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94th Tour de France - ProT

France, July 7-29, 2007

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Stage 4 - Wednesday, July 11: Villers-Cotterêts - Joigny, 193km

Live commentary by Laura Weislo and Bjorn Haake

Complete live report

Live coverage starts: 13:00 CEST
Estimated finish: 18:30 CEST

Welcome back to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the 94th Tour de France. Stage four is a classic early Tour de France stage run in the countryside to the east of Paris that traverses the rolling hills of the Champagne region, the wide plains of Brie before the final hills across the Yonne. Once again, an early break will certainly escape before the sprinters' teams pull it back in the final 50 kilometres before the finish in Joigny.

The peloton enjoyed sunny skies at the start in Villers-Cotterêts at 12:50 CEST, but arm warmers were de rigeur, as the temperatures are quite cool.

13:07 CEST   
The riders had a short neutral section before getting down to business on time at 1300, with 187 riders present and accounted for on course. They've managed to get to stage four with only two abandons:

  • Stage 1: DNF Eduardo Gonzalo Ramirez (Spa) Agritubel
  • Stage 3: DNS Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Discovery Channel

13:13 CEST   
Yesterday's stage winner and yellow jersey since the prologue, Fabian Cancellara, extended his lead in the overall to 33" with the 20 second bonus for the win. He leads Andreas Klöden with David Millar in third. Discovery's George Hincapie is sitting in fourth.

While Tom Boonen was able to get a few more points on Robbie McEwen in the green jersey competition, Erik Zabel moved into third with his second place on stage four, and now trails Boonen by 18.

13:15 CEST    7km/186km to go
The peloton is still all together at the moment as they head out of the home town of "Count of Monte Cristo" author Alexandre Dumas. Maybe the riders will conspire to get a break of three up the road so the cycling journalists can make all sorts of references to swashbuckling 'Three Musketeers'?

Vladimir Gusev (Discovery Channel)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

13:23 CEST   
Discovery Channel's Vladimir Gusev is still leading the young rider classification, and wears that white jersey today. He's leading Rabobank's Thomas Dekker by six seconds, but is missing his Lithuanian teammate Vaitkus who is his frequent companion in the spring classics. Vaitkus was in that crash at the finish of stage two and broke his thumb in several places.

13:27 CEST   
Yesterday's stage was a bit unique in that a rider who gained the yellow jersey in the prologue won a sprint stage. While Cancellara isn't considered a pure sprinter, he isn't CSC's GC leader - Carlos Sastre holds that role. However, the Tour normally sees a pure sprinter winning the flat stages in yellow and not a time triallist like our World Champion.

13:31 CEST    14km/179km to go
The peloton is still taking it easy, rolling at a moderate 35 km/h . The Cofidis team is at the front to protect the polka dot jersey of Stéphane Augé on the first category 4 climb in 10 kilometres.

13:34 CEST   
The start town, Villers-Cotterêts is situated in the heart of the forêt de Retz, the forest of Retz. François I built an impressive castle here, designed in the Renaissance style. It was in this very castle that François I signed a royal edict, in 1539, making French the official language in administrative and legal matters.

Since then the French have been quite protective of their culture, language and traditions - of which the Tour de France has become quite an important part. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who will visit the Tour this year, said that it wouldn't be July without the Tour de France.

13:38 CEST   
Of course, to extend the 'Three Musketeers' analogy, we could have a break of three be joined by one rider and perfectly parallel the famous novel by Dumas...

13:42 CEST   
Just like yesterday, the peloton isn't that interested in working too hard today. Their average so far is just about the same as that of the entire stage yesterday - a pace Australian Simon Gerrans found rather tedious.

13:49 CEST    23.5km/169.5km to go
We finally had a little bit of action in advance of the first classified climb of the day. Aleksandre Kuchynski (Liquigias) took the points ahead of David Millar (Saunier Duval) and Stephane Auge. All three were in the breakaway on stage one, and are battling for the polka dot jersey which Auge wears.

