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Page last updated at 15:11 GMT, Saturday, 25 July 2009 16:11 UK

Tour de France - stage 20 as it happened

Stage 20 - Montelimar to Mont Ventoux, 167km

LATEST ACTION (all times BST)

606: DEBATE

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By Chris Bevan

1600: Join me tomorrow to see if the Manx Missile can end this Tour on a high, with the prestige of a stage win in Paris. That drama will come at the end of a 164km hike from Montereau Fault Yonne into the French capital that will bring the 2009 Tour de France to a close and see Alberto Contador crowned as this year's winner. We've had three weeks to remember so I'm sure the last day won't disappoint - I look forward to seeing you all from about 1200 BST.

1557: Speaking of Cav...he has only just reached the top of Mont Ventoux, crossing the line with Thor Hushovd - who else!?

Get involved on 606
1555: nimagraven on 606: "Wiggo!!! I am so proud. Having watched this guy on the track I can't help but swell in pride for this man and the pain he put himself through today."

Green jersey
Mark Cavendish
1553: This Tour isn't over yet though folks! While Alberto Contador sups champagne on his way down the Champs Elysess tomorrow, Mark Cavendish will look to cap his Tour with his sixth stage win of this year's race. He also has an extremely slim chance of snatching the green jersey from Thor Hushovd too.

White jersey
Polka dot jersey
Green jersey
Yellow jersey
1551: TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 AFTER STAGE 20:

Yellow jersey: Alberto Contador (Spa/Astana)
Green jersey: Thor Hushovd (Nor/Cervelo)
Polka dot jersey: Franco Pellizotti (Ita/Liquigas)
White jersey: Andy Schleck (Lux/Saxo Bank)

Lance Armstrong
Yellow jersey
1547: Yep, let's salute the achievement of maillot jaune Alberto Contador, set to become the winner of the Tour for the second time in three years - whether he was climbing or time trialling, he was in formidable form. But seven-time champion Lance Armstrong, back in the race after a four-year absence has played a big part in this race and fully deserves his place in the podium tomorrow after finishing third behind Andy Schleck (as long as they finish the stage!).

Text in your views on 81111
1545: From Adrian in London, via text on 81111: "If the Oxford English Dictionary would care to update the definition of grit, I reckon they should reference Wiggo and Lance. Outstanding both of you!"


It's good news for a British rider
Bradley Wiggins
1542: So, with just Sunday's procession in Paris to come, Bradley Wiggins has finished just 37 seconds off a podium place - let's give him the credit he deserves for a magnificent achievement that few people could have expected three weeks ago. He climbed brilliantly again today and showed again what guts he has got as he battled to the top of Mont Ventoux. He has had an amazing Tour.

Yellow jersey
1539: GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 20:

1. Alberto Contador (Spa/Astana) 81 hrs 46 mins 17 seconds
2. Andy Schleck (Lux/Saxo Bank) + 4 mins 11 secs
3. Lance Armstrong (USA/Astana) + 5 min 24 secs
4. Bradley Wiggins (GB/Garmin) + 6 min 01 secs
5. Frank Schleck (Lux/Saxo Bank) + 6 mins 04 secs
6. Andreas Kloden (Ger/Astana) + 6 mins 42 secs

Get involved on 606
1538: walrus on 606: "Wiggo, what courage! Awesome."

Yellow jersey
1533: So, Contador will wear yellow into Paris and Andy Schleck and Lance Armstrong will complete the podium. Wiggins will finish fourth overall, equalling the best ever finish by a British rider in the Tour after Robert Millar's identical placing in 1984.

1532: Contador, Armstrong and the Schleck brothers are in...and a few seconds later, so is Bradley Wiggins. Not sure how far he was behind Frank, but he had 23 seconds on the elder Schleck before the start of the day and I'm pretty sure he finished inside that, which means he stays in fourth overall.

1531: Juan Manuel Garate outsprints Martin for the stage win - and here come the big-hitters!

1530: The way things are looking right now, the 1-2-3 in Paris will be Contador-Andy Schleck-Armstrong. Wiggins has dropped out of that bunch, which also contains Frank Schleck of course.

