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Page last updated at 16:16 GMT, Tuesday, 7 July 2009 17:16 UK

Tour de France - stage four as it happened

LATEST ACTION (all times BST)

606: DEBATE

To get involved use 606 or text us your views & comments on 81111. (Not all contributions can be used)

By Chris Bevan

1712: So, what will this Tour have in stall for us on Wednesday? Who knows, but stand by for more thrills and spills - Peter Scrivener will take you through all the action as the race travels 196.5km from Cap d'Agde to Perpignan.

Green jersey
Mark Cavendish
1706: Cav holds on to the green jersey for a third day too of course, and he will be back in the limelight again tomorrow, as stage five is another that is perfect for sprinters. Can he make it three stage wins in this year's Tour? Fingers crossed...

It's good news for a British rider
1703: Great news for British cycling - Garmin's efforts in today's team time trial means Bradley Wiggins is sixth overall (38 seconds behind Cancellara) and David Millar is 10th (another 29 seconds further back). Mark Cavendish has moved up from 142nd to 61st overall (3min 33 seconds behind the leader) too because of the might of Team Columbia, while Charles Wegelius goes up 11 places to 161st overall (+8min 09secs).

Get involved on 606
1700: faris988 on 606: "Brilliant finish...Lance is so close, but not so lucky..he is definitely going to bounce back harder and the field has become level again."

Twitter
1657: BBC Sport's Phil Sheehan on Twitter: "Is this Tour de France shaping up to be a classic? I don't think I even need to answer that question. Again we are saying "what a stage!"

Lance Armstrong
1655: Seven-time champion Lance Armstrong on missing out on the yellow jersey by less than a second after the team time trial:
"We thought we had it based on the time splits on the course - we thought we were close or even there but hey that's cycling.
"We can look at our performance and say we did our best - we won the stage and made time on our rivals. I did my best, it's just a damn hard event, one of the hardest things we do in the Tour."

1652: Just found out that Lance missed taking the yellow jersey by two tenths of a second. Strewth.

A celeb has been spotted
1650: Who else but Ben Stiller hands Cancellara the maillot jaune - but, considering the actor spent most of yesterday morning hanging about with the Astana team, I can't help but feel he would rather have been handing it to his 'Dodgeball' co-star Lance Armstrong.

1648: Fabian Cancellara after keeping the yellow jersey by less than a second:
"That is Swiss timing! Precision timing! I think we can be happy with today - it was a strong performance from my team in the last kilometre and we can be proud that we defended this jersey and tomorrow again we will be in yellow."

Yellow jersey
1646: Phew. I don't know about you but I'm still getting my breath back - not sure exactly what Cancellara's lead is over Armstrong, just that it is less than a second.

1645: TOUR DE FRANCE OVERALL STANDING AFTER STAGE FOUR

1. Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) 10 hrs 38 secs 07 secs
2. Lance Armstrong (Astana) + 0 secs
3. Alberto Contador (Astana) +19 secs

1640: RESULTS OF STAGE FOUR (TEAM TIME TRIAL)

1. Astana 46 minutes 29 seconds
2. Garmin +18 secs
3. Saxo Bank + 40 secs
4. Liquigas +58 secs
5. Team Columbia + 59 secs

Yellow jersey
1635: It's been another crazy day on Le Tour. Lance Armstrong's Astana team won the team time trial but they could not quite put the Texan in yellow, he is less than a second behind Fabian Cancellara - it just doesn't get any closer. All the standings for the day and overall to follow...

1633: FABIAN CANCELLARA STAYS IN YELLOW

Yellow jersey
1631: Unbelievable! It is still not clear whether Lance Armstrong has taken the yellow jersey. He and Fabian Cancellara have exactly the same time. It's going to come down to 100ths of seconds and countbacks from previous stages - I'll let you know as soon as I find out!

1630: ASTANA FINISH TEAM TIME TRIAL IN 46 MINUTES AND 29 SECONDS

Yellow jersey
1627: A time of 46 minutes and 28 seconds will put Lance Armstrong in yellow. His Astana team are already going to win this stage. They have 1km to go...

Green jersey
Mark Cavendish
1622: Cav just can't help crossing that line first can he? The Manx Missile leads Team Columbia home in fourth place so far. Just Astana - with Lance and Contador to come in now...they are still flying with 3km to go.

TOP FIVE FINISHERS (19 out of 20 teams have completed the course):
1. Garmin 46 minutes and 47 seconds
2. Saxo Bank + 22 secs
3. Liquigas +40 secs
4. Team Columbia + 41 secs
5. Katusha + 1 min 5 secs

Yellow jersey
1618: Team Columbia are about 3km away from the finish now, after another impressive ride - especially considering their efforts yesterday. Cancellara and Saxo Bank came home with the second-fastest time, 22 seconds behind Garmin. The wait is on now for Lance...it is going to be very close.