13:55 CEST   
Just before the 30km mark, the action began to heat up, and a break of four tried to go clear. But the peloton wasn't sleeping today, and quickly brought it back.
Matthieu Sprick (Bouygues Telecom) was quick to counter and drew away a group of four along with him, 31.5 km into the stage.

14:00 CEST    37km/156km to go
A break of five has been established, completely ruining our Dumas theme today. Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel - Euskadi), Matthieu Sprick (Bouygues Telecom), Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) and Christian Knees (Milram) have a 30" gap.

14:02 CEST   
Juan Antonio Flecha has won one stage of the Tour de France, in 2003, when they rode into Toulouse. His girlfriend, who was working there, came out with her colleagues to see Flecha cross the line, imitating shooting an arrow (Flecha means arrow in English). He said "the next day, in the time trial, spectators all along the route 'shot' of arrows as I was riding by."

14:04 CEST    41km/152km to go
Barloworld's Paolo Longo Borghini attacked from the peloton at 38.5km in, and is trying to bridge up to the group ahead, but he's just barely ahead of the peloton which averaged 40.7km/h in the first hour.

14:12 CEST   
The peloton has taken a mass natural break, so the leaders have gotten a bit more of an advantage - the gap is up to 1'25, but not going out nearly as quickly as in yesterday's stage.

14:16 CEST   
You can find out more about Flecha's win in Toulouse here.

14:19 CEST   
The break has extended their lead to three minutes now. It seems the situation for the day is set.

14:26 CEST   
Nobody in the break has gathered any mountain points so far. Stéphane Augé leads with eight points and it will be hard for the others to get the jersey. There are four climbs for a total of 12 points, but it would have to be one person taking most of the GPM's. In a break like this there is usually some sharing going on. We will see if someone is desperate enough to be selfish.

14:33 CEST   
Slowly, but surely, the gap is increasing. The five in the front are now 3'45" ahead and are working well together.

14:36 CEST    62.5km/130.5km to go
But with the second GPM coming up this will quickly change. And here goes Sylvain Chavanel! He is taking the points before Flecha. Verdugo gets third.

14:38 CEST   
There will not be much relief, as a sprint is coming up soon. Chavanel is taking the points to protect the polka-dot jersey for his teammate, Stéphane Augé.

14:41 CEST   
Crash! Oh dear, Remy Di Gregorio is down, as is Xabier Zandio (Caisse d'Epargne).

14:42 CEST    69km/124km to go
The break is heading into the first intermediate sprint of the day, and Flecha goes with Chavanel...

14:42 CEST   
Xabier Zandio (Caisse d'Epargne) has abandoned the race following the crash.

14:43 CEST    69km/124km to go
Flecha took the points easily, and smiles at the camera. The field has been split in two by the crash behind, and there is a bunch of 40 or so with 10" on a second group of about the same size. He is ahead of Sylvain Chavanel and Matthieu Sprick (Bouygues Telecom)

14:44 CEST   
Discovery Channel is at the front of the second group with Gusev, and they're chasing all out. There's a third group just behind, and there must be a wind coming from their right because the echelons are forming.

14:45 CEST   
CSC is on the front of the first group just hammering - they have to keep the break in check, and can't sit up to wait for anyone. Caisse d'Epargne is seen right behind CSC.

14:46 CEST   
The yellow jersey makes an appearance up front, and goes around the opposite direction from his team - he looks as if he's giving some instructions - to wait? Or to put the stick to the chasing groups?

14:47 CEST    71km/122km to go
The rear end of the peloton is one long, thin line, and it looks like it's all coming back together again. Cancellara must have told his team to take pity on the rest.

Sylvain Chavanel.
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

14:50 CEST   
The Cyclingnews rental Audi got a slow start this morning, as our reporters had to do a bit of hand washing after losing their luggage to thieves the other day, and we got caught behind the race. We apologise for getting the Chavanels mixed up earlier - it was not Sebastien but Sylvain who is in the breakaway.