1530: It was Garate who had actually dropped Martin but it didn't really matter - they are both back together now.

1529: Martin has dropped Garate at the front of the race, he just has to hold off Pellizotti now. Wiggins? Yep, the boy is still battling - he's back with the yellow jersey group.

1526: Pellizotti is within 35 seconds of the front two now, with just 1km to go. Down the road - Andy Schleck attacks again, but is held up by the TV bike. Wiggo is dropped again...he cannot match that acceleration, let's hope he can work his way back again.

It's good news for a British rider
1525: Wow. I spoke too soon, luckily. Wiggo shows the determination we know he has spades of to regain touch with the rest of the big-hitters.

It's bad news for a British rider
1523: Juan Manuel Garate and Tony Martin are still leading Pellizotti by over a minute - with 2.5km to go to the finish...all steep uphill but it looks good for a stage win for one of those two. The yellow jersey bunch are another minute back...and Wiggins has slipped adrift of that group again, he is struggling in this headwind.

1521: Wiggins is struggling a bit now though. He and Nibali have lost ground on the yellow jersey bunch but are clawing their way back. These continued attacks are bound to take their toll eventually though.

It's good news for a British rider
Bradley Wiggins
1519: Contador follows the Schleck brothers as does Lance Armstrong and...Bradley Wiggins! Kloden has been dropped again though.

1518: Andy and Frank Schleck attack!

1517: Just 4km to go to the finish now. Juan Manuel Garate and Tony Martin are about a minute and 17 seconds ahead of Pellizotti, with the yellow jersey bunch another 40 seconds back.

1516: All the big-hitters are now back together now - none of them have tried to go with Pellizotti, who is trying to catch the front two and crown his King of the Mountains win with victory on Mont Ventoux.

Polka dot jersey
1513: The front two of Juan Manuel Garate and Tony Martin could benefit from the battle for a podium place - they are now one minute and 44 seconds clear of the yellow jersey group with 5.5km to go. Back down the road, Pellizotti launches an attack - he's gone past Contador and Andy Schleck.

1510: The Lance/Wiggo/Frank and Kloden group are closing the gap on Andy/Contador and Nibali. Andy Schleck has slowed right up and seems to be waiting for his big brother.

1508: I've said this a few times already today, but it keeps happening - another attack by Andy Schleck. Contador and Nibali go with him. Those three are about 20 seconds clear of Armstrong, Wiggo, Kloden and Frank Schleck - who are battling for third place. Up the road, Juan Manuel Garate and Tony Martin are 35 seconds clear of Andy, Contador and Nibali with 7km to go.

1507: Nibali, Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador have opened up a gap on Lance, Wiggo, Frank Schleck and Kloden.

1506: Andy and Contador have got away, Vincenzo Nibali is trying to join them.

Yellow jersey
1504: Another attack by Andy Schleck...another response by Contador. Armstrong, Wiggins and Frank Schleck also stick with him. Nibali is still up there too.

1503: Kloden was fifth at the start of the day - two seconds behind Wiggins and 21 seconds behind Frank Schleck. It looks like he has regained contact with this yellow jersey bunch now though.

Text in your views on 81111
1501: From Adam in Strangford, Ireland, via text on 81111: "Heart in mouth time. Fair play to Wiggo but loving the legend that is Lance. What an athlete! Cant wait for next year's race."

1500: That wind we spoke about earlier is not having much effect in this section because we are still in the forest - there is a fierce headwind further up the mountain though. The three riders at the top of the race are now two minutes and 15 seconds ahead of this bunch. Kloden? He is 23 seconds behind Contador/Schlecks/Armstrong/Wiggo.

1457: Andy keeps looking for Frank whenever he turns on the gas, they clearly want to work together to get Frank on the podium. Frank is taking time to respond to his brother's attacks at the moment...we've still got 10km to go.

1455: Andreas Kloden has been dropped by the yellow jersey group! The Schlecks, Lance, Wiggo and Nibali are still up there though. Here comes another attack by Andy...