TOP FIVE FINISHERS (18 out of 20 teams have completed the course):
1. Garmin 46 minutes and 47 seconds
2. Saxo Bank + 22 secs
3. Liquigas +40 secs
4. Katusha + 1 min 5 secs
5. Caisse D'Epargne + 1min 11 secs

Yellow jersey
Lance Armstrong
1615: It looks very much like Lance Armstrong will be back in yellow tonight. Astana have just gone through the second checkpoint (19.5km) as the fastest team so far, and they are now 38 seconds faster than Saxo Bank. Nervous times for maillot jaune Fabian Cancellara, who is just about to cross the finish line...

It's good news for a British rider
1612: A cracking effort by Britons Bradley Wiggins and David Millar, they have helped Garmin post the fastest time so far, smashing the Liquigas effort by 40 seconds.

TOP FIVE FINISHERS (17 out of 20 teams have completed the course):
1. Garmin 46 minutes and 47 seconds
2. Liquigas +40 secs
3. Katusha + 1 min 5 secs
4. Caisse D'Epargne + 1min 11 secs
5. Cervelo Test Team + 1min 19 secs

Get involved on 606
1609: BBC Radio 5 Live's Alex Murray on 606: "Are Saxo Bank using Cancellara as some sort of battering ram to haul them through the tough bits? Astana are showing how a TTT should be done, just as US Postal Service used to do."


1607: Euskaltel have just finished the 39km course, outside the top five, meaning only Cofidis, Garmin, Saxo Bank, Team Columbia and Astana are still on the road.

1604: Remember, Lance Armstrong will take the lead in the General Classification tonight if his Astana team finish more than 40 seconds ahead of Fabian Cancellara's Saxo Bank outfit. Astana were 19 seconds quicker at the first checkpoint. If Lance manages it, at 37 years and 292 days of age, he will become the oldest rider to wear yellow in the Tour de France.

Get involved on 606
1600: Terry's-Chelsea's! On 606: "Astana just look incredible! They're so well organised! Surely they will win this team time trial, unless they crash or something?"

Lance Armstrong
1558: Astana have just gone through the first checkpoint in 12 minutes and 42 seconds, exactly the same time as Garmin. Still early days though.

Twitter
1557: BBC Sport's Phil Sheehan on Twitter: "Bernhard Eisel dropped off the back of Columbia's rotation. He was knackered yesterday having worked very hard."

1555: Garmin are the fastest team through the second checkpoint (19.5km), but they have got only five riders together, remember. Team Columbia were outside the top five at the first checkpoint (10km) but let's not write them off just yet...

1550: Katusha have led for most of the day but not any more - Liquigas posted an extremely quick second-half of the team time trial and have just come over the line to set the overall fastest time.

TOP FIVE FINISHERS (14 out of 20 teams have completed the course):
1. Liquigas 47 minutes and 27 seconds .
2. Katusha +25 secs
3. Caisse D'Epargne + 31 secs
4. Cervelo Test Team + 39 secs
5. AG2R +50 secs

Get involved on 606
1546: BBC Radio 5 Live's Alex Murray on 606: "Garmin are making a right mess of this with only 5 riders left and 30 odd km to go. Really poor from them in terms of having numbers but they're not going slow.."

1543: And Astana are off - Lance even gives the crowd a little wave as he rolls off the ramp...relaxed or cocky? Every team is either on the road or has finished - the last two to go through were the Cervelo Test Team, in the third-fastest time, and Milram who were further back - but the top-two remain the same.

TOP FIVE FINISHERS (13 out of 20 teams have completed the course):
1. Katusha - 47 minutes and 52 seconds
2. Caisse D'Epargne + 6 secs
3. Cervelo Test Team + 14 secs
4. AG2R +25 secs
5. Rabobank +57 secs

1540: So, just one team left to go. Astana. Lance and Contador are at the starting line, looking pumped and ready to go for it. Up the road, Garmin riders are dropping like flies - down to five in their bunch in the first 10km, the others trying to make up ground.

Mark Cavendish
1535: Here come Team Columbia too, disappearing down the road. Mark Cavendish's team were so impressive in yesterday's stage - a real solid unit - can they repeat that today. Oh, and I'm told those audio problems with our 5 Live stream are now fixed...hope that is the case, let me know if not.