14:53 CEST    77km/116km to go
The peloton is all back together after that little scare. Quickstep DS Wilfred Peeters was sending his boys to the front to pick up the pace when the wreck happened, and they had the gas on when the riders fell. The gaps opened up before the cars could let their riders know to slow up - but now they're all gathering themselves, and so are we!

14:55 CEST   
Joxean Fernández Matxin, the Saunier Duval manager, revealed yesterday that David Millar wasn't confident he could outsprint Stéphane Augé (Cofidis) for the only mountain points of the day. As this was going to be the last day before a multitude of GPM's, Millar decided to save his energy and give up the polka dots for the day.

15:00 CEST    80km/113km to go
With 113 km to go, Di Gregorio has finally chased his way back into the peloton thanks to help from his teammate Lilian Jégou. The chase has eased slightly, and the leaders are now 3'03 ahead.

15:03 CEST   
Our intrepid reporters were at the start in Villers-Cotterets to chat with some of the men who might feature prominently in today's stage finish. Gregor Brown spoke with Alessandro Ballan, who was happy to be pass through Belgium during the Tour. The Ronde Van Vlaanderen winner feels he has more tifosi there than he does in Italy after winning the Classic. He hopes to have a chance of his own since his sprinter Daniele Bennati is still smarting from the crash on stage two in Gent. He will probably work for Napolitano today, but thinks tomorrow is a good day for a go on his part.

15:08 CEST    87km/106km to go
The field and the break are working smoothly now - five CSC's in the peloton and the five men up front are nearly equally matched in effort and the gap has stabilized at 3'14.

15:12 CEST   
Brecht Decaluwé spoke with T-Mobile's Bernard Eisel, who has shown his speed in American this year. Eisel won two races out of three in the 'Triple Crown': the Reading and Lancaster races in Pennsylvania, then took third in Philadelphia. He doesn't feel like he's fast enough here to go better than 5th or 6th place in the bunch sprint. He's putting his faith in his young teammate Mark Cavendish, who had a rough start to the Tour but placed 9th yesterday right behind Eisel.

15:15 CEST   
Matthieu Sprick predicted before the stage that he or one of his Bouygues Telecom teammates would be in a break. "It is a bit stressful in the beginning to get into a move, but you just have to work superhard to make it."

15:20 CEST    95km/98km to go
Di Gregorio, who crashed earlier, is back at the race doctor getting his right arm attended to. He's already got a sleeve of gauze above his rolled down armwarmer, but is having some adjustments made to his bandages.

The breakaway has 3'34 now, and the riders are putting in a much more significant effort on both ends of the race than they did on stage three. You could, in fact, say that they are actually racing!

15:26 CEST    101km/92km to go
The Tour de France is once again passing through a vast expanse of agricultural land - with more wheat fields a dry brown and peppered with lines of green trees. The clouds, which were high and white yesterday are a bit more grey and heavy today. The winds are light, but temperatures are unseasonably cool. A big departure from last year's Tour when the riders were set to slow roast during the midsummer heat wave.

15:34 CEST    105km/88km to go
The breakaway is now five kilometres from the feedzone, and with a only a 3'40 gap they are sharing the work evenly. Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) is the 'virtual yellow jersey' on the road, having started today in 23rd, 56" behind Cancellara.

15:36 CEST    108km/85km to go
We've had inquiries about what the riders eat during the stage. They feast mainly on energy drinks and bars, but at the feed zone they're given musette bags filled with goodies - everything from tiny cans of cola to 'silverlings' (according to Robert Förster who explained the sandwiches are wrapped in silver colored foil). The snacks are usually a sandwich of ham or another meat, perhaps some cookies and more drinks.

15:40 CEST   
After the feed zone, the riders pick through their musettes and pull out their favourite items, and if there is anything they don't want, they'll generally offer it to a team-mate before throwing the rest to the spectators.

Because of this, there are always large crowds lining the roads after the feed zone hoping to pick up free souvenirs. They'll also line up ahead of the zone where the riders free up their bottle cages for fresh drinks by casting off the empties to the fans.

