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Page last updated at 10:12 GMT, Sunday, 4 July 2010 11:12 UK

Tour de France Stage One as it happened

Stage 1 - Rotterdam to Brussels, 223.5km

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By Alex Murray

It's bad news for a British rider
Not a great day for British hopes with Cavendish failing to win and Millar surrendering his temporary hold on the green jersey. Rob Hodgetts will be here tomorrow to take you through Stage Two from Brussels to Spa. I'll be back for Stage Eight, Station des Rousses to Morzine-Avoriaz. Thank you for your company today.

1655 As the crashes all happened inside the last three kilometres no one will have lost any time as they are all credited with the same time as the winner. We won't know for a while who has come through unscathed but I suspect there'll be a couple of withdrawals before they role away from the start tomorrow.

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

1. Alessandro Petacchi
2. Mark Renshaw
3. Thor Hushovd
4. Robbie McEwen
5. Matthieu Ladagnous

1644 It looks like a Quickstep rider was the first to hit the deck in the second crash which bought much of the bunch to a screeching halt.

1643 The replay suggests it was Cavendish coming up the inside that caused the crash involving Hunt and Freire at the tight right-hander.

1641 So it wasn't the wind that caused chaos today but the sprint. It'll be one for the slow-motion replay as we try to unpick what caused the two crashes inside the last three kilometres. By the looks of things most of the GC contenders crossed the line unhurt. Neither Cavendish nor Freire contested the sprint after being put out in the first of the crashes. Farrar seems to have gone down in the third crash.

1635Just as at the Tour de Suisse the Italian Petacchi wins ahead of a crash. That's his first TDF stage win since 2003.

BBC Radio 5 live's Phil Sheehan: "Petacchi wins from Renshaw and Hushovd. Got to see all the replays to make sense of all that!"

1633 Absolute chaos here at the finish. Farrar went down in the final crash as we see Contador wheel across the line.

1632 Another crash and Alessandro Petacchi manages to keep upright to claim the stage.

1630 Massive crash in the last km blocks the road. Hushovd and Farrar line up for the sprint.

1629 Tony Martin now hits the front but David Millar hammers up to the front for Garmin. Cavendish out of contention in the crash.

1629 CRASH! Freire down in the tight right that everyone was looking out for.

1628: Cav tucked in behind Renshaw as Garmin swamp Lampre. HTC wrestle back control now.

1627: Lampre back in charge as Grabsch runs wide through a tight right.

1627: Here comes Tony Martin in the white jersey. Bert Grabsch is putting down the power for HTC at the front.

1626: It's all a bit untidy at the front as several teams fight for control with 5km to go.

1625: Lampre take over at the front for Petacchi but the pace is still not high enough to string the bunch out into a long line.

1622: It's all over for Wynants with under 9km to go. It's been a long day out front for him but now it's time for the sprint trains to take over.

1620: 10km to go and the HTC Express is in motion as the peloton negotiate a tough S bend.

1618: No time to even mention that the race has gone through Eddy Merckx's hometown of Meise. With 11km to go, HTC-Columbia are getting ready to launch Cavendish.

1616: Pace picks up in the bunch and the gap is coming down again. Now around 40".

1616: Pace picks up in the bunch and the gap is coming down again. Now around 40".

1607: Wynants and Pliuschin have pulled the gap out to over 50" with 20km to go. Garmin, Cervelo and HTC all moving their men to the front in preparation.

1603: 5 live commentator Peter Slater survives a mechanical failure of his chair and is now back in position thanks to good work from his team.

1602: The unmistakeable, giant figure of Johan Van Summeren comes to the front for Garmin-Transitions. It'll be his job to set up the run-in for their man Tyler Farrar.

1559: Pliuschin (KAT), the Moldovan Champion attacks from the bunch and joins Wynants. Rabobank bring Freire back up to the bunch as it negotiates the tight streets with 25km to go.

1557: Wynants gives the Belgian fans something to cheer by attacking over the cobbles. Belgian rider, attacking on cobbles in Belgium ticks all the boxes.

1555: The break know the game is up as the motorbikes and cars start to come past them. Wynants and Boom trade attacks as Perez clings on. But this will be more "show" than "go". At the back Boom's team-mate Freire gets a wheel change.

1552: 31km to go and the gap has shrunk to 32". A long straight road and the peloton will have our escapees in sight. Omega Pharma-Lotto are on the front not, I suspect, for 'Handsome' Charlie Wegelius, their Brit who is more of a mountain goat than a psrinter.

1545: The dog that brought down David Millar is apparently unharmed and back on the lead. Perhaps a little late for that now.

1544: The gap is still at around 2'00" with 38km to go. Still no signs of the main bunch wanting to close it. I predict they'll spring into action somewhere between 30 and 20km to go.

1538: Serge Pauwels (SKY) is allowed a little jaunt off the front of the peloton as the race passes through his home town. The crowds so far in Belgium have been enormous. It's almost as if they're trying to make a point to the Dutch about who loves bike racing more.

