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Page last updated at 13:45 GMT, Saturday, 3 July 2010 14:45 UK

Tour de France prologue as it happened

Prologue - Rotterdam, 8.9km

LIVE TEXT COMMENTARY (all times BST)
To get involved, please use Twitter, 606 or text us your views & comments on 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide). (Not all contributions can be used. Messages will be charged at your standard operator rate)

By Peter Scrivener

1900: It's been a decent day for some of the British riders though with David Millar and Geraint Thomas finishing third and fifth. But the real work starts tomorrow with the first stage from Rotterdam to Brussels. Expect side winds down the coast and a sprint finish that could see Mark Cavendish battling it out for a stage win. Alex Murray will be here to take you through it and I'll be back later in the week. Thanks for your company.

1855: An interesting opening to this year's race. The weather certainly played its part with Tony Martin taking full advantage of the dry conditions early on to post a superb time. Team Sky's efforts to beat the rain by sending Bradley Wiggins out early backfired as he got caught in a deluge and had to creep round 56 seconds off the pace to finish back in 77th. He's already more than half a minute behind general classification rivals Armstrong and Contador (sixth), who, like Cancellara, were aided by the drying conditions late on.

Get involved on 606
cr7torossi on 606: Contador gets beaten by Armstrong. Shock even if it is only a prologue.

Yellow jersey
1850: GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER PROLOGUE:
1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi/Saxo Bank) 10mins
2. Tony Martin (Ger/Columbia) + 10secs
3. David Millar (GB/Garmin) + 20
4. Lance Armstrong (US/RadioShack) + 22
5. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky) + 23

1845: The live commentary of today's prologue has finished. It will be back towards the end of Sunday's stage one though.

Yellow jersey
1841:Cancellara wins the prologue and is in yellow for stage one. He blows Tony Martin's time out of the water with a fantastic ride of 10 minutes flat. A great ride by the Swiss ace. Contador comes over the line in 10'27".

1840: Armstrong into his final kilometre. He's not going to trouble Martin's time but he's only 12 seconds down in 10'22".

Twitter
1838: Kudos to BBC 5 live's Phil Sheehan (if things stay the same in the next couple of minutes) who predicted a Cancellara, Martin, Millar 1-2-3 on Twitter earlier in the day.

1836: Cancellara living up to the favourite tag is six seconds ahead of Martin at the 4.2km mark. Contador is 12 seconds back.

1835: Basso 20 seconds down at the halfway split. Cancellara, wearing the number 13 upside down on his rainbow shirt, is looking comfortable. Can't stress how dry the roads are looking compared to earlier. Enough blue sky above to make a pair of trousers as my grandmother used to tell me on our holidays in France. Armstrong taking full advantage is five seconds down at halfway.

1832: The last two are also on the course. Fabian Cancellara is quickly into his stride and with the roads almost dry now, expect him to be pushing Martin's time. And there's last year's winner and race favourite Alberto Contador out of the saddle and powering away from the start line.

1830: Ivan Basso - tipped by many to have a big Tour, is away. Only four more to get out. Team Sky's Juan Antonio Fletcha follows him in the place Bradley Wiggins was expected to go out in. And here goes seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong with a hugely determined grimace on his face.

White jersey
1822: Andy Schleck, who has won the white jersey in the last two years as the best young rider, crosses the line 59 seconds behind our leader Tony Martin, who was the 11th of the 197 riders in this year's Tour to complete the course. One of Mark Cavendish's main rivals for the green points jersey, Thor Hushovd has just got going. A few murmurs suggesting the Norwegian may do well today.

1820: The road appears to be visibly drying and the umbrellas have been stashed. It's not quite time to break out the sunshine graphic, but it's all playing into Fabian Cancellara's hands at the moment. He's the penultimate rider to go and the world time trial champion remember.

Twitter
BBC 5 live's Phil Sheehan on Twitter: "A man very few people have spoken about - Roman Kreuziger of Liquigas - he's a danger man. He's done a 10' 38"."

1815: Frank Schleck (Andy's elder brother) and Carlos Sastre, who are expected to feature in the final shake-up in Paris in three weeks, perhaps tellingly, come in more than 40 seconds behind Tony Martin and on a par with Wiggins' time.

1811: Britain's eighth and final rider, Steve Cummings, is on the road - he's midway round the 8.9km course.

1809: Luxembourg's Andy Schleck, who finished second behind Alberto Contador last year, is off and pedalling again. Don't expect the Saxo Bank rider to trouble the leaders - his work will come in the Alps and Pyrenees in weeks two and three.

1756: If you're good enough to do a manual refresh, a link to 5 live's coverage of the final hour or so of today's proceedings will magically appear at the top of this page. You'll hear Peter Slater from 1800 BST.

It's good news for a British rider
1754: David Millar loses a few seconds on the second half of the race, but does enough to finish in 10'20" - good enough for second place, 10 seconds behind Tony Martin. Geraint Thomas is shunted down to third.