15:43 CEST    112km/81km to go
The race will pass by the nuclear power plant outside Nogent-Sur-Seine - its two steaming towers can be seen for miles away on the flat expanse of farmland. The CSC-leld peloton is setting a powerful pace at the front, working diligently to keep the break at 3'48.

15:46 CEST    114km/79km to go
Milram's Christian Knees would want all the non-German fans to know that his last name is not pronounced like the body part - you say the hard 'K' in front - K-nees. The 26 year-old was the winner of the 2006 Rund um Köln.

15:49 CEST   
Mathieu Ladagnous (Française des Jeux) confirmed before the start that he got a lot of phone calls and SMS messages, thanks to his long breakaway yesterday. "I put the phone away and when I came back to my room there were around 50 messages on it."

15:49 CEST   
The breakaway is still munching on some lunch as they head toward the second intermediate sprint in Soligny-let Etangs at 70.5km to go. The average speed in the second hour was still 40.7 km/h, and they seem to be continuing on at this pace in the third hour. They're behind schedule again, but not nearly as late as yesterday.

15:52 CEST   
Our brave correspondents on the road have managed to get a quick shop in, and are glad to have some fresh things to wear, but our Belgian reporter Brecht Decaluwè is wondering if the village depart barber will give him a shave tomorrow. If they do offer these services, he'll recommend them to Fabian Cancellara who is also looking a bit shaggy after the airlines lost his luggage.

15:58 CEST    120km/73km to go
The gap is holding steady at 3'52 - inching out a few second here, coming back a few seconds there. CSC and Caisse d'Epagne are colouring the front of the peloton in red, black and white, but the yellow jersey is on his way to the back for some reason.

They're still 25km away from the next obstacle of the day, the Côte de Galbaux - a catgory 4 climb, 2.4 km in length but just 3.8% avgerage grade. It's quickly followed by the cat. 4 Côte de Bel-Air (1.3 km @ 5.4%) which is the final climb of the day.

15:59 CEST    123km/70km to go
The break has hit the second sprint of the day, and again Flecha takes off to get max points, and while K-nees made a big effort to take second, it appears as if Chavanel beat him to the line.

16:02 CEST    125km/68km to go
On the back of the peloton, we can see Mathieu Ladagnous (FdJ) with the red backnumber of most aggressive rider contrasting nicely with his white, blue and red team kit. The peloton appears to be putting in a solid effort, but aren't bringing back the group of five out front - it's out to 3'50 now.

16:03 CEST   
The results of the intermediate sprint are official - Rabobank's Flecha took first ahead of Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) and Christian Knees (Milram).

16:06 CEST   
Euskaltel's Gorka Verdugo is doing the most work in the break, followed by K-nees. The Frenchman from Bouygues Telecom, Matthieu Sprick, is doing quite a bit less work that the other four.

16:07 CEST   
Ahhhh - and we have our first view of the famous sunflowers that blossom every year during Le Tour. They're a sort of floral mascot for the riders, and this area, which is mostly grain, has a few bright yellow fields peppered in between.

16:12 CEST    130km/63km to go
The breakaway crossed into the province of Yonne, which earned its own white inflatable banner over the road. The French 'department' in Burgundy is named after the river that runs through it.

16:14 CEST   
The race will parallel the Yonne river in the final 20 kilometres of the stage, but hopefully by then they'll be traveling too quickly to catch the view. Will that be the point at which they catch our break of five? Or will Juan Antonio Flecha shoot his arrow into Joigny today? Guesses anyone?

16:17 CEST    135km/58km to go
Liquigas' Filippo 'Pippo' Pozatto had a pretty good finish in Gent when he took third. He told Gregor Brown this morning that he is feeling good - that he felt he might have won but he started the sprint from too far back. He is looking at tomorrow's stage for a potential win.

The break is now being brought under three minutes - down to 2'40 as they head into some hillier terrain.

16:18 CEST   
Stef Clement (Bouygues Telecom) is having trouble with his chain and has to stop at the side of the road.