1534: BBC Radio 5 live commentary is now live with Peter Slater your man at the mic, ably assisted by former Tour rider Graham Jones. He rode the Tour with the last "British" team to be invited before Team Sky, ANC-Halfords.

1522: We're going through the outskirts of Antwerp now before heading down towards Brussels. The roads will get a bit smaller and the speed will rise as the bunch close down the breakaway.

1515: 59km to go and the gap is now down to 1'26" The rule of thumb is that the bunch can close the gap at a rate of one minute every ten kilometres, so they'll be happy to keep the gap as it is for a while.

Get involved on 606
pigeons in the park - "Those crowds!!!! It's incredible! Belgium knows how to prove they're the biggest cycling nation!"

1506: Crash at the front of the bunch, nobody seems to be hurt and after a little pause everyone is on their way again. Looked like a touch of wheels as the road narrowed.

I mentioned Michael Barry earlier. His job today will be to keep Wiggins out of trouble and away from the crashes. His official site offers an excellent perspective on the life of a professional cyclist: Michael Barry official site

1459: 68km to go as the break passes through Kapellen. The gap is down to 2'15" and shrinking. No glorious escape for them today but one of them will win the combativity prize, which means they get to pin on a red number tomorrow.

1459: 68km to go as the break passes through Kapellen. The gap is down to 2'15" and shrinking. No glorious escape for them today but one of them will win the combativity prize, which means they get to pin on a red number tomorrow.

1457: Wynants takes the six points and picks up a nice bonus for his team that should buy them a few Belgian beers this evening. Meanwhile Adam Hansen is on the front of the bunch despite a possible fractured collarbone. That's one tough Aussie.

1450: Amazing crowds as we cross into Belgium at Putte with 75km to go. The break coming up to the second intermediate sprint. Will the Belgian Wynants go for it?

1448: British cycling legend Chris Boardman is covering the race for ITV. His verdict on how today will pan out:

Chris Boardman on Twitter: "Been very blowy morning but this breakaway has calmed everyone down, so it looks like it's going to be a 220km wait for a 2km race!"

1443: The big sprint teams - Garmin-Transitions, Cervelo Test Team and HTC-Columbia - have each put a rider on the front of the bunch to start closing the gap. The aim is to gradually bring them back and catch them close enough to the finish that no one else can attack.

1440: With 85km to go the race approaches the Belgian frontier. The gap is down to 3'46" as the break of three passes through the streets of a Dutch town packed with fans, all cheering wildly.

1429: Correction, the current French champion is Tommy Voeckler.

UrlaubInPolen - "Actually, Alex, it's TV Tommy in the French champion's jersey now."

Voeckler is indeed known for being very good at getting himself on the telly either by getting into a break or making a spectacular attack late on. Last year he managed to stay away and win on Stage 5. will he chance his luck today?

Bradley Wiggins
Wiggins back at the cars with a brake problem. He's got Michael Barry with him, one of the best support riders in the sport. Barry's also an excellent writer and documenter of the sport.

Get involved on 606
A complaint about the GB Champion's jersey being white with red and blue bands over on 606:

tgsgirl - "I just want a giant Union Jack - which is actually what your flag is. The only thing Sky kept was the colours! At least with the Norwegian jersey you can see what country the wearer is from."

1415: Our first "nature break" of the race as riders pull over to relieve themselves of excess fluid. Tradition dictates that there's no attacking while the bunch pull over to the side of the road and water the verge.

It's good news for a British rider
Time for a bit of Britwatch. Geraint Thomas (SKY) in his new British Champion's jersey and Mark Cavendish rolling along next to his big rival, Norwegian Champion Thor Hushovd, towards the back of the bunch.

1408: David Millar back among the cars, seems to have swapped bikes again. The team mechanic leans out of the car to give him an entirely necessary brake adjustment. Entirely necessary in the sense that giving him a helping push can be described as mechanical assistance.

1402: The gap is out to over 4'00" with just over 112km to go. No sign of the predicted splits and echelons as yet as the race turns inland towards Antwerp with Jens Voigt at the front of the chasing bunch.

"Big Jens" is one of the most popular riders in the sport and this is his 13th Tour start. At 38 he's one day older than Lance Armstrong but shows no sign of tiring.

1352: The bunch pick up their feed bags, known as a "musette". If you're planning on going to watch the race from the roadside, then just after a feed zone is a great spot to bag some souvenirs as riders ditch their empty bottles and musettes.

1348: According to the official time schedule, the race should be approaching the feed zone at Roodewijk where they'll pick up their goody bags of fresh bottles, cakes and energy gels. Much like the end of a particularly high speed children's party, someone always seems to leave without one.

1338: Adam Hansen has been back to the medical car and now his team car. According to the race doctor he's having trouble holding the handlebar. No rider wants to leave the Tour on the road unless they have to. I'll put Hansen down to battle to the finish and see if he can ride tomorrow.

1332: Saxo Bank control the front of the peloton as Basso rejoins.

Mark Cavendish's HTC-Columbia team have got a very interesting way of keeping up with the riders for fans. You can track them on Google Maps and see how fast they're going, as well as how much power they are generating and how fast they're turning the pedals. Follow Team HTC - Columbia on Google Maps

1327: The bunch turns left and now has a tailwind. the gap has come down to 3'40" now. Speed in the bunch is around 50km/h as Ivan Basso is back at his team car getting a change of right shoe.

