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2006 Tour de France

July 1 - July 23

Results, maps, stages with running GC and live updates, photos

2005 Tour | 2007 Tour | Tour de France Database | 2006 Tour Quick Facts | 2006 Tour de France Complete Final GC | GC before Landis Disqualification | Stage results with running GC | Route details |

Prologue|Stage 1|Stage 2|Stage 3|Stage 4|Stage 5|Stage 6|Stage 7|Stage 8|Rest Day 1|Stage 9|Stage 10|Stage 11|Stage 12|Stage 13|Stage 14|Rest Day 2|Stage 15|Stage 16| Stage 17|Stage 18|Stage 19|Stage 20|


2006 Tour Quick Facts:

3657.1 km raced at an average speed of 40.781 km/hr

176 starters and 139 finishers.

Floyd Landis was leading the Tour until stage 13, when a fuga di bidone rolled in almost 30 minutes ahead of the peloton, making Oscar Pereiro the yellow jersey. Landis then had a disastrous stage 16 where he lost 10 minutes. In stage 17 he did an epic ride that put him within 30 seconds of the lead. In the final time trial Pereiro lost a minute and a half to Landis, making Landis the winner.

A few days later Landis was found positive for synthetic testosterone and was eventually stripped of his 2006 Tour victory, which was awarded to Pereiro. I have posted both the original GC and the corrected GC below.


Complete Final 2006 Tour de France General Classification

After Floyd Landis' disqualification (before):

  1. Oscar Pereiro (Illes Balears) 89hr 40min 27sec
  2. Andréas Klöden (T-Mobile) @ 32sec
  3. Carlos Sastre (CSC) @ 2min 16sec
  4. Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 4min 11sec
  5. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) @ 6min 9sec
  6. Cyril Dessel (Ag2r) @ 7min 44sec
  7. Christophe Moreau (Ag2r) @ 8min 40sec
  8. Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) @ 11min 8sec
  9. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) @ 14min 10sec
  10. Frank Schleck (CSC) @ 16min 49sec
  11. Damiano Cunego (Lampre) @ 18min 22sec
  12. Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) @ 18min 25sec
  13. Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) @ 18min 49sec
  14. Markus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) @ 19min 0sec
  15. Pietro Caucchioli (Credit Agricole) @ 20min 15sec
  16. Tadej Valjavec (Lampre) @ 25min 28sec
  17. Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) @ 27min 36sec
  18. José Azevedo (Discovery) @ 37min 11sec
  19. Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre) @ 42min 8sec
  20. David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne) @ 43min 3sec
  21. Patxi Vila (Lampre) @ 43min 31sec
  22. Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile) @ 48min 4sec
  23. Christian Vande Velde (CSC) @ 49min 22sec
  24. Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery) @ 51min 5sec
  25. Giuseppe Guerini (T-Mobile) @ 57min 2sec
  26. Eddy Mazzoleni (T-Mobile) @ 1hr 1min 43sec
  27. José Luis Arrieta (Ag2r) @ 1hr 2min 3sec
  28. Pierrick Fedrigo (Bouygues Telecom) @ 1hr 4min 30sec
  29. Vladimir Karpets (Caisse d'Epargne) @ 1hr 6min 21sec
  30. Axel Merckx (Phonak) @ 1hr 8min 31sec
  31. George Hincapie (Discovery) @ 1hr 10min 17sec
  32. Xabier Zandio (Caisse d'Epargne) @ 1hr 15min 50sec
  33. Sylvain Calzati (Ag2r) @ 1hr 19min 29sec
  34. Iker Camano (Euskaltel) @ 1hr 20min 37sec
  35. Mikel Astarloza (Ag2r) @ 1hr 23min 29sec
  36. Stphane Goubert (Ag2r) @ 1hr 27min 36sec
  37. Laurent Lefèvre (Bouygues Telecom) @ 1hr 29min 27sec
  38. Benoît Salmon (Agritubel) @ 1hr 29min 58sec
  39. Christophe Brandt (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 1hr 33min 27sec
  40. Christophe Rinero (Saunier Duval) @ 1hr 34min 2sec
  41. Egoi Martinez (Discovery) @ 1hr 34min 15sec
  42. Iván Ramiro Parra (Cofidis) @ 1hr 36min 12sec
  43. Cristian Moreni (Cofidis) @ 1hr 37min 10sec
  44. Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) @ 1hr 39min 8sec
  45. Ruben Lobato (Saunier Duval) @ 1hr 39min 55sec
  46. Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner) @ 1hr 41min 58sec
  47. Patrice Halgand (Credit Agricole) @ 1hr 42min 6sec
  48. Alexandre Botcharov (Credit Agricole) @ 1hr 43min 49sec
  49. Iñigo Landeluze (Euskaltel) @ 1hr 47min 25sec
  50. Matthieu Sprick (Bouygues Telecom) @ 1hr 47min 34sec
  51. Serhiy Honchar (T-Mobile) @ 1hr 48min 25sec
  52. Jens Voigt (CSC) @ 1hr 49min 44sec
  53. Matthias Kessler (T-Mobile) @ 1hr 51min 6sec
  54. Stefano Garzelli (Liquigas) @ 1hr 52min 58sec
  55. David de la Fuente (Saunier Duval) @ 1hr 54min 22sec
  56. Salvatore Commesso (Lampre) @ 1hr 55min 58sec
  57. David Moncoutié (Cofidis) @ 2hr 2min 13sec
  58. David Millar (Saunier Duval) @ 2hr 3min 13sec
  59. Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval) @ 2hr 6min 21sec
  60. Moisés Dueñas (Agritubel) @ 2hr 7min 2sec
  61. Koos Moerenhout (Phonak) @ 2hr 8min 6sec
  62. Thomas Lövkvist (FDJ) @ 2hr 11min 16sec
  63. Chris Horner (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 2hr 11min 28sec
  64. Pavel Padrnos (Discovery) @ 2hr 15min 48sec
  65. Sabestian Lang (Gerolsteiner) @ 2hr 24min 18sec
  66. Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) @ 2hr 25min 37sec
  67. Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) @ 2hr 26min 20sec
  68. Sandy Casar (FDJ) @ 2hr 27min 37sec
  69. Paolo Tiralongo (Lampre) @ 2hr 31min 11sec
  70. Iñaki Isasi (Euskaltel) @ 2hr 31min 39sec
  71. Juan Manuel Gárate (Quick Step) @ 2hr 31min 50sec
  72. Didier Rous (Bouygues Telecom) @ 2hr 31min 57sec
  73. David Zabriskie (CSC) @ 2hr 32min 49sec
  74. Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel) @ 2hr 32min 55sec
  75. Christophe Le Mevel (Credit Agricole) @ 2hr 33min 27sec
  76. Carlos de la Cruz (FDJ) @ 2hr 39min 4sec
  77. Francisco José Ventoso (Saunier Duval) @ 2hr 40min 25sec
  78. Simon Gerrans (Ag2r) @ 2hr 45min 36sec
  79. Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas) @ 2hr 46min 36sec
  80. Björn Schröder (Milram) @ 2hr 46min 51sec
  81. Juan Anotnio Flecha (Rabobank) @ 2hr 48min 56sec
  82. Jérôme Pineau (Bouygues Telecom) @ 2hr 50min 25sec
  83. Viatcheslav Ekimov (Discovery) @ 2hr 50min 36sec
  84. Joost Posthuma (Rabobank) @ 2hr 51min 3sec
  85. Erik Zabel (Milram) @ 2hr 51min 16sec
  86. Benoît Vaugrenard (FDJ) @ 2hr 51min 34sec
  87. Anthony Geslin (Bouygues Telecom) @ 2hr 51min 34sec
  88. Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom) @ 2jr 52min 0sec
  89. Manuel Calvente (Agritubel) @ 2hr 52min 30sec
  90. Stuart O'Grady (CSC) @ 2hr 54min 28sec
  91. José-Luis Rubiera (Discovery) @ 2hr 54min 47sec
  92. Pieter Weening (Rabobank) @ 2hr 55min 6sec
  93. Bram Tankink (Quick Step) @ 2hr 56min 5sec
  94. Cédric Vasseur (Quick Step) @ 2hr 57min 58sec
  95. Ronny Scholz (Gerolsteiner) @ 2hr 59min 51sec
  96. Alexandre Moos (Phonak) @ 3hr 0min 37sec
  97. Riccardo Riccò (Saunier duval) @ 3hr 0min 40sec
  98. Marco Velo (Milram) @ 3hr 1min 12sec
  99. Nicolas Portal (Caisse d'Epragen) @ 3hr 1min 23sec
  100. Luca Paolini (Liquigas) @ 3hr 3min 21sec
  101. Ralf Grabsch (Milram) @ 3hr 3min 24sec
  102. Nicolas Jalabert (Phonak) @ 3hr 4min 8sec
  103. Christian Knees (Milram) @ 3hr 5min 1sec
  104. Gustav Larsson (FDJ) @ 3hr 5min 17sec
  105. Mario Aerts (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 3hr 5min 29sec
  106. Bert Grabsch (Phonak) @ 3hr 7min 26sec
  107. Bernhard Eisel (FDJ) @ 3hr 8min 2sec
  108. Daniele Righi (Lampre) @ 3hr 11min 54sec
  109. Philippe Gilbert (FDJ) @ 3hr 12min 6sec
  110. Walter Bénéteau (Bouygues Telecom) @ 3hr 14min 44sec
  111. Johan Vansummeren (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 3hr 17min 47sec
  112. Sébastien Hinault (Credit Agricole) @ 3hr 18min 18sec
  113. Anthony Charteau (Credit Agricole) @ 3hr 19min 32sec
  114. José Vicente Garcia (Caisse d'Epargne) @ 3hr 19min 35sec
  115. Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 3hr 20min 4sec
  116. Eduardo Gonzalo (Agritubel) @ 3hr 20min 30sec
  117. Michael Albasini (Liquigas) @ 3hr 20min 37sec
  118. Matej Mugerli (Liquigas) @ 3hr 20min 51sec
  119. Samuel Dumoulin (Ag2r) @ 3hr 21min 18sec
  120. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) @ 3hr 22min 55sec
  121. Victor Hugo Peña (Phonak) @ 3hr 23min 39sec
  122. Stéphane Augé (Cofidis) @ 3hr 24min 22sec
  123. Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis) @ 3hr 24min 35sec
  124. Matteo Tosatto (Quick Step) @ 3hr 24min 57sec
  125. Christophe Laurent (Agritubel) @ 3hr 25min 26sec
  126. Unai Etxebarria (Euskaltel) @ 3hr 29min 15sec
  127. Julian Dean (Credit Agricole) @ 3hr 29min 36sec
  128. Patrick Calgani (Liquigas) @ 3hr 32min 31sec
  129. Arnaud Coyot (Cofidis) @ 3hr 34min 37sec
  130. Christophe Mengin (FDJ) @ 3hr 34min 55sec
  131. Kjell Carlström (Liquigas) @ 3hr 34min 56sec
  132. Filippo Pozzato (Quick Step) @ 3hr 36min 9sec
  133. Cédric Coutouly (Agritubel) @ 3hr 38min 3sec
  134. Peter Wrolich (Gerolsteiner) @ 3hr 38min 23sec
  135. Aitor Hernández (Euskaltel) @ 3hr 49min 19sec
  136. Gert Steegmans (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 3hr 58min 19sec
  137. Jimmy Capser (Cofidis) @ 3hr 59min 8sec
  138. Wim Vansevenant (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 4hr 1min 4sec

Climbers' Competition:

  1. Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank): 166 points
  2. David de La Fuente (Saunier Duval): 113
  3. Carlos Sastre (CSC): 99
  4. Frank Schleck (CSC): 96
  5. Michael Boogerd (Rabobank): 93
  6. Damiano Cunego (Lampre): 80
  7. Cyril Dessel (Ag2r): 72
  8. Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner): 66
  9. Andreas Klöden (T-Mobile): 64
  10. Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne): 63

Points Competition:

  1. Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto): 288 points
  2. Erik Zabel (Milram): 199
  3. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole): 199
  4. Bernhard Eisel (FDJ): 176
  5. Luca Paolini (Liquigas): 174
  6. Iñaki Isasi (Euskaltel): 130
  7. Francisco Ventoso (Suanier Duval): 128
  8. Cristian Moreni (Cofidis): 116
  9. Jimmy Casper (Cofidis): 98
  10. Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne): 88

Young Rider:

  1. Damiano Cunego (Lampre) 89hr 58min 49sec
  2. Markus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) @ 38sec
  3. Matthieu Sprick (Bouygues Telecom) @ 1hr 29min 12sec
  4. David de la Fuente (Saunier Duval) @ 1hr 36min 0sec
  5. Moisés Dueñes (Agritubel) @ 1hr 48min 40sec
  6. Thomas Lövkvist (FDJ) @ 1hr 52min 54sec
  7. Francisco Ventoso (Saunier Duval) @ 2hr 22min 3sec
  8. Joost Posthuma (Rabobank) @ 2hr 32min 41sec
  9. Benoît Vaugrenard (FDJ) @ 2hr 33min 12sec
  10. Pieter Weening (Rabobank) @ 2hr 36min 44sec

Team Classification:

  1. T-Mobile: 269hr 8min 46sec
  2. CSC @ 17min 4sec
  3. Rabobank @ 23min 26sec
  4. Ag2r @ 33min 19sec
  5. Caisse d'Epargne @ 56min 53sec
  6. Lampre @ 57min 37sec
  7. Gerolsteiner @ 1hr 45min 25sec
  8. Discovery @ 2hr 19min 17sec
  9. Euskaltel @ 2hr 26min 38sec
  10. Phonak @ 2hr 49min 6sec

GC Before Floyd Landis' disqualification:

1. Floyd Landis (Phonak) 89hr 39min 30sec. 40.784 km/hr over the 3657.1 kms ridden.
2. Oscar Pereiro (Illes Balears) @ 57sec
3. Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) @ 1min 29sec
4. Carlos Sastre (CSC) @ 3min 13sec
5. Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 5min 8sec
6. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) @ 7min 8sec
7. Cyril Dessel (Ag2R) @ 8min 41sec
8. Christophe Moreau (Ag2R) @ 9min 37sec
9. Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) @ 12min 5sec
10. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) @ 15min 7sec
11. Frank Schleck (CSC) @ 17min 46sec
12. Damiano Cunego (Lampre) @ 19min 19sec
13. Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) @ 19min 22sec
14. Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) @ 19min 46sec
15. Marcus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) @ 19min 57sec

Prologue, Saturday, July 1: Strasbourg, 7.1 km individual time trial. Flat.

In the wake of the Spanish doping scandal, the team directors held a meeting and agreed to ban from the Tour those nine riders who had the strongest evidence against them that they had been involved: Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Francisco Mancebo, Oscar Sevilla, Joseba Beloki, Isidro Nozal, Sergio Paulino, Allan Davis and Alberto Contador. Even though there is no proof that the ejected riders have doped, the code of ethics of the Pro Tour reads that, "No team will allow a rider to compete while under investigation in any doping affair." Even though he was not implicated in the scandal, Alexandre Vinokourov's Wurth team had been reduced below the required 6 riders (the teams cannot send replacements). So the most exciting rider of our age could not ride. That left 176 riders to start. Bobby Julich is wearing number 111, meaning that he is the CSC team leader. So, not only is the Tour missing Armstrong, the exclusions mean that the 2nd, 3rd and 4th place finishers of the 2005 Tour won't be on the line. Andreas Kloden is wearing the number of the T-Mobile team leader.

Weather in Strasbourg: 81 F (28C), wind from the Northeast at 12 mph (19kph), 41% humidity. Sunny. A beautiful day for a bike race.

Results. GC times are the same, there are no time bonuses for the Prologue:

1. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) 8min 17sec. 51.428 km/hr
2. George Hincapie (Discovery) s.t.
3. David Zabriskie (CSC) @ 4sec
4. Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner) s.t.
5. Alejandro Valverde (Illes Balears) s.t.
6. Stuart O'Grady (CSC) s.t.
7. Michael Rogers (T-Mobiles) @ 6sec
8. Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery) @ 8sec
9. Floyd Landis (Phonak) @ 9sec
10. Vladimir Karpets (Illes Balears) @ 10sec
11. Serhiy Honchar (T-Mobile) s.t.
12. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) @ 11sec
13. Manuel Quiziato (Liquigas) @ 12sec
14. Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 13sec
15. Christophe Moreau (Ag2R) s.t.