1753: Here comes Millar. He was three seconds down on Martin at the intermediate time check...Cavendish safely home in 11'10".

1743: Another British time-trial specialist David Millar has also just started his Tour. The Garmin rider has won three Tour stages and won the Three Days of De Panne road race earlier this year. He is the only British rider to have worn all the Tour de France jerseys and has talked to BBC Scotland about being banned in 2004 for taking performance-enhancing drugs.

Yellow jersey
Twitter
BBC 5 live's Phil Sheehan on Twitter: "Last year Rinaldo Nocentini wore yellow for eight stages. He wears number 88 - a number the Chinese consider very lucky."

1737: Mark Cavendish eases his way down the ramp. He's not renowned for his time-trialling and will have one eye on Sunday's stage one and the expected sprint finish in Brussels. He's taking it steady around the early bends.

1735: Germany's Andreas Kloden, who has finished second in the Tour on two previous occasions, briefly threatens to slip into the top three but tires in the final stretch and finishes eighth. His RadioShack team-mate Lance Armstrong is pedalling furiously on the rollers as he warms up for his 1830 BST start.

It's good news for a British rider
1730: Team Sky's Geraint Thomas on his super ride that sees him in second place at present: "I started hard and tried to hold it. I thought I paced it well and it was nice to do a good ride on a day like this."

Bradley Wiggins
1726: Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins on his prologue ride: "I was pretty happy with the way I felt physically. I didn't want to chance anything - I have said all along the prologue wasn't the be-all and end-all. I am just pleased to get round in one piece - I felt good, I did what I had to do. I couldn't push it to the limit on the corners and risk a crash where I might have lost three or four minutes. The prologue is so insignificant in the big scheme of things - it is a matter of seconds whereas it will be minutes when we get to the mountains."

It's raining
1722: The road remains very damp, but the rain is easing. Whether it will dry up enough for Fabian Cancellara to attack Tony Martin's time remains to be seen. Although the forecast is for the rain to get heavier again in the next couple of hours. Can anyone see Martin's time being beaten?

First aid
1718: BMC Racing Team's Mathias Frank (see 1645) did indeed crash. He went over on a corner and will need stitches to a cut on his face.

1713: Nobody getting close to Tony Martin's time - he too gambled by going out early, the difference being, he went out 30 minutes earlier than Wiggins and before the rain started to come down. Looking like a good to to be a German.

It's raining
1709: The sky over Rotterdam is as grey as you'd find in any English summer as Rabobank's Oscar Freire gets his Tour under way. At the finish, Australian sprinter Robbie McEwen glides over the line, 56 seconds off the pace.

1705: Just starting to get TV pictures of Wiggo's ride. He was taking it very gingerly round one or two of the corners. Can't blame him really. Will be interesting to see how the late starters go as it's still raining in Rotterdam.

1700: Here's the top five so far: Columbia's Tony Martin leads by 13 seconds from British Team Sky rider Geraint Thomas. Garmin's Tyler Farrar and RadioShack's Levi Leipheimer are five seconds further back with another Sky rider Edvald Boasson Hagen 22 seconds down.

1657: Charly Wegelius spoke to the Tour website after he finished his prologue. "It's slippery out there, especially on the white lines which are treacherous," said the Brit.

It's good news for a British rider
1652: Britain's Geraint Thomas has just stormed round the 8.9km course in Rotterdam. His time of 10'23" puts him second, just 13 seconds behind Tony Martin's time. Great effort from the Welshman, who is the new British road race champion.

Text in your views on 81111
From Danky, via text on 81111: "On Eramus Bridge in the pouring rain, it literally started hammering down as Wiggins rolled off, typical!"

Twitter
BBC 5 live's Phil Sheehan on Twitter: "It has stopped raining here in Rotterdam. Just under two hours until Cancellara and Contador set off. Just to prove how dangerous the conditions are here, Mathias Frank of BMC appears to have had a stack. Face covered in blood.

1645: Charly Wegelius has just crossed the line - a respectable one minute down on Martin.

1638: RadioShack's Levi Leipheimer moves into third after finishing in 10'28" - 18 seconds behind leader Tony Martin. He misses second spot, currently held by Garmin's Tyler Farrar, by two hundredths of a second.

1635: 5 live's Phil Sheehan reports that Wiggins wanted zero risks and to get round the course without incident. Which he did. So I guess they will be happy with the result.

Twitter
BBC 5 live's Phil Sheehan on Twitter: "Blimey! Tyler Farrar, Cavendish's sprint rival, has just ridden a blinder. He's 2nd currently having done a 10' 28""

1625: Of the other Brits to have completed so far, Cervelo's Jeremy Hunt came in at 11'13" while his team-mate Daniel Lloyd came home in 11'23. A quick reminder on those to come (all times BST): Charly Wegelius 1632, Geraint Thomas 1639, Mark Cavendish 1737, David Millar 1743 and Steve Cummings 1807.