16:23 CEST    139km/54km to go
Clement will have a hard time rejoining at this point since the peloton has started to really pick up the pace. They've brought the gap down to just over two minutes, and we could see a little action at the two category four climbs coming up.

Stéphane Augé, the current polka dot jersey, would like to see his teammate Chavanel stay away so he doesn't have to battle David Millar for the points, and at 2'09 with 5km before the climb, he might be in luck.

16:25 CEST    140km/53km to go
As the road kicks up for our breakaway, the peloton in the shallow valley behind has the long line of cars following the five in sight. CSC's Christian Vande Velde is on the front with his arms draped over the bars... He and Dave Zabriskie have brought the gap down to 1'50.

16:27 CEST   
Off in the distance, silhouetted by the grey clouds, stands a tall grain silo - and where there's grain, there could be cows. Will they be heifers? Beef cattle? Or maybe cardboard cutouts painted in yellow, green, and white and red polka dots?

16:29 CEST    142km/51km to go
It looks like the sprinters aren't going to let the break make chumps out of them two days in a row because Predictor-Lotto and Quickstep have both sent men to help CSC chase. Yesterday they left it about 1km too late, allowing Cancellara to catch them by surprise. Quickstep's Cedric Vasseur said this morning that they weren't organised enough and will be sure to be more professional today.

16:32 CEST    143km/50km to go
The break is on the climb now, and Verdugo pulls through then lets K-nees take over. The road is quite narrow here, but there are only a few fans and a grassy shoulder to ride on if anyone has a lapse of attention.

16:33 CEST    144km/49km to go
As they approach the line Chavanel gets out of the saddle and gives it some gas, and Knees joins him - they take first and second over the hill, Chavanel protecting his team-mate's lead in the KOM competition. Flecha is third.

16:36 CEST   
The chasing peloton is being led by a Predictor-Lotto man - looks like Van Summeren, with Zabriskie just behind followed by Vasseur. The bright pink shoulders of Lampre can be seen near the front as well.

And we have a crash! It's at the back of the field. Stag Scheirlinkx went into a car parked on the side of the road, and Matteo Tosatto (Quickstep) went down as well.

16:38 CEST    148km/45km to go
Tosatto did not crash, but he did stop on the right side of the road. IT could be that the Cofidis rider Scheirlinckx didn't see him stop and swerved to avoid him and clipped the car.

In the break the drama continues and Verdugo has flatted! They're on the final climb, and he isn't panicking.

16:41 CEST    148.5km/44.5km to go
Verdugo made it back just in time to get in sight of the top of the climb. As he gets back on, Flecha looks around to see what the others are up to... and Knees takes the opportunity to attack to take the mountain points.

16:41 CEST   
Rémy Di Gregorio is pretty banged up. Earlier in the feed zone he couldn't take on the musette with his food. A teammate had to get to him. He has a hard time in the saddle.

Remy Di Gregorio (FdJ)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

16:43 CEST   
Knees took the final GPM ahead of Sprick and Chavanel. We had a question about that abbreviation which is seen on all the climbs in the Tour and other stage races. It stands for Grand Prix de la Montagne - the mountain sprints.

16:49 CEST   
After the flurry of activities with sprints and KOM points to go for, the break has settled back to a steady rhythm. CSC, Predictor-Lotto and Quickstep are leading the field, which is 1'38" behind now.

16:50 CEST   
Knees is trying to keep the pace up high in the breakaway. That is also why he went over the top in first, trying to prevent the lull that settles in after a KOM

16:51 CEST    156km/37km to go
The peloton is cresting the hill on the way down to Villiers-Louis, and aren't quite in full flight - they're riding three and four abreast.

16:52 CEST   
Having Knees in the break is good for Milram, so they don't have to work behind. They can let the other sprinters' teams take over and then try to be fresh enough to deliver Zabel over the line one placing better than yesterday.

16:53 CEST   
Since Milram doesn't have to chase, this makes life easier for Erik Zabel, who isn't getting too much help from his team in the sprints. When our reporters spoke with Aussie Brett Lancaster and Italian Alessandro Cortinovis, they expressed their doubts in the German. Cortinovis is taking his own chances and letting Zabel take care of himself.