Climber: No points awarded

Points:

1. Thor Hushovd: 15 points
2. George Hincapie: 12
3. David Zabriskie: 10

Young Rider: Joost Posthuma (Rabobank)

Team GC:

1. Discovery: 25min 16sec
2. CSC @ 1sec
3. T-Mobile @ 7sec

Last man off: George Hincapie started. Thor Hushovd is now the leader.

154 riders done with the ride: Huh? Where's Floyd? Landis showed up to the start house more than 3 seconds late. Turns out the mechanics discovered a cut in a tire at the last minute and had to do a quick repair. He got up to the ramp and rolled off, Sebastian Lang, German time trial champion, leads so far.


Stage 1, Sunday, July 2: Strasbourg - Strasbourg, 184.5 km

Km 101.5, Côte de Heiligenstein: 1.1 km climb, 4.1 % gradient, 4th Category

The finish: Hushovd crashed just after the line! Boonen tried to lead it out but got swamped in a very disorganized sprint. It looks like Cofidis rider Jimmy Casper won the stage.

Tour knowledge: Robert Chapatte's Law. A determined peloton will close in on a break at the rate of 1 minute per 10 kilometers.

Results:

1. Jimmy Casper (Cofidis) 4hr 10min. 44.28 km/hr
2. Robbie Mcewen (Davitamon-Lotto) s.t.
3. Erik Zabel (Milram) s.t.
4. Daniele Bennati (Lampre) s.t.
5. Luca Paolini (Liquigas) s.t.
6. Isaac Galvez (Illes Balears) s.t.
7. Stuart O'Grady (CSC) s.t.
8. Bernhard Eisel (FDJ) s.t.
9. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) s.t.
10. Oscar Freire (Rabobank) s.t.

GC after Stage 1:

1. George Hincapie (Discovery) 4hr 18min 15sec. 44.509 km/hr average over the 191.6 kilometers ridden so far.
2. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) @ 2sec
3. David Zabriskie (CSC) @ 6sec
4. Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner) s.t.
5. Alejandro Valverde (Illes Balears) s.t.
6. Stuart O'Grady (CSC) s.t.
7. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) @ 8sec
8. Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery) @ 10sec
9. Floyd Landis (Phonak) @ 11sec
10. Benoît Vaugrenard (FDJ) s.t.

Climber:

1. Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) 3 points
2. Matthieu (Bouygues Telecom) 2
3. Unai Etxewbarria (Euskaltel) 1

Points:

1. Jimmy Casper (Cofidis) 35 points
2. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) 32
3. Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) 30

Young Rider:

1. Benoît Vaugrenard (FDJ)
2. Jost Posthuma (Rabobank) @ 7sec
3. Marcus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) @ 9sec

Team GC:

1. Discovery: 12hr 55min 16sec
2. CSC @ 1sec
3. T-Mobile @ 7sec

The finish: Hushovd crashed just after the line! They are taking him off in an ambulance. He was riding next to the barriers. Boonen tried to lead it out but got swamped in a very disorganized sprint. It looks like Cofidis rider Jimmy Casper won the stage.

9 km to go. Beneteau is the only rider left off the front. The others have been caught. Now he's caught. All together. Hincapie jumped out and took third in the final intermediate sprint. He gets 2 seconds for his effort. Di Luca is dropped.

17 km to go: Beneteau attacks the break and gets away. With 20 seconds time bonus in play for the stage winner, most of the sprinters have calculated that the Yellow Jersey is within reach. Boonen said that he knows that if he wins the stage and Hushovd gets third, Boonen gets to trade his Rainbows for Yellow. 25 seconds back to the peloton that now has all the sprinter's teams at the front.

Km 165: The 7 breakaways are down to a 48 second lead. The follow cars just behind the break have been pulled out.

Km 158: Less than 30 kilometers to go. The gap is 1min 18sec. Hincapie, being in second place in the points comeptition is wearing the Green Jersey. Hushovd has earned both the Yellow and the Green but he can wear only 1 and the sponsor of the Green has paid for the publicity, so George gets it.

Km 146: The break is still working beautifully, each rider taking a short pull. But the peloton is clsiing in at a measured and controlled pace. The gap is 1min 48sec. Tom Boonen is looking relaxed in his Rainbow Jersey and talking to teammates.

Km 137: Walter Beneteau , riding in the back of the break took off and won an easy and clear victory in the second intermediate sprint. The gap back to the peloton is now 2min 2sec.

Km 130: The gap is down to 2min 58sec. Oops, while I was typing this it dropped to 2min 38sec.

Km 115: Milram and Quick Step have come to the front to help Credit Agricole. The gap has dropped to 3min 55sec.

Km 101: The riders in the break started the sprint for the only climber's points way back. Fabian Wegmann took it so he'll be in polka dots tomorrow.

Km 86: The average speed for the first 2 hours of racing is 43.9 km/hr. The break is working well. The best placed rider in the break is Vaugrenard who is sitting 31st in GC @ 19sec. The gap is holding at 4min 37sec. Credit Agricole is still at the front, protecting Hushovd's Yellow Jersey. They are stringing out the peloton a bit.

Km 70: The gap is 4 min 10sec. Credit Agricole is still at the front, but the pace isn't looking too hot, but they are speeding up at bit.

Km 50: At about the third kilometer a few riders rolled off. It quickly swelled to 7: Matthieu Sprick (Bouygues Telecom), Benoit Vaugrenard (FDJ), Stephane Auge (Cofidis), Nicolas Portal (Illes Balears), Unai Etxebarria (Euskaltel), Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) Walter Beneteau (Bouygues Telecom). The lead is now 4min 30sec. Yellow Jersey Hushovd's team is at the front.

Stage 1 elevation and route map.


Stage 2, Monday, July 3: Obernai - Esch-sur-Alzette (Luxembourg), 228.5 km

5 rated climbs:

Km 35.5: Col des Pandours,7.8 km climb, 4.1% gradient, 3rd Category
Km 50: Col de Valsberg, 3.6 km climb, 5.2% gradient, 3rd Category
Km 187.5: Côte de Kédange-sur-Canner, 1.2 km climb, 5.9% gradient, 4th Category
Km 212.5: Côte de Kanfen, 1.9 km climb, 4.5% gradient, 4th Category
Km 215: Côte de Volmerange-les-Mines, 1.4km climb, 6.5% gradient, 4th Category

Weather in Luxembourg: 77F (25C), Sunny. The wind is ESE at 9 mph (14 km/h).

Results:

1. Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) 5hr 38min 14sec. 40.775 km/hr
2. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) s.t.
3. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) s.t.
4. Oscar Freire (Rabobank) s.t.
5. Daniele Bannati (Lampre) s.t.
6. Luca Paolini (Liquigas) s.t.
7. Stuart O'Grady (CSC) s.t.
8. Bernhard Eisel (FDJ) s.t.
9. Erik Zabel (Milram) s.t.
10. Peter Wrolich (Gerolsteiner) s.t.

GC after Stage 2:

1. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) 9hr 54min 19sec. 42.397 km/hr average speed over the 420 kms covered so far.
2. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) @ 5sec
3. Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 8sec
4. George Hincapie (Discovery) @ 10sec
5. Alejandro Valverde (Illes Balears) @ 16sec
6. Stuart O'Grady (CSC) s.t.
7. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) @ 18sec
9. Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery) @ 20sec
9. Floyd Landis (Phonak) @ 21sec
10. Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas) @ 24sec
11. Cadel Evans (DAvitaon-Lotto) @ 25sec
12. David Millar (Saunier Duval) @ 26sec
13. Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile) @ 28sec
14. Daniele Bennati (Lampre) @ 28sec
15. Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) @ 29sec

Climber:

1. David de la Fuente (Saunier Duval) 14 points
2. Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) 12
3. Aitor Hernandez (Euskaltel) 10

Points:

1. Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) 65 points
2. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) 62
3. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) 49

Young Rider:

1. Benoît Vaugrenard (FDJ) 9hr 54min 40sec
2. Jost Posthuma (Rabobank) @ 7sec
3. Marcus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) @ 14sec

Team GC:

1. Discovery: 29hr 43min 58sec
2. CSC @ 1sec
3. T-Mobile @ 7sec

The finish: With a couple of kilometers to go someone switched across the road and caused a big crash in the middle of the peloton. Because it was in the final 3 kilomters, no one's time will be affected. With less than 200 meters to go the peloton swept past Kessler and Robbie McEwen took the stage win.

3K to go: 14 seconds.

Final Kilometers: The undulating terrain is inviting a series of attacks. T-Mobile's Matthias Kessler is trying his luck. 5 km to go, he's got 10 seconds.

10 Km to go: Wegmann has 15 seconds.Nope. He's caught and now spit out the back.

16 km to go: De la Fuente took the Kanfen and is now the leader in the Mountains. 3 riders including Wegmann fighting for the second place mountains points have detached themselves. De la Fuentes has now been caught by Wegmann on the last climb Big Magnus Backstedt has come off. So has Casper who looks like he has crashed. Now Wegmann is off alone and by winning the final rated climb he has preserved his Polka-Dot Jersey.

20 Km to go: The lead is down to 1min 14sec. It's all Lampre blue and pink at the front working for Daniele Bennati.

Km 198: The third intermediate sprint has 2nd place and 4 seconds in play with de la Fuentes up the road. Boonen took it, Hushovd next with Stuart O'Grady very close. Hincapie was near the front but when the sprinters took off, Hincapie didn't go with them. I think that means Hushovd has a 4-second lead over Hincapie for the Virtual Yellow. Does this mean Hincapie is not going to defend? That's a big question because that means Discovery wants to save his and the team's strength for a later assault on the GC.

Km 190: De la Fuentes dropped Hernandez on the Côte de Kédange-sur-Canner. He's going off alone. Wegmann took 3rd place on the climb and preserved his lead in the Mountains competition. A Euskaltel rider went with Wegmann to try to deny Wegmann the points but Wegmann was by far the better rider. De la Fuentes' lead is now 2min 45sec.

Km 167: We've got a pair of very tired looking Spaniards. They are working hard, but their efforts are showing. The lead is down to 5min 10sec. Quick Step and Davitamon-Lotto, being Belgian teams, are hot to get their sprinters (Boonen and McEwen) in Yellow by earning time bonuses by the time the Tour gets to Belgium. Both teams, especially Quick Step, have sent their teams to the front to chase down the break. The average speed for the first 4 hours is 39.8 km/hr. As I typed this the lead dropped to 3 minutes. Thor Hushovd took the intermediate sprint from a Boonen who went too early.

Km 150: The race so far. Danilo Di Luca is the race's first withdrawl. He had stomach problems added to his prostate pain. Thor Hushovd turned out to have a cut on his arm. It was stitched up and he's in the peloton racing. In the first few kilometers 2 Spanish riders escaped: Aitor Hernandez (Euskaltel) and David de la Fuentes (Saunier Duval). They pushed their lead to a maximum of 11min 20sec. The lead is now coming down and the pair are working hard to retain their remianing 6min 50sec.

Elevation and route map of stage 2


Stage 3, Tuesday, July 4: Esch-sur-Alzette (Luxembourg) - Valkenburg (Netherlands), 216.5 km

Rated climbs:

Km 131: Côte de la Haute-Levée, 3.6 km, 5.5% gradient, 3rd Category
Km 155: Côte de Oneux, 3.2 km, 5.1% gradient, 3rd Category
Km 165.5: Côte de Petit-Rechain, 1.7 km, 4.7% gradient, 4th Category
Km 189: Côte de Loorberg, 1.3 km, 5.8%, 4th Category
Km 201: Côte de Trintelen, 1.7 km, 5.1%, 4th Category
Km 214.5: Le Cauberg, 0.8 km, 7.3%, 3rd Category

Weather in Luxembourg: HOT HOT HOT! 27C (81F) and should climb to 35C to day. Mild 3 mph (5 kph) North wind

The moment that decided the stage. Kessler attacks near the top of the Cauberg. Behind him Philippe Gilbert tries to go with him but just doesn't have the suds.

Results.

1. Matthias Kessler (T-Mobile) 4hr 57min 54sec. 43.605 km/hr
2. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) @ 5sec
3. Daniele Bennati (Lampre) s.t.
4. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) s.t.
5. Erik Zabel (Milram) s.t.
6. Luca Paolini (Liquigas) s.t.
7. Oscar Freire (Rabobank) s.t.
8. Eddy Mazzoleni (T-Mobile) s.t.
9. Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner) s.t.
10. Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) s.t.

GC after Stage 3:

1. Tom Boonen (Quicki Step) 14hr 52min 23sec. 43.605 km/hr average speed over the 636.6 kilometers ridden so far.
2. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) @ 1sec
3. George Hincapie (Discovery) @ 5sec
4. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) @ 7sec
5. Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery) @ 15sec
6. Daniele Bennati (Lampre) @ 15sec
7. Floyd Landis (Phonak) @ 16sec
8. Vladimir Karpets (Illes Balears) @ 17sec
9. Serhiy Honchar (T-Mobile) s.t.
10. Matthias Kessler (T-Mobile) s.t.

Climber:

1. Jérôme Pineau 17 points
2. David de la Fuente 14
3. Fabian Wegmann 12

Points:

1. Tom Boonen 67 points
2. Daniele Bennati 66
3. Robbie McEwen 65

Young Rider:

1. Marcus Fothen 14hr 52min 48sec
2. Benoit Vaugrenard @ 3sec
3. Philippe Gilbert @ 11sec

Team GC:

1. Discovery 44hr 37min 55sec
2. CSC @ 1sec
3. T-Mobile @ 2sec

The finish: The sprinter's teams hesitated just a bit and a determined Kessler held his lead to the end to get a nice win. There was a split in the field and Hushovd was in the second group so the GC will have to await the judges decision. Looks like Michael Rogers won the field sprint for a 1-2 foir T-Mobile. Boonen was in the first group so he might be the Yellow Jersey.

Km 207, 7 to go: Voigt and Laurent have been caught. Arrieta is alone off the front with a lead of 1min 2sec.

Km 204: Arrieta has gone clear. Voigt and Luarent can't go with him.

Km 199, 17 to go: Euskaltel's Iban Mayo flatted. Almost the entire team went back to pace him back to the pack. Clearly the team thinks Mayo is on form and will be a serious contender as the race progresses. The attacks are starting to come from the riders in the break Laurent has made a second attempt to break loose. Voigt and Arrieta have bridged up to Laurent. Pineau and Extabarria are gone. Big crash in the peloton. Alejandro Valverde went down hard and looks like a broken collarbone. Looks like the now-3 breakaways have a lead of 1min 20sec.

Km 189: Pineau takes the third climb, the Loorberg. He's now the leader of the Climber's competition. The break's lead is down to 1min 48sec. Lots of big guns are sitting near the front of the peloton. Rabobank's Michael Boogerd tried to get away but the peloton was having none of that. No one wants to be caught napping when a move goes on one of the last climbs.

Km 170: This is awful! This from the TDF site: Both [Freddy] Rodriguez and [Erik] Dekker have finished their 2006 Tour de France in an ambulance. There are now 173 riders left in the race. Dekker has fractured a collarbone but we don't have details of Rodriguez's injuries. This was supposed to be Dekker's last season. Pineau took the third climb so he is tied with de la Fuentes on KOM points. The gap from the break to the peloton is 3min 40sec. Stage 1 winner Casper is yo-yoing off the back as is Magnus Backstedt.

Km 155, 65 to go: Pineau was first over both of the climbs so far. He's closing on de la Fuente's Polka Dot jersey. With the break's lead at 4min 35sec, he'll surely be abel to contest a couple more climbs. Credit Agricole has swarmed to the front of the peloton.

Km 132: The lead is back to 4min 40sec. Phonak, Saunier Duval, Quick Step and Davitamon-Lotto have moved to the front of the peloton and are helping Credit Agricole with the chase. Landis looks comfortable up near the front.