Twitter
BBC 5 live's Phil Sheehan on Twitter: The rain shows no signs of abating here and it could be that everyone will opt to stay upright rather than gunning to beat Martin. We will be streaming 5 live's coverage of the last hour or so of racing here on the website from around 1745 BST.

1616: Wow. A big blunder by Team Sky with Wiggins or just one of those things that can happen on a Tour? There's no way they could have predicted the rain would come when they confirmed the rider order. The good thing is that he has made it round. You're not going to win the Tour today, but you could certainly lose it.

Twitter
BBC 5 live's Phil Sheehan on Twitter: "Am guessing it's too risky out on the course now because of the rain. Lots to lose and not that much to gain today."

It's raining
It's bad news for a British rider
1608: And Wiggins will not be in yellow after the prologue. He finishes 46 seconds down on Martin's time in 10'56". He said before the event that he was more focused on the mountains, where the Tour is really won and lost, but even so, he probably did not plan to be so far adrift. Whether the rain played that big a part or not, time will tell as the afternoon wears on.

It's bad news for a British rider
1606: At the intermediate time check, which is 4.2km into the course, Wiggins is 21 seconds behind leader Tony Martin. His Team Sky team-mate Edvald Boasson Hagen was seven seconds adrift at that point and finished 22 seconds down.

Twitter
1600: Sounds like sending Wiggins out early to avoid the predicted later rain may have back-fired for Team Sky according to 5 live on Twitter: "Wiggins setting off now and it's started properly raining."

1555:Allez Wiggo!

1551: Wiggins on the verge of getting his Tour under way. He's off in a few minutes and says it's his goal to win the Tour. Here he is talking to BBC Sport a couple of days ago.

Text in your views on 81111
From Anon, via text: "Just moved into new apartment in Rotterdam overlooking the Willemsbrug Bridge. These Europeans love their cycling. I'm getting into it myself." (Please remember to put your names on texts!)

1545: What did I tell you? Germany's Martin breezes over the line in 10 seconds over 10 minutes, 25 seconds quicker than BMC's Brent Bookwalter - still very early days though.

Get involved on 606
Pigeons in the Park on 606: "Cancellara all the way - but I'm most interested in if the Schlecks have improved."

1535: Iban Mayoz sets the standard, but expect his 11 minutes, 10 seconds effort to be beaten very soon, particularly as Columbia's Tony Martin has just posted the quickest time at the intermediate time check. News also coming to me that this live text is not updating particularly quickly. So if anybody can read this, please bear with me while the technical boffins sort out the problems.

1532: Many of the main protaganists go out later. Seven-time winner Lance Armstrong, world time-trial champion (and prologue favourite) Fabian Cancellara and 2007 and 2009 Tour champion Alberto Contador are the last three to go from 1830 BST.

1525: The seven other British riders in the race go out at the following times (all BST): Jeremy Hunt 1527, Dan Lloyd 1611, Charly Wegelius 1632, Geraint Thomas 1639, Mark Cavendish 1737, David Millar 1743 and Steve Cummings 1807.

Twitter
1520: Talking of saddles...seamless eh? Britain's Bradley Wiggins has a new one for the Tour. He is one of the early riders out on the Rotterdam course at 1555 BST. Team Sky have elected to put him out early after looking at weather reports. Heavy rain is expected later in the day.

1517: 196 riders will follow Echeverria at minute intervals. It should have been 197, but Spain's Xavier Florencio was withdrawn on the eve of the race by his Cervelo Test Team for using a product containing the banned substance ephedrine. He used it, without the team doctor's say-so for saddle sores.

1515: Spanish rider Iban Mayoz Echeverria is first down the ramp in Rotterdam and the Tour de France is off.

Text in your views on 81111
Get involved on 606
Twitter
1510: As always, this live text commentary will be nothing without your input. Let me know your thoughts on all things Tour de France. Please use Twitter, 606 or text us your views & comments on 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide). (Not all contributions can be used. Messages will be charged at your standard operator rate)

1505: The TV coverage doesn't start for a little while, so that leaves us a bit of time to look at British chances with BBC Radio 5 live commentator Peter Slater.

1500: Hello all. The 97th staging of the world's biggest cycling race will get under way with an 8.9km prologue in the Dutch city of Rotterdam.

1445: One prologue. Nine flat stages. Six mountain stages with three summit finishes. Four medium mountain stages. One individual time-trial. Eleven new stage towns. A total distance of 3,642km of cycling. Welcome to the 2010 Tour de France.



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see also
Wiggins eyes Tour de France glory
01 Jul 10 |  Cycling
Contador wary of Armstrong finale
02 Jul 10 |  Cycling
Cervelo rider withdrawn from Tour
03 Jul 10 |  Cycling
Tour de France 2010 guide
02 Jul 10 |  Cycling
Supporting Tour role suits Thomas
03 Jul 10 |  Cycling
Armstrong set for Tour farewell
29 Jun 10 |  Cycling
Cavendish upbeat on Tour chances
24 Jun 10 |  Cycling


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