1454: We've seen these tactics by the Schlecks before - but Andy cannot lose Contador, who is on his wheel. Nibali has followed the man in yellow.

1453: Even Pellizotti has been dropped now as the big-hitters mop up more of the escapees. We've got around 12km to go to the finish...and Andy Schleck goes on the attack...

1453: Lance Armstrong and Bradley Wiggins go with Frank, who lies sixth overall. Nibali is still up with this bunch too, sorry for the misinformation.

1452: Frank Schleck attacks!

1450: Lance and Contador are out of the saddle and pedalling hard. Their group are catching some of the stragglers from that initial breakaway. There are already riders spread out all over the slopes and Nibali, who lies seventh overall, has been dropped.

1448: There are three riders at the front of the race - Juan Manuel Garate, Tony Martin and Christophe Riblon - who are about 35 seconds ahead of a bunch of 13. About three minutes further back comes the group containing all the big-hitters. We've got 13.5km to go until the top of Mont Ventoux.

Bradley Wiggins
1446: Wiggo is sitting in the middle of the big-hitters, next to Pellizotti. Most of them are grimacing already, this is going to get even worse though...

1444: The Saxobank riders in the yellow jersey bunch are upping the pace, and trying to whittle this group down. It's getty very steep...

Twitter
BBC Sport's Phil Sheehan, on Mont Ventoux, on Twitter: "The yellow jersey group has been whittled down to 24 riders - essentially the top men on GC and their helpers, who will peel off one by one."

1442: Blimey! Some amazing scenes on the Mont Ventoux - there are huge crowds on the sides of the road (some of them are in the middle!). Let's hope they stay out of the way of the riders...

1440: My mistake, Cav had been in the front peloton - he's safely in the second bunch now...no wonder he was smiling. The 16 escapees, or what is left of them, are just three minutes and 15 seconds clear of the yellow jersey bunch, which also includes Franco Pellizotti.

1438: Cancellara has droped off the back of the yellow jersey bunch. Garmin, Astana and Saxo Bank all have plenty of men there to help their riders chasing a podium place.

1437: That group of 16 is breaking up now - a few men trying to go for broke on their own. Back down the road, Cav has been dropped by the second peloton. He was able to smile as he drifted back to his team car though, so don't worry too much about him.

1434: We're on the Mont Ventoux folks - don't go anywhere, this is where it starts to get very tasty. The front 16 are just four minutes clear with 19km to go, and the yellow jersey bunch are going to eat that up pretty quickly now.

It's good news for a British rider
1432: Four Garmin boys in the yellow jersey group. David Millar is one of the men there to help out Wiggo.

Twitter
BBC Sport's Phil Sheehan, on Mont Ventoux, on Twitter: "So, the Schleck boys are there, Wiggins is there with some Garmin teammates and Astana, who created the split, are all there."

Yellow jersey
1426: Fabian Cancellara is still at the front of the first peloton, which contains just 15 men but includes all the big-hitters in the general classification - they have opened up a gap of 10 seconds on the second bigger bunch. The 16 escapees are approaching the foot of Mont Ventoux - we're about to find out who's got what left in the tank.

1423: There are around 35 to 40 riders in the yellow jersey peloton. Astana and Saxobank are the two teams with most men up there. Don't know how many Garmin team-mates Wiggo has got with him up here.

Polka dot jersey
1421: Astana, Liquigas and Columbia are the teams driving the peloton forwards. Franco Pellizotti is up near the front - he's pretty easy to spot in his polka dot outfit - but the main bunch seems to have split up into two groups...not sure whether any of the big-hitters have been caught out yet. The gap to the 16 escapees is six minutes and 45 seconds...26km to go to the finish...5km until we reach Mont Ventoux.

Tour de France - fire
Planes dropped chemicals on the fire to help to keep it under control
1414: That fire from 1326 is under control now, but as you can see it was big enough to cause Tour organisers a bit of concern (not to mention the riders and spectators!). There was lots of smoke at one point though, and those fierce winds could easily have fanned it in the direction of the course. Luckily, they were blowing the other way.