Km 126: The lead has grown to 5min 50sec

Km 96: The lead has grown to 5min 35sec. The riders covered 42.2 km the second hour for an average speed of 43.6 km/hr for the first 2 hours.

Km 63: At about the 15th kilometer Jens Voigt took off and was joined by 4 others. The riders are: Jens Voigt (CSC), Unai Etxebarria (Euskaltel), Jose Luis Arrieta (Ag2R), Christophe Laurent (AgGR) and Jerome Pineau (BTL). Thery had a lead of 5min 20sec but now it's 5min with Yellow Jersey Hushovd's Credit Agricole doing the chasing. These guys are hauling. The average speed for the first hour was 45 km/hr.

Voigt is the best-placed rider in the break. After the end of stage 2 he was 47th in GC, only 36 seconds behind Hushovd. You can bet Credit Agricole is going to work to bring him back to the peloton before they get to Valkenburg.

Elevation and map of stage 3


Stage 4, Wednesday, July 5: Huy (Belgium) - Saint-Quentin (back to France), 207 km

2 categorized climbs:

Cote de Peu d'Eau (category 3, 4.9% gradient at km 13)
Cote de Falaen (category 4, 5.4% gradient at km 57.5).

Weather: Cooler today, 70F (21C), wind SE at 5 mph (8 km/h). Rain is likely. It's raining in Brussels. But it looks like it held off from raining on the race course.

Results:

1. Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) 4hr 59min 50sec. 41.423 km/hr
2. Isaac Galvez (Illes Balears) s.t.
3. Oscar Freire (Rabobank) s.t.
4. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) s.t. (later relegated to 148th place for irregular sprinting)
5. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) s.t.
6. David Kopp (Gerolsteiner) s.t.
7. Daniele Bennati (Lampre) s.t.
8. Francisco Ventoso (Saunier Duval) s.t.
9. Michael Albasini (Liquigas) s.t.
10. Bernhard Eisel (FDJ) s.t.

GC after Stage 4:

1. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) 19hr 52min 13sec. 42.444 km/hr average speed over the 843 kilometers ridden so far.
2. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) @ 1sec
3. George Hincapie (Discovery) @ 5sec
4. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) @ 7sec
5. Egoi Martinez (Discovery) @ 10sec
6. Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 12sec
7. Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery) @ 15sec
8. Daniele Bennati (Lampre) s.t.
9. Floyd Landis (Phonak) @ 16sec
10. Vladimir Karpets (Illes Balears) @ 17sec

Climber:

1. Jérôme Pineau: 21 points
2. David de la Fuente: 17
3. Fabian Wegmann: 14

Points:

1. Robbie McEwen: 100 points
2. Tom Boonen: 89
3. Thor Hushovd: 86

Young Rider:

1. Marcus Fothen: 19hr 52min 38sec
2. Benoit Vaugrenard @ 3sec
3. Philippe Gilbert @ 11sec

Team GC:

1. Discovery: 59hr 37min 25sec
2. CSC @ 1sec
3. T-Mobile @ 2sec

The finish: How does he do it? McEwen sneaks up to the front and takes a clean win. Credit Agricole rider Julian Dean crashed in the middle of the lead-out but everyone went around him.

2 km to go: They are caught. All together. Zabel has a flat tire.

3 km to go: The trio is hammering away but the gap is only 9sec

10 km to go: Martinez, Lefevre and Coutouly have taken off and leaving the other 2. The gap to the trio is only 28 seconds

Km 189: Martinez won the third intermediate sprint. With his total of 18 bonus seconds earned today he should be in 5th place in the GC when the day is over. The gap to the break is 1min 10sec. The break is still working together well and are working hard to keep away to the end. Iban Mayo got caught in a crash. His team is waiting and he should get back ok.

Km 182: Lampre and Credit Agricole have also joined in the chase. With 25 km to go the gap is 1min 22sec

Km 170: The gap is really coming down now. It's 2min 10sec. Milram, Quick Step and Davitamon are all working to bring the breakaway back to the field.

Km 153: The break's lead is down to 2min 45sec. Quick Step mostly (with some Davitamon-Lotto) has the peloton pulled into a long line. Floyd Landis got a puncture but his teammates zapped him back up to the peloton.

Km 139: Martinez won the second intermediate sprint and picked up another 6 seconds. The peloton is really strung out as a Davitamon-Lotto rider (Christophe Brandt?) has joined Quick Step in the chase. The lead is now 3min 29sec

Km 126: There are 4 Quick Steps at the front of the peloton. Average speed for the first 3 hours is 39.6 km/hr. Stuart O'Grady, who crashed yesterday, turned out to have cracked a vertebrae. He started today, describing the pain as a "knife in the back". The gap back to the break is 4min 25sec.

Km 113: Jerome Pineau won the fist climb and Lefevre (in the break) won the second climb so Pineau retains his leadership in the Mountains competition. He'll start the race Thursday in Polka Dots. It hasn't rained on the race yet. Martinez won the first intermediate sprint so with the 6 seconds bonus he's moved well up on the GC ranks. The gap between the break and the peloton is 4min 17sec.

Km 94: At the 18th km, 5 riders went clear: Egoi Martinez (Discovery), Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis), Christophe Mengin (FDJ), Cédric Coutouly (Agritubel) and Laurent Lefevre (Bouygues Telecom). Martinez broke first and the otherf 4 chased and caught him and is the best-place rider in the break, he's 22nd in GC at 28sec. Their lead is currently 4min 45sec. The average speed for the fist 2 hours of riding is 38.9 km/hr.

Elevation and route of stage 4


Stage 5, Thursday, July 6: Beauvais - Caen, 225 km

Rated climbs:

Km 10.5: Mont des Fourches, 2.4 km, 3.9% gradient, 4th Category
Km 109: Côte du Buquet, 3.1 km climb, 3.4% gradient, 4th Category
Km 134.5: Côte de Saint-Grégoire-du-Vièvre, 3.2 km, 3.4% gradient, 4th Category
Km 159: Côte du Boulay, 1.6 km, 4.8% gradient, 4th Category

Weather in Caen: 73F (23C), wind WNW at 5 mph (8 km/h). Slightly overcast.

Results:

1. Oscar Freire (Rabobank) 5hr 18min 50sec
2. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) s.t.
3. Inaki Isasi (Euskaltel) s.t.
4. David Kopp (Gerolsteiner) s.t.
5. Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) s.t.
6. Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) s.t.
7. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) s.t.
8. Francisco Ventoso (Saunier Duval) s.t.
9. Erik Zabel (Milram) s.t.
10. Bernhard Eisel (FDJ) s.t.

GC after Stage 5:

1. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) 25hr 10min 51sec
2. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) @ 13sec
3. Oscar Freire (Rabobank) @ 17sec
4. George Hincapie (Discovery) s.t.
5. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) @ 19sec
6. Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 24sec
7. Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery) @ 27sec
8. Floyd Landis (Phonak) @ 28sec
9. Vladimir Karpets (Illes Balears) @ 29sec
10. Serhiy Honchar (T-Mobile) s.t

Climber:

1. Jérôme Pineau: 26 points
2. David de la Fuente: 17
3. Fabian Wegmann: 15

Points:

1. Robbie McEwen: 122 points
2. Tom Boonen: 121
3. Oscar Freire: 115

Young Rider:

1. Marcus Fothen: 25hr 11min 28sec
2. Benoit Vaugrenard @ 3sec
3. Philippe Gilbert @ 11sec

Team GC:

1. Discovery: 75hr 33min 55sec
2. CSC @ 1sec
3. T-Mobile @ 2sec

The Race:

The finish: Oscar Freire (Rabobank) takes the stage. It looks like McEwen hesitated. Boonen looked like he was going to get it when Oscar Freire went through a hole and emerged going a lot faster than the others. Martinez could not regain contact with the petlon and finished at least 10 seconds behind. His 5th place is lost.

3.6 Km to go: Another big crash in the peloton. Dumoulin and Schroder are caught. It looks like a big sprint is coming up.

6 km to go: 17 seconds

8 km to go: 49 seconds

15 km to go: Discovery's Egoi Martinez, one of the heros of yesterday's break and 5th in GC has gone down hard in a crash. Dumoulin is doing most of the work in the break whioch now has a lead of 1min 28sec. Martinez is back on his bike. He's being looked at by the Tour doctor on the fly.

20 km to go: The 2 breakaway riders are pounding for all they are worth but the lead is down to 2min 15sec. Davitamon-Lotto, Credit Agricole, FDJ and Quick Step are all driving the peloton hard.

Km 192, 33 to go: The lead is down to 3min 36sec. Chapatte's Law says that a determined peloton needs 10km to close a minute lead to a break. It looks close.

Km 178: Dumoulin won the final intermediate sprint. Davitamon-Lotto sent Vansummeren up the road again to sweep up the the third-place points, which he did. The duo currently has a lead of 4min 35sec.

Km 164: Pineau has had taken the thrid-place climber's point on the Boulay. Pineau went over the climb 6 minutes behind the led duo of Schroder and Dumoulin. Davitamon has send Christophe Brandt up front to help Quick Step with the chase. The lead is now down to 5min 38sec.

Km 139: The rain has stopped. Zabriskie gets a quick rear flat repaired. Then he rides next to the CSC team car to have his radio worked on. Indicative of CSC's ambitions for Zabriskie is that no other CSC riders dropped back to help him. It looks like Zabriskie is not a protected rider. Pineau beats de la Fuente for the 3rd place point for the 3rd climb the gap to the 2 riders up front is 7min 3sec. Davitamon-Lotto has sent Vansummeren up the road to suck up the remaining third-place points on the upcoming intermediate sprint and deny them to the other guys who have Green Jersey ambitions.

Km 126: It's raining on the Tour for the first time this year. It's not raining at the finsih line in Caen. Update on the break. Their lead is down to 8min 42sec. Phonak has made sure Landis is up near the front.

Km 122: Schroder took the second climb.Back in the peloton Fabina Wegmann beat Pineau for the remaining 3rd place climber's point. The break's lead is down to 9min 45sec because Quick Step has put 3 riders at the front of the pack.

Km 94: 172 riders started. There were no overnight abandons. Polka-Dot Jersey holder Jerome Pineau won the first climb, the Mont des Fourches. A group of 8 went clear after the first climb but the peloton about reeled them in. 2 of these riders jumped clear just before the catch and they have been allowed thier freedom. Currently Samuel Dumoulin (Ag2R) and Bjorn Schroder (Milram) have a lead of 12min 50sec. The average speed for the first 2 hours of the race is 42.9 km/hr. Demoulin is the better-placed of the duo, 123rd, down 3min 52sec in the GC.

Elevation and route of stage 5


Stage 6, Friday, July 7: Lisieux - Vitre, 189 km

Weather in Caen, near the start: 68F (20C), Wind: West at 7 mph (11 km/h). At the time of the start is had just stopped raining and it was raining at the finish line.

Results:

1. Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) 4h 10min 17sec. 45.308 km/hr
2. Daniele Bennati (Lampre) s.t.
3. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) s.t.
4. Bernhard Eisel (FDJ) s.t.
5. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) s.t.
6. Oscar Freire (Rabobank) s.t.
7. Erik Zabel (Milram) s.t.
8. Luca Paolini (Liquigas) s.t.
9. Gert Steegmans (Davitamon-Lotto) s.t.
10. Iñaki Isasi (Euskaltel) s.t.

GC after Stage 6:

1. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) 29hr 21min. 43.832 km/hr average speed over the 1,257.6 kilometers ridden so far.
2. Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 12sec
3. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) @ 21sec
4. Oscar Freire (Rabobank) @ 25sec
5. George Hincapie (Discovery) s.t.
6. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) @ 27sec
7. Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery) @ 35sec
8. Floyd Landis (Phonak) @ 36sec
9. Vladimir Karpets (Illes Balears) @ 37sec
10. Serhiy Honchar (T-Mobile) s.t.
11. Matthias Kessler (T-Mobile) s.t
12. Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 40sec
13. Christophe Moreau (Ag2R) s.t.
14. David Millar (Saunier Duval) @ 41sec
15. Benoit Vaugrenard (FDJ) @ 42sec.
16. Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile) @ 43sec
17. David Zabriskie (CSC) s.t.
18. Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) @ 44sec
19. Marcus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) @ 45sec
20. Cyril Dessel (Ag2R) s.t.

Climber:

1. Jérôme Pineau: 28 points
2. David de la Fuente: 17
3. Fabian Wegmann: 15

Points:

1. Robbie McEwen: 157 points
2. Tom Boonen: 147
3. Oscar Freire: 135

Young Rider:

1. Benoit Vaugrenard 29hr 21min 42sec
2. Marcus Fothen @ 3sec
3. Philippe Gilbert @ 14sec

Team GC:

1. Discovery: 88hr 4min 46sec
2. CSC @ 1sec
3. T-Mobile @ 2sec

The Race:

The finish: Lampre started the leadout train and then Quick step took over. McEwen look buried, 20 places back. Then Gert Steegmans, his new leadout man after Rodriguez crashed out a few days ago, jumped and brought him right up to the front and then it was over. McEwen wins another one.

4 km to go: They're caught. It's all together. So it will be a big sprint again.

Under the 10 km banner: 26 seconds. All the service cars behind the break have been pulled out. We're on the outskirts of Vitre. It might rain at the very end.

Km 174, 15 km to go: The lead has now fallen under a minute. It's 50 seconds.

Km 156: The peloton looks like a TGV speeding across the road. The trio has only 1min 30sec. The peloton can see the break up the road. The catch should come soon.

Km 145: Lead is 2min 36sec. The peloton is stretched out. Brard and Backstedt are now sharing the work of driving break more evenly. Quick Step, Credit Agricole, Davitamon-Lotto and Rabobank are at the the front of the peloton.

Km 134: The trio is leading by 3min 32sec. The roads are undulating and curvy. Geslin is doing most of the work in the break, pulling almost half the time.

Km 112: The lead is 4min 34sec. It had been 5min 15sec.

Km 92: OK, this break is all right. The peloton has relaxed and the Backstedt trio has a gap of 3 min 53sec. Th second hour was ridden at 44.7km/h. The average for the first two hours is 45.8km/h. Geslin is the best-placed rider in the break, 74th at 1min 15sec in the GC. Quick Step has 3 men at the front keep thing under control.

Km 83: I'm wrong. Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas), Florent Brard (Illes Balears) and Anthony Geslin (Boygues Telecom) are still off the front But Boonen's group has been caught by the peloton.

Km 76: Ho ho ho. It's a race! Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas), Florent Brard (Illes Balears) and Anthony Geslin (Boygues Telecom) have broken loose from the Boonen lead group. Nope. They're back in the break and the peloton is chasing like the Hounds of Hell and have reduced the lead to 25 seconds.

Km 65: The group has gown to 17 riders with Tom Boonen, Pavel Padrnos, Patrik Sinkewitz and Thor Hushovd, among others. Davitamon has hit the front. the gap is 1 minute.

Km 46: Breaks had gone off, but they had all been brought back. Discovery rider Egoi Martinez who crashed yesterday is OK and started today. There was only 1 rated climb, the 3rd category Côte de la Hunière at km 27.5. Here's how it went: 1. Guiseppe Guerini, 2. David Lopez Garcia, 3. Jerome Pineau, 4. Juan Manuel Garate. So Pineau has padded his lead with another 2 points. The first hour was pretty speedy: 46.9 km/hr. As I was wirting this a group has gone clear: Benoit Vaugrenard (FDJ), Stephane Auge (Cofidis), Christian Knees (Milram) and Florent Brard (Illes Balears). They have a 45-second gap. The roads are dry.

Elevation and map of stage 6.


Stage 7, Saturday, July 8: Saint Gregoire - Rennes, 52 km individual time trial

Weather: 72F (22C) , it has rained but it has stopped and the roads are mostly dry for the start. It could rain during the stage. Little wind.

The race: The riders are going off in reverse GC order every 2 minutes. Sebastian Joly (FDJ) is first off. Yellow Jersey Tom Boonen will be last, departing at 4:28 French Time (7:30 AM PDT).

Honchar on his way to winning the stage and the Yellow Jersey.

