Fabian Cancellara has won the London prologue. He raced the 7.9km course at an average speed of 53.7km/h and beat his nearest rival by 13". He is the first rider born in the 1980s to have won a stage of the Tour de France, that was on the opening day of the 2004 race. Now he’s back in yellow.
Fabian Cancellara is the only man able to beat Kloden’s time. The current top five - with just two riders to finish is: 1. Fabian Cancellara 8’50"740; 2. Kloden at 13"; 3. Hincapie at 23"; 4. Wiggins at 23"; 5. Gusev at 25".
Cancellara has smashed Kloden’s time by 13". The world champion is destined to win the prologue and take the yellow jersey.
Cancellara is going so fast that he almost caught up with two leading motorbikes. He is destined to win the prologue for a second time; the yellow jersey will replace the rainbow jersey.
Cancellara looks like he’ll repeat his effort from 2004: he has posted the best time of the day at the 4.5km mark. The world champion is seven seconds faster than Kloden.
It seems that no one can get close to the time set by Kloden. The leader of the Rabobank team is the latest rider to fail to match the German’s mark; Denis Menchov has gone past the 4.5km mark in 14th place, 12" behind Kloden.
The last rider to start the prologue has just left the start house. Oscar Pereiro is wearing the number 11 ’dossard’... there is no number one in this year’s race because of the confusion surrounding the result from 2006.
Fabian Cancellara, the reigning time trial world champion (and winner of the prologue in 2004) is the latest rider to leave the start house. He is considered The Favorite for today...
The winner of the prologue last year, Thor Hushovd, has posted a time that’s 17" behind Kloden at the intermediate check. It’s enough to put him in 31st... no repeat of the yellow start from 2006 for the Norwegian.
Wiggins has posted a time that’s a fraction of a second behind Hincapie’s. The local favorite is currently third.
At the intermediate time check, Wiggins is third. He has posted a time that’s eight seconds slower than Kloden.
Vinokourov has not been able to match the effort of his team-mate but it’s still a very good time from the Astana team’s leader. The Kazakh rode the 7.9km course in 9’20", 17" slower than Kloden.
At the end of the 7.9km race, David Millar is ninth - 20" behind the time set by Kloden.
At the 4.5km mark, Vinokourov has set the third best time of the day. He is 8" behind the effort of his team-mate Kloden.
At the first time check, David Millar is 11" behind the time set by Kloden. It’s good enough for eighth place so far.
The second British rider to start the prologue, Mark Cavendish from the Isle of Man, has posted the 69th best time of the day at the first intermediate check.
David Millar is now racing. The Scot said yesterday that he’d ridden the course a few times before today but while dodging traffic. He won the time trial on the opening day in 2000 on a 16.5km course (when he beat Lance Armstrong by 2").
Hincapie has finished the 7.9km course in 9’13"760, it’s good enough for second place so far. There are still 31 riders yet to finish the race.
At the intermediate check, the rider who finished the equivalent stage of last year’s race in second place - George Hincapie - has posted the second best time of the day. The American is seven seconds slower than Kloden at the 4.5km mark.
Kloden’s time is 33" better than Lancaster. We’re seeing the foundations being laid by the riders vying for a good general classification finish while the pursuit specialists - who often adapt well for the short prologue time trials - are not nearly as quick.
This may change soon when Bradley Wiggins starts the race at 5.55pm. He is the reigning pursuit world champion, a local and a rider many believe will win today.
Andreas Kloden has ridden the 7.9km course in 9’03", an average speed of 52.4km/h. That’s 12.69 seconds faster than the previous best (set by Gusev).
At the 4.5km mark, Kloden has set a time that’s eight seconds faster than Karpets. He covered that distance in 5’14".
The rider who finished second in the Tour de France in 2004 has just started the time trial. Andreas Kloden is the 150th rider to start. Brett Lancaster - the winner of the very short time trial at the start of the Giro d’Italia two years ago - will start one minute after the German.
Both of these men have the potential for a high placing in the prologue.