1532: More movement in the top five - Quick Step come home in 48 minutes and five seconds to knock Silence-Lotto further down the rankings.

TOP FIVE FINISHERS (11 out of 20 teams have completed the course):
1. Katusha - 47 minutes and 52 seconds
2. Caisse D'Epargne + 6 secs
3. AG2R +25 secs
4. Rabobank +57 secs
5. Quick Step + 1 min 3 secs

Yellow jersey
1530: Right then Garmin are on the road. So too are Saxo Bank, featuring maillot jaune Fabian Cancellara. Some of you seem to be having problems listening to the 5 Live streaming - it's either only working in one ear (not ideal) or not at all (no good at all) - so apologies for that...I've got our technical experts on the case and will keep you posted.

Twitter
1527: BBC Sport's Phil Sheehan on Twitter: "Cadel Evans, being the rider he is - a follower rather than an instigator - looks to have his chances in this Tour well and truly stuffed."

It's good news for a British rider
1524: Ten out of the 20 teams have completed the course now and it's still Katusha and Caisse D'Epargne, the first two to start the day, who lead the way. Most of the big-hitters still to come, however, and Garmin - featuring Britons Bradley Wiggins and David Millar - are just about to start. They will have high hopes of making a splash here...

1519: Cadel Evans's Silence-Lotto team are in too. It's been a terrible day for the Australian's General Classification hopes - they finished in 49 minutes and five seconds.

TOP FIVE FINISHERS (10 out of 20 teams have completed the course):
1. Katusha - 47 minutes and 52 seconds
2. Caisse D'Epargne + 6 secs
3. AG2R +25 secs
4. Rabobank +57 secs
5. Silence Lotto + 1 mins 12 secs

1517: Francaise Des Jeux complete the 39km in 49 minutes and 15 seconds to knock Lampre out of the top five finishers (see 1458). From now on, I'll update that every time we have a change in the top five. There's been more crashes, this time affecting Cofidis, who have a couple of riders trying to rejoin their main group, and Milram, who also dropped a couple of guys but are nearing the finish.

Text in your views on 81111
1515: From Geo, via text on 81111: "If Lance can come out of retirement to test the young pretenders why can't Abdoujaparov and Cipollini return to give Cavendish a real test? A cycling version of Rocky VI?"

1512: Just seen Lance Armstrong getting ready at the start. He and Astana go in just under 30 minutes. Expect fireworks.

1507: Apologies if some of the finish times were askew earlier - if you give this page a manual refresh, all should appear as it's supposed to.

Get involved on 606
1505: vidic4ever on 606: "Cadel's Tour hopes are hanging on by a thread. The big four could put two minutes into him and could all but end his hopes of Tour glory."

Twitter
1502: BBC Sport's Phil Sheehan on Twitter: "Not good for Cadel Evans, not good at all. At the first intermediate split his team is 48" slower than the time set by Caisse d'Epargne."

1458: By popular demand, here's a list of the top five finishers, and their times, so far in this team time trial:
1. Katusha - 47 minutes and 52 seconds
2. Caissse D'Epargne + 6 secs
3. AG2R +25 secs
4. Rabobank +57 secs
5. Lampre + 2 mins 1 sec

Twitter
1455: BBC Sport's Phil Sheehan on Twitter: "The brown train of Ag2R has rolled in. They are third fastest so far. All nine Bouygues riders have just made it. They'll be glad it's all over. 3'18" in arrears."

1452: AG2R are the latest team to finish. They are third-fastest, 26 seconds behind Katusha.

1450: We now have live commentary from the Radio 5 Live team for the remainder of this team time trial. Click on the link below and away you go. People outside the UK can listen in on the action too. Live - Radio 5 Live commentary

1446: Here come the Bouygues Telecom boys, who have had an, er, eventful day. They're the slowest of the five finishers so far - three minutes 18 seconds down on Katusha.

1442: Carlos Sastre, last year's Tour winner, is about to begin too. The Cervelo rider is 21st overall at the moment, one minute and six seconds behind maillot jaune Fabian Cancellera.

1439: Quick Step are the next team to start. Lampre have just become the latest team to finish - there were only five of them left together and they came home two minutes and one second slower than Katusha, who remain the fastest team so far.

First aid
1437: Terrible start for Silence-Lotto. Jurgen van den Broeck touched wheels with the man in front of him and tasted tarmac - the Belgian did well to roll out of the way and he is back on his bike.

Twitter
1434: BBC Sport's Phil Sheehan on Twitter: "Bouygues are all over the shop. They're going to struggle to finish together on the same day!"