Results:

1. Serhiy Honchar (T-Mobile) 1hr 1min 43sec. 52 km/hr
2. Floyd Landis (Phonak) @ 1min 1sec
3. Sebastian Lang (Gerolseiner) @ 1min 4sec
4. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) @ 1min 24sec
5. Gustav Larsson (FDJ) @ 1min 33sec
6. Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile) @ 1min 39sec
7. Marcus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) @ 1min 42sec
8. Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) @ 1min 43sec
9. Denis Menchjov (Rabobank) @ 1min 44sec
10. Joost Poshuma (Rabobank) @ 1min 45sec
11. Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 1min 52sec
13. David Zabriskie (CSC) @ 1min 57sec
24. George Hincapie (Discovery) @ 2min 42sec
96. Levi Leiheimer (Gerolsteiner) @ 6min 26sec

GC after Stage 7:

1. Serhiy Honchar (T-Mobile) 30hr 23min 20sec. 43.094 km/hr average speed over the 1,309.6 km ridden so far
2. Floyd Landis (Phonak) @ 1min
3. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) @ 1min 8sec
4. Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile) @ 1min 45sec
5. Marcus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) @ 1min 50sec
6. Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) s.t.
7. Vladimir Karpets (Illes Balears) @ 1min 52sec
8. Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) s.t.
9. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) @ 2min
10. David Zabriskie (CSC) @ 2min 7sec

Climber:

1. Jérôme Pineau: 28 points
2. David de la Fuente: 17
3. Fabian Wegmann: 15

Points:

1. Robbie McEwen: 157 points
2. Tom Boonen: 147
3. Oscar Freire: 135

Young Rider:

1. Marcus Fothen: 30hr 25min 10sec
2. Thomas Lovqvist @ 11sec
3. Andriy Grivko @1min 11sec

Team GC:

1. T-Mobile: 91hr 13min
2. Phonak @ 3min 9sec
3. Gerolsteiner @ 3min 56sec

3rd intermediate time check at 46.3 km, with everyone through:

1. Serhiy Honchar (T-Mobile) 55min 9sec
2. Floyd Landis (Phonak) @ 57sec
3. Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner) @ 1min 12sec
4. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) @ 1min 23sec
5. Gustav Larsson (FDJ) @1min 27sec

2nd Intermediate time check at 36.5 km, with everyone through:

1. Serhy Honchar (T-Mobile) 43min 50sec
2. Floyd Landis (Phonak) @ 42sec
3. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) @1min 3sec
4. Gustav Larsson (FDJ) s.t.
5. Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner) @ 1min 11sec

Everyone through the first intermediate time check, 16.5 km:

1. Serhiy Honchar (T-Mobile) 19min 37sec
2. Floyd Landis (Phonak) @ 17sec
3. Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) @ 22sec
4. Marcus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) @ 29sec
5. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) @ 30sec

138 riders in: Everyone is on the road. Leipheimer is having a poor ride. His 2-minute man, Christian Vendevelde has caught him. He went through the first 14 km time check 2 minutes slower than Honchar, who has set the fastest time so far at the first time check. Guys who started fast seem to have faded at the end. There's a bit of wind near the finish, making things harder for the late starters.

132 riders in: Top 3 finishers haven't changed. Hincapie just took off. All the Americans are on the road. Left to start: Freire, Rogers, McEwen and Boonen. Andreas Kloden burned up the first 16 km and is leading at the first check point.

Damnation!!! Bobby Julich's bike lost traction as he was speeding through an "S" curve and he crashed hard. Doctors are looking at him. He's being put into an ambulance. His Tour is over.

115 riders in: Leipheimer is on the road. We're into the top 25 GC men. Now we're into the part of the race that matters. No change yet to the top 3, Lang is still the leader.

107 riders in: There are 171 riders left in the Tour. The fast men in contention for the GC won't start for a while. The sun has come out, shouldn't rain now. Landis is warming up. Damiano Cunego has finished and he was 5min 19sec slower than Lang. The standings right now:

1. Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner)1hr 2min 47.87sec
2. Gustav Larsson (FDJ) @ 29sec
3. Joost Posthuma (Rabobank) @ 40sec

With 94 riders in the barn, German time trial champion is leading with a time of 1hr 2min 48sec. French time trial champion Sylvain champion went out blazing and was leading at the first intermediate time check, but he faded badly and finished 2 minutes slower than Lang.

Elevation and map of stage 7.


Stage 8, Sunday, July 9: Saint Meen le Grand - Lorient, 181 km

Rated climbs:

Km 75: Côte de Mûr-de-Bretagne, 1.6 km, 7.5% gradient, 3rd Category
Km 78.5: Côte de Saint-Mayeux, 1.3 km, 5.9% gradient, 4th Category
Km 94: Côte de Gouarec, 1.6 km, 5.4% gradient, 4th Category
Km 138.5: Côte de Ty Marrec, 1.4 km, 5.2%, 4th Category

Weather: 68F (20C). Raining, but not as hard as it had been. Wind: SW at 11 mph (18 km/h) By km 100, the rain has stopped.

Results:

1. Sylvain Calzati (Ag2R) 4hr 13min 18sec. 42.874 km/hr
2. Kjell Carlstrom (Liquigas) @ 2min 5sec
3. Patrice Halgand (Credit Agricole) s.t.
4. Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 2min 15sec
5. Daniele Bennati (Lampre) s.t.
6. Erik Zabel (Milram) s.t.
7. Bernhard Eisel (FDJ) s.t.
8. Luca Paolini (Liquigas) s.t.
9. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) s.t.
10. David Kopp (Gerolsteiner) s.t.

GC after Stage 8:

1. Serhiy Gonchar (T-Mobile) 34hr 38min 53sec. 43.021 km/hr average speed over the 1,490.6 km riden so far.
2. Floyd Landis (Phonak) @ 1min
3. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) @ 1min 8sec
4. Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile) @ 1min 45sec
5. Marcus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) @ 1min 50sec
6. Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) @ 1min 50sec
7. Vladimir Karpets (Illes Balears) @ 1min 52sec
8. Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) s.t.
9. David Zabriskie (CSC) @ 1min 53sec
10. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) @ 2min

Climber:

1. Jérôme Pineau: 28 points
2. David de la Fuente: 17
3. Fabian Wegmann: 15

Points:

1. Robbie McEwen: 181 points
2. Tom Boonen: 164
3. Oscar Freire: 146

Young Rider:

1. Marcus Fothen: 34hr 40min 43sec
2. Thomas Lovqvist @ 1min 11sec
3. Andriy Grivko @ 2min 8sec

Team GC:

1. T-Mobile: 103hr 59min 39sec
2. Phonak @ 3min 9sec
3. Gerolsteiner @ 3min 56sec

The race:

The finish: Calzati started celebrating with 4 km to go, slapping hands with his director in the Ag2R car. He's got it, a solo win for Sylvain Calzati.

2 minutes later Carlstrom just nips Halgand for second place. The peloton can be seen less than 100 meters back down the road.

McEwen gets the field sprint for 4th place.

6 km to go: Calzati is gone. He won't be caught. He has extended his lead to 3 minutes. In between Halgand and Carlstrom are 2 minutes behind him and a minute ahead of the pack.

Km 165: The Zabriskie/Aerts/Kessler trio has been caught

Km 158: The break is in 3 pieces: Calzati, followed by Halgand and Carlstrom @ 42sec and then Zabriskie, Arts and Kessler a further 32sec back and then the peloton @ 1min 22 or 2min 42sec behind Calzati.

Km 142: Other teams have come to help wiuth the chase and Phonak looks like it has stopped working. The lead is down to 2min 36sec. Calzati has attacked the break and has a good gap. Halgand has gone after him. The other 3 don't seem to be reacting.

Km 133: The lead is down to 4min. FDJ has moved to the front to help Phonak with the chase. Up in the break, as expected, T-Mobile's Kessler isn't working, since T-Mobile has the Yellow Jersey.

Km 112: The lead is down to 5min 4sec with all Phonak riders not named Landis at the front working the chase. They'll probably keep the break within reach and hope the sprinter's teams will finish the job. They shouldn't expect any help from Davitamon and Liquigas with Aerts and Carlstrom up ahead.

Km 97: With the withdrawl of Bobby Julich, 170 riders remain in the Tour. The first hour of racing covered 45.5 km. There were several attmpts to form breaks, but they were all chased down until about the 47th kilometer. A break of 6 has gone clear and seems to have the approval of the peloton: David Zabriskie (CSC), Matthias Kessler (T-Mobile), Mario Aerts (Davitamon-Lotto), Sylvain Calzati (Ag2R), Kjell Carlstrom (Liquigas) and Patrice Halgand (Credit Agricole). They had a lead of 7min 30sec. Currently it's 6min 55sec. It' a powerful, fast-moving breakaway. Good move by T-Mobile, getting Kessler in the break so they don't have to waste energy controlling the race. Phonak doesn't want Kessler to get too far away so they are leading the chase.

Stage 8 map and elevation.


Rest Day 1, Monday, July 10


Stage 9, Tuesday, July 11: Bordeaux - Dax, 169.5 km

Pan flat. No rated climbs, hence no points in play for the Polka-Dot Jersey

Weather: In Bordeaux at the start: 77F (25C). It should climb to 86F (30C), wind NW at 5 mph (8 km/h). Partly sunny.

Results:

1. Oscar Freire (Rabobank) 3hr 35min 24sec. 47.214 km/hr
2. Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) s.t.
3. Erik Zabel (Milram) s.t.
4. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) s.t.
5. Cristian Moreni (Cofidis) s.t.
6. Isaac Galvez (Illes Balears) s.t.
7. Francisco Ventoso (Saunier Duval) s.t.
8. Luca Paolini (Liquigas) s.t.
9. David Kopp (Gerolsteiner) s.t.
10. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) s.t.

GC after Stage 9:

1. Serhiy Gonchar (T-Mobile) 38hr 14min 17sec. 43.414 km/hr over the 1660.1 kms ridden so far.
2. Floyd Landis (Phonak) @ 1min
3. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) @ 1min 8sec
4. Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile) @ 1min 45sec
5. Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) @ 1min 50sec
6. Vladimir Karpets (Illes Balears) @ 1min 52sec
7. Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) s.t.
8. David Zabriskie (CSC) @ 1min 53sec
9. Marcus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) @ 2min 3sec
10. Christophe Moreau (Ag2R) @ 2min 7sec

Climber:

1. Jérôme Pineau: 28 points
2. David de la Fuente: 17
3. Fabian Wegmann: 15

Points:

1. Robbie McEwen: 211 points
2. Tom Boonen: 188
3. Oscar Freire: 181

Young Rider:

1. Marcus Fothen: 38hr 16min 20sec
2. Thomas Lovqvist @ 58sec
3. Andriy Grivko @ 1min 55sec

Team GC:

1. T-Mobile: 1114hr 45min 51sec
2. Phonak @ 3min 9sec
3. Gerolsteiner @ 3min 56sec

The Race:

The finish: McEwen got boxed in. He went right and left and finally found the front, but Freire beat him by millimeters.

4 km to go: They are caught. All together. On the streets of Dax.

5 km to go: Knees and Beneteau take turns attacking the break. Gap is 23sec.

7 km to go: The gap is 35sec.

14 km to go: Knees attacked the break again and now there seem to be some hard words being exchanged in the break. They've clearly lost their momentum. The gap is 1min 37sec.

Under the 20 km to go banner: The gap is 2min 7sec. The riders in the break are clearly digging deep, hoping to stay away, but that looks unlikely. Now the gap is 1min 58sec.

Km 140: Knees attacked his companions but was brought back. Auge told Knees what he thought of the attempt. With 28.6 km to go now the lead is at 2min 55sec. Cedric Vasseur, one of the hardest working of the chasers is at 231 watts and his heart rate is 164 bpm out of his max of 186. They're working hard.

Km 129. It looks like a team time trial at the front with riders from the sprinter's teams taking short, hard pulls. Bram Tankink, one of the chasers, is kicking out 238 watts. The lead is now 3min 52sec.

Km 120: The guys working at the front of the peloton dropped the hammer. The lead is down to 5min. The sprinter's teams won't have another chance for a win for a while with the first Pyreneen stage coming up tomorrow. And it looks like they don't want to give another stage to a break. Chapatte's Law: A determined peloton will close in on a break at the rate of 1 minute per 10 kilometers. Oops, the lead is down to 4min 50sec.

Km 112: the second hour of racing covered 44.7 km. For the first 2 hours the average speed is 45.5 km/hr. Zoom! The break still has a 5min 55sec. Both the break and the peloton are moving fast with a slight tailwind. The peloton remains very strung out, nose to tail.

Km 81: The peloton is strung out in a long line as T-Mobile, Quickstep, Lampre and Credit Agricole lead the chase. The break's lead is starting to come down, it's 6min 40sec.

Km 54: The first hour was ridden at 46.3 km/hr. The lead trio have a lead of 7min 43sec. Beneteau won the first intermediate sprint.

Km 25: There were no withdrawals over the rest day. 170 riders started the stage. It looks like the day's breakaway has flown the pack: Walter Beneteau (Bouygues Telecom) and Stephane Auge (Cofidis) chased and caught earlier escapee Christian Knees (Milram). Their lead is currently 2min 30sec.

Map of stage 9.


Stage 10, Wednesday, July 12: Cambo les Bains - Pau , 190.5 km

The major climbs:

Km 50: Col d'Osquich, Altitude: 500 meters, ascent of 6 km at a 5.3% gradient. 3rd category.
Km 101.5: Col du Soudet, Altitude:1,540 meters, ascent of 14.7 km at a 7.3% gradient. Hors Category.
Km 148: Col de Marie Blanque, Altitude: 1,035 meters, ascent of 9.3 km at a 7.7% gradient. 1st category.

Weather: 75F (24C), little chance of rain today. Mild winds, 19 mph (15 kph).

Results:

1. Juan Miguel Mercado (Agritubel) 4hr 49min 10sec. 39.527 km/hr
2. Cyril Dessel (Ag2R) s.t.
3. Inigo Landaluze (Euskaltel) @ 56sec
4. Cristian Moreni (Cofidis) @ 2min 24sec
5. Christophe Rinero (Saunier Duval) @ 2min 25sec
6. Inaki Isasi (Euskaltel) @ 5min 3sec
7. Cedric Vasseur (Quick Step) @ 5min 35sec
8. Daniele Bennati (Lampre) @ 7min 23sec (Field Sprint)
9. Erik Zabel (Milram) s.t.
10. Stefano Garzelli (Liquigas) s.t.

GC after Stage 10

1. Cyril Dessel (Ag2R) 43hr 7min 5sec. 42.916 km/hr over the 1,850.6 kms ridden so far.
2. Juan Miguel Mercado (Agritubel) @ 2min 34sec
3. Serhiy Gonchar (T-Mobile) @ 2min 45sec
4. Cristian Moreni (Cofidis) @ 3min 51sec
5. Floyd Landis (Phonak) @ 4min 45sec
6. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) @ 4min 53sec
7. Inigo Landaluze (Euskaltel) @ 5min 22sec
8. Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile) @ 5min 30sec
9. Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) @ 5min 35sec
10. Vladimir Karpets (Illes Balears) @ 5min 37sec
11. Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) s.t.
12. David Zabriskie (CSC) @ 5min 38sec
13. Marcus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) @ 5min 48sec
14. Christophe Moreau (Ag2R) @ 5min 52sec
15. Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery) @ 5min 55sec

Climber:

1. Cyril Dessel: 54 points
2. Juan Miguel Mercado: 45
3. Inigo Landeluze: 38

Points:

1. Robbie McEwen: 211 points
2. Tom Boonen: 188
3. Oscar Freire: 181

Young Rider:

1. Marcus Fothen: 43hr 12min 53sec
2. Thomas Lovqvist @ 58sec
3. Riccardo Ricco @ 3min 22sec

Team GC:

1. Ag2R: 129hr 32min 36sec
2. T-Mobile @ 2min 55sec
3. Phonak @ 6min 4sec

The race:

5 km to go: Mercado has stopped working. Dessel has plenty of motivation, waiting for him in Pau is the Yellow Jersey and the lead in the KOM. In the peloton Gonchar is leading the chase. Ag2R is sitting right behind T-Mobile so that the other teams don't get involved with the chase.

