrong with his wheel but not too sure who it is. The Astana mob are congregating on the shoulders of Team Colombia as the Saxobank team steadily move forward. Looks like we're in for a grandstand finish... 15km to go.
If Cavendish wins today, it will be the fifth Tour stage win of his career. Only three riders in this year's Tour have won more than five stages (Armstrong, Boonen and Hushovd). The front of the Peloton is populated by Team Colombia and Cervelo riders.
So with 20km to go, it's time to single out the men competing for the green jersey. We already know Team Colombia's Mark Cavendish is Armstrong's pick, but Thor Hushovd of Cervelo, Quick Step's Tom Boonen (in the race by the skin of his teeth), Rabobank's Oscar Freire and Liquigas' Daniele Bennati will be out in force. The gap is now down to one minute, the breakaway group are about to get owned.
Seven-time Tour champ Lance Armstrong on Twitter:
"Cavendish is my pick for today. Straight run in and the Columbia-HTC train will be there in full force." This was posted six hours ago, not while he was fiddling with his mobile device in the saddle, obviously.
The gap between the breakaway quartet and the peloton is now down to two minutes with 25km to go.
BBC Radio 5 Live's Alex Murray on 606:
"While were waiting for the chase to begin in earnest, I thought I'd mention that the Giro Donne, the Women's Tour of Italy is also on. Looks like Emma Pooley was third today on the ITT which should move her up from 5th in the GC after her 9th place yesterday. Napolitano and Ciolek involved in a crash according to Simon Brotherton, both working their way back up. Usually by now we've had one big crash and a retirement. Being the first retirement always strikes me as one of the saddest things that can happen to a rider."
The peloton is absolutely motoring right now, closing the gap to three minutes. Mark Cavendish is hanging around at the front alongside his Team Colombia team-mates. If Stef Clement, part of the breakaway group, wins today's stage, he will become the first Dutch rider to win a stage since Rabobank's Pieter Weening won stage eight in 2005.
Some news just in - French team Bouygues Telecom are set to pull out of cycling at the end of the 2010. "We will stop but we will try and find them a co-sponsor for next season," said Bouygues Telecom sponsorship director Thibaut Chatelard.
The Team Colombia riders have moved to the front of the peloton, poised for a Cav attack. Meanwhile Cervelo rider Daniel Lloyd has joined the BBC Five Live team in the commentary box. He says the last 12km is quite a wide run in, while the last kilometre has a narrow roundabout which will pose problems for the sprinters.
Beautiful aerial shots of the Gallic countryside, although the view is momentarily sullied as various plastic bottles are discarded roadside as the peloton builds momentum. Last year's winner of the first stage was Spaniard Alejandro Valverde - will compatriot Oscar Freire be in the running come the final 200m? We have 45km to go, not long now...
The peloton is slowly closing down the lead held by the leading four, reducing the deficit to four minutes and 23 seconds. Five Live summariser informs us there has been a crash at the back of the peloton, with about six riders caught in the melee, including Cervelo's Haydon Raulston. It looks pretty messy but all the riders are back on their feet and in their saddles.
A number of nuns wearing the caravan freebies are out in force waving at the quartet of leaders, who have been in front since the 14th kilometre. Jussi Veikkanen adds further points to his tally at the top of the Cote de Tourmon and looks set to take the polkadot jersey off the back of Alberto Contador this evening. Not a bad start to the Finn's TdF career.
We now have live commentary from the Radio 5 Live team. Click on the link below and off you go. And for all you non UK-based cycleheads, you'll be glad to hear you can listen in on the action too.
Live - Radio 5 Live commentary
In five minutes we will have live commentary from the BBC Radio 5 Live boys in the south of France. I'll give you the nod then. In the mean time, why not follow some of this tennis business from Wimbledon with Caroline Cheese?
Live - Wimbledon men's final
The riders tuck into their food bags as we reach the 100km mark. Still no big movements from the peloton, which trails the leading quartet of Clement, Dessel, Auge and Veikkanen by four mins and 50secs.
Heeeeres_Jonny_Red on 606:
"For Lance (see 1325) they'd bring out a new range of Old Spice. Alberto Conta D'ior No1, Sylvain Chavanel 'attack' No5 - heady but the effect wears off quick. Tom Boonen - Tommy Hill-figure 'Tommeke', a classic scent of cobbles fused with mud."
Jarwaki on 606:
"The way Saxobank team is pulling - seems like Cancellara is trying hard to conserve the yellow jersey into the third day."
Interestingly, the yellow jersey rider is having his saddle adjusted by a mechanic hanging out of the window of the support car. The Swiss has a brief chat with team leader Bjarne Riis before rejoining the peloton.
Jussi Veikkanen is equal with Team Colombia's Tony Martin on six points after clinching climbing points on the third classification at the 81.5km mark. The lead between the breakaway quartet and the peloton is know beyond the five-minute mark.
BBC Sport's Phil Sheehan on Twitter:
"F. Schleck is looking a bit miffed after crashing earlier - he's just had another bike change" and "My Snickers turned to chocolate and peanut soup on the hundred yard walk from the shop to the commentary tribune".
Gunner_Pimp on 606:
"Cav perfume? (see 1325) 'Mighty Manx'. Smells of petrol (Isle of Man TT), WD40 with a hint of the flowers that they give to stage winners. Packaged in a green box and glass receptacle in the shape of a bike wheel."
Another crash, this one involving Saxobank's Franck Schleck and Euskatel's Igor Anton. The man in orange is immediately back up and riding off in the distance, but the Luxembourger has to wait around as a team mechanic manically unhinges a bike off his roof rack. Not the best for the elder Schleck, especially as none of his team-mates can accompany him as they are all tending to Fabian Cancellara at the head of the peloton.
