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92nd Tour de France - GT

France, July 2-24, 2005

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Stage 1 - Saturday, July 2: Fromentine - Noirmoutier-en-l'Ile ITT, 19 km

Commentary by Jeff Jones and Hedwig Kröner, with additional reporting from Tim Maloney and Anthony Tan

Complete live report

Live coverage starts: 15:40 CEST
Estimated finish: 19:00 CEST

15:35 CEST   
Welcome to our readers from around the world from the Cyclingnews blimp, the Hindenburg IV, which is hovering above the Passage du Gois between Fromentine and the isle of Noirmoutier, the scene of today's Tour de France opening 19 km time trial. The TT doesn't actually go over the Passage du Gois, rather it takes the main road between the mainland and the island. But for nostalgia's sake, we've decided to park the blimp here.

Interestingly, last time the Tour went over the Passage du Gois causeway was in 1999, and the water covering the road made life treacherous for a large chunk of the peloton. By the end of it, the bunch was split to pieces and many of the favourites had lost significant time to Lance Armstrong, Stefano Garzelli, Bobby Julich, Richard Virenque, and Abraham Olano, who certainly did not wait. Banesto's Alex Zülle lost six minutes but recovered well to finish second overall in the 1999 Tour, 7'37 behind Armstrong.

Could Fromentine and Noirmoutier set the scene for Armstrong's seventh and final Tour victory, or will it be someone else who takes over the reins this year? This first TT is very important, as it's a lot longer than a prologue and the time gaps could be significant, especially as there is only one other long individual time trial in this year's Tour, on the second last stage.

Favourites today? There are many: Armstrong, Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile), Santiago Botero (Phonak), Michael Rich and Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner), Michael Rogers (Quick.Step), Brad McGee (Francaise des Jeux), David Zabriskie and Ivan Basso (CSC), Fabian Cancellara (Fassa Bortolo), and Sergei Gonchar (Domina Vacanze). It's almost flat and with a moderate headwind, so let's see who has the power to take the first yellow jersey.

15:47 CEST   
And the Tour de France 2005 has started! First to roll off the ramp was Ludovic Turpin (Ag2r-Prevoyance). Bonne route!

15:52 CEST   
Intervals between riders are one minute. The last ten riders will get underway at:

18:39 Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros-Würth)
18:40 Juan Manuel Garate (Saunier Duval-Prodir)
18:41 Fabian Cancellara (Fassa Bortolo)
18:42 Santiago Botero (Phonak Hearing Systems)
18:43 Denis Menchov (Rabobank)
18:44 Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto)
18:45 Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne)
18:46 Ivan Basso (Team CSC)
18:47 Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile Team)
18:48 Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel)

15:58 CEST   
Intermediate time checks are at km 9.4 at the turn off to the Passage du Gois and in Barbatre (km 14.9). We will keep you up to date with the latest results as we go. With Laszlo Bodrogi (Credit Agricole) on the road since 15.50, we should have a first hint at the winner's time at about 16.14.

16:07 CEST   
Former pro and Tour de France stage winner Marcel Wüst told Cyclingnews last night that his bet for today was Michael Rich. "I'm convinced he can pull it off, and I would really be happy for him. Gerolsteiner deserves a big win like that," he said. Rich made a great showing at the Eindhoven team time trial in June. His starting time is 17.08.

16:12 CEST   
A word on Kaiser Jan: His injuries from yesterday's crash into the back window of his team car are only minor. He recovered well this morning, and suffers no other consequences of the impact. But he was lucky: the cut to his neck was only a few millimetres away from his jugular - that accident could have been much worse...

16:13 CEST   
Armstrong's Trek TTX
Photo ©: Tim Maloney
Click for larger image
For those of you who are interested in what kind of bikes the riders will be on today, please check out our Tour tech specials, featuring Lance's Trek TTX, Leipheimer's superlight, Rogers' & McGee's TT rigs, Mayo's TT bike, and Phonak's nanotech. Plenty of eye candy for you there!

