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July 08, 2007

Stage 1 on the road

Agritubel's Eduardo Gonzalo is the first man out of the 2007 Tour. He apparently touched wheels with someone and is out of the Tour almost before it's begun.

David Millar is trying to make good on his promise yesterday to win a Tour stage, and he wants it as soon as possible: He was solo off the front earlier, and now is part of a 5-man group. He's taken maximum sprint points at 2 intermediate sprints. Also in the break are Andrey Grivko, Freddy Bichot, Stephane Auge, and Aleksandr Kuschynski.

Millar has updated his rider diary over at Bicycling.com with his reaction to the Prologue.

With less than 80 kilometers/50 miles to ride, the break is about 5:50 ahead of the peloton.

CSC leads the chase, which is suddenly making some progress -- the gap is now 5:20.

With 74 kms/45 miles to ride, the gap is down to 4:45.

Credit Agricole, Quick Step, and Predictor-Lotto have put riders on the front to reel in the 5 leaders, with less than 40 miles to ride, the gap has fallen below 3:00.

Day's last intermediate sprint points go to Kuschynski (6), Bichot (4), and Grivko (2). The peloton rolls through 2:35 behind.

Auge, Bichot and Kuschynski raise the pace, and Grivko and Millar can't hang, so the 5 are now 3 with less than a 2:00 advantage, and less than 30 miles/49kms to ride.

Grivko and Millar are caught, and the gap hovers at 2:00. The sprinters' teams don't want to swallow the 3 breakaway riders too soon, which would just encourage another breakaway. On the other hand, David Millar leads the King of the Mountains competion, unless Freddy Bichot takes points at the final 4th-Category climb of the day, so Saunier Duval now is helping on the front of the peloton. Less than 24 miles/40kms to ride, and the gap is down to just over a minute.

With 27k/17m to ride, Bichot and Kuschynski are caught, and Auge has increased the advantage to 27 seconds. Auge will take over the KoM jersey if he's first over the upcoming climb and Millar doesn't take points there. Augé does his part, but Millar is next across, so David Millar will wear the King of the Mountains jersey tomorrow. Augé is captured.

Mark Cavendish and Robbie McEwen have been isolated by a crash or mechanicals. They're chasing along with about 20 other riders, with Quick Step driving the field and less than 10k to ride.

McEwen has caught the back of the field, but it remains to be seen whether he can thread his way through the field and figure in the sprint. We're at 4 miles to ride.

With 2 k to ride, Milram takes over from QuickStep, setting up 6-time green jersey Erik Zabel.

Into the last kilometer, and Zabel, Bennati, and Boonen are up front. Now there goes Robbie Hunter of Barloworld, with a Discovery rider in his wake. He's building a good lead, but he's gone from way out, and as he fades, here comes Robbie McEwen, appearing out of the crowd as always, and he rockets to the win!

Top Five was 1) McEwen, 2) Hushovd, 3) Boonen, 4) Sebastien Chavanel, 5) Feilleu.

To follow my comments alongside the Tour broadcast, or to keep up in real-time, I recommend my Tour de France Twitter updates -- there's no RSS lag, and you can get updates direct to your mobile phone with SMS.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 8, 2007 in David Millar, Mark Cavendish, Robbie Hunter, Robbie McEwen, Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen | Permalink

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