16:54 CEST    158.5km/34.5km to go
The break heads into the final sprint and once more, Flecha is the strongest. He takes the points ahead of Chavanel and Verdugo.

16:56 CEST    159.5km/33.5km to go
The Quickstep-led field hurtles through the sprint line in a single line up front, but in the back, the going gets quite a bit slower when they're forced to brake for a sharp bend and the peloton bunches up.

17:00 CEST    163km/30km to go
The break is nearly 90 seconds ahead of the field now, and with 30 kilometres to go, that's a full 20km sooner for that kind of time gap than yesterday when the peloton left the chase so late. The sprinters should have their day today!

17:05 CEST   
Stéphane Augé keeps his polka-dot jersey. He has 9 points total with getting third in the first KOM of the day. Teammate Sylvain Chavanel has seven points, same as David Millar's count.

17:06 CEST    167km/26km to go
The shadows of our breakaway riders are getting long, and that can only mean we're nearing the finale of our stage! They're cruising along now, not resisting the concerted chase by Quickstep's Barredo. He pulls off to let CSC pull through.

17:07 CEST    168km/25km to go
Le Bordes marks 25km to go, and a platoon of tractors greet the riders as they pass by. They're quite 'historic' in appearance - perhaps having come from a tractor museum?

17:08 CEST    168.5km/24.5km to go
The break is under a minute ahead now - 57" only and coming down fast. Lampre comes to the front of the chase now, working for the thick, darkly tanned and muscular legs of sprinter Danilo Napolitano.

17:09 CEST    169km/24km to go
Knees attacks! He's not satisfied with the pace, and wants to keep going. It's a risky proposition, but he's putting good time into his companions.

17:10 CEST    170km/23km to go
The red of Cofidis, blue of Bougues, orange of Euskaltel and blue/orange jersey of our chasers are shadowed by the bright yellow Mavic support. They bring back Knees, and he attacks again - Chavanel follows.

17:11 CEST    170.5km/22.5km to go
That move brought the break briefly out over one minute, but it's back down under as the five come back together and look a little bit discouraged.

17:12 CEST    171.5km/21.5km to go
The peloton crests a small rise and have the break in their sights. Lampre still on the front and then Predictor-Lotto takes a turn. The same four or five riders are doing all the work to chase our five ahead, and keeping the gap stable at about one minute.

17:13 CEST    172km/21km to go
Still hovering around 1'00 gap, the high pace is apparent at the rear end of the peloton, which is as strung out as the front.

17:14 CEST   
Tour of Austria update:
Björn Leukemans won today's fourth stage.

17:14 CEST    173km/20km to go
The break passes under 20km to go and are still holding a one minute gap - a farmer in an ancient buggy drawn by a mule watches from his field...

17:16 CEST    174km/19km to go
There's a little bit of math going on in the team cars now as the sprinters' teams are holding just enough effort to let the break stay clear until the very end. 1'05 for our five ahead and holding - CSC comes back to the front.

17:18 CEST    175km/18km to go
The breakaway rounds a sharp turn and then heads through a narrow gate and into the beautiful city of Villeneuve-sur-Yonne.

17:19 CEST    176km/17km to go
There's a crash in the back of the peloton as they squeeze through the gate - Anthony Geslin (Bouygues Telecom) falls down and a few behind have to lock up the brakes, but they're all OK.

17:20 CEST    177km/16km to go
The break is still at 1'00 - Geslin is chasing through the follow cars. They're one block away from the Yonne river now - a lovely calm waterway that adds a nice glint to this scenic town.

17:22 CEST    179km/14km to go
Poor Remy Di Gregorio is off the back of the field, he's dropping behind the cars, having crashed earlier in the stage and in a bit of pain.

17:23 CEST    180km/13km to go
Rabobank has three riders off the back helping someone (Freire?) chase back onto the field after that wreck. The five up front are working well together, but they've only got 41" and coming down fast.