Naturally, the CN blimp also employs the latest in technology, and our anchor rope is made out of a sophisticated matrix of spare nanotubes that we scrounged from the Phonak team mechanics. How many carbons in a buckyball anyway? These have 47 carbon atoms per ball, as we were told that the asymmetry and jagged holes actually makes for a stronger link. Otherwise we'll see you next when the Tour visits the middle of the Atlantic.

16:21 CEST   
And the first riders have reached the finish: 21.50 is the current best for Laszlo Bodrogi (Credit Agricole). Dave Zabriskie should be very close to that, coming in soon...

16:22 CEST   
Our reporter on the spot, Anthony Tan, reports that the wind has calmed down a bit, so it won't be a big factor at the moment. We will therefore see some fast times. Also, the crowds are surprisingly not huge for the Tour.

16:25 CEST   
Some background: this year, the "prologue" is a true stage. In fact, the Tour rules states that a "prologue" can only be called so if it is less than 8 km long - so this 19 kilometre chrono is a real time trial stage, with a different set of rules to it. In a prologue, if a rider doesn't cross the finish line for a crash or another incident, he may actually go ahead with the race on the next day. He will given the same time as the "lanterne rouge" (the red lantern, last rider on GC). But as this is a full stage, all rider must pass the finish line to be entitled to start again tomorrow, and there is also a delay of elimination in this stage: factor 4 - which means that the riders' times cannot exceed 25 percent of the winner's time. If they do, they're out of the race.

Another special feature of this stage against the clock: Time trial national champs will wear their respective jerseys (and that includes the World Champion Michael Rogers), but not the road race national champions.

16:30 CEST   
Speaking of Rogers, he told Cyclingnews a couple of days ago that he was very confident about todays's stage, and that the wind suited him just fine. "It is a lot better for me you know, the ones that are under 10 km are a bit short for me," he said. "This year being 19 km is just that little bit longer and the course is very basic. I think there is one bridge and one roundabout to negotiate. I think the wind will be the only factor, but the harder it is for me, the better."

We have a new best time at 9.4 km: Zabriskie is going flat out and is already 26 secs ahead of Bodrogi..

16:34 CEST   
We also spoke to Luke Roberts (CSC) this morning. The young Aussie is pretty excited to be here for the first time: "It is just awesome. It really has been an unreal year. To get into a world-class team like CSC was fantastic and I just wanted to get a ride in some of the one day classics such as Paris Roubaix and Tour of Flanders. When that happened and I rode well I thought I might get a ride in the Giro, but I missed out. They then told me they were looking at me for the Tour. I didn't really think that it would happen."

16:45 CEST   
Dave Zabriskie should be home now - we'll get a finish time for him as soon as we can.

16:47 CEST   
Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) has also hit the road, looking good for another Green jersey this year. Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel), one of Lance Armstrong's best helpers, has just started too.

16:50 CEST   
Zabriskie was averaging over 54 km/h (54.67 km/h actually) and has cracked Bodrogi by 59 seconds! That's a promising result for now and will probably not be beaten very soon.

16:54 CEST   
"Actually I hope for headwinds," Zabriskie said two days ago about the course. "That would be perfect for me. I aim for a place in the top 10, but winning the stage would obviously be the best." Maybe he ain't that far off today?

17:00 CEST   
The young American was faster than Greg Lemond in 1989 (54.54 km/h), when the time trial was over a distance of 24.5 km and slightly downhill. Lemond won the Tour only a few seconds in front of Laurent Fignon that year.

Another comparison: Lance Armstrong drove the 58.5 km from Fribourg to Mulhouse in 2000 in 1:05:01 (53.98 km/h). Zabriskie is really going strong here!

17:05 CEST   
Michael Rich (Gerolsteiner) is getting ready by the ramp. The German could also win today - he also has the needed power to face the wind. Simon Gerrans (Ag2r-Prevoyance) has also started his first Tour in this moment.