Twitter
BBC Sport's Phil Sheehan, on Mont Ventoux, on Twitter: "Astana are really riding hard on the front now. 33km remaining, of which 21.1km is the climb."


1411: Astana have taken up the chase at the front of the peloton for this descent. They have upped the pace too - the gap is down to seven minutes and 45 seconds with 33km to go.

Text in your views on 81111
1408: From anon, via text on 81111: "If Lance Armstrong makes to the podium will he be the oldest rider to do so? "

If he does somehow win this Tour, Lance would become the oldest man to do so - beating Firmin Lambot, who was 36 when he triumphed in 1922. But as for a podium place? I don't know. Any ideas folks?

1404: Saxobank are still working hard here at the front of the peloton but the gap is still eight minutes and 22 seconds as they head to the top of the Col des Abeilles. The 16 escapees have 37km to go, and are currently heading down towards Mormoiron.

Yellow jersey
1359: Time for reminder of where we stand in the general classification. Alberto Contador looks secure in yellow, whatever happens on the Mont Venteux - I suppose it helps that he is the best climber in the world too. Andy Schleck is four minutes and 11 seconds behind him, with Lance Armstrong currently third - a minute and 10 seconds further back. After that, well Wiggo is 15 seconds behind Armstrong, and two seconds in front of Andreas Kloden. The other Schleck, Frank, is 21 seconds behind Kloden.

Text in your views on 81111
1353: From Vin in Blackburn, via text on 81111: "If a lot of riders struggle today could we possibly see the Lanterne Rouge change owner?"

Yauheni Hutarovich is in good shape to keep that honour until the end of the race. He is currently 22 minutes and 31 seconds behind the man in 155th place, Andreas Klier.

1349: The 16 escapees are on their way up to the Col des Abeilles, which is at the 121.5km mark. After that, they descend towards an intermediate sprint at Mormoiron and prepare to take on the 'Giant of Provence'.

1346: News on that forest fire - apparently the wind at that point is blowing away from the course, so it won't pose a threat to the riders. A bit of a relief for them and the spectators, I'd imagine.

Text in your views on 81111
1344: From anon, via text on 81111: "Wiggo's biggest threat for that third step on the podium will be Frank Schleck, not Armstrong. Schlecks and Contador to ease away from the rest."

1342: Those Schleck boys like punctures don't they? Frank is the latest rider to suffer one, and Fabian Cancellara is towing him back to the peloton.

Green jersey
1338: The man in the green jersey, Thor Hushovd, has just dropped back to change a wheel after suffering a puncture. The peloton are now eight minutes and 10 seconds behind the escapees, with 53km to go. Saxobank still heading up the main bunch, Astana are lurking behind them.

Text in your views on 81111
1334: From anon, via text on 81111: "Is there a danger Cav could be amongst any riders that are eliminated today?"

It's unlikely, Monsieur Anon - Mont Ventoux is pretty brutal but it is right at the end of a fairly short stage and he is unlikely to lose enough time on its slopes to finish outside the limit. Also, while Cav might struggle a bit to get to the top, so will plenty of other riders.

1332: While I've been trying to find out more about these gale-force winds and forest fires, the peloton have continued to close in on the front 16 riders - the gap with 61km to go is eight-and-a-half minutes.

1330: Not long until things start to really kick off in this stage and we've now got live commentary from 5 Live. If you give this page a manual refresh, you will be able to see the link at the top.

1326: Er, more news from Mont Ventoux...there is a forest fire on the slopes, about 15km from the finish line. Let's hope the 500,000 spectators steer clear of that.

1318: The peloton are still closing the gap - at the 65km mark, the 16 riders were nine minutes and 10 seconds clear. Saxobank still going strong at the front of the main bunch, enjoying a tailwind at the moment by the looks of things.

1312: I'm being told that the windiest section of Mont Ventoux is a headwind, which will make it difficult for riders to mount solo attacks. We could see teams working together, though, and hopefully Garmin will be able to give Wiggo some help out there.

