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95th Tour de France - GT

France, July 5-27, 2008

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Stage 19 - Friday, July 25: Roanne - Montluçon, 165.5km

Complete live report

Live commentary by Susan Westemeyer

The Tour heads back into the centre of the country almost to where it was two weeks ago as the peloton makes its weary way towards Paris. The profile is almost as rolling as yesterday's, beginning with a third and a fourth category climb inside the first 42 kilometres. The mid-section is fairly flat, but then the final 50 kilometres become much lumpier, although there are no classified climbs in this part.

Today is more suited to the sprinters than yesterday, but with a potentially decisive time trial tomorrow the overall contenders may not want a hard day and so a breakaway might succeed.

Roanne is yet another first time stage town, but Montluçon has been visited five times before. Last time was in 2001 when Belgian Serge Baguet (Lotto) beat Dane Jacob Piil (CSC) in a two-up sprint after the remains of the breakaway was swallowed by the peloton. A similar scenario may well play out this year.

13:02 CEST   
Here we are again, with only three stages left. Today will most likely be one for the sprinters – at least, they hope it will be! There are two small mountains early on, followed by a lot of up-and-down near the end. It could also be a good stage for another successful escape group. Which will it be?

The riders will have their neutralized roll-out in a few minutes. The 'real' start will follow at 13:30.

13:18 CEST   
We have a very long neutralized zone today, 8.7 km. That will give the riders a chance to get used to today's weather. Sunny and hot – it is already 26° Celsius!

13:23 CEST   
We know that at least one rider wasn't at the start today. Damiano Cunego had a nasty crash early on yesterday and, battered and bloody, made his way to the finish eventually. A hospital visit showed that nothing was broken but the pain and problems were too great, and the Italian had to drop out.

Damiano Cunego crashed yesterday and couldn't start today's stage
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

13:34 CEST   
The race has started and the expected attacks are starting immediately. We will let you know if any of them get away.

13:38 CEST    2km/163.5km to go
Two km already gone, and none of the attacks have yet been successful! They are moving fast today. They know the Tour is almost over and probably want to get it over with as quickly as possible.

13:40 CEST   
Roanne is making its Tour debut as a Tour host town. This city lies on the Loire River, about 90km northwest of Lyon, and has some 40,000 inhabitants. It is known for its textiles and its gastronomy – both of which sound good to the Blimp Lady, who loves clothes and food.

13:42 CEST    9km/156.5km to go
The peloton is already at the base of the day's first climb. No one has yet been able to get away.

13:45 CEST   
The first of two ranked mountains of the day is La Croix du Sud, which has the honour of being the last Cat. III climb in this year's Tour. It is not particularly steep, having an average gradient of only 3.5%, but it is loooooooong – 11 km.

13:50 CEST   
The e-mails have started coming in already and Tomas of the Czech Republic wants to know about the neutralized zone. That is usually the first 5 km or so, and usually runs through a downtown area. No attacks are allowed in this zone. This allows the riders a chance to warm up, and gives the public a chance to see them. It also protects the riders from attacks and potentially dangerous riding in city streets with (hopefully) lots of fans on the way.

13:57 CEST    17km/148.5km to go
A foursome finally got away on its way up the climb. Alessandro Ballan (Lampre), Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel), Pierrick Fédrigo (Bouygues Telecom) and none other than Gerolsteiner's Stefan Schumacher now have a 10 second lead as they approach the mountain top.

13:59 CEST   
Gert Steegmans of Quick Step jumped out to go after the four escapees, but he didn't make it. The field gobbled him back up quickly, and at the summit, the quartet has a 30 second lead.

14:06 CEST    23km/142.5km to go
Schumacher led the way over the mountain, followed in order by Fédrigo, Ballan and Martinez. The four are continuing merrily on their way and now have 40 seconds on the field.