There were some of Manuel Quinziato’s devoted ’tifosi’ at the team presentation yesterday holding a banner stating: "God Save The Quinziato". The Italian Liquigas rider has just finished his prologue in 9’22", it’s good enough for the third best time of the day.
Astana’s Andrey Kashechkin has posted the seventh best time of the day. He is 10" behind the time set by Vladimir Gusev (DSC).
The bike supplier for both the Liquigas and Barloworld team is Cannondale. The American company has been developing a new carbon-fibre time trial bike. The only member of the Barloworld team to ride one of these creations will be the youngest rider in the race, Gerraint Thomas. "He’s really only done some early testing on it," said Cannondale’s brand manager, Mike Cotty. "But the early feedback has been positive. He’s looking forward to get all of his potential out of the new bike in his Tour debut."
One of the favorites for the overall title of this year’s Tour, Alejandro Valverde, is due to start at 5.055pm. He is the 126th man to start and although he is expected to shine in the mountains of the second and third week, he is also consistent in time trials.
The first of the five British riders to start the prologue is in the start house. Charlie Wegelius is the 112th man to begin the 7.9km time trial. The Liquigas rider is making his Tour debut this year.
Maxim Iglinski of the Astana team has just left the start house. The next from this squad to start will be one of the favorites, Andrey Kashechkin. The Astana mechanic, Faustino Munoz, explained a few technical details of the BMC bikes used by three of the favorites for the title this year. The carbon-fibre machines that are equipped with Campagnolo components weigh 7.4kg. The Swiss manufacturer has done a lot of work on creating a well balanced bike that is as aerodynamic as possible.
There is little variation in the equipment that Alexandre Vinokourov, Andrey Kashechkin and Andreas Kloden use but one difference is the length of cranks they opt to use: Munoz explain that ‘Vino’ has 172.5mm cranks, while both ‘Kash’ and ‘Klodi’ use 177.5mm.
Vladimir Gusev has just beaten the time set by his compatriot Vladimir Karpets. The Discovery Channel rider finished the time trial in 9’15"990, less than one second faster than the previous best time.
The UCI’s commissaires said prior to the prologue that they’ll be paying close attention to the position of the time trial bikes today. The rules state that the aero bars used by riders need to be five centimeters lower than the tip of the saddle. It’s a ruling that would render some of the positions used last year void.
They will also be checking that no bikes are less than the minimum weight limit of 6.8kg. Phil White from Cervelo - the supplier for the CSC team - said this morning that the P3 time trial bikes were right on that limit.
The winner of the under-23 world time trial championship in 2003, Markus Fothen, has just started the prologue. He led the white jersey for most of the Tour de France last year but lost it in the final days to Damiano Cunego.
Fothen’s team manager Hans Holczer said earlier today that he expects good things from this German rider but, "the course is perfect for Sebastian Lang... it’s a real shame that he’s injured," said Holczer.
"To be honest, I expect that the best rider from Gerolsteiner will be Stefan Schumacher."
Vladimir Gusev is the latest rider to leave the start house. He is clad in the red, white and blue colors of the Russian time trial champion instead of the new green kit of his Discovery Channel team.
There are five riders from Britain on the start list for the 94th Tour de France. They are: Bradley Wiggins of the Cofidis team, David Millar from Saunier Duval, Charlie Wegelius of Liquigas, Mark Cavendish of T-Mobile and Gerraint Thomas of Barloworld.
Two of them are favorites for today’s time trial: Millar and Wiggins. Let us know who you believe will be the best placed of this pair by click on the ’survey’ button on letour.fr.
Another former youth classification winner has just reached the finish of today’s prologue. Yaroslav Popovych is currently ranked 13th; his time is 22" seconds slower than the white jersey winner of 2004 Vladimir Karpets.
Vladimir Karpets was the winner of the youth classification at the 2004 Tour de France. To find out more about the man who currently has the fastest time in the prologue (and everyone else in this year’s Tour), click on his number in the rider list on letour.fr.
Vladimir Karpets who won the Tour de Suisse in June, has just posted the best time of the day. His average speed is 51.2km/h; he is six seconds faster than Zabriskie.