1432: Silence-Lotto are on the road, I'll keep a close eye on how they and Cadel Evans get on. Further along the course, more problems for Bouygues Telecom - they managed to regroup after that spectacular smash but Pierre Rolland has come off again, and has been dropped for good this time.

1428: Cadel Evans' Silence-Lotto team will start in the next few minutes. "The TTT course is not that technical," the Austalian said this morning. Will he think the same in 45 minutes time?

Twitter
1426: BBC Sport's Phil Sheehan on Twitter: "Agritubel have gold time-trial helmets. Nothing like a bit of pressure."

1424: Those six Katusha riders have just completed the course and are our new leaders, with a time of 47 minutes and 52 seconds. And Denis Menchov's Rabobank have finished 57 seconds down.

First aid
1422: Ouch. More trouble for the Bouygues Telecom team. Four of them just lost the road on a curve and a couple, rather painfully, found the dirt - although they have now remounted. Only five of them left together up ahead, and they are in big trouble. Katusha, by the way, have dropped three riders now, and are down to six.

Get involved on 606
1420: tgsgirl on 606: "The roads look terrible for a TTT. Narrow, twisting, terrible surface. Not the best move by Mr Preudhomme and his friends, it's almost a disgrace."

1417: Caisse D'Epargne, who were the first team to start the team time trial, have just completed the 39km course in 47 minutes 58 seconds. The Spanish squad are the fastest of the early departers so that's a useful marker for the bigger teams who are yet to go out.

1413: An early problem for Bouygues Telecom Laurent Lefevre, who needs a change of bike already - think he hit a big pot hole. AG2R and Skil-Shimano, who featured prominently in yesterday's breakaway, are on the road now too.

Text in your views on 81111
1409: From Simon in Halesowen, via text on 81111: "(Re 1357) Mention Alberto Contador. Then Lance can be Astana's main man and win the tour."

1405: Riders getting dropped all over the place. Danilo Napolitano has lost touch completely with his Katjoesja team. Just to clear things up, individuals have to finish within 25% of the fastest team's time to continue in the Tour.

Get involved on 606
1402: Im_partial on 606: "Poor Menchov. He tries too hard and makes silly errors."



1400: Not surprisingly, Denis Menchov's early crash has affected Rabobank's progress. They were 53 seconds behind Caisse D'Epargne at the 10km checkpoint.

First aid
1357: I'm going to have to stop mentioning individual riders - I'm turning into a bit of a curse. Alessandro Ballan has just crashed on the same bend that Menchov went over on. He's back on his bike now, though, and trying to rejoin his team-mates.

1355: The first couple of teams, Caisse D'Epargne and Katusha have passed the first checkpoint at 10km. Caisse are the fastest of the two, posting a time of 12 minutes and 35 seconds.

1352: Lampre are next to go. Alessandro Ballan, the reigning world road race champion, is their main hope this year and is their top man in Le Tour so far too - he's in 23rd place overall, one minute 10 seconds behind Fabian Cancellara.

1348: There are nine men in each team and, if you are dropped, you have to finish within 25% of the fastest team's time to continue in the Tour. A bad day here could prove very costly. Menchov is back with the rest of the Rabobank squad, however, let's hope that crash won't affect him any further...

First aid
1346: Arghhh! Looks like Denis Menchov and time trials just don't mix this year (see 1339). He brakes too hard at an early left-hand turn and eats tarmac. The Russian is back on his bike, but is now trying to catch up with the rest of his team. A terrible start.

Get involved on 606
1343: By the way, if you've got any questions about today's stage, or the entire Tour, then post them on 606, where 5 Live's Simon Brotherton and Graham Jones are waiting to answer them.

1342: Ah. If you give this page a manual update you'll get the correct start times for the big-hitters. Sorry about that...

1339: It's fair to say that Rabobank's Denis Menchov had a nightmare in the individual time trial on day one in Monaco - he'll hope he can make up a bit of lost time here.

1336: A few twists and turns for the Caisse d'Epargne riders to negotiate in the first few miles. Oscar Pereiro, the 2006 Tour winner, is in their ranks. Russian outfit Katjoesja have just set off, next to go are Rabobank...

The sun is out
1330: And we're off. Caisse d'Epargne get the team time trial under way. The sun is out in Montpellier - no surprise there!