Km 178, 11 to go: Landaluze wasn't able to close the gap which is now 51 seconds. Dessel and Mercado didn't want to try their luck sprinting with Landaluze. The peloton is now 9min 35sec. Dessel should spend the night in Yellow.

Km 161: With the pair off the mountain that have a lead of 9min 15sec. Landaluze is just hanging behind the duo, about 10 seconds behind. Rasmussen was caught by the peloton on the descent.

Km 151: Rasmussen, Landis, Moreau and Hincapie are right at the front of the peloton as they ride the fnal kilometers of the mountain. Bam!! Rasmussen goes. Is this a KOM play or his trying to get away and gain time? Oh no!. Leipheimer is having trouble staying with the peloton. So is Cunego. Gonchar was able to stay with the peloton by teh skin of his teeth.

Km 147: The gap is 9min 40sec. I'm sure the break is long gone. The mountain approaches an 11% gradient near the top and these riders are working hard to keep their bikes going. Phonak riders have moved upbehind the T-Mobile leaders. Dessel take the crest of the Marie Blanque, making him the now owner of the Polka Dot Jersey. Landaluze is only about 30 seconds behind the 2 leaders.

Km 143: On the lower slopes of the Marie Blanque. Dessel and Mercado have immediately dropped the other members of the break. Sitting behind the T-Mobile leaders in the peloton are 3 Discovery riders: Jose Azevedo, Yaroslav Popovych and Egoi Martinez. Think they're up to anything?

Km 140: Cedric Vasseur and Cristian Moreni have made it up to the front 5: The now 7-man strong break's lead is 11 minutes. Mayo has joined the peloton. The front of the peloton continues to be led by T-Mobile. Rogers is not doing any of the tempo work, so they are clearly saving him. Kloden isn't at the front either from what I can see. Cyril Dessel is easily the Virtuel Yellow Jersey.

Km 121: Several of the former breakways have made it up to Mercado and Dessel on the descent. It's now 5 together: Christophe Rinero, Inigo Landaluze, Cyril Dessel, Juan Miguel Mercado, Inaki Isasi. T-Mobile continues to lead the peloton on the descent with the skilled Michael Rogers getting a gap off the front. Gonchar managed to hang on. Average spped for the bthird hour was 31.2 km/hr. Speed for the first 3 hours is 39.6 km/hr.

Km 101: Over the top of the Soudet: Mercado tried to go the the points at the top of the climb but went far too early. Dessel came back to him, dropped him and took the 20 KOM points. 9 min 25 seconds back in the peloton Matthias Kessler is the first of several T-Mobile riders. What!?!? I don't see Gonchar. He's a better climber than that. There he is, at the back of the bunch lead by his teammates. I think T-Mobile must be planning on letting him go if he gets into trouble. I don't see any of his teammates riding with him. He looks awful, but nothing like Mayo. The air is thick with fog and mist, limiting visibility.

Km 96: On the Col du Soudet. 169 riders started. Laurent Brochard did not start. An original break of 13 that went away around the 40th kilomter is now down to 2 riders: Juan Miguel Mercado (Agritubel) and Cyril Dessel (Ag2R). The other members of the break are scattered back behind them. dThe Yellow Jersey group is 9min 13 sec behind. The big doigs are all there except shocker Iban Mayo who is turning squares and looks like he is in terrible shape. T-Mobile is riding tempo at the front of the Yellow Jersey group. Levi Leipheimer seems to have gotten over his bad patch and up there with Gonchar and the others.

Elevation and map, stage 10.


Stage 11, Thursday, July 13: Tarbes - Val d'Aran, Pla-de-Beret (Spain), 206.5 km

The major climbs:

Km 75: Col du Tourmalet, Altitude: 2,115 meters, ascent of 18.3 km at a 7.7% gradient. Hors Category
Km 105: Col d'Aspin, Altitude: 1,489 meters, ascent of 13 km at a 5% gradient. 1st category
Km 136: Col de Peyresourde, Altitude: 1,569 meters, ascent of 9.7 km at a 6.8% gradient. 1st category
Km 161: Col du Portillon, Altitude: 1,320 meters, ascent of 7.9 km at a 7.9% gradient. 1st category
Km 204.5: Pla-de-Beret, Altitude:. 1,860 meters, ascent of 13 km at a 5.5% gradient. 1st category.

Weather: It's supposed to be warm, 86F (30C) and sunny.

Leipheimer's attack in the closing kilometers shelled Evans and Sastre.

Results:

1. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) 6hr 6min 25sec. 33.813 km/hr
2. Levi Leiphaimer (Gerolsteiner) s.t.
3. Floyd Landis (Phonak) s.t.
4. Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto @ 17sec
5. Carlos Sastre (CSC) s.t.
6. Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) @ 1min 4sec
7. Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) @ 1min 31sec
8. Frank Schleck (CSC) s.t.
9. Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) s.t.
10. Christophe Moreau (Ag2R) @ 2min 28sec
11. Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner) @ 3min 6sec
12. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) s.t.
13. Marcus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) s.t.
14. Ivan Parra (Cofidis) s.t.
15. Jose Azevedo (Discovery) @ 4min 10sec
16. Gilberto Simoni (Saunier Duval) s.t.
17. David Arroyo (Illes Balears) s.t.
18. Cyril Dessel (Ag2R) @ 4min 45sec
19. Pietro Caucchioli (Credit Agricole) s.t.
20. Tadej Valjavec (Lampre) s.t.

GC after Stage 11:

1. Floyd Landis (Phonak) 48 hr 18min 7sec. 41.722 km/hr average speed over the 2,057.1 kms ridden so far.
2. Cyril Dessel (Ag2R) @ 8sec
3. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) @ 1min 1sec
4. Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 1min 17sec
5. Carlos Sastre (CSC) @ 1min 52sec
6. Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) @ 2min 29sec
7. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) @ 3min 22sec
8. Juan Miguel Mercado (Agritubel) @ 3min 33sec
9. Christophe Moreau (Ag2R) @ 3min 44sec
10. Marcus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) @ 4min 17sec
11. Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) @ 4min 26sec
12. Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile) @ 5min 38sec
13. Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) @ 5min 39sec
14. Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) @ 5min 54sec
15. Inigo Landaluze (Euskaltel) @ 6min 33sec
16. Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner) @ 6min 47sec
17. Vladimir Karpets (Illes Balears) @ 6min 48sec
18. Jose Azevedo (Discovery) @ 7min 27sec
19. Ivan Parra (Cofidis) @ 8min 11sec
20. Franck Schleck (CSC) @ 8min 37sec

Climber:

1. David de la Fuente: 80 points
2. Cyril Dessel: 62
3. Fabian Wegmann: 61

Points:

1. Robbie McEwen: 217 points
2. Tom Boonen: 188
3. Oscar Freire: 181

Young Rider:

1. Marcus Fothen: 49hr 22min 24sec
2. Damiano Cunego @ 12min
3. Mathieu Sprick @ 27min 16sec

Team GC:

1. T-Mobile: 148hr 4min 7sec
2. Gerolsteiner @ 46sec
3. Ag2R: @ 5min

The finish: Landis led most of the last couple of kilomters. Menchov leads it out and takes the stage win with Leipheimer second and Landis third.

3 km to go: Leipheimer attacks, Menchov and Landis go with him. Menchov attacks and takes Landis with him while Leipheimer digs deep and gets back.

7 km to go: Landis goes to the front. Now they all pause a bit. Menchov and then Landis are at the front again. Boogerd and Kloden are chasing back with the slowdown of the leaders.

8 km to go: BAM!! Menchov goes. Kloden and Boogerd are off. Leipheimer attacks. Menchov brings him back.

9 km to go: Boogerd is wrecking the lead group, leaving only Boogerd, Menchov, Evans, Landis, Leipheimer, Sastre and Kloden in the front group.

13 km to go: After working for Menchov, Rasmussen has come off. The Tour has announced that the top 5 riders will have thier bikes weighed. Simoni, Parra, Fothen, Moreau, Azewvedo, Zubeldia, Schleck are off.

Km 183: The Cunego/Arroyo/de la Fuente group has been caught by the Boogerd-led peloton. We're set up for the finale with the 21 best riders all together. They are: Sastre, Schleck, Kloden, Rogers, Moreau, Leipheimer, Fothen, Totschnig, Menchov, Boogerd, Rasmussen, Evans, Landis, Arroyo, Zubeldia, Parra, Simoni and De la Fuente. Cunego was just dropped.

Km 178: Cunego and Arroyo have caught de la Fuente. The Landis group is 53 sec back. Because the Landis group slowed after the descent of the Portillon, the Dessel chasing gorup is 1min behind. Unless the Landis groups gets going, Dessel will save his Yellow Jersey. Rabobank is driving the Landis group, probably working for their Denis Menchov.

Km 174: Cunego did get back on. Now that the road has started to rise for the final climb Damiano Cunego and David Arroyo have attacked. No reaction.

Km 173: Landis is a very skilled descender and is leading his group, throwing high heat. It's going to be very difficult for a dropped rider to get back up to this elite group.

Km 164: De la Fuente went over the top with 1min 33sec. Rasmussen took the second place, leading the very small peloton. On the descent Boogerd wants to make some time and is upset at the television moto which is blocking his way. Carlos Sastre crashed but remounted. I think Azevedo is the only Discovery rider left in the front group. Hincapie came off the Yellow Jersey chase group and is now in a group 5 minutes behind de la Fuente.

Km 160: Boogerd and Rasmussen have moved to the front. Simoni and Parra are off.

Km 158: It looks like Hincapie has been dropped. Left in the lead group chasing de la Fuente, Wegmann has been caught: Azevedo, Sastre, Schleck, Kloden, Kessler, Rogers, Moreau, Leipheimer, Totschnig, Fothen, Boogerd, Menchov, Rasmussen, Evans, Landis, Cunego, Arroyo, Zubeldia, Parra and Simoni.

Km 156: The hotter tempo is dropping lots of riders. Boogerd and Landis have moved up. Dessel is dropped. Leipheimer and Evans are still there.

Km 153: The break has gone through Luchon 3min 27sec ahead of the peloton. Flecha is only 35sec ahead of the pack. Next, the first category Portillon. The peloton didn't swell with lots of dropped riders catching on the descent. A few made it back, but I think there are lots of broken legs. Flecha has been caught by the peloton.Wegmann has attacked and dropped de la Fuente. Fuente answered and then went by Wegmann.Iban Mayo has abandoned the Tour. Ag2R has the peloton strung out on the lower slopes. Voeckler has been dropped by the peloton.

Oops! T-Mobile has gone to the front.Kloden is leading. Is this the big move?

Km 137: De la Fuente tried to get Wegmann to take a pull near the top of the Peyresourde, but Wegmann demurred. De la Fuente jumped and got a big gap and took hte KOM points. De la Fuente should be the leader nowof the KOM. The peloton has caught Camano. Voeckler cracked and the peloton has caught him. Popovych is dropped by the peloton. He's looking for the team car. Again Boogerd and Rasmussen are looking for the third-place KOM points. So far there haven't been any real attacks. We still don't know who really has the suds to win the Tour. The pack is about 3min 15sec behind de la Fuente who has taken off by himself. Wegmann has caught him on the descent.

Km 132: Wegmann attacked the break on the Peyresourde and took de la Fuente with him. Flecha is abut 30sec behind. Camano is well off, having been passed by the hard chasing Voeckler. The peloton is about 4min behind Wegmann and de la Fuente. Stefano Garzelli, winner of the 2000 Giro is dropped by the peloton.

Km 120: The break is finished descending the Aspn and is going through the feed zone. Voeckler is 1min 10sec back. Next up, the Peyresourde.

Km 106: Wegmann went a bit early for the KOM points on the Aspin and caught de la Fuente by surprise. Now the break is on the technical descent of the Aspin. Rasmussen and his Rabobank teammate Boogerd led the peloton over the top.

Km 102: There are 4 Ag2R riders at the front of the peloton with Dessel tucked in just behind them The Aspin is not have the same effect upon the peloton, being a milder ascent. Voeckler loks like he's closing the gap to the 4 breakaways. He's at 1min 50sec now.

Km 97: We're on the Aspin. The 4 leaders still have 5min 36sec. Thomas Voeckler took off alone after the Tourmalet ands he's still somewhere in between the peloton and the break. The peloton has swelled on the descent with lots of the dropped riders.

Km 75: Discovery is getting hammered on the Tourmalet. Egoi Martinez, Viatscheslav Ekimov & Benjamin Noval have been dropped. Hincapie, Popovych and Azevedo are still up there. Jose Rujano, who has been suffering from an infection on his foot and David Zabriskie have been dropped. The break has just gone over the crest of the Tourmalet with a lead of 4min 26sec. Wegmann and de la Fuente sprinted hard for the KOM points with de la Fuente. Rasmussen went for the third place points but the cagey Thomas Voeckler scooted by him. Now the long, very fast descent.

Km 70: Robbie McEwen won the first intermediate sprinbt, pading his lead for the Green Jersey with another 6 points. 4 riders escaped before the Tourmalet began: Iker Camano (Euskaltel), David De la Fuente (Saunier Duval), Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank). We are now on the Tournmalet proper, just after the ski town of La Mongie. The 4 riders have a lead of 5min 25sec over the peloton, containing the Yellow Jersey and almost all of the big dogs. Iban Mayo and Gilberto Simoni have already been dropped by the Yellow Jersey group. A motorcycle camerman has been following a lone Mayo who is very unhappy about the attention to his plight. Giovanni Lombardy has abandoned, reducing CSC to 6 riders. Ag2R is at the front of the peloton, riding a warm but not hot pace. Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery), Chris Horner have been dropped.

Stage 11 map and elevation


Stage 12, Friday July 14: Luchon - Carcassonne, 211.5 km

The rated climbs:

Km 27: Col des Ares, 7.2 km, 4.5% gradient, 2nd Category
Km 47.5: Côte de Pujos, 1.3 km, 6.4%, 4th Category
Km 126: Côte du Pâl de Pailhes, 4.5 km, 3.6%, 4th Category
Km 136: Côte de Pamiers, 3.9 km, 2.9%, 4th Category
 

Weather: It's Hot!! 100F (38C) at Carcassone.

The field sprint. Boonen finally gets the better of McEwen.

Results:

1. Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery) 4hr 34min 58sec. 46.151 km/hr
2. Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) @ 27sec
3. Oscar Freire (Rabobank) @ 29sec
4. Christophe Le Mevel (Credit Agricole) @ 35sec
5. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) @ 4min 25sec
6. Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) s.t.
7. Francisco Ventoso (Saunier Duval) s.t.
8. Erik Zabel (Milram) s.t.
9. Daniele Bennati (Lampre) s.t.
10. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) s.t.

GC after Stage 12:

1. Floyd Landis (Phonak) 53hr min 57min 30sec. 42.041 km/hr average speed over the 2,268.6 kms ridden so far.
2. Cyril Dessel (Ag2R) @ 8sec
3. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) @ 1min 1sec
4. Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 1min 17sec
5. Carlos Sastre (CSC) @ 1min 52sec
6. Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) @ 2min 29sec
7. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) @ 3min 22sec
8. Juan Miguel Mercado (Agritubel) @ 3min 33sec
9. Christophe Moreau (Ag2R) @ 3min 44sec
10. Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery) @ 4min 15sec

Climber:

1. David de la Fuente: 80 points
2. Cyril Dessel: 62
3. Fabian Wegmann: 61

Points:

1. Robbie McEwen: 232 points
2. Oscar Freire: 207
3. Tom Boonen

Young Rider:

1. Marcus Fothen: 54hr 1min 47sec
2. Damiano Cunego @ 12min 15sec
3. Mathieu Sprick @ 27min 16sec

Team GC:

1. T-Mobile: 162hr 2min 16sec
2. Gerolsteiner @ 46sec
3. Ag2R: @ 5min

The finish: Popovych goes hard. Ballan can't do it and Freire isn't helping. Popovych drives on alone and takes a clean, solo win. Freire doesn't fight Ballan for second. Le Mevel closed into within seconds of Freire at the end.