17:25 CEST    181.5km/11.5km to go
Bets on today's winner? We have one Hincapie, a McEwen and a Boonen... Wegmann pulls through for Gerolsteiner. How about a Förster? 30" for the break....

17:26 CEST    183km/10km to go
26" at the 10km to go banner, and the peloton can see the break. The cars are being pulled from the gap, something that riders never like to see when they're in a breakaway.

17:27 CEST    184km/9km to go
Credit Agricole comes through with Wegmann and the big, looming figure of Burghardt for T-Mobile. 16".

17:28 CEST    184.5km/8.5km to go
Sprick isn't going to die lying down, and attacks as the field gets within seconds of the break. Flecha gets right on as does Knees, but the other two are finished.

17:29 CEST    184.5km/8.5km to go
Flecha looks back and they still have a fair gap. K-nees takes off! He won't give up!

17:29 CEST    185km/8km to go
Sprick can't hold on and is caught, and now the pair are just 200m ahead.

17:30 CEST    186km/7km to go
T-Mob has 2 up front, and Saunier Duval has some. Flecha and Knees shake hands and decide to give up the ghost.

17:31 CEST   
Saunier Duval has Ventoso up there, and they're all together! Quickstep takes over and the pace is high.

17:31 CEST   
Lampre is up front, as is P-L with T-Mob right behind.

17:32 CEST    187.5km/5.5km to go
Once again, the organization is not great - the T-Mobile train tries to move up.. Liquigas can be seen. Quickstep has ceded control.

17:32 CEST    188km/5km to go
Where is Boonen? Where is McEwen? Thor? Nowhere to be seen!

17:33 CEST    188.5km/4.5km to go
Now the green jersey of Boonen finds his way near the front - his Quickstep team is rallying. Milram is getting organised on the right.

17:33 CEST    189km/4km to go
Five Liquigas riders on the left, and Barloworld is moving around Quickstep.

17:34 CEST    189.5km/3.5km to go
T-Mobile has lost control and now Predictor is on the front - Liquigas is right behind and T-Mobile. Wegmann is still near the frotn with several other Gerolsteiners.

17:35 CEST    190km/3km to go
Van Summeren gives up the lead and Liquigas takes over with Barloworld - No sign of Lampre - but S-D is coming up on the right.

17:36 CEST    190.5km/2.5km to go
Milram is trying to fight to the front, but Quickstep is looming.

17:36 CEST    191km/2km to go
T-Mobile makes a rush on the right.

17:36 CEST   
Wegmann takes a big pull then Tosatto takes a quick pull, now T-mob has control but loses it!

17:36 CEST   
Barloworld on the front and now Quickstep has the lead.

17:37 CEST   
T-Mobile has four up front with 1km to go - here comes Liquigas again!

17:37 CEST   
And Gerolsteiner on the left.

17:37 CEST   
Quickstep has the lead with Dean behind?

17:37 CEST   
Cavendish goes...

17:37 CEST   
Dean takes the lead and now Thor takes the lead!

17:38 CEST   
Hunter coming on strong and Freire

17:38 CEST   
Napolitano can't get anywhere and Thor takes the stage!

17:39 CEST   
The big Norwegian gets his first stage of the Tour thanks to his quick New Zealander Dean who gave a picture perfect leadout.

17:40 CEST   
Hunter second and very annoyed - looked like Freire was third, but hold for confirmation.

17:40 CEST   
Thor lets out a thunder-like roar as he crosses the line - and is all smiles after the finish.

17:45 CEST   
The sprinters got it right today - although Boonen looked angry after the finish. We'll be sure to report later on what exactly went down in that sprint. Thanks to everyone for reading! Stay tuned for tomorrow's stage which could be another heart racing field sprint.

Provisional Results

1 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole
2 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld
3 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
4 Erik Zabel (Ger) Milram
5 Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
6 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic
7 Robert Förster (Ger) Gerolsteiner
8 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic
9 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis
10 Mark Cavendish (GBr) T-Mobile

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