1310: Saxobank are at the front of the peloton, with Stuart O'Grady pushing them forward. They seem keen to bring this gap down a bit and it is dropping quite rapidly - now nine minutes and 40 seconds, with 74km to go.

Twitter
BBC Sport's Phil Sheehan, on Mont Ventoux, on Twitter: "I think the riders will have a favourable wind for much of the way before Sault (at the 109km mark), then they start turning into the wind towards Ventoux."

1307: Yep, the 16 escapees are still going strong and have got the gap up to more than 10-and-a-half minutes with 80km of the 167km to go.

Text in your views on 81111
1306: From anon, via text on 81111: "Ventoux was hard enough on Monday with no wind at all. Wouldn't like to try it on a breezy afternoon."

Monsieur Anon was one of those to ride in this year's L'Etape earlier this week - it followed exactly the same route as today's stage, with just a few less people watching...

Get involved on 606
1302: pigeons in the park on 606: "Re Martin Gough and his Livestrong yellow chalk - doesn't it look a bit weedy and pathetic when they have shots with the big white painted names, with faded, incomprehensible chalk next to it?"

1300: So, more than half a million people are expected to be on the slopes of the legendary Mont Ventoux today. Wow! Also waiting for the riders? Winds of up to 110km/hr (68mph)! At 1,912m it's one heck of a climb to the top too.

1254: The 16 riders in the breakaway group are Hayden Roulston, Juan Manuel Garate, Joost Posthuma, Tony Martin, Christophe Riblon, Aleksandr Kuschynski, Anthony Geslin, Samuel Dumoulin, Daniele Righi, William Bonnet, Maxime Bouet, Cyril Lemoine, Albert Timmer, Mickael Delage, Ruben Perez Moreno and Jose Ivan Gutierrez. The peloton have been distracted by several toilet breaks and are now nine minutes and 30 seconds behind. You lot on 606 seem to think they will need to be more than 10 minutes clear at the foot of Mont Ventoux to stay away until the end - at this rate they will have a lot more than that...

Twitter
BBC Sport's Martin Gough, near the top of Mont Ventoux, on Twitter: "Roads closed even to bikes since 1200 BST. Livestrong handed out yellow chalk yesterday. Indulging."

1245: Hmmm, the gap to the front 16 seems to be coming down for the first time - with 92km to go, it is eight minutes and 39 seconds. The escapees are just about to tuck into their musettes - not sure how much they will enjoy their sandwiches knowing they still have to get up Ventoux...

Get involved on 606
1241: DeGuzman on 606: "The wind on Mont Ventoux is insane. Think Samuel Dumoulin should ask his team manager for some additonal water bottles, so he will not be swept off the mountain..."

Yellow jersey
1235: So, what do you reckon for today? Can Wiggo really make up 15 seconds on Armstrong? Will we have a Brit in the top three in Paris - or will the Astana heavy mob make up the 1-2-3 with Lance and Kloden behind Contador. Not forgetting the Schlecks? Is Andy safe in second, can Frank join him on the podium? Not long until we find out...

1230: Those front 16 have a gap of more than nine minutes on the peloton (nine minutes and two seconds to be exact!) with 101km to go. Back in the main bunch, the Astana heavy mob and Garmin are leading the way. All the big-hitters are safely in there.

Twitter
BBC Sport's Phil Sheehan, on Mont Ventoux, on Twitter: "The lower slopes of the Ventoux are like never seen before I reckon. Will make for spectacular TV. It's hot but sheltered from the wind until Chalet Reynard, then it's windy. There are occasional violent gusts up here and much colder."

1225: We've got live commentary of today's stage via our 5 Live stream from 1330 BST today. You'll have to give this page a manual refresh to see the link but I'll give you a reminder nearer the time.

Text in your views on 81111
1220: From MarcoP, via text on 81111: "If it is as windy as reported, who will this favour? Wiggo or Armstrong?"

It depends which direction the wind is blowing - a headwind will make it difficult for any rider to attack effectively...a tail wind could blow the field apart.