7 km to go: Popovych attacks, he's brought back but Le Mevel is dropped. Then Freire goes. He's caught. Now Popovych goes again. If it comes to a sprint, 3-time Wrold Champion Freire has a punishing turn of speed. Popovych goes again and Ballan brings Freire up to him

20 km to go: The peloton has surrendered, more or less. The break's lead is 4min 30sec. Popovych is working hard, doing himself a lot of good, surely moving himself up into the top 10 in the GC. Phonak is driving the peloton, doing all the work.

Km 176: This is a break of superb riders and they are extending their lead to 4 min 26sec. If they can continue this way Popvych leaps up in the standings and puts Discovery in play for a podium placing. The pace is fast and the peloton is stung out and starting to fracture under the pressure of the speed and the crosswinds.

Km 168: Oscar Freire takes the second and last intermediate sprint without a fight from the other 3 and the 6 points in play. In theory Freire can take the Green Jersey if he wins the stage, but that would only happen if Mcewen gets no points, an unlikely occurance. Other teams are starting to move to the front, so it is probably time to shut the break down.

Km 155: Freire can take the Green Jersey tonight. McEwen has dropped back to talk to his director. I'm sure he wants to have his team chase the break. The break's lead is just under 4 minutes.

Km 136: The leaders, Oscar Freire (Rabobank),Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery), Christophe Le Mevel (Credit Agricole), Alessandro Ballan (Lampre), have a 4 minute lead. Popovych is the best-placed rider in the break 20th, at 9 minutes. The real interest in this break is Freire's threat to Mcewen's Green Jersey. McEwen's Davitamon team can't work to cover both the threats to Cadel Evans' quest for the overall win as well as McEwen's points jersey. Phonak remains at the front with Landis about 5 riders back.

Km 109: Now another break has gone: Popovych, Freire, Ballan and Le Mevel. They have a minute. It looks like Discovery is going to keep working the front, trying to get into breaks. With their best-placed rider, George Hincapie, over 20 minutes down in the GC, they are now racing for stage wins.

Km 109: It look like this break is gone. They have over 3 minutes. Robbie McEwen, not wanting the speedy and clever Oscar Freire to gain sprinter's points, tried to bridge up to them. He had to give up. Phonak is at the front of the pelooton, working to protect Landis.

Km 109: Now another break has gone: Popovych, Freire, Ballan and Le Mevel. They have a minute. It looks like Discovery is going to keep working the front, trying to get into breaks. With their best-placed rider, George Hincapie, over 20 minutes down in the GC, they are now racing for stage wins.

Km 94: The break is caught. The average speed for the second hour was 47.2 km/hr!! The average speed for the first 2 hours is 46.6 km/hr

Km 91: Michael Albasini attacked the break and took Hincapie, Voigt, Goubert and Moncoutie with him. The others have been caught by the peloton. The Hincapie group has about 25 seconds.

Km 81: After numerous attacks, groupings and regroupings that started at kilometer 25, there are now 9 riders off the front: Hincapie, Voigt, Guerini, Goubert, Bennati, Verdugo, Moncoutie, Millar and Albasini . Thier lead is currently 20 seconds. It looks likely that they will be caught. We had some abandons: Paolo Savoldelli, who crashed yesterday riding down the mountain after the race, Benjamin Noval, Jose Martinez and Isaac Galvez. Expect some real agression from French riders who will want to earn some glory on July 14 (Bastille Day).

Stage 12 map and elevation.


Stage 13, Saturday, July 15: Beziers - Montelimar, 230 km

The day's rated climbs:

Km 57.5: Côte de Puéchabon, 2.6 km, 5.2%, 4th Category
Km 77.5: Col de la Cardonille, 2.2 km, 5.5%, 4th Category
Km 119.5: Côte de l'Arbousset: 1.5 km, 4.5%, 4th Category
Km 195.5: Côte de Saint-Maurice d'Ibie, 1.1 km, 4.6%, 4th Category
Km 205: Côte de Villeneuve de Berg, 1.8 km, 5.3%, 4th Category

Weather: Hot again. It 86F (30C) and could get hotter. At the top of the Côte de Puéchabon it was 107F (42C). Rain is possible.

Results:

1. Jens Voigt (CSC) 5hr 24min 36sec. 42.513 km/hr
2. Oscar Pereiro (Illes Balears) s.t.
3. Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) @ 40sec
4. Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas) s.t.
5. Andriy Grivko (Milram) @ 6min 24sec
6. Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 29min 57sec
7. Bernhard Eisel (FDJ) s.t.
8. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) s.t.
9. Carlos Da Cruz (FDJ) s.t.
10. Arnaud Coyot (Cofidis) s.t

GC after Stage 13:

1. Oscar Pereiro (Illes Balears) 59hr 50min 34sec. 41.748 km/hr over the 2,498.6 kms ridden so far.
2. Floyd Landis (Phonak) @ 1min 29sec
3. Cyril Dessel (Ag2R) @ 1min 37sec
4. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) @ 2min 30sec
5. Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 2min 46sec
6. Carlos Sastre (CSC) @ 3min 21sec
7. Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) @ 3min 58sec
8. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) @ 4min 51sec
9. Juan Miguel Mercado (Ag2R) @ 5min 2sec
10. Christophe Moreau (Ag2R) @ 5min 13sec

Climber:

1. David de la Fuente: 80 points
2. Cyril Dessel: 62
3. Fabian Wegmann: 61

Points:

1. Robbie McEwen: 252 points
2. Tom Boonen: 222
3. Oscar Freire: 207

Young Rider:

1. Marcus Fothen: 59hr 56min 20sec
2. Damiano Cunego @ 12min 15sec
3. Mathieu Sprick @ 27min 16sec

Team GC:

1. CSC: 179hr 23min 50sec
2. Illes Balears @ 15min 53sec
3. T-Mobile @ 22min 5sec

The Race:

The finish: Voigt and Pereiro worked together to the end. A few seconds back Chavanel replayed his 2005 breakaway experience as he slowed, trying to get Quinziato to come to the front. Voigt attacked with 800 meters to go. Pereiro closed after a hard, long drag. Then Voigt led it out and won the stage. Chavenel took third place.

5 km to go: Voigt tries to go. He's brought back. Now it's Pereiro with Voigt on his wheel. Chavanel and Quinziato hesitate and now Chavanel chases. They can't close the gap.

Km 216: The games have begun. Chavanel attacks, Quiziato gets up to him and then Voigt with Pereiro on his wheel claws his way back. The 4 are together again.

Km 204: Grivko attacks the break on the last climb. Quinziato counters and brings the others with him. Now Quinziato counters and Voigt and now Chanvanel and Pereiro chase. Grivko brought a knife to a gunfight, he can't go with them and now it's down to 4 as the break goes over the Côte de Villeneuve de Berg. The time back to the peloton is down to 27min 22sec.

Km 200: The leaders are just starting to lose a little time. Pereiro was 30 seconds shy of the virtual lead when the break had a gap of 28min 20sec. It's down to 27min 57sec.

Km 183: The gap is 26min 47sec. Pereiro needs about another 2 minutes to take the Yellow Jersey. I'll bet Phonak would like that and have his Illes Balears team do the work defending tomorrow, letting Landis and his Phonak team get extra rest before Tuesday's L'Alpe d'Huez stage.

Km 159: The gap is 23min 40sec. Phonak is at the front and is clearly not going to waste 1 watt of energy chasing down a break that doesn't threaten Landis.

Km 133: The gap is 19min 33sec.

Km 116: This is the longest stage of the Tour There are 160 riders left in the race after 5 abandons (a total of 16 since the start of this year's Tour) yesterday. From the gun the attacks went off. The day's successful break went of at the 21st kilometer. They now have a lead of 17min 12sec. The average speed for the second hour was 38.8 km/hr.The average speed for the first two hours was 44.6km/h. None of the riders in the break is a GC threat. The best-placed rider in the group is Oscar Pereiro (Illes Balears), 46th in GC at 28min 50sec. The others are: Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), Andriy Grivko (Milram), Jens Voigt (CSC), Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas).

Stage 13 elevation and route map.


Stage 14, Sunday, July 16: Montelimar - Gap, 180.5 km

The day's rated climbs:

Km 14: Côte du Bois-de-Salles, 5.1 km, 4.2%, 3rd Category
Km 72.5: Col de Peyruergue, 5.5 km, 4.8%, 3rd Category
Km 97: Col de Perty, 8.8 km, 5.1%, 2nd Category
Km 171: Col de la Sentinelle, 5.2 km, 5%, 2nd Category

The weather: Terribly hot, 104F (40C) in Montelimar.

Results:

1. Pierrick Fedrigo (Bouygues Telecom) 4hr 14min 23sec. 42.573 km/hr
2. Salvatore Commesso (Lampre) s.t.
3. Christian Vandevelde (CSC) @ 3sec
4. Christophe Moreau (Ag2R) @ 7sec
5. Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner) s.t.
6. Stefano Garzelli (Liquigas) s.t.
7. Cristian Moreni (Cofidis) s.t.
8. George Hincapie (Discovery) s.t.
9. Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) s.t.
10. Alexandre Botcharov (Credit Agricole) s.t.

GC after Stage 14:

1. Oscar Pereiro (Illes Balears) 64hr 5min 4sec. 41.801 km/hr over the 2,679.1 kms ridden so far.
2. Floyd Landis (Phonak) @ 1min 29sec
3. Cyril Dessel (Ag2R) @ 1min 37sec
4. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) @ 2min 30sec
5. Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 2min 46sec
6. Carlos Sastre (CSC) @ 3min 21sec
7. Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) @ 3min 58sec
8. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) @ 4min 51sec
9. Juan Miguel Mercado (Ag2R) @ 5min 2sec
10. Christophe Moreau (Ag2R) @ 5min 13sec
11. Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery) @ 5min 44sec
12. Marcus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) @ 5min 46sec
13. Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) @ 5min 55sec
14. Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile) @ 7min 7sec
15. Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) @ 7min 8sec
16. Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) @ 7min 23sec
17. Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner) @ 8mn 16sec
18. Vladimir Karpets (Illes Balears) @ 8min 36sec
19. Jose Azevedo (Discovery) @ 9min 11sec
20. Frank Schleck (CSC) @ 10min 6sec

Climber:

1. David de la Fuente: 80 points
2. Michael Rasmussen: 73
3. Cyril Dessel: 62
4. Fabian Wegmann: 61

Points:

1. Robbie McEwen: 252 points
2. Tom Boonen: 222
3. Oscar Freire: 207

Young Rider:

1. Marcus Fothen: 64hr 10min 50sec
2. Damiano Cunego @ 12min 15sec
3. Mathieu Sprick @ 29min 7sec

Team GC:

1. CSC: 192hr 7min 16sec
2. Illes Balears @ 15min 57sec
3. T-Mobile @ 22min 9sec

The Race:

The finish: The peloton hesitated a couple of times in the final 2 kilometers, letting the break stay away. Christian Vendevelde launched himself and came within just meters of catching Fedrigo and Aerts. Commesso was forced to lead it out and Fedrigo came around him for the stage win and Vendevelde got third. The peloton was just about to catch the break but ran out of race before the catch was made. Christophe Moreau won the field sprint from a greatly reduced peloton.

4 km to go: Hokey Smoke Bullwinkle! Discovery is at the front and working hard. Gap is 15 seconds.

10 km to go: Over the top of the Sentinelle.Copmmesso led Fedrigo over the crest. In the peloton Saunier Duval started setting the pace and their de la Fuente got dropped! Boogerd went for it (Rasmussen couldn't stay with him) and took the third place KOM pints. The lead duo have 35 seconds.

Km 169: Fedrigo attacked and dropped Aerts. Now it's 2 at the front. The gap back is1min 25sec.

Km 166: They are on the final climb. Aerts, Commesso and Fedrigo are looking tired. Commesso tried an attack but he was brought back. The hot pace has caused many riders to get dropped by the peloton.

Km 161, 20 to go: The gap is falling, it's 2min 34sec. Canada has broken his collarbone and it's thought that Verbrugghe has a broken leg.

Km 150: The 3 remaining breakaways have 3min 25sec. No news yet on Verbrugghe. Liquigas is doing the work chasing.

m 142: Going fast around a right-hand bend both David Canada and Rik Verbrugghe slid in some sand and went down hard against the road barrier. Matthias Kessler hit Canada and went flying over the barrier. Canada looks like he has broken his collarbone. Kessler is back up on a new bike and with anew jersey. He's waiting for the peloton.

Km 133, 48 to go: Liquigas has sent up Carlstrom to help Quick Step with the chase, which is starting to really have an effect. The gap is down to 4min 45sec.

Km 122: I count at least 5 Quick Steps at the front of the peloton, which is strung out in a long line. The chase is on. Boonen must be feeling pretty good. The gap to the break is 5min 35sec. We've got a race now. There are 56 km to go. Chapatte'sLaw: A determined peloton will close in on a break at the rate of 1 minute per 10 kilomters.

Km 97: Over the top of the Col de Perty: David Canada was first over the crest. The peloton is 5min 40sec back. Quick Step has given Illes Balears a little help on the chase in case Boonen gets over the hill in good shape and wants to contest the sprint. The heat and the climbs have had their effect. Both Magnus Backstedt and Mirko Celestino have abandoned.

Km 84.3: The gap is 3min 44sec. The best placed rider in the break is Pierrick Fedrigo, sitting 42nd, 46min 12sec down on the GC. 2-time winner of the Giro, Gilberto Simoni came off on the first climb, he's currently over 7 minutes behind.

Km 72: 6 riders have managed to break away after some very aggressive riding: David Canada, Rik Verbrugghe, Salvatore Commesso, Pierrick Fedrigo, Matthias Kessler and Mario Aerts. The peloton has turned off the gas and the gap is 3min 9sec.

Stage 14 elevation and route map.


Monday, July 17: Rest day, Gap


Stage 15, Tuesday, July 18: Gap - L'Alpe d'Huez, 187 km

The major climbs:

Km 86: Col d'Izoard, Altitude: 2,360 meters, ascent of 14.2 km at a 7% gradient
Km 134: Col du Lautaret, Altitude: 2,058 meters, ascent of 12.1 km at a 4.4% gradient
Km 187: L'Alpe d'Huez, Altitude: 1,860 meters, ascent of 13.9 km at a 79% gradient

Results:

1. Frank Schleck (CSC) 4hr 52min 22sec. 38.376 km/hr
2. Damiano Cunego (Lampre) @ 11sec
3. Stefano Garzelli (Liquigas) @ 1min 10sec
4. Floyd Landis (Phonak) s.t.
5. Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) s.t.
6. Ruben Lobato (Saunier Duval) @ 1min 14sec
7. Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) @ 1min 18sec
8. Eddy Mazzoleni (T-Mobile) @ 1min 28sec
9. Carlos Sastre (CSC) @ 1min 35sec
10. Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) @ 1min 49sec
11. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) @ 2min 21sec
12. Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) s.t.
13. Pietro Caucchioli (Credit Agricole) s.t.
14. Oscar Pereiro (Illes Balears) @ 2min 49sec
15. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) s.t.
16. Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) s.t.
17. Ivan Parra (Cofidis) s.t.
18. Axel Merckx (Phonak) @ 2min 58sec
19. Cyril Dessel (Ag2R) @ 3min 4sec
20. Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) s.t.