14:09 CEST   
Carl of Australia asks, "How is the weather looking from the blimp? I looked on the web and it seemed to suggest morning rain for Saturday. What chance the circuit will be damp for the ITT?" Right now we are slathering ourselves with suntan lotion, but unfortunately we will probably have to pull out our rain jackets for the final two stages. The weather forecast is for warm temperatures and "light rain".

14:13 CEST   
Whew, did we say it was warm today? Perhaps it would be better to say HOT. The air is 25° but the road itself is 39°! We are told there is a slight chance of rain – but hopefully not summer thunderstorms.

The Tour also tells us that because it is so hot, they will probably be spraying the road along the way with water "because the bitumen is becoming soggy from the heat of the sun." We don't like the sound of that at all!

14:16 CEST   
Some of you have been asking why certain riders have negative points in the points classification. Cyclingnews' Bjorn Haake answers the question how riders who misbehave get punished. The rule book states several sanctions riders can face.

If they do something really silly, like doping, they get of course excluded. Exclusion can also happen when riders throw water bottles during a sprint. Tom Steels tried that tactic in stage six of the 1997 Tour and had to pack his suitcase. He wasn't happy with Frederic Moncassin and threw his bidon at the Frenchman – at 60+ km/h!

Another possibility is relegation in the day's standings – leading to funny classifications sometimes. In 1997's three-up sprint, Bart Voskamp and Jens Heppner were disqualified. Third-placed Mario Traversoni was declared the winner but was ranked 26 seconds behind, as Voskamp's winning time was upheld, but he was now put back into the group behind...

14:18 CEST    34km/131.5km to go
The leading quartet now has a lead of exactly one minute. Is this going to be the break of the day?

14:22 CEST   
And to return to the "negative points" discussion.....

People can get time penalties. Levi Leipheimer was fined 10 seconds last year, after he had a mechanical. His team car provided a bit more draft than usual to bring him back up to the break he was in. There is some discussion whether a French rider would have been fined in the same circumstances... The judges have some lee-way. Leipheimer himself profited in last year's Tour of California, when a crash outside the neutralised section would have left him losing the leader's jersey.

Or people can get points subtracted. And if they happen to have less points earned than fined, they will have negative points. A minor offense like peeing in public can result in such a penalty. Riders are of course allowed to take a nature break, but shouldn't do so when there are spectators around. We don't know if Marcus Burghardt was handed such a penalty yesterday, but it seems he broke the rule when he took a quick time-out after the Croix de Montvieux, while riding of course. And with fans waiting on the side of the road.

All that can be accompanied by financial fines as well. The Swiss Franken has been replaced by the euro as the official Tour currency.

14:26 CEST    39.5km/126km to go
The field is now 1'10 behind the leading four.

14:29 CEST    42km/123.5km to go
Here we have our second and last ranked climb of the day, the Cote de la Croix-Rouge. This cat. IV climb is only 1.4 km with an average gradient of 6.4%.

14:31 CEST   
And those speedy devils are already over this not-so-monstrous climb. Once again Schumacher took the honours, ahead of Fédrigo and Ballan. A Cat. IV only has points for the first three, so Martinez came away with nothing.

The field is 1'05 back.

14:36 CEST   
Carlos Barredo was yesterday's unhappy second-place finisher, and today he is a water carrier. The Quick Step rider just stuffed a number of bottles down the back of his jersey. The cool bottles probably feel good today.

14:38 CEST    52.5km/113km to go
Liquigas and Caisse d'Epargne are leading the chase and it seems to be effective. The lead is down to 42 seconds.

14:40 CEST   
And here is another water carrier who we saw yesterday in a different role: Marcus Burghardt. The big blonde German from Team Columbia is back at the team car loading up for his team-mates. Today he is wearing the red number for being the most aggressive rider yesterday.

14:41 CEST    56km/109.5km to go
This is a lovely, rolling ridgey countryside. The field just went by a field full of totally disinterested cows.