17:07 CEST   
Vladimir Karpets (Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne)and Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (Liberty Seguros-Würth) are 0.59 and 1.05 from Zabriskie at the moment.

17:12 CEST   
Other riders that have come in including Zabriskie's teammate Luke Roberts, who is 10th at 1'30, Andreas Klöden (T-Mobile), who is already 19th at 2'00, Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto), who is 28th at 2'21, Stefano Garzelli (Liquigas) in 31st at 2'30, Alan Davis (Liberty) in 46th at 2'44, and last on the list is Sebastien Hinault (CA), who is at 3'37 behind DZ.

17:13 CEST   
Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel) comes home with a solid ride of 22'09, which puts him in 6th at 1'17 from the flying Zabriskie.

17:18 CEST   
Michael Rich is powering along, but doesn't look too quick - that impression might not be true actually, as he's pushing an enormous gear. We'll find out shortly.

17:19 CEST   
Robert Hunter (Phonak) is coming in: 22.21, that's 10th at the moment.

17:20 CEST   
The German time trial Champ has just passed Carlos Da Cruz (Française Des Jeux)...

17:23 CEST   
Jens Voigt (Team CSC) is next on the ramp. We will probably see some very aggressive riding again from him this year - and he predicted the overall victory of his teammate Ivan Basso to us. Off he goes!

17:24 CEST   
Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile Team) also started now, heading towards the bridge over to Noirmoutier. It will be crucial for him not to lose too much time on the other GC contenders today.

17:25 CEST   
Dave Zabriskie was one of the early riders today, and will have a long wait to see whether he has the winning time. That's exactly what happened in the first time trial stage of the Giro, which he ended up winning. After he crossed the line in 20'51 today, he was quoted on Sporza as saying about his chances, "I hope I can pull that off. There's a lot of good guys here. If it happens, that's great, if it doesn't, so be it."

The dead flat course with the wind blowing was, "Difficult, but it's something that I like to do, so it's OK for me."

Will your time help Ivan Basso? "It should help him out a little bit I think. Bjarne will follow him too."

17:25 CEST   
Jose Azevedo (Discovery Channel) powers towards the finish line. 22.30 for 16th.

17:27 CEST   
Voigt is getting a lot of strength out of his lower back, mouth wide open, while Vino looks tied to his bike like a rock. Very steady riding.

17:29 CEST   
Baden Cooke (Française Des Jeux) went off the ramp now, looking fairly relaxed. There's a full Mohawk under his helmet! "Went into my hairdresser in Monaco for a trim and said I'm off to the Tour, do what ever you want. He said 'really?' and then paced up and down the salon for about 10 minutes and then away he went. The ladies were all laughing but he was quite happy with it. Pretty impressive isn't it?," he told Cyclingnews this morning.

17:31 CEST   
Rich gets into the finish: he couldn't make it to the top. With about 22.05 (his transponder seems out of order), he's a minute off Zabriskie.

17:34 CEST   
Jens Voigt, meanwhile, has passed Isaac Gálvez (Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne), who started one minute ahead of him. Vino is still looking good - no facial expressions showing at all. The Kazakh is a master in unimpressed racing.

17:34 CEST   
Jens Voigt, meanwhile, has passed Isaac Gálvez (Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne), who started one minute ahead of him. Vino is still looking good - no facial expressions showing at all. The Kazakh is a master in unimpressed racing.

17:37 CEST   
For the record: Rich was 7th at time check 2 at 56 seconds. Voigt is now third at the first time check at 22 seconds behind Zabriskie, while Vinokourov to third, 21 seconds off.

Joseba Beloki (Liberty Seguros-Würth) has started. Marcel Wüst, who knows him well, told us last night that he is considering quitting cycling altogether if his form does not return for this Tour de France.

17:41 CEST   
Second time check: Vino is second at 0.37, Voigt third at 0.43 after 14.9 km. Zabriskie still leads by far!