GC after Stage 15:

1. Floyd Landis (Phonak) 69hr 5sec. 41.535 km/hr average speed over the 2,866.1 kms ridden so far.
2. Oscar Pereiro (Illes Balears) @ 10sec
3. Cyril Dessel (Ag2R) @ 2min 2sec
4. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) @ 2min 12sec
5. Carlos Sastre (CSC) @ 2min 17sec
6. Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) @ 2min 29sec
7. Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 2min 58sec
8. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) @ 5min 1sec
9. Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) @ 6min 18sec
10. Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) @ 6min20sec
11. Christophe Moreau (Ag2R) @ 6min 22sec
12. Frank Schleck (CSC) @ 7min 7sec
13. Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery) @ 7min 38sec
14. Juan Miguel Mercado (Agritubel) s.t.
15. Marcus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) @ 8min 23sec
16. Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) @ 9min 15sec
17. Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) @ 9min 56sec
18. Axel Merckx (Phonak) @ 9min 58sec
19. Ivan Parra (Cofidis) @ 10min 43sec
20. Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner) @ 10min 53sec

Climber:

1. David de la Fuente:108 points
2. Frank Schleck: 74
3. Michael Rasmussen: 73

Points:

1. Robbie McEwen: 252 points
2. Oscar Freire: 207
3. Daniele Bennati: 192

Young Rider:

1. Marcus Fothen: 69hr 8min 28sec
2. Damiano Cunego @ 6min 58sec
3. Moises Duenas Nevado @ 33min 21sec

Team GC:

1. CSC: 206hr 51min 13sec
2. Illes Balears @ 20min 29sec
3. T-Mobile @ 20min 45sec

The Race:

The finish: Franck Schleck (CSC) wins at l'Alpe d'Huez. Cunego comes in at about 10sec. Landis leads it out but Garzelli, who is a good sprinter, had been caught and won the sprint for 3rd place. Periero misses keeping the Yellow Jersey by about 10 seconds. Lanids is the Yellow Jersey.

2 km to go: Schleck drops Cunego. Back further, Mazzoleni, a T-Mobile teammate of Kloden, is caught and joins the Landis/Kloden Group.

4 km to go: Up front Cunego yells at Mazzoleno to work. He can't and Cunego attacks and take Schleck with him. Back further, Kloden attacks and only Landis can go with him. Kloden is leading Landis with Sastre 30 meters back.

7 km to go: Sastre and Leipheimer have bridged up to Landis and Kloden. Landis attacks and meets up with Merckx, who had been off the front. Leipheimer is dropped and claws back on. It's Merckx, Landis, Sastre, Kloden and Leipheimer.

9 km to go: Landis attacks and only Kloden can go with him, Evans can't stay with them. Up front Eddy Mazzoleni has bridged up to Cunego and Schleck.

10 km to go: It's Kloden, Landis and Evans.

12 km to go: BAM!!! A Phonak rider hits the front and a big gap is made. Kessler is now leading a select group with Landis, Menchov, Kloden. Up front Cunego and Schleck are away. Menchov is dropped!!!

5 km to go: We're in Bourg d’Oisans, the town at the base of L'Alpe d'Huez. The break has a lead of about 3 minutes In the first meters of the climb Cunego has attacked. Guys are getting tossed out the back and now it's about 8. Hincapie is still there. T-Mobile is driving the pelton as they start the climb.

Km 154: It's raining on the break as they descend the Lauteret. The peloton is still dry.

Km 134: De la Fuente and Patxi Vila (Lampre) attacked the break lower down the slopes of the Lauteret. De la Fuente led over the Lauteret and probably about has the Polka Dot Jersey sewn up. The first chase group with Hincapie, Cunego and Merckx, among others, is about 30 seconds back. The duo has been caught on the descent. The peloton has getting help from T-Mobile and is about 4min behind the leaders. World Champion Tom Boonen has abandoned.

Km 123: On the Lauteret: Landis sent a teammate up to help Illes Balears with the chase. Garzelli waited for the riders in the chase group. The Yellow Jersey peloton is abut 4 minutes behind the Garzelli/Hincapie break.

Km 108: Garzelli has gone through Briancon after finsihing the descent. His gap to the first chasers (Hincapie, Schleck, Voigt, Zabriskie, Mazzoleni, Arrieta, Merckx, Cunego, Vila, Arroyo, Charteau, Landaluze, Chavanel, De la Fuente and Lobato) is 55sec. Illes Balears continues to lead the peloton for Pereiro. Landis did a bike swap with a teammate.

Km 87: Garzelli was first over the Izoard. Then de la Fuente led the remnants of the break over, 1min 10sec later. Pereiro's Illes Balears team is dong the work in the peloton. Landis may only have 1 or 2 Phonaks left to help him. Indicative of the confidence Landis has, he took a pee break on the Izoard. Several other riders also stopped to relieve themselves. Looks like there might be 50 or so riders left in the peloton as they went over the crest of the mountain.

Km 82: Near the top of the Izoard: A break of 25 went just before the first intermediate sprint: Hincapie, Martinez, Schleck, Voigt, Zabriskie, Mazzoleni, Arrieta, Wegmann, Flecha, Merckx, Cunego, Vila, Arroyo, Garcia-Acosta, Charteau, Landaluze, Chavanel, De la Fuente, Lobato, Eisel, Vaugrenard, Albasini, Garzelli, Pineau, Knees. They had a lead of about 4min 25sec as they hit the Izoard. Stefano Garzelli went off the front of the break and has about a 30sec gap. The break is coming apart on the climb. Jose Rujano attacked the peloton and is trying to bridge the gap. All the major contenders are in the peloton.

Elevation and route map, stage 15


Stage 16, Wednesday, July 19: Le Bourg d'Oisans - La Toussuire, 182 km

The rated climbs:

Km 45.5: Col du Galibier, Altitude: 2,645 meters, ascent of 42.8 km at a 4.5% gradient. The final 8.8 km are 6.7%
Km 126.5: Col de la Croix-de-Fer, Altitude 2,067 meters, ascent of 22.7 km at a 7% gradient
Km 146.5: Col du Mollard, Altitude: 1,638 meters, ascent of 5.8 km at a 7% gradient
Km 182: La Toussuire, Altitude: 1,690 meters, ascent of 18.4 km at a 6% gradient

The Galibier was only the first of 4 major climbs in stage 16.

Results:

1. Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) 5hr 36min 4sec. 32.493 km/hr
2. Carlos Sastre (CSC) @ 1min 41sec
3. Oscar Pererio (Illes Balears) @ 1min 54sec
4. Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 1min 56sec
5. Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) s.t.
6. Christophe Moreau (Ag2R) @ 2min 37sec
7. Pietro Caucchioli (Credit Agricole) s.t.
8. Cyril Dessel (Ag2R) s.t.
9. Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) @ 3min 24sec
10. Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) @ 3min 42sec
11. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) s.t.
12. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) s.t.
13. Eddy Mazzoleni (T-Mobile) s.t.
14. Damiano Cunego (Lampre) @ 4min 21sec
15. Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) @ 6min 33sec
16. Jose Azevedo (Discovery) @ 7min 35sec
17. Marcus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) @ 8min 37sec
18. Frank Schleck (CSC) s.t.
19. Tadej Valjavec (Lampre) @ 9min 14sec
20. Vladimir Karpets (Illes Balears) @ 9min 40sec
23. Floyd Landis (Phonak) @ 10min 4sec

GC after Stage 16:

1. Oscar Pereiro (Illes Balears) 78hr 34min 5sec. 40.835 km/hr average speed over the 3,048.1 kms ridden so far.
2. Carlos Sastre (CSC) @ 1min 50sec
3. Andreas Kloden (T-Mobiles) @ 2min 29sec
4. Cyril Dessel (Ag2R) @ 2min 43sec
5. Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 2min 56sec
6. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) @ 3min 58sec
7. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) @ 6min 47sec
8. Christophe Moreau (Ag2R) @ 7min 3sec
9. Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) @ 7min 48sec
10. Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) @ 8min 6sec
11. Floyd Landis (Phonak) @ 8min 8sec
12. Pietro Caucchioli (Credit Agricole) @ 13min 27sec
13. Frank Schleck (CSC) @ 13min 48sec
14. Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) @ 13min 52sec
15. Marcus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) @ 15min 4sec

Climber:

1. Michael Rasmussen: 153 points
2. David de la Fuente:108
3. Frank Schleck: 74

Points:

1. Robbie McEwen: 252 points
2. Oscar Freire: 207
3. Erik Zabel: 172

Young Rider:

1. Marcus Fothen: 74hr 53min 9sec
2. Damiano Cunego @ 2min 42sec
3. Moises Duenas Nevado @ 59min 49sec

Team GC:

1. CSC: 224hr 7min 7sec
2. T-Mobile @ 2min 23sec
3. Illes Balears @ 14min 25sec

The Race:

The Finish: Rasmussen takes a beautiful solo win and the KOM leadership. Sastre comes in second, at about 1min 40sec. then, a few seconds later, Pereiro beats Kloden and Evans for third and gets the bonus seconds. Pereiro is in Yellow.

Km 179: As they pass Leipheimer Kloden speeds up, Menchov is gone. It's Kloden, Pereiro and Evans. Pereiro takes the front of his group.

Km 177: Sastre has dropped Leipheimer. He's now hunting Rasmussen. Landis has lost maybe 4 minutes.

Km 174: Sastre has abaut 30 seconds on the group of leaders and they are closing in on Leipheimer. Landis is completely alone and is turning squares with his pedals. Pereiro is sitting in on the T-Mobile led group of leaders: Kloden, Mazzoleni, Rogers, Evans, Moreau, Caucchioli, Menchov, Pereiro and Dessel. Sastre has caught Leipheimer.

Km 171: Sastre attacks. T-Mobile chases. Landis is dropped!!! Landis is comepltely blown as the race goes up the road.

Km 169: Menchov attacks!! Landis did not react as Pereiro, Evans and Rogers joined him. Then T-Mobile closed the gap for everyone.

Km 166: They are all on the final climb. Landis hasmoved up near the front and has Merckx with him. The big dogs are all up there. If Menchov and the others want to take time, they have 20 km to do it. This is thelast hilltop finish. Strange that they are all racing Landis the way they did Armstrong. Wait until the final climb and race against him where he is strongest. How banal!

Km 155: Rasmussen went over the Col du Mollard and dove down the very difficult descent. He almost lost it once when he overshot a corner. Leipheim and Valjavec followed at 4min 45sec. Casar hung onto his gap and was 20 seconds ahead of the peloton, which went over 7min 25sec behind Rasmussen. Leipheimer let Valjavec go ahead on the descent. Rasmussen has enough KOM points to take over the Polka Dot Jersey.

Km 143: On the Col du Mollard. Leipheimer dropped Casar and caught Valjavec and the 2 are riding together. Strangely, Landis is riding at the back of the peloton. Illes Balears is at the front. Kloden has 4 teammates.

Km 127: Rasmussen has slightly extended his lead to about 8min 25sec. Then Valjavec followed, 4min 55sec behind Rasmussen. Leipheimer picked up Sanday Casar, probably glad to have the help for the ride to the Col du Mollard. They went over the top 5min 31sec back. The peloton slowed on the ascent.

Km 116: Bam!! CSC goes to the front of the peloton, Schleck, Sastre and Vandevelde lift the pace. Landis keeps his eye on them and looks untroubled. The break that was in between Rasmussen and the pelton is caught. Riders are gettng shlled under the pressure. Hincapie, Moncoutie and Sinkewitz are off. This will probably leave Landis quite isolated. I think the only tammate he has is Merckx and he's at the back. Leipheimer goes and no one is chasing.

Km 112: Rasmussen has dropped Valjavec. He's gone up the rode alone. The riders in the big break are getting reeled in. Popovych and Simoni have been caught. There are about 35 riders left in the Yellow Jersey group which just dropped 2000 Giro winner Stefano Garzelli.

Km 106: The start of the Croix de Fer. Valjavec, Casar and Rasmussen are still riding away from the peloton, being 7min 6sec ahead. The 14-man group with Popovych looks like it will be caught, being only 44 seconds ahead of the pack. Rasamussen and Valjavec have just Casar.

Km 83: The descent is very technical and there have been several crashes. Daniele Bennati has had to abandon. Sylvain Chavnel went down hard but it looks like he's getting a new bike. He continues the descent, riding with extreme care. Popovych has been absorbed by the chase group which is about 4 minutes behind the Valjavec lead trio. The Peloton is 6min 20sec behind the leaders.

Km 63: Things broke up very early as the Galibier just about starts the stage. Over the top of the Galibier 3 riders were away: Sandy Casar, Michael Rasmussen and Tadej Valjavec. Valjavec is the best placed rider, 22nd, at 12min 15sec. 2 min 30sec behind, Yaroslav Popovych is closing in on the trio. Then a group of 12, another minute back. The Yellow Jersey Peloton is 5min 20sec behind the lead trio. Landis looks comfortable. He rode this route earlier this spring in the Dauphine.

Elevation and map, stage 16


Stage 17, Thursday, July 20: Saint Jean de Maurienne - Morzine, 200.5 km. Last mountain stage. If Sastre, Kloden, Evans and Menchov want to wear Yellow in Paris, they'll have to do something here. Pereiro is pretty good against the clock so they can't count on Saturday's time trial.

The major climbs

Km 82.5: Col des Saisies, Altitude: 1,650 meters, ascent of 14.9 km at a 6.4% gradient
Km 109: Col des Aravis, Altitude: 1,498 meters, ascent of 5.9 km at a 7.3% gradient.
Km 134: Col de la Colombière, Altitude: 1,618 meters, ascent of 11.8 km at a 5.9% gradient
Km 162: Côte de Châtillon, Altitude: 735 meters, ascent of 5.1 km at a 4.9% gradient
Km 188.5: Col de Joux-Plane, Altitude: 1,700 meters, ascent of 11.7 km at a 8.7% gradient

Landis rides the professional peloton off his wheel as he begins an epic solo quest that brings to mind Charly Gaul's 1958 race through the Chartreuse Mountains or Coppi's epic 1952 stage 11 ride.

Results:

1. Floyd Landis (Phonak) 5hr 23min 36sec. 37.175 km/hr
2. Carlos Sastre (CSC) @ 5min 42sec
3. Christophe Moreau (Ag2R) @ 5min 58sec
4. Damiano Cunego (Lampre) @ 6min 40sec
5. Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) @ 7min 8sec
6. Frank Schleck (CSC) s.t.
7. Oscar Pereiro (Illes Balears) s.t.
8. Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) s.t.
9. Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) s.t.
10. Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 7min 20sec
11. Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) @ 7min 24sec
12. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) s.t.
13. Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile) s.t.
14. Tadej Valjavec (Lampre) @ 8min 37sec
15. Giuseppe Guerini (T-Mobile) s.t.

GC after Stage 17:

1. Oscar Pereiro (Illes Balears) 80hr 8min 49sec. 40.528 km/hr average speed over the 3,248.6 kms ridden so far.
2. Carlos Sastre (CSC) @ 12sec
3. Floyd Landis (Phonak) @ 30sec
4. Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) @ 2min 29sec
5. Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 3min 8sec
6. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) @ 4min 14sec
7. Cyril Dessel (Ag2R) @ 4min 24sec
8. Christophe Moreau (Ag2R) @ 5min 45sec
9. Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) @ 8min 18sec
10. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) @ 12min 13sec
11. Frank Schleck (CSC) @ 13min 48sec
12. Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) @ 13min 52sec
13. Pietro Caucchioli (Credit Agricole) @ 15min 46sec
14. Damiano Cunego (Lampre) @ 17min 18sec
15. Marcus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) @ 17min 23sec
16. Tadej Valjavec (Lampre) @ 20min 50sec
17. Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) @ 21min6sec
18. Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) @ 22min 1sec

Climber:

1. Michael Rasmussen: 163 points
2. Floyd Landis: 131
3. David de la Fuente:113

Points:

1. Robbie McEwen: 252 points
2. Oscar Freire: 207
3. Erik Zabel: 172

Young Rider:

1. Damiano Cunego 80hr 26min 7sec
2. Marcus Fothen@ 5sec
3. Matthieu Sprick @ 1hr 23min 8sec

Team GC:

1. T-Mobile 240hr 43min 27sec
2. CSC @ 8min 41sec
3. Rabobank @ 12min 31sec

The race:

The finish: Landis drove his bike, sprinting and pushing all the way to the line. What an epic ride. This is one of the great exploits in cycling history. Bravo! Sastre comes in at 5min 41sec. Oscar Pereiro comes in at 7min 8sec and keeps the Yellow Jersey, I think.

3 km to go: Landis is descending as if his hair were on fire. It looks like he's going crazy-fast. Go man go!

Km 188, over the crest: Landis goes over first. Sastre is about 5min 20sec back. Pereiro is another 90 or seconds further back. Now there is a hairy-ass descent that will play to Landis' favor since he is such a good descender. Sastre goes over the crest at 5min 2sec.