14:46 CEST   
CSC-Saxo Bank has just officially announced that it has extended its contract with World Time Trial Champion Fabian Cancellara for another three years. "Now I have the perfect horizon in relation to my career and I look forward to the next three years with my teammates and the results we're going to achieve together," the Swiss rider said.

It had been rumoured that Cancellara had received a multi-million offer from the new Russian team.

14:48 CEST    61.5km/104km to go
Everyone is in the city of Vichy now, with the chasing field only 36 seconds back. This escape group is working well, but never really has been able to build up a significant lead.

14:51 CEST   
Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) told Cyclingnews' Hedwig Kröner before the start that "it is important for Gerolsteiner to be in the break. If I will be in it depends on the situation." Well, the situation is that Schumacher *is* in the break, but the four are losing ground. Schumacher hoped "to just get by as good as possible. I just want to make it through the next three days."

14:53 CEST    65.5km/100km to go
100 km to go, and the lead is down to 20 seconds. Looks like it will be over soon, so we now start to wonder who will take off when this group is gathered back into the fold?

14:54 CEST   
Guess we won't see Luis Leon Sanchez in the next break – he just pulled over with a puncture.

14:56 CEST   
The leading quartet fights bravely on, but they look nervously behind them. And they see a peloton which is not very far away. It is being led by Liquigas, Quick Step and Caisse d'Epargne.

14:57 CEST    69.1km/96.4km to go
That was it, they are caught. Now there will be some jockeying until another group gets away.

14:58 CEST   
A number of riders accelerate and hope for the best, but can't get away.

14:59 CEST   
Martyn Masskant of Garmin isn't having any part of these games. He is comfortably riding at the back of the field.

15:01 CEST    71.5km/94km to go
Two riders have moved a few meters away. Geoffroy Lequatre started the move and was joined by Sébastien Langeveld of Rabobank.

15:02 CEST   
A handful of riders have joined them but the field won't let anyone go. Now a Cofidis rider gives it a try.

15:03 CEST   
Sylvain Chavanel is persistent an keeps on going. Yaroslav Popovych gives chase. The Cofidis rider is perhaps 15 meters ahead of the peloton.

15:04 CEST   
Milram is doing its best to get a rider into a successful break. It wanted to do so yesterday, too.

Milram's Christian Knees was quite frustrated by yesterday's stage – he wanted to be in that successful escape group! The Milram captain said that he was on the verge of joining the first group until he saw that team-mate Björn Schröder was in it. When that group was caught, Knees and team-mate Ralf Grabsch did their best to get away but were never successful. "Then three riders got away at an unlucky moment for us and were able to stay away. That was pretty irritating. We tried so often, but those three were lucky and were able to just ride away from the field and nobody was interested in going after them. The escapees made it all the way to the end, which is too bad, because Ralf and I had wanted to do that."

15:05 CEST   
The ever aggressive Cyclingnews diarist Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) had an outlook for Hedwig Kröner this morning. "Today is another attacker's day. The advantage over yesterday is that it's uphill right from the start, so it'll be about pedal strength rather than tactics, like it was yesterday. I see if I have recovered from last night, as my back was hurting again. Yesterday evening it was horrible. My legs are OK, though."

15:06 CEST   
Another handful of riders pull away from the peloton and hope to join Chavanel.

15:07 CEST    77.5km/88km to go
The Frenchman is building up a nice little lead – but does he really want to face the next 88 km alone?

15:08 CEST   
A St. Didier farmer has plowed a heart into his field, welcoming the Tour.

15:08 CEST   
Chavanel added "After Alpe d'Huez, where I suffered a lot, I recovered well." Chavanel had some local knowledge. "There ISBN a small climb with about five kilometres to go, so you never know if it comes to a sprint. I could try once again to get a away, like I did twice before during this Tour. But this time the hill is closer to the finish, so I might be luckier."