Going through Grasse got me thinking...What sort of name would this year's riders have if they had a perfume/aftershave named after them? Would Lance Armstrong would call his fragrance "Smell Strong"? Would Bradley Wiggins go for plain old "Gold"? And how about Cav?
The riders stream through the aromatic town of Grasse, better known as the capital of the perfume industry. The majority of riders would probably need a few smells to mask the odour of sweat on yet another blisteringly warm day in southern France.
Rugbyjames84 on 606:
"I'm in Le Rouret waiting for the tour to pass. The sun is in and out. But I'm just sweating standing here. Gonna be a tough on. The biggest cheer for le caravane is when the police go past. Only in France."
The breakaway heads towards the cote de Roquefort-les-pins, a category three climb at 49km, where Francaise Des Jeux's Jussi Veikkanen sneaks the three points ahead of AG2R's Cyril Dessel, with Cofidis' Stephane Auge taking the solitary point.
Quickstep's Jurgen van der Walle has taken a fall, he looks OK but he's not rushing back on his bike. The mechanics deem his bike is kaput and dish out a replacement in double quick time. Meanwhile, disaster strikes for Stef Clement, who is forced to stop to sort out his chain. However, he is back on his bike and has caught up with his fellow escapees, who are now three minutes ahead of the peloton.
The breakaway quartet bustle through the streets of Nice, where Stephane Auge of Cofidis has won the first intermediate sprint, winning six points in the process. Cyril Dessel and Rabobank's Stef Clements take the remaining points as the breakaway quartet stretch their lead out to two minutes.
Alex Murray on 606:
"By my estimation Wiggins could, theoretically go for a clean sweep of the jerseys in the first week. With few KOM points on offer for the lowly lumps early on he's got a healthy tally to start with so he only needs to go over a few at the front of the field to get the polka dots. Then in the TTT Garmin only need to put 20 seconds into Saxo Bank and finish 2 seconds ahead of Astana for him to get yellow off Cancellara.
"According to his
, David Millar sent Cav a pic of Brad in the green jersey last night. I'm fairly certain that's all the encouragement Cav needs for today, not that he needs much when it comes to winning flat stages.
"Today I can't see the sprinters teams letting a break go so we'll have our first bunch gallop. Obvious choice is Cavendish but don't discount Tyler Farrar, Thor Hushovd and Daniele Bennati as the men likely to run him close. As for Tom Boonen, he was reportedly unwell yesterday and his preparation has been less than ideal but he is a rider for the big days and he's wearing the Belgian champion's jersey, so I won't write him off entirely."
Pigeons in the park on 606:
"I'd pronounce Txurruka as 'Tchurrruka' (see 1201) with a rolled r, and emphasis on the U - but that might not be right. X is definitely pronounced "ch" in Catalan, and while I think it's the same in Euskara, I could be wrong."
Another break, this time featuring four riders who have opened up a 30-second gap from the peloton. Stef Clement, Cyril Dessel, Jussi Veikkanen and Stephane Auge are the quartet.
The peloton reels in the breakaway trio as Team Colombia's Tony Martin, who finished eighth in the time trial on Saturday, is first to the top of the 491m La Turbie, bagging four points in the process.
Samuel Dumoulin has dropped off the pace, leaving a breakaway trio of Euskatel's Amets Txurruka (anyone know how to pronounce his name?), AG2R's Rinaldo Nocentine and Milram's Fabian Wegmann. Meanwhile, the Saxobank team are congregating at the front of the peloton.
Noel, Manchester, text 81111:
"Should be an exciting Tour this year with all the big guns back. Good start for the Wiggster yesterday and Cav today!"
So we are off and the riders are approaching the category three La Turbie and we have a breakaway featuring four riders, including Cofidis' Samuel Dumoulin, a stage winner in last year's race.
Tgsgirl on 606:
"I'm ready for a hungover day spent on the couch, switching between TdF and the Wimbly finals. Wiggins clearly wasn't counting on wearing green, his shorts and helmet don't match at all! Cancellara on the other hand is wearing the yellow helmet and glasses proudly. The official start is in a minute or two, and already Tommy Voeckler is on the front row, ready to attack. You gotta love the guy."
Hot and humid conditions for the riders on the Rivera today as the riders gather towards the neutral zone, waiting for race director Christian Prudhomme to wave the flag to officially start stage two of Le Tour. Although forecasts had warned of potential thunderstorms, the blazing sun and wispless wind will make the stage a sweaty one for the 180 riders.
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Sunday's stage sees the riders avoid the poodle poo-ridden streets of Monaco towards the southeastern town of Brignoles. It's a relatively gentle introduction for the 180 riders, a 187km (110 miles) course which features one category three climb - the 491m La Turbie - along with three category fours. According to five-time Tour champion Bernard Hinault, "we may very well see a sprint in the final section of the race as the last 5km are in a flat, straight line", music to the ears of Britain's Mark Cavendish, who was undoubtedly conserving energy after crossing the finishing line in 177th spot in Monaco. Expect the Manxman to attack in the last 200m.
Bonjour la clase, welcome to the second day of the 2009 Tour de Lance, I mean France. So the seven-time winner can still cut it with the very best - some 1,441 days since sipping chilled champers in Paris in 2005, the Texan finishes a more than respectable 10th in Saturday's gruelling time trial. Britain's Bradley Wiggins will wear the green jersey after finishing the 9.6-mile course through the streets of millionaires in third behind yellow jersey holder Fabian Cancellera, who blitzed the field with an impressive time of 19 minutes and 32 minutes, 18 seconds better than tour favourite Alberto Contador, who finished in second. The Spaniard will wear the King of the Mountains jersey.