|Cyclingnews TV News Tech Features Road MTB BMX Cyclo-cross Track Photos Fitness Letters Search Forum|
90th Tour de France - July 5-27, 2003
Produced by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting by Tim Maloney, Chris Henry, and Gabriella Ekström
Prologue - Saturday, July 5: Paris, Prologue TT, 6.5 km
Start time: 15:50 CEST
Welcome to Cyclingnews.com's live coverage of the Tour de France, with this year's 90th edition marking the 100th anniversary of the world's greatest race. Held over 21 days plus two rest days, the Tour will start in Paris, make its way north east towards the Belgian border, then head south to the Alps, west to the Pyrenees, then back north to Paris for the finale. It's a very traditional route that takes into account all the main cities that were used in the original 1903 Tour: Paris, Lyon, Marseilles, Toulouse, Bordeaux, and Nantes. In addition, the great climbs such as the col du Tourmalet, Galibier, Izoard, Alpe d'Huez, and Luz Ardiden all feature in this year's route.
The climbs have to wait however, as today's opening stage is a short, 6.5 kilometre long prologue time trial to sort out the first Maillot Jaune (yellow jersey) in this year's race. The stage starts underneath the Eiffel Tower, then crosses the Seine, climbs up Trocadero, then descends along the rive droit of the Seine to Place de la Concorde, then back over to the rive gauche of the Seine to finish at the Champs de Mars, behind the Eiffel Tower.
Tour favourite and defending champion Lance Armstrong will start last in this stage, leaving the starting gate at 19:07 local time, wearing the yellow jersey as is his right. 197 riders will have gone before him, with the likes of Jan Ullrich (Bianchi), Tyler Hamilton (CSC), Joseba Beloki (ONCE), David Millar (GBr), Christophe Moreau (Credit Agricole), Michael Rich (Gerolsteiner), Bradley McGee (FDJeux.com) and Michael Rogers (Quick.Step-Davitamon) all tipped as favourites for the short test against the clock.
Weather report from the start: 25 degrees and partly cloudy. The riders couldn't ask for a more pleasant way to begin the centenary Tour.
Pollack smashes Bourquenoud's time with a ride well under 8 minutes. His finishing time is 7'43, an average of 50'54 km/h!
Cyclingnews spoke with Thor Hushovd at the start today, and the big Norwegian said he's hoping for a good ride. "I'm going to have a serious go today." Hushovd starts 120th.
Weather: The clouds are increasing, but there is no rain, nor is there likely to be any.
Start times of the riders are available here.
George Hincapie (USPS) is now out on the course. The tall American is a good rider against the clock, but his aim today will be to get through the prologue with a minimum of fuss, as he'll need his energy to protect Armstrong in the opening week.
The first 60 riders have now left the starting house.
We're still waiting for Herman Maier's time...The Austrian skier started in an all-purple skinsuit, and looked a little uncomfortable on his TT bike, but punched the air as he crossed the line.
Marc Wauters (Rabobank) finishes in 7'42, third best - a good ride by the hard working Belgian.
It goes without saying, but the crowds lining the route for the first stage of the Tour are huge, especially at the start/finish. There are points along the parcours where there are only a few people, but not many.
Servais Knaven (Quick.Step-Davitamon) is on the parcours, as is Nicolas Vogondy (FDJeux.com).
Jesus Manzano, one of Kelme's top men, finishes in 7'46 for 12th place. Not bad at all. He is followed by Vogondy in 7'51.
It should be pointed out that much of the course is cobbled - not big Paris-Roubaix cobbles but the fairly smooth type that grace the centre of Paris. Still, the best time is over 51 km/h, with the big powerful riders having done well. Maybe a good course for David Millar?
Jorg Jaksche (ONCE) has continued the German tradition to set the fastest time at the 3.2 km point in 3'48.
Denis Menchov (iBanesto) acquits himself well in a time of just under 7'47.
Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) started extremely well, setting the best time at 3.2 km, and he has been able to finish it off: His final time is 7'28.26. That is very impressive - 52.2 km/h.
So far, 99 riders have finished - half the field.
Out on the course, Cyclingnews' Tim Maloney reports that it's clouding over and cooling down, but the conditions are still dry.
Victor Pena has done a good ride, sprinting up the final straight to finish in 7'32.24, second best so far.
Thorsten Schmidt (Gerolsteiner) finishes just under 7'44, which gives him 10th on the standings.
Voeckler is now suffering as he nears the finish, a lot slower than he started. His time is 8'18, proof that you can't sprint for 6.5 km.
Eddy Mazzoleni (Vini Caldirola) finishes in 7'45, for 17th so far.
Erik Zabel (Telekom) looks good in his new German champion's jersey (which he won by attacking solo with 40 km to go!) and sets off for his 6.5 km up and down the Seine. His aim is the green jersey, and there is a possibility of yellow this week if he stays in contact with the top times.