1217: That gap to the front 16 riders is still growing all the time - up to eight minutes and 15 seconds after 60km.

1213: Interesting news from Mont Ventoux. The howling wind that BBC Sport's Martin Gough tweeted about below has not let up - that should make things even more difficult for the riders, as if it won't be tough enough.

Polka dot jersey
1211: Mr polka dot socks himself, Franco Pellizotti, has got the King of the Mountains category wrapped up already though. Regardless of what happens on the climbs today, he has enough points to ensure victory...as long as he completes the race in Paris tomorrow.

Mark Cavendish
1208: Thor Hushovd has a firm grip on the green jersey by the way, leading Cav by 25 points. Even after the first intermediate sprint of today, there are still 53 points up for grabs in the remainder of the Tour but it's unlikely that Cav will be in the mixer for many of them today. The Manx Missile wants the stage win on the Champs Elysees in Paris tomorrow, of course, but expect Thor to be right behind him whatever happens...

Get involved on 606
1208: Im_partial on 606: "Re the numbers of spectators on the mountain. I always think it must be like riding through the parting of the red sea or something - imagine the corridor of noise as you come up that climb with mad men (and women) of all nations screaming in your ears, getting too close for comfort, waving flags and plastic bottles...brilliant stuff."

Green jersey
1203: Meanwhile, at the front of the race, those 16 riders are still motoring along - the gap is now seven minutes and 20 seconds, at the 50km mark. We've just had the first intermediate sprint of the day, won by Samuel Dumoulin. The contenders for the green jersey - Cav and Thor Hushovd - are both back in the peloton so no points for either of them here.

Bradley Wiggins
1200: Hmmm, not a great start to the day for Wiggo, who has had more mechanical problems. He dropped out of the peloton but has just made his way back. Let's hope he gets all the gremlins sorted before we hit Ventoux.

Twitter
BBC Sport's Martin Gough, near the top of Mont Ventoux, on Twitter: "Tent almost fell down overnight in wind; others not so lucky. Amateur cyclists still coming past, despite barely being able to stay upright."

Text in your views on 81111
1154: From Mol_Daze, via text on 81111: "Not sure re Lance's maths - 500k spectators would mean they were jammed in shoulder to shoulder six deep both sides of the road for the entire length of the climb. Will be impressive if true."

1151: Back on the road, and those 16 escapees are now five minutes and 51 seconds clear at the 43km mark.

Twitter
Bradley Wiggins a couple of hours ago on Twitter: "And so to the Ventoux, spare a thought for the great Tom Simpson."

1145: You can't mention Mont Ventoux without remembering Tom Simpson, of course. Simpson died close to the summit during the 1967 Tour and the memorial to him on the slopes of the mountain has become a shrine for all cyclists.

1140: Bradley Wiggins' friend and coach at British Cycling, Shane Sutton:

"The podium is still all there to play for. One bad period on Ventoux and you become exposed then you're in trouble. It could be Bradley, of course, but you can rest assured that all those top six contenders are not going to be feeling great at the same moment on Ventoux."

1137: Those three riders have caught up with the front 13 and are now four minutes and 10 seconds clear after 31km.

Bradley Wiggins
1135: Bradley Wiggins has just had a chat with his Garmin team car about a mechanical problem but is safely back in the peloton, along with all the other big hitters in the general classification.

Get involved on 606
1132: thewholehog on 606: "The battle for the podium places will be quite something. I just hope Wiggins has one more good day left in him. Can't believe he lost time to Lance yesterday - he should have had Millar and Vande Velde etc making sure he was up the front, or just stuck to Lance's wheel. That four seconds could yet be important."

1129: The 13 riders in this breakaway group are Hayden Roulston, Juan Manuel Garate, Joost Posthuma, Tony Martin, Christophe Riblon, Aleksandr Kuschynski, Anthony Geslin, Samuel Dumoulin, Daniele Righi, William Bonnet, Maxime Bouet, Cyril Lemoine and Albert Timmer. They are three minutes and 35 seconds clear of the peloton with 26km of the 167km done. The three men trying to bridge the gap are Mickael Delage, Ruben Perez Moreno and Jose Ivan Gutierrez, they are just 25 seconds behind now.