15:10 CEST    79.5km/86km to go
And with that his solo escape is over. He has now been joined by Jeremy Roy of Française des Jeux.

The pace is fast enough that a few riders have dropped off the back already.

15:14 CEST    83.5km/82km to go
Chavanel and Roy have about a 30 second lead right now. The peloton looks to have slowed down. Are they willing to let these two go?

15:15 CEST    85.5km/80km to go
To answer our own question: yes. The lead is now over a minute.

15:18 CEST    86.5km/79km to go
Either the two ahead are flying along or the peloton has put the brakes on and decided for a comfortable day. The lead is now 1'56.

15:22 CEST   
It's lunchtime now for the peloton - bon appetit!

15:27 CEST   
Jack of New York City wants to know how many teams still have all their riders. Seven teams still have a full nine-man squad. Eight teams have lost one rider, three teams have lost two and one team is down three riders. Hardest hit is Barloworld, which has only four riders left in the race.

15:29 CEST   
Columbia's Marcus Burghardt and Gerald Ciolek are having a nice time at the back of the field. Not having such a nice time is Christophe Brandt of Silence Lotto, who has just dropped out.

15:30 CEST   
So that makes only six teams who still have a full squad: CSC-Saxo Bank, Euskaltel, Credit Agricole, Gerolsteiner, Rabobank and Milram.

Gerolsteiner would be especially happy to arrive in Paris with nine riders. They ended the Giro with only two!

15:33 CEST   
Kate from Australia wants to know: "In regards to the discussion of "negative points" and rider penalties, do the race umpires have the power to disqualify or penalise a rider while a stage is still in progress for non-performance enhancing activities or can such actions only formally take place at the end of the stage? If so, have any riders been penalised in this fashion over recent years, resulting in them being kicked out of a tour mid-stage?

Cyclingnews' Bjorn Haake responds. Concerning disqualification: There are referees (arbitres) and commissaires. The referees will note behaviour against the rules. Referees cannot take riders out of the race. Their reports will be reviewed by a panel after the stage. On the other hand, the commissaires have more power and can take out a rider immediately (not literally, though).

Chavanel doesn't remember the last time he didn't attack
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

15:35 CEST    99.5km/66km to go
The lead is now at five minutes. Has that woken up the peloton from their after-lunch snooze? The peloton is now strung out and moving faster.

15:37 CEST   
And here the rest of Bjorn Haake's response: Severity of the fine can depend on the rider's GC standing, which may explain Leipheimer's 10-second penalty last year.

15:39 CEST   
Concerning our list of teams, we have been reminded that the hardest hit of all is of course Saunier Duval, which has no riders left in the Tour at all.

15:41 CEST    102.5km/63km to go
The escapees have just gone through the first intermediate sprint of the day, in Chantelle. There wasn't any sprint as Chavanel rolled through ahead of Roy. Their lead has now shrunk to 4'28.

15:43 CEST   
Milram moves to the front as the peloton nears the intermediate sprint. Erik Zabel and Oscar Freire are both to be seen hoping to pick up the final points.

15:44 CEST   
Zabel pulls out and sprints – alone – for the last points. Freire lets him go – after all, Zabel is 53 points behind him.

15:49 CEST   
"Given the competing interests of increasing (or narrowing) the time gaps at the top end of the General Classification and preserving as much energy as possible for the long Individual Time Trial tomorrow, what are the chances that CSC/SaxoBank or Gerolsteiner or Silence-Lotto or Rabobank or Garmin-Chipotle might launch some form of whole-team-attack today?," asks Paul L.

We think the chances are slim. The leads right now are much too slender to gamble on such a chance as that. And there is also Sunday's final stage to consider. There are traditionally no attacks, but there is always the chance that the captain might crash or puncture, and need his team-mates (in good condition) to pull him back.

On the other hand, anything is possible, and it would be fun to watch!