17:44 CEST   
Beloki is swaying a bit to the sides, and so does Vinokourov now, as he too passes Isaac Gálvez.

Voigt gives it all, out of the saddle at the finish: 21.55 for third.

17:45 CEST   
And here comes Vino, in aero position again for the last metres: 21.44, which places him second at he the moment.

17:45 CEST   
Cyclingnews' Anthony Tan spoke to current leader Dave Zabriskie after the finish today. We asked whether he would have liked it a little more rolling. "Actually no, I didn't mind it," said Zabriskie. "You have to go hard the whole time, so the whole thing was hard."

Is it good to get the first stage out of the way? "Yeah, it's good to get it started and get it going. I only raced once in June, so it's been a long wait to get going again. You hear a lot of things.... 'Ooh, it's the Tour de France!' - but you gotta come here yourself to see what it's all about."

17:47 CEST   
In the finish, Michael Rich can't really pinpoint why his time wasn't top today. "I don't know. I felt good on the bike, it wasn't a bad day or anything. I really can't say..."

17:52 CEST   
Scott Sunderland, one of CSC's sports directors, just told Cyclingnews that it was part of Bjarne's strategy to let one good time-triallist start as first rider of the team and another one as one of the last riders. This because it is a known fact that often the wind picks up in the evening in that part of France; and this way he was assured of at least one good time-triallist riding in favourable wind conditions.

17:56 CEST   
Stuey O'Grady has left the ramp. About his aspiration for the Green jersey, he told Cyclingnews this morning: "Nothing is impossible. Obviously Robbie is the faster sprinter but plenty of things can happen in a three week race so I'll just take it as it comes and keep alert."

17:58 CEST   
In the meantime, the masses have gathered to watch the show, for those of you wondering if the Tour spectators were still missing. Except on the bridge, which is barred, there are quite some crowds everywhere cheering the riders to the finish.

18:00 CEST   
And Beloki has reached the end of today's stage. 22.56 aren't that bad at all, so his form might return during the race. We shall see.

18:04 CEST   
Bobby Julich (Team CSC) is now departing, while Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) gets into the finish: 23.26.

18:08 CEST   
Alexandre Vinokourov said after the time trial that the last 6 km are the most difficult. "It's slightly uphill so you really have to give it everything there. With the wind, it really breaks your legs," he said.

18:13 CEST   
The hero of France(tm) Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom) sets off, looking rather nervous. This stage is not really his cup of tea.

Armstrong, meanwhile, is working up a good sweat in his warmup.

18:15 CEST   
Michael Rogers, resplendent in his rainbow striped skinsuit, is now under way and up to speed as he tackles the first slightly uphill part of the course.

Voeckler is a minute ahead of him.

18:17 CEST   
O'Grady powers away to the finish, grinding his teeth. 22.41 is a decent result for a sprinter! That places him 25th at 1.49.

18:21 CEST   
Jörg Jaksche (Liberty Seguros-Würth) is also underway. Big Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) is getting noisy instructions from his directeur sportif: "Allez, allez. Allez encore!"

18:23 CEST   
Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo) finished 23rd at 1'43, while Floyd Landis (Phonak Hearing Systems) set off and got the TT bars after only 20 metres or so. That was fast!

18:25 CEST   
Mich Rogers is still rolling along. It looks so easy when he does it. We'll see if it works!

Alejandro Valverde (Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne) has also departed now. Hushovd has the saddle "in his buttocks" as the French say, meaning that he is sitting very much in front of his saddle.

18:28 CEST   
Bobby Julich (Team CSC) passed José Luis Arrieta (Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne) just before the finish, where he arrived after 21'57 (7th at 1'06).

George Hincapie (Discovery) is off! Looking very focused indeed. His teammate Savoldelli gets to the finish line now - 22.26.

18:30 CEST   
Rogers is still underway as Iban Mayo (Euskaltel-Euskadi) sets off.

Also worth noting is that Saunier Duval is riding with white tops and yellow shorts, so as not to clash with the maillot jaune.