For those interested, Hermann Maier's unofficial time in the prologue was 8'45 for the 6.5 km, a respectable average speed of 44.6 km/h. So far, that puts him 13 seconds behind the slowest time of Alessandro Bertolini (8'32).
The tension is mounting as the start time for the top riders approaches...the sky is getting darker with no wind...
Zabel has finished in 8'00, a little slower than McEwen. Now one of the favourites for the stage (but in his first Tour) Michael Rogers has left. What can the winner of the Route du Sud, Tour of Germany and Tour of Belgium do? He is followed by compatriot Baden Cooke (FDJeux.com).
Rogers has lost six seconds to Zubeldia at the 3.2 km check, so is a little off the pace. David Plaza (Bianchi) finishes in a good time of 7'46.35, and Bianchi looks like a strong team.
One of the Cofidis riders - Luis Perez - has to get a bike change at the start. That will cost him a lot of time.
Rogers is home in 7'39.18 - good for seventh and by no means a bad performance.
Roberto Heras (USPS) is on his way.
Laurent Dufaux (Alessio) has 2 km to go for his ride, as Roberto Heras (USPS) finishes in 7'59. Sylvain Chavanel (Brioches la Boulangere) is also on the course.
Dufaux's finish time is 7'48.63, not quick enough to threaten the top 10. Peschel is not brilliant either, finishing in 7'44.
Stuart O'Grady, in his distinctive Australian champion's jersey, starts his ride. He'll be giving it full gas to try and get as close as possible to yellow.
Lance Armstrong is warming up.
Sylvain Chavanel finishes in 7'59.
Casero finishes in 7'47.92, which is top 35 at the moment. Danilo di Luca (Saeco) sets off in his first Tour de France.
Stuart O'Grady is suffering, and finishes in 7'48.98, for 39th so far.
Jose Enrique Gutierrez (Kelme) had a very quick start, and finishes in 7'38.76 for 6th place so far.
Alexandre Vinokourov (Telekom) sets off.
Viatcheslav Ekimov (USPS) has left the gate under the Eiffel Tower now.
For Floyd Landis fans - the US Postal rider finished in 8'00, which puts him just outside the top half of the field at the moment.
Vladimir Karpets (iBanesto)is home in 7'38.36 - another good track rider. Ekimov has lost 2 seconds to Zubeldia at the 3.2 km.
Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) has started his ride. Can he do better than Zubeldia?
Ekimov has a very good ride to clock 7'37, just a few seconds behind teammate Victor Pena, but enough to put him in third overall.
Next up on the block is Richard 'allez' Virenque (Quick.Step). He is definitely not a time trialist and will wait for the mountains. He won the stage to Mont Ventoux last year.
Didier Rous (Brioches) rocks to the finish in 7'45.13, not enough for the top 10.
Iban Mayo takes the final corner tightly, and finishes in 7'45. Definitely not his best ride - teammate Zubeldia is still the leader with his incredible 7'28.
Brad McGee (FDJeux.com) leaves the start gate - he is primed for the win. Jan Ullrich has done the best time at 3.2 km, with 3'46.
Brad McGee is equal to Ullrich at 3.2 km. He powers home in 7'26 - the new top time!
Lance Armstrong has now started his ride. He is the biggest favourite for this stage, but what can he do against the specialists?
After losing his chain, Millar is 0.08 seconds slower than McGee at the finish - so close, but so far. McGee still holds the top time. Terrible luck for Millar.
Lance Armstrong (in the yellow jersey) is a little off the pace at the 3.2 km, losing 9 seconds to McGee for 13th.
Right after he finished a clearly disappointed Armstrong, jumped in his team car and headed back to the hotel to a smattering of boos.
An interesting finish to the opening stage, but the time gaps are small - the real race starts in the mountains.
Finish - 6.5 km 1 Bradley Mc Gee (FDJeux.com) 7.26 2 David Millar (Cofidis, Credit Par Telephone) 0.00 3 Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel-Euskadi) 0.02 4 Jan Ullrich (Team Bianchi) 0.02 5 Victor Hugo Pena (US Postal-Berry Floor) 0.06 6 Tyler Hamilton (Team CSC) 0.06 7 Lance Armstrong (US Postal-Berry Floor) 0.07 8 Joseba Beloki (ONCE-Eroski) 0.09 9 Santiago Botero (Team Telekom) 0.09 10 Vjatceslav Ekimov (US Postal-Berry Floor) 0.11 Intermediate check - 3.2 km 1 David Millar (Cofidis, Credit Par Telephone) 3.41 2 Jan Ullrich (Team Bianchi) 0.05 3 Bradley Mc Gee (FDJeux.com) 4 Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel-Euskadi) 0.06 5 Jorg Jaksche (ONCE-Eroski) 0.07 6 Victor Hugo Pena (US Postal-Berry Floor) 7 José Enrique Gutierrez (Kelme-Costa Blanca) 0.08 8 Vjatceslav Ekimov (US Postal-Berry Floor) 9 Joseba Beloki (ONCE-Eroski) 10 Tobias Steinhauser (Team Bianchi) 0.09