15:51 CEST    110.8km/54.7km to go
There aren't any more ranked climbs today, but there are some pretty significant bumps in the road in the last 50 km. Will they be enough to throw back the sprinters and their tired legs, or are they so determined to have another chance that it won't matter?

And more importantly, will the peloton be able to make up the 4'07 to catch the two escapees?

15:55 CEST   
The Blimp Lady thinks she needs new reading glasses. Julian has pointed out that Credit Agricole has only 8 riders in the race, having lost Mark Renshaw. After much squinting at our crumpled start list, we must agree that he is correct.

15:57 CEST    113km/52.5km to go
The lead is now dropping slowly but steadily, and has come down to under four minutes.

15:59 CEST   
Another large field full of large sunflowers graces side of the road.

16:08 CEST    117.5km/48km to go
The peloton has slowed down again, and the lead for Chavanel and Roy has promptly jumped up again to 4'23. There is another group underway – a bunch of riders who have fallen off the back along the way and are now about 20 minutes back. It is said to include Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann and yesterday's third-place finisher Romain Feillu of Agritubel.

16:12 CEST   
Mike of Minneapolis wants to know which teams have won stages so far, "Just curious to see which teams are really desperate!" Columbia leads the way with five wins, Caisse d'Epargne, Credit Agricole and CSC Saxo Bank all have two wins, and one each go to Cofidis, Gerolsteiner, Rabobank and AG2R.

The joker here is that Saunier Duval won three stages, including two by Riccardo Riccò. Will he keep those wins or will they be taken away?

Stuart O'Grady is spending quality time ahead of his CSC team-mates once again
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

16:15 CEST    123.9km/41.6km to go
CSC has sent Stuart O'Grady to the front, as the duo's lead nears the five minute mark.

16:18 CEST   
Eric of Washington, DC, had some general questions about team cars. Cyclingnews' Bjorn Haake explains: Each team has two cars in the caravan. So a team better not break up in three. The car order in the peloton is determined by each team's best placed rider on GC before the stage. If there is at least a minute between the break and the bunch, cars of the riders in the break are allowed to leave the peloton and pull up behind the escapees. Team cars are equipped with GPS and TV.

16:20 CEST   
There is another big name in that group that has fallen back so far – Rabobank's Juan Antonio Flecha. They are over 20 minutes back, and have to start thinking about the time limit.

Current race situation

  • Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) and Jérémy Roy (Française des Jeux)
  • Peloton at 4.51
  • Nicolas Vogondy (Agritubel), Bernhard Eisel (Columbia), Marco Marzano (Lampre), Rémy Di Gregorio (Française des Jeux), Sven Krauss (Gerolsteiner), Niki Terpstra (Team Milram), Freddy Bichot (Agritubel), Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas) and Dario Cioni (Silence-Lotto) at 5.02
  • Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) and Romain Feillu (Agritubel) at 9.27

16:26 CEST   
Roy and Chavanel have a lead of five minutes over the field. That field in turn is about five minutes ahead of a group of 12 or so riders, including Dario Cioni, Bernhard Eisel and Niki Terpstra. Still further back – and in danger of being eliminated – is the foursome of Fabian Wegmann, Juan Antonio Flecha, Romain Feillu and Gert Steegmans.

16:29 CEST   
We now understand that it is a group of nine riders about five minutes back: Nicolas Vogondy and Freddy Bichot (Agritubel), Bernhard Eisel (Columbia), Marco Marzano (Lampre), Rémy Di Gregorio (Française des Jeux), Sven Krauss (Gerolsteiner), Niki Terpstra (Team Milram), Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas) and Dario Cioni (Silence-Lotto)

There are also reports that there are only three riders in that way-back group, not four. They are so far back that no camera motorcycle can get back there, so we can't be sure.

16:32 CEST   
John Trevorrow caught up with Cadel Evans before the start today. How is it today? "Alright, alright. So far so good. Of course tomorrow is the important day which I'm sure everyone is aware." It all boils down to that magic 94 seconds? "Let's get through today before we worry about that. I'm sure there's going to be plenty of challenging moments over the next few hours. Hopefully it's better then yesterday which was ridiculously dangerous."