18:34 CEST   
Patrik Sinkewitz (Quick.Step) has caused a bit of a stir with his team manager Patrick Lefevere, after the news leaked that he would join T-Mobile next year. "My manager has indeed arranged that I will ride for T-Mobile," Sinkewitz confirmed to Sporza today. "I would have been happy to stay with QuickStep for the next three years. It's a pity that the team won't support me here; I'm going to try my best for the team anyway. I understand they're upset. I have to thank the team for the time I had with them. I'm sorry this has happened like this, but that's why I'm paying a manager: to help me in this sort of contract situations. I have to have faith in my manager Tony Rominger."

18:38 CEST   
Leipheimer is home at 22'04 for 9th, while Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) set off, right into the big gear...

Voeckler finished in 23.39, getting caught by Rogers who does 22.44 - almost two minutes off Zabriskie! CSC must be partying!

Michael Rogers blamed the wind for his time, telling Sporza: "The wind has picked up a lot now. You don't feel it here. On the flat straight road there's so much wind. I don't think anyone's going to beat Zabriskie. I didn't feel the best either. 20 days to go. The Tour de France doesn't finish today. I'm disappoint not to finish in front, but that's life."

18:38 CEST   
Cyclingnews' Anthony Tan spoke to Luke Roberts (CSC), who was one of the early starters today. How was the course? "Really fast; every time I looked down, I was doing 52 or 53k an hour. It's a really smooth, fast road and with the crowds out there, it was really noisy and the adrenaline was high. It [the stage] went a lot faster than I thought it would.

"19 kilometres is starting to get a bit long for what I like - I prefer a shorter and faster sort of course - but I felt okay, and I hope [my time's] up there with some of the best times." [Roberts is currently 18th at 1'30]

18:40 CEST   
QuickStep Director Wilfried Peeters told Sporza, "Zabriskie has ridden an incredible time-trial. He has ridden the rest at a fair distance; this is a top time. His intermediate time is exceptional; I think there was a bit more wind in the back at that time. I don't believe that it will be easy for Michael to beat that time."

He was quite right.

18:40 CEST   
Boonen is on the bridge now - this looks painful. But at least he has the radio integrated in his helmet...

Roberto Heras (Liberty Seguros-Würth) is on his way now. Off for the last ten!

18:42 CEST   
Hushovd arrives. 23.49 for him. Jaksche also gets in at 23.15.

18:43 CEST   
Fabian Cancellara (Fassa Bortolo) and Santiago Botero (Phonak Hearing Systems) have departed, while Landis gets into the finish. Not bad at all! He's fourth, at 21.53 - that's a quite a signal of form for the Phonak rider!

18:45 CEST   
Ullrich leaves the T-Mobile bus parking space to roll to the ramp, while Hincapie is currently 6th at the first time check, 27 seconds off Zabriskie. Going strong, too!

18:46 CEST   
Armstrong has just greeted his rival Ullrich with a pat on the back, while Basso sets off.

18:48 CEST   
And "Ulle" is off, followed by Armstrong, at one minute behind him. And Armstrong slid out of his pedal again while riding off the ramp, just like at Luz Ardiden!

Hincapie is 3rd at 14.9 km at 42 seconds.

18:49 CEST   
Hincapie is in the finish now: 21'48 for third placing - that's a great performance!

18:52 CEST   
Will this little mishap have a similar effect on Lance as last year? Will he now give even more?

Ullrich is grinding over the bridge like a bulldozer, Armstrong spinning behind him. He's put on a small gear compared to the others, just as usual.

18:53 CEST   
Gonchar pushes down squares as he crosses the line, 32rd.
Mayo finishes at 157th, as McGee gets in 15th, at 22.15.

18:53 CEST   
Gonchar pushes down squares as he crosses the line, 32rd.
Mayo finishes at 157th, as McGee gets in 15th, at 22.15.