1320: The gap has come down to 5'34" with 147.5km to go. Still no sign of a split appearing in the bunch but they can happen in a flash as the angle of the wind changes. Saxo Bank police the front of the bunch which has briefly split in two on a dual carriageway.

1320: The gap has come down to 5'34" with 147.5km to go. Still no sign of a split appearing in the bunch but they can happen in a flash as the angle of the wind changes. Saxo Bank police the front of the bunch which has briefly split in two on a dual carriageway.

1310: The break crosses another piece of the coastal defences as it approaches the first intermediate sprint. Up ahead a huge Dutch flag is straining in the wind.

1304: Astana bring Alberto Contador up towards the front of the bunch. He won't want to get caught out again in the wind, as he was on the road to La Grande Motte last year.

1302: Lots of jostling and nerves at the front of the bunch. Saxo Bank, Radioshack, Sky and Katusha all trying to move their riders up. At the back Adam Hansen looks to be struggling, dangling precariously a length or two off the bunch.

1255: Basso and Millar rejoin the back of the bunch as it hits what looks like a strong crosswind from the right and spreads across the road. Armstrong is riding near the front, mindful of a possible split.

1251: Past dog incidents have involved Marcus Burghardt (BMC) and Sandy Casar (FDJ), both of whom are here at the Tour. In both cases they hit slightly confused Labradors.

1251: Another crash, David Millar on the deck along with Ivan Basso. It's our first dog in the road incident of this year's Tour. A small reddish brown pooch dashed into the middle of the peloton as it approached a roundabout. Millar now tucked in behind a team car while Basso has four team-mates pacing him back after a bike change.

1244: Break now has 7'33" advantage. Looks like a cross wind hitting them in the right shoulder as they ride in an echelon, trying to find shelter from the wind.

1226: First crash on the road. Adam Hansen, a vital part of Cavendish's lead-out goes down and looks to have hit his shoulder. He's being paced back by a team-mate but looks a bit battered.

1219: The bunch is hurtling along the coast with 185km still to go as they cross Haringvlietdam. Some locals are being paced alongside by a scooter rider while jetskis skip across the water in the background.

1209: Last year Mark Cavendish's HTC-Columbia team dominated the sprints with their lead-out train. This year Garmin have added Van Summeren and Robbie Hunter to their line-up to help Tyler Farrar. That should make the final kilometres a little less of a one-team race.

BBC 5 live's Phil Sheehan on Twitter: "I think it'll provide HTC-Columbia with more competition than last year."

1203: The first part of the stage heads along the North Sea coast and that's where the wind is expected to play a role.

Jim Ochowicz of BMC Racing on Twitter: "Very nice day today. Just turning left to follow the coastline. The wind will change to a crosswind now which will slow the break down."

1153: Now there's a nice gesture. The peloton let Martijn Maaskant (GRM) ride up the road and say goodbye to his family at the roadside. They won't see him for another three weeks.

1151: The break has gained a seven minute advantage already. Lars Boom waving to fans suggests they're enjoying it and the bunch isn't chasing too hard. Saxo Bank have come to the front and will keep the gap manageable until the likes of HTC-Columbia and Garmin-Transitions decide to close is down.

1145: So will it be a day of drama or, as predicted, a bunch sprint?

Get involved on 606
UrlaubInPolen: "Prediction: despite all hope to the contrary, it will be boring. Any splits that happen will happen before Middelburg and be brought back together between then and the stage finish. It will go to a tedio-sprint. Some Dutch, Belgian and French riders will get into a break, along with possibly a Milram or Katyusha rider."

1136: French television are running a piece about the legend of the Lanterne Rouge, Wim Vansevernant, the only man to claim the honour of finishing last three times. The current holder would seem to be Mathieu Perget of Caisse d'Epargne after the withdrawl of Mathias Frank and Manuel Cardoso who both finished the prologue covered in blood after crashing heavily in the wet.

1130: So our first break of the Tour is Boom (RAB), Wynants (QST) and Perez (EUS). With the big Dutch and Belgian interests represented, the peloton won't be in a hurry to chase them down just yet.

1124: As the flag goes down it's Rabobank and Quickstep who are the first to attack with an Euskatel rider joining them. The Rabobank rider is Lars Boom, former Dutch champion.

1114: Ceremonials over, the riders roll over the Erasmus Bridge towards the start proper. Cancellara is resplendent in yellow with matching bike, helmet and sunglasses. Lance Armstrong is also riding at the front as he starts his final Tour.

1100: Welcome to Stage One of the Tour de France 2010. As we head from Rotterdam to Brussels, the real racing gets under way. While there's no British representation in the men's final at Wimbledon today, there's a genuine contender for today's stage at Le Tour. Expect side winds down the coast and a sprint finish that could see Manxman Mark Cavendish battling it out for a stage win.

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see also
Millar & Thomas shine in prologue
03 Jul 10 |  Cycling
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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