16:38 CEST    141.8km/23.7km to go
The duo's lead has fallen from 5'05 to 4'12, due in part to the efforts of the entire Barloworld team (all four of them) which has moved in to take over the lead work. They are looking for a win for their sprinter Robert Hunter.

And way back there, the sick-and-injured quartet is in serious danger of missing the time cut.

16:40 CEST    143.5km/22km to go
Intermediate sprint number two for the two escapees, which they take with a 3'51 lead. Once again they don't sprint for the points, but roll on through, with Roy taking the points this time. This sprint was in the town of Commentry.

16:41 CEST   
Three and a half minutes and 20 km – will the peloton catch them?

16:45 CEST   
John Trevorrow also caught up with CSC Saxo Bank DS Scott Sutherland this morning. "I have heard it said that we could have been more aggressive in attacking in this Tour. But from our point of view, I believe, that we have done everything in our power to put us in the best position. There are other teams that have not done nearly enough."

Do you think the maillot jaune should go to a man who is prepared to attack? "The winner of the Tour will be the man with the best time on Sunday. People forget that some of the great champions of the past rarely attacked. Indurain was not an attacker. Only on a couple of occasions did he do so. Mostly he rode calculating races based on a great time trial and containment in the mountains. Of course people like to see a rider who can dominate the time trials and attack in the mountains, but the Tour is won by the best rider over three weeks."

Can Sastre win the Tour and is Menchov still a threat? "Carlos can definitely win. He always is best in the third week and the pressure is really on everyone else to close the gap. Of course we would like it to be more but we have what we have. As for Menchov, well, I still think he will get on the podium. I hope not because we would like to get two up there, but he is a very good time trialer and he will be hard to stop. But Menchov will not beat Evans. We have raced an aggressive and tactically sound tour and the best man will win. I believe it will be Carlos."

How big would it be for Australia should Cadel win? "Well it would be huge. It will be the first so of course it would be amazing. It was pretty huge last year when Cadel finished second. Maybe they will build some more bike paths."

16:46 CEST   
Barloworld's work paid off, as Gianpaolo Cheula took the remaining sprint points.

16:50 CEST    150.5km/15km to go
Where is Julian Dean, we are asked. He is still right in the thick of things, hoping desperately that the peloton can make up three minutes in 15 km so that he can have a chance at a mass sprint.

16:50 CEST   
Liquigas and Barloworld have dropped out of the lead work and turned it over to Milram and Quick Step.

16:52 CEST   
Patrick Lefevere told Hedwig Kröner before the start that "if there is a break we want to be in it." Obviously that didn't work out. Lefevere explained cycling to Cyclingnews. "Cycling is very easy. You have to make the others chase you, not the other way round."

16:54 CEST    154.5km/11km to go
The field is getting worried that it won't catch the two French riders. Perhaps they should have started chasing earlier.....

16:55 CEST    155.5km/10km to go
The two leaders go under the 10 km marker, at the same time as the 9-man group with Cioni and Eisel goes under the 20 km mark.

16:55 CEST   
For those who were wondering what Vladimir Karpets (Caisse d'Epargne) is up to, he is doing well. This afternoon he won the Gran Premio Villafranca in Spain. We will likely see him in the Vuelta a Españ

16:56 CEST    157.5km/8km to go
Now Columbia is forcing things at the head of the peloton. The lead is now 2'53 so it seems likely the duo will stay away until the end. But anything can happen!

16:57 CEST   
Philippe Gilbert (Française des Jeux) was involved in Cunego's crash yesterday. He told Hedwig Kröner "The crash was at 60km/h, so I was lucky I wasn't hurt more than this. I got a few stitches to my index finger last night. It was open to the bone, but fortunately the tendon was intact. I also hurt my left knee, but it will heal soon. I still felt the impact on my back and arms this morning."