18:54 CEST   
Cancellara passed Garate now. He could be in for a very good result too. But all eyes are on Ullrich and Armstrong's first time checks...

18:57 CEST   
That's a huge setback for Mayo - he might already have lost 4 minutes or so on the other GC contenders. Armstrong sways his upper body a lot too, as he rides along a roundabout.

18:58 CEST   
Boonen comes into the finish, and with 22.40 reveals he is becoming more and more of an allrounder. But with 1.48 off Zabriskie, he won't get him yellow in the next few days.

19:01 CEST   
Armstrong is 3 seconds slower than Zabriskie at 9.6 km. Armstrong is almost catching Ullrich now - can you believe it? What a show!

19:02 CEST   
Armstrong can see Ullrich ahead of him. Maybe Ullrich still suffers from the crash? Armstrong, in any case, is powering like hell. This is incredible.

19:04 CEST   
Heras got into the finish at 23.11. But the greatest thing is happening behind, as the motobike photographers drive right behind Armstrong to get that picture. Armstrong is at 15 metres, with 4 km to go.

19:05 CEST   
Meanwhile, Basso is 30th at the time check, same time as Ullrich at km 9.6.

Armstrong passes Ullrich like a rocket. Unbelievable.

19:06 CEST   
Armstrong has the best time, three secs ahead of Zabriskie now.

19:07 CEST   
Now Ullrich tires to hold on, and not lose sight of Armstrong.

19:08 CEST   
Basso gets into the finish now: 22.17, 18th placing.

19:08 CEST   
Tom Boonen, who immediately went on the rollers after finishing the time-trial: "I think I've done a decent time yeh; but that Zabriskie seems to be from another world!"

19:08 CEST   
Here comes Lance, will he make it ?

19:09 CEST   
21.59 for Armstrong - Zabriskie wins!

19:09 CEST   
Ullrich gets in at 21.59, that means 12th.

19:10 CEST   
What a demonstration of power Armstrong gave us! He's right - he's still as good as ever. No sign of his decline - he still rules!!

19:12 CEST   
And young Dave Zabriskie scores an impressive win here - congrats from us up here in the blimp!

And Good Bye to our readers for now. We'll keep you posted on rider's reactions in our daily News, and will be back Live tomorrow.

Intermediate Timing

km 9.4 (all riders through)
1 David Zabriskie (Team CSC)                          10.15
2 Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel)                  0.03
3 Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile Team)                 0.21
4 Jens Voigt (Team CSC)                                    
5 Fabian Cancellara (Fassa Bortolo)                    0.24
6 Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel)                0.26
7 Laszlo Bodrogi (Credit Agricole)                         
8 George Hincapie (Discovery Channel)                  0.27
9 Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (Liberty Seguros-Würth)        
10 Vladimir Karpets (Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne)   0.29
km 14.9 (all riders through)
1 Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel)                 16.47
2 David Zabriskie (Team CSC)                           0.03
3 Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile Team)                 0.40
4 George Hincapie (Discovery Channel)                  0.45
5 Jens Voigt (Team CSC)                                    
6 Vladimir Karpets (Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne)    0.46
7 Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (Liberty Seguros-Würth)    0.48
8 Floyd Landis (Phonak Hearing Systems)                0.51
9 Laszlo Bodrogi (Credit Agricole)                         
10 Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel)               0.52
Finish - km 19 (all riders through)
1 David Zabriskie (Team CSC)                          20.51
2 Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel)                  0.02
3 Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile Team)                 0.53
4 George Hincapie (Discovery Channel)                  0.57
5 Laszlo Bodrogi (Credit Agricole)                     0.59
6 Floyd Landis (Phonak Hearing Systems)                1.02
7 Jens Voigt (Team CSC)                                1.04
8 Vladimir Karpets (Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne)    1.05
9 Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (Liberty Seguros-Würth)    1.06
10 Bobby Julich (Team CSC)                             1.07
11 Jose Enrique Gutierrez (Phonak Hearing Systems)     1.12
12 Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile)    

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