1326: Spanish team Caisse d'Epargne will get us under way at 1330 BST. Here's some of the other teams to look out for, and their start times:

Silence-Lotto (Cadel Evans, Charlie Wegelius) 1433 BST
Cervelo (Carlos Sastre) 1447 BST
Garmin (Bradley Wiggins, David Millar) 1522 BST
Saxo Bank (Fabian Cancellara) 1529 BST
Columbia (Mark Cavendish, Tony Martin) 1536 BST
Astana (Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador) 1543 BST

Text in your views on 81111
1319: From Jack in London, via text on 81111: "A fantastic schedule for Mark Cavendish - he can act as a domestique for Tony Martin today and recover in time for tomorrow and another final sprint victory before the Pyrenees."
Let's hope so Jack!

1317: I've just seen the order in which the teams will go - it's the reverse of the standings of the team classification, which means Astana will go last. How to track their progress? There are three checkpoints today before the finish line - Grabels at 10km, Murveil-Les-Montpellier after 19.5km and Pignan (Pres) at 30.5km.

1315: Back to today, and I should explain how the team time trial will work - the format is that the finishing time of each team's fifth rider will count, so they have to stay together. There are also no limits to any time losses that are suffered today, which is another reason the course is relatively short, the shortest since 1991 (36km) in fact.

1314: Contador's take on Astana's politics after losing time on Armstrong:
"I'm not going to evaluate the team strategy because everyone will draw their own conclusions anyway. In any case, the Tour won't be decided by what happened."

Lance Armstrong
1313: Lance Armstrong on the time he gained on Astana team-mate and fellow maillot jaune contender Alberto Contador yesterday:
"It was not my objective but I turned around and was surprised that there was a split. On days like that - for good or bad - you can make a difference. I have tried to stay out a little bit of the debate about, 'who is the leader?'. I have won the Tour seven times, so I think I deserve a bit of credit,"

1311: Lots of chat about the Astana camp and who their team leader is after yesterday - Lance Armstrong or Alberto Contador. Expect that one to run and run - but the team should be united today...shouldn't it!?

Twitter
1310: Team Columbia rider Michael Rogers commenting on stage three: "That was awesome! That was the best team effort I've been apart of in 10 years as a pro. Cav did what he's best at...Winning"

Get involved on 606
1307: tgsgirl on 606: "I wanna see if Columbia will drop Cavendish to try to get Martin in yellow. They'll need to go all out to beat Astana and Saxo Bank (and Garmin, but they're not a General Classification threat) and out the whole team, Cav is probably the worst TT'er. Lose Cav halfway down the line, perhaps together with Mark Renshaw for some protection and try to get Tony Martin in yellow for a double Columbia jersey tomorrow."



Mark Cavendish
1305: Team Columbia showed what they are made of yesterday with that surge that split the peloton. Manx missile Mark Cavendish got the glory with the stage win but will the efforts of his team-mates leave them jaded today? Tony Martin, currently second overall, will hope there is a bit more left in the tank...

1303: There are 20 teams in this year's Tour and the first is due to roll out to start the team time trial at around 1320 BST, the last one at 1543 BST. It should take them 45 minutes to get round Montpellier. By the way, we'll have streamed live coverage from 5 Live for the climax to the day, starting at 1500 BST.

It's bad news for a British rider
1301: Astana's strength means they will figure strongly today, and there had been hopes that Bradley Wiggins could challenge for yellow too - but he was one of those to lose time in yesterday's dramatic finish and has a minute to make up on Cancellara - a big ask for his Garmin team. Expect them to do very well though...

Get involved on 606
1300: prakhar1 on 606: "I think that Cancellara might just retain the yellow jersey today although not by much. The gap between him and Lance will be narrowed down. Expect Astana to take the yellow jersey in the mountain stages in the form of either Armstrong or Contador."

1258: By all accounts, today's course is a tough and technical one - lots of tight bends at the start, followed by some steep ascents and descents. Wind will be a factor too, so the best organised teams will be the biggest winners. Those who can't stay together will lose the most...

Twitter
1256: Seven-time Tour champ Lance Armstrong on Twitter: "Did a lap of the course with the boys. We're ready. What I thought was up/down/left/right is now up/down/left/WINDY! Important day..."

Yellow jersey
1254: Yep, welcome to stage four, the first team time trial to feature in Le Tour since 2006. The route is a short 39km hop around Montpellier but could make a big difference to the top of the general classification - if Armstrong's Astana squad finish more than 40 seconds faster than current maillot jaune Fabian Cancellara's Saxo Bank team, the Texan will be back in his favourite colour tonight.

1252 BST: Zut Alors! Lance Armstrong back in the yellow jersey? It could happen today folks...



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see also
Armstrong just misses Tour lead
07 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Superb Cavendish triumphs again
06 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Cavendish storms to stage victory
05 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Tour de France stage two photos
05 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Cancellara wins first Tour stage
04 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Tour de France stage one 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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