1124: This gap keeps growing - up to two minutes and 40 seconds now after 24km. I'll list the 13 riders who are clear next...

Bushell makes final climb of the Tour

1115: So, what's it like to cycle up Mont Ventoux? I spoke to Bradley Wiggins' coach and close friend Shane Sutton a couple of days ago and he told me: "Until you've ridden on Ventoux and endured it you can never appreciate it. It's so easy to crack." One person who has tried it is BBC Breakfast sports presenter Mike Bushell - you can check out how he got on here.

1112: After 10km, the 13 breakaway riders are two minutes and 10 seconds ahead of the peloton - the three men trying to bridge the gap are 45 seconds behind the escapees.

White jersey
Polka dot jersey
Green jersey
Yellow jersey
1110: TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 AFTER STAGE 19:

Yellow jersey: Alberto Contador (Spa/Astana)
Green jersey: Thor Hushovd (Nor/Cervelo)
Polka dot jersey: Franco Pellizotti (Ita/Liquigas)
White jersey: Andy Schleck (Lux/Saxo Bank)

1107: Just a correction from earlier - there are 156 men left in this year's Tour, not 157. Amets Txurruka (that's hard enough to write, let alone pronounce!) and his fellow Spaniard and Euskatel team-mate Alan Perez Lazaun finished outside the time limit in yesterday's stage, and their race is over.

1105: Blimey, they're not hanging about today. Thirteen men escaped inside the first 3km and have a 40 second lead on the peloton - another three riders are trying to bridge the gap.

Twitter
Bradley Wiggins' wife Cath on Twitter: "Flaw in meticulous planning - I'll be on the bloody Eurostar when @bradwiggins is riding up the Ventoux!"

Get involved on 606
1102: lordSUPERFRED on 606: "Today is gonna be amazing, I hope for the best for the Wiggler and pray he gets a run at Lance Armstrong and is not impeded by the throngs on the slopes. Can he put 15 secs into Lance over the Mont and a 20 min climb?Man on man I think he can - go Wiggo go !"

Yellow jersey
1059: GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 19:

1. Alberto Contador (Spa/Astana) 73 hrs 15 mins 39 seconds
2. Andy Schleck (Lux/Saxo Bank) + 4 mins 11 secs
3. Lance Armstrong (USA/Astana) + 5 min 21 secs
4. Bradley Wiggins (GB/Garmin) + 5 min 36 secs
5. Andreas Kloden (Ger/Astana) + 5 mins 38 secs
6. Frank Schleck (Lux/Saxo Bank) + 5 mins 59 secs

Twitter
Lance Armstrong on Twitter: "Good morning! Big day today (literally). Expecting 500k spectators on the Ventoux today. What an arena. Know it well, we're old friends but haven't always gotten along. Two times 2nd. Ugh."

1052: The 157 riders left in the race will roll out of the neutral zone at Montelimar in the next few minutes. Before we get to what we're all waiting for - the bottom of Ventoux - they will negotiate a few smaller climbs. Today's stage is quite short at 167km but it will end in fireworks, trust me...

Bradley Wiggins
1048: Of course, also hoping for a slice of the Paris podium pie is Bradley Wiggins, who lies 15 seconds behind Armstrong in fourth overall. He is likely to be attacked from all sides today, but is one great ride away from making history and becoming Britain's first rider to manage a top-three Tour finish.

Yellow jersey
1046: The climb to the finish line is sure to see a series of attacks from the Schleck brothers, Andy and Frank, who will want to secure second and third place behind champion-in-waiting Alberto Contador. Contador, and the rest of the Astana heavy-mob, must make absolutely certain that the Spaniard is safe in yellow but will want his team-mates Lance Armstrong and Andreas Kloden to join him in the top three.

1043 BST: Time to sort the men from the boys. The battle for podium places in this year's Tour de France will be decided on the slopes of the 'Giant of Provence' - Mont Ventoux - at the end of today's stage.





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