Gilbert stayed upbeat. "Like I often say, it is all in your head. Today is a beautiful day, we have a nice stage ahead. Today and Sunday are the last chances for me before the Champs."

Make that Sunday, then.

16:58 CEST   
The Alpe d'Huez was a hard one for Gerolsteiner's Berni Kohl, who nearly collapsed after the stage, but he survived and said he felt good again yesterday. "The team took good care of me and held me perfectly out of the win. Up until the time trial on Saturday I have to save as much strength as possible." The little climber isn't a time trial whiz, but he has been working on it and thinks he can maintain his top position.

17:00 CEST   
Chavanel and Roy are totally concentrated on their riding, and we have none of the games we saw yesterday at this point. But Burghardt and Barredo had a bigger advantage and were sure they would come through. The two Frenchmen can be pretty sure of that – but not yet positive.

17:00 CEST    160.5km/5km to go
Five km and 2'35 – that ought to be enough. Milram is leading things, for Erik Zabel, but it looks like it will only be for third place.

17:01 CEST   
Why is Fabian Wegmann falling so far back? Berni Kohl may be having the Tour of his dreams, but team-mate Fabian Wegmann is experiencing more of a nightmare. Numerous crashes have left their mark, as have the three weeks of stress. He had two nosebleeds during the stage yesterday, he says on his website, fabianwegmann.de. And not only do his injuries hurt, he is getting a rash from the bandages. "My fingers are so badly swollen that I can barely hold on to the handlebars. And my feet and bottom are bright red. They burn and itch like crazy. Normally you could treat that with cortisone, but not during the Tour." The German admits he has considered dropping out of the Tour, but will hang on until Paris, so that he can toast Kohl's polka-dot jersey.

17:04 CEST    162.5km/3km to go
Roy and Chavanel can start making their plans on how to beat each other. Chavanel has more solo wins than sprints, and we confess to knowing nothing about Roy's sprint abilities.

17:04 CEST    163.5km/2km to go
1'58 difference. Chavanel leads and Roy follows. No attacks. Now Roy takes his turn leading.

17:05 CEST   
Burghardt pulls away from the peloton, with another rider on his rear wheel.

17:05 CEST   
But the field catches them.

17:06 CEST    164.5km/1km to go
The final km for Roy and Chavanel. They are very much aware of each other.

17:06 CEST   
Chavanel leads and looks back nervously.

17:07 CEST   
Roy goes and pulls even with Chavanel, but the Cofidis rider is able to hold him off and takes the win!

17:07 CEST   
Milram leads the field into the final sprint. Now CA takes the lead.

17:08 CEST   
But it is young Gerald Ciolek of Columbia who wins the sprint of the field, barely a minute after the winner.

17:10 CEST   
Another successful breakaway today! Well, that is one thing we definitely won't see in tomorrow's time trial. Join us then and let's all hope for good weather and not the rain that has been forecast.

Meanwhile, Chavanel cries for joy in the arms of his soigneur.

Thanks for reading along today, and thanks for all the mails and messages.

Provisional results

1 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis             3.37.09 (45.73 km/h)
2 Jérémy Roy (Fra) Française des Jeux
3 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Columbia                       1.13
4 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram
5 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Gerolsteiner
6 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis
7 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Liquigas
8 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole
9 Robert Förster (Ger) Gerolsteiner
10 Julian Dean (NZl) Garmin Chipotle - H30
General classification after stage 19
1 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC - Saxo Bank             82.54.36
2 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC - Saxo Bank                        1.24
3 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner                                1.33
4 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence - Lotto                               1.34
5 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank                                    2.39
6 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30        4.41
7 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne              5.35
8 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi               5.52
9 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) AG2R La Mondiale                           8.10
10 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale                        8.24

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