3 km to the top: If Landis wins the stage, he will have earned a huge 30 seconds in time bonuses. Damiano Cunego is closing in on Sastre. No time gap available between Sastre and Landis, but both look good.

5 km to the summit: Landis had to get out of the saddle on the steep part of the Joux-Plane. Landis still has 6min 9sec on Sastre.

Km 179: As the peloton hits the steep climb, the peloton is getting wrecked. Leipheimer is off. Pereiro, Kloden, Menchov are off. Schleck and Sastre have detached themselves. I can barely read his meter on the TV, but it looks like Landis is cranking out 377 watts! Now Sastre is alone, chasing Landis.

Km 178: There is one major climb left in the 2006 Tour de France, the Col de Joux-Plane. At the base of the Joux-Plane Landis has dropped Sinkewitz, who did no work at all, being a T-Mobile rider. T-Mobile is leading the peloton. It's strung out. Landis stgarted the climb with 6min 32 sec.

Km 169: T-Mobile is helping with the chase. They have taken a minute out of Landis. When they went over the Côte de Châtillon they were 8min 3sec behind.

Km 161: The chase has taken a bit out of Landis' lead which is 8min 38sec. Now they're climbing on the Côte de Châtillon, so Landis will proably keep what he has.

Km 151: CSC has moved to the front of the peloton. Jens Voigt is taking a huge pull. The gap is 8min 57sec

Km 143: Landis went over the mountain 8min 35sec ahead of Pereiro.He is the virtual Yellow Jersey. It's a long way to go, but the peloton is looking pretty whipped. Since Landis descends so well, it's unlikely that he'll lose time on the way to the Côte de Châtillon.

Km 133: Landis has only Sinkewitz for company and has a lead of 7min 21sec. Landis' trainer says that Landis needs to get withing 2 minutes of the leader to be in contention when the time trial comes Saturday. He's got it. The Yellow Jersey is getting no help from the other teams.

Km 123: At the start of the Col de la Colombière the Landis Express with Sinkewitz and Righi has caught Halgand. They are 5min 30sec ahead of the peloton!

Km 113: Over the crest of the Aravis: The gap between Landis and the Yellow Jersey peloton is 4min 31sec! Landis has shaved his General Classification deficit to Pereiro in half. Pereiro is down to 1 teammate. What a race.

Km 103: Landis has not given up!! At about the 12th kilometer a break of about 11 riders went clear, of whom Patrik Sinkewitz at 36th place, 49min 47sec behind, was the best placed. On the Aravis Phonak went to the front and set a furious pace. Landis went to the front and only Kloden, Rogers, Evans, Sastre and Menchov could stay with him. Then he dropped them and soared off alone. He did the Saisies climb in the big ring!! Shades of Thevenet on the Pra Loup when he caught and dropped Merckx. Landis descended like a fiend and caught the break. He went to the front and raised the pace of the break. Patrice Halgand is about 90 seconds in front the the Landis group. Landis' pace has been so hot that only Stuart O'Grady, Patrik Sinkewitz and Daniele Righi can stay with him. I don't have the time gap back to the Illes Balear's-led Yellow Jersey peloton.

Map and elevation, stage 17


Stage 18, Friday, July 21: Morzine - Macon, 197 km

The day's rated climbs:

Km 98: Côte de Châtillon-en-Michaille, 5.1 km, 3.7%, 3rd Category
Km 130.5: Col du Berthiand, 4.7 km, 6%, 2nd Category
Km 139.5: Côte de Chambod, 1.9 km, 6.4%, 4th Category

Weather: Blue skies, hot. 86F (30C) at the start.

Results:

1. Matteo Tosatto (Quick Step) 4hr 16min 15sec. 46.126 km/hr
2. Cristian Moreni (Cofidis) s.t.
3. Ronny Scholz (Gerolsteiner) @ 2sec
4. Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas) @ 47sec
5. Sebastien Hinault ( Credit Agricole) @ 1min 3sec
6. Jerome Pineau (Bouygues Telecom) s.t.
7. Sylvain Calzati (Ag2R) s.t.
8. Benoit Vaugrenard (FDJ) s.t.
9. Inaki Isasi (Euskaltel) s.t.
10. Egoi Martinez (Discovery) s.t.
14. Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) s.t.

GC after Stage 18:

1. Oscar Pereiro (Illes Balears) 83hr 33min 4sec. 40.747 km/hr average speed over the 3,445.6 kms ridden so far.
2. Carlos Sastre (CSC) @ 12sec
3. Floyd Landis (Phonak) @ 30sec
4. Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) @ 2min 32sec
5. Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 3min 11sec
6. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) @ 4min 17sec
7. Cyril Dessel (Ag2R) @ 4min 27sec
8. Christophe Moreau (Ag2R) @ 5min 48sec
9. Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) @ 8min 19sec
10. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) @ 12min 16sec
13. Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) @ 15min 1sec

Climber:

1. Michael Rasmussen: 163 points
2. Floyd Landis: 131
3. David de la Fuente:113

Points:

1. Robbie McEwen: 254 points
2. Erik Zabel: 175
3. Thor Hushovd: 160

Young Rider:

1. Damiano Cunego 84hr 5-min 22sec
2. Marcus Fothen@ 5sec
3. Matthieu Sprick @ 1hr 23min 6sec

Team GC:

1. T-Mobile 253hr 43min 27sec
2. CSC @ 10min 3sec
3. Rabobank @ 12min 31sec

The race:

The finish: Scholz had to lead the final kilometer. Matteo Tosatto went to the front and took the stage. Quick Step finally gets a stage win. A minute later Hinault led in the other 13. Now the clock will be ticking to see how far up the General Classification Leipheimer has moved.

5 km to go: The trio has 50sec. The Leipheimer quintet has been caught and Quinziato has taken off from the break and has a good gap.

15 km to go: Ronny Scholz took off from the break. Cristian Moreni and Matteo Tosatto bridged up to him. They have 15sec. Behind there are 5 who are chasing: Leipheimer, Pineau, Flecha, Sinkewitz and Quinziato.

Km 177: Leipheimer and Isasi are caught. The peloton is now 6min 52sec back.

Km 162: Leipheimer and Isasi are scrambling and are still 24sec ahead of the break which is now organized and is chasing hard. So hard, in fact that the peloton is now 5min back.

Km 150: In the break a series of attacks and counter attacks on an unrated rise Inaki Isasi got away and Leipheimer bridged up to hm. The duo have a 30 second gap on the main break and they are 4min ahead of the peloton.

Km 129: The Saunier Duval-led peloton isn't bringing the break back. The gap as the break is close to the summit of the Col du Berthiand is 3min 26sec

Km 107: Oscar Freire, sitting second in the race for the Green jersey, is sick and has retired from the Tour. McEwen with a huge lead, now just has to make it to Paris to claim his Green Jersey. It's been a fast day, 52 kilometers covered the first hour and 44 the second. At about kilometer 49 a group of 15 went clear: Martinez, Zabriskie, Sinkewitz, Calzati, Leipheimer, Scholz, Flecha, Aerts, Tossato, Hinault, Isasi, Moreni, Vaugrenard, Quinziato and Pineau. Saunier Duval is working hard at the front of the peloton to bring them back. The break's lead is 3min 21sec

Elevation and map, stage 18.


Stage 19, Saturday, July 22: Le Creusot - Montceau les Mines, 57 km individual time trial

"The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that's the way to bet." Damon Runyon. This should be Floyd's day. He had the fastest time in the final 2005 time trial of the riders who are still in the 2006 Tour. The riders will go in reverse GC order in 2-minute intervals until the final 20, who will go off every 3 minutes. Floyd is scheduled to go at 4:09 PM French local time (7:09 AM PDT). Then Sastre 3 minutes later and finally Pereiro.

Weather: It has rained earler today and it could rain this afternoon. It's currently 83F (28C).

Results:

1. Serhiy Gonchar (T-Mobile) 1hr 7min 45sec. 50.479 km/hr
2. Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) @ 41sec
3. Floyd Landis (Phonak) @ 1min 11sec
4. Oscar Pereiro (Illes Balears) @ 2min 40sec
5. Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner) @ 3min 18sec
6. David Zabriskle (CSC) @ 3min 35sec
7. Viatceslav Ekimov (Discovery) @ 3min 41sec
8. Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) s.t.
9. Bert Grabsch (Phonak) @ 3min 43sec
10. Damiano Cunego (Lampre) @ 3min 44sec
11. David Millar (Saunier Duval) @ 4min 1sec
12. Joost Posthuma (Rabobank) @ 4min 3sec
13. Marcus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) @ 4min 15sec
14. Jens Voigt (CSC) @ 4min 16sec
15. Gustav Larsson (FDJ) @ 4min 21sec
16. Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) @ 4min 32sec
17. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) @ 4min 33sec
18. Nicolas Portal (Illes Balears) @ 4min 35sec
19. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) s.t.
20. Carlos Sastre (CSC) @ 4min 42sec

GC after Stage 19:

1. Floyd Landis (Phonak) 85hr 42min 30sec. 40.861 km/hr over the 3502.6 kms ridden so far.
2. Oscar Pereiro (Illes Balears) @ 59sec
3. Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) @ 1min 29sec
4. Carlos Sastre (CSC) @ 3min 13sec
5. Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 5min 8sec
6. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) @ 7min 8sec
7. Cyril Dessel (Ag2R) @ 8min 41sec
8. Christophe Moreau (Ag2R) @ 9min 37sec
9. Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) @ 12min 5sec
10. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) @ 15min 7sec
11. Frank Schleck (CSC) @ 17min 46sec
12. Damiano Cunego (Lampre) @ 19min 21sec
13. Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) @ 19min 22sec
14. Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) @ 19min 46sec
15. Marcus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) @ 19min 57sec
16. Pietro Caucchioli (Credit Agricole) @ 21min 12sec
17. Tadej Valjavec (Lampre) @ 26min 25sec
18. Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) @ 28min 14sec
19. Jose Azevedo (Discovery) @ 30min 8sec
20. Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre) @ 43min 5sec

Climber:

1. Michael Rasmussen: 163 points
2. Floyd Landis: 131
3. David de la Fuente:113

Points:

1. Robbie McEwen: 254 points
2. Erik Zabel: 175
3. Thor Hushovd: 160

Young Rider:

1. Damiano Cunego 86hr 1min 51sec
2. Marcus Fothen@ 36sec
3. Matthieu Sprick @ 1hr 28min 51sec

Team GC:

1. T-Mobile 257hr 17min 46sec
2. CSC @ 17min 20sec
3. Rabobank @ 23min 26sec

The race:

Third time check, Km 51.5: Pereiro went through 90 seconds slower than Landis.

Second time check, Km 34: Landis went through 26 seconds slower than Gonchar. Pereiro came through 57sec slower than Landis so Landis is the virtual Yellow Jersey, being 30sec behind Pereiro in the GC at the start of the day.

Through the first intermediate time check, km 16.5: With the 2 riders behind him, Landis has gone through with the fastest time so far, beating Gonchar by 1sec. Go Floyd Go! Pereiro went through only 10sec slower than Landis. Sastre has already lost 1min 5sec.

114 riders in the barn: It's still Gonchar, Lang and Zabriskie. All the riders are on the road now. Landis showed up at the start house several minutes early. There will be no replaying the errors or problems of the first 2 ITTs.

With 83 riders finished: Serhiy Gonchar has turned in the best time, 1hr 7min 46sec. Second best so far is Sebastian Lang at 3min 18sec. Zabriskie is third @ 3min 35sec. Landis has been out on the course, riding in the morning's rain before going back to his hotel to rest.

Map and elevation, stage 19


Stage 20, Sunday, July 23: Antony - Paris (Champs-Elysées), 154.5 km

Results:

1. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) 3hr 56min 52sec. 39.135 km/hr
2. Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) s.t.
3. Stuart O'Grady (CSC) s.t.
4. Erik Zabel (Milram) s.t.
5. Luca Paoloni (Liquigas) s.t.
6. Samuel Dumoulin (Ag2R) s.t.
7. Bernhard Eisel (FDJ) s.t.
8. Anthony Geslin (Bouygues Telecom) s.t.
9. Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) s.t.
10. Peter Wrolich (Gerolsteiner) s.t.

Final GC after Stage 20:

1. Floyd Landis (Phonak) 89hr 39min 30sec. 40.784 km/hr over the 3657.1 kms ridden.
2. Oscar Pereiro (Illes Balears) @ 57sec
3. Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) @ 1min 29sec
4. Carlos Sastre (CSC) @ 3min 13sec
5. Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto) @ 5min 8sec
6. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) @ 7min 8sec
7. Cyril Dessel (Ag2R) @ 8min 41sec
8. Christophe Moreau (Ag2R) @ 9min 37sec
9. Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) @ 12min 5sec
10. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) @ 15min 7sec
11. Frank Schleck (CSC) @ 17min 46sec
12. Damiano Cunego (Lampre) @ 19min 19sec
13. Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) @ 19min 22sec
14. Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) @ 19min 46sec
15. Marcus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) @ 19min 57sec

Climber:

1. Michael Rasmussen: 166 points
2. Floyd Landis: 131
3. David de la Fuente:113

Points:

1. Robbie McEwen: 288 points
2. Erik Zabel: 199
3. Thor Hushovd: 195

Young Rider:

1. Damiano Cunego 89hr 58min 49sec
2. Marcus Fothen@ 38sec
3. Matthieu Sprick @ 1hr 29min 12sec

Team GC:

1. T-Mobile 269hr 8min 46sec
2. CSC @ 17min 4sec
3. Rabobank @ 23min 26sec

The Race:

The Finish: The speed on the final lap went up to 70 km/hr! Robbie Mcewen led it out and Thor Hushovd just powered past him, clearly faster and stronger. So, Thor won the prologue and the final stage, soup to nuts. Landis crossed safely and wins the Tour de France.

Km 141: 2 laps to go and it's all together. The break has been caught.

Km 132: The peloton has sobered up and is chasing hard. The gap had been 40 seconds but it's down to 12. The break has been shattered by the high speed. It's down to Astarloza, Horner, Garcia Acosta, Charteau, Millar and Mengin.

Km 122: It looks like a break (including Popovych, Voigt, Astarloza, Horner, Vansummeren, Garcia Acosta, Charteau, Gilbert,Fedrigo, Knees, Portal and Mengin and Duenas Nevado) has gone clear and the peloton looks like it has stopped chasing for now. Phonak is at the front of the peloton. The break has 15 seconds.

Km 117: The attacks are non-stop. So far they have ball been brought back. Cunego flatted and with thehelp of some teammates, regained contact, so his White Jersey is safe for now.

Km 103: The peloton is now on the finishing circuit. Ekimov, at 40 is the oldest rider in the Tour and was allowed a place of honor to lead the race on to the Champs-Elysees.

Km 88: Victor Hugo Pena won the final climb of the the 2006 Tour, Mont-Valerien. As the peloton gets closer to the center of Paris, the speed begins to increase. Saunier Duval had been at the front but Phonak is back to the front.

Km 42: 139 riders started today. There were 2 non-starters. Robbie Hunter (Phonak), tormented by saddle sores, finished outside the time limit and Florent Brard (Illes Balears) broke his hand when he crashed during the time trial. Phonak is leading the peloton, escorting Floyd Landis. Michael Rasmussen, holder of the Polka-Dot Jersey was allowed to take the first-place points for the first of the day's 2 fourth category climbs, the Gif-sur-Yvette. There are clouds overhead. Hope it doesn't rain.

Map and elevation, stage 20.


Route details:

Running from Saturday July 1st to Sunday July 23th 2006, the 93rd Tour de France will be made up of a prologue and 20 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,600 kilometres. No team time trial this year. It will be counter-clockwise (Pyrenees first).

These 20 stages have the following profiles:

* 9 flat stages,
* 4 medium mountain stages,
* 5 mountain stages,
* 2 individual time-trial stages,

Distinctive aspects of the race

* 3 mountain finishes,
* 2 rest days,
* 116 kilometres of individual time-trials (including the prologue)
* 22 Category 1, Category 2 and highest level passes will be climbed
* 8 new stop-over towns: Obernai, Saint-Grégoire, Cambo-Les-Bains, Val d'Aran - Pla-de-Beret, Montélimar, La Toussuire, Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, Antony.