Dave Zabriskie has finished in 9’23", he has taken the lead from Mike Astarloza by a fraction of a second. But his lead is under threat from Vladimir Karpets who was 2" faster at the 4.5km mark.
Zabriskie has reached the first intermediate check with a time that’s 2" better than the previous best (set by his team-mate O’Grady).
One of the favorites for today is Dave Zabriskie. The rider who claimed the yellow jersey on day one of his Tour debut has just started the time trial. He was in a jovial mood yesterday and, as always, joked with journalists about how he gets motivated. "I’ve been watching RAD, the BMX movie from the 1980s," said Zabriskie. "I’ve also had BMX Bandits on lately... watching Nicole Kidman riding a BMX bike is always good fun."
He isn’t convinced that the course is perfect for him though. "It’s taking me a little longer to wind it up to full speed lately. I hit top speed after about 10km. The prologue course might not be long enough."
O’Grady had set the fastest time at the intermediate check. The CSC rider covered the first 4.5km in 5’26", one second faster than Astarloza... but then crashed and finished with a time of 10’13", 30" behind Astarloza.
So far three riders have set an average speed faster than 50km/h. Paolo Savoldelli is currently third (behind Astarloa and Bonnet). The fastest time so far is held by the Spanish Euskaltel-Euskadi team: 9’23"880 - an average of 50.5km/h.
Stuart O’Grady appeared to be prepared to take a few risks on the course today. He is one rider who said yesterday that the course wasn’t too technical. Alas, he overshot a lefthand turn and crashed heavily; he is currently placed 35th.
Stuart O’Grady has clipped a barricade and has crashed heavily. He is back on his bike but doesn’t appear too interested in trying to make up for lost time and is currently limping to the finish with torn clothes.
Mikel Astarloa has eclipsed the time of Bonnet by three seconds.
The rider who won the prologue of last year’s Giro d’Italia, Paolo Savoldelli is charging towards the first time check. He is the third man from the Astana team to start today. He prefers a more technical course but we can expect a good time from the Italian today.
For the time being, however, it’s still William Bonnet who has the fastest time so far.
After getting a chance to ride the course this morning most of the riders agree that it’s a fast route that is not very technical. "There’s really only one corner where you need to use the brakes," said David Millar in a press conference yesterday.
The winner of Paris-Roubaix in April this year, Stuart O’Grady, is the 40th rider to start the prologue. He is the second rider from the CSC team to begin this 7.9km test. The Australian was a member of the team pursuit squad that broke the world record at the 1993 world championships on the track in Oslo — setting a time of 4’03"840. Other riders with a track heritage are expected to shine today... including the reigning pursuit world champion Bradley Wiggins and O’Grady’s compatriot Brett Lancaster.
Bert Grabsch of the T-Mobile team recently won the German time trial title. He has just posted the third fastest time of the day. He is 17" slower than Bonnet (C.A).
William Bonnet is the first rider to set an average speed faster than 50km/h. He leads Thomas Vaitkus by 6" and the average for the 7.9km course for the Frenchman who has set the early standard is 50.2km/h (Vaitkus’ average was 49.7km/h).
William Bonnet has beating Frederick Willems’ time at the intermediate check. The French Credit Agricole rider reached the 4.5km mark in 5’27".
The three time world champion Oscar Freire has been complaining of problems with saddle sores in the days leading up to the Grand Depart. The Spaniard was considering forfeiting his place in the Rabobank line-up but he has just begun the time trial; he is the 17th man to begin the prologue.
There is a time check at the 4.5km mark of today’s time trial. With 10 riders past that mark, the fastest so far is Frederick Willems of the Liquigas team.
The first rider from the Astana team to start the prologue is Daniel Navarro. He has posted a time that’s 33 seconds faster than Degano.
Endrico Degano has reached the finish. The Italian has won a bike race in London before; that was in the 2004 Tour of Britain. His aveage speed for the 7.9km time trial is 45.9km/h. He is not expected to figure in the rankings today as some experts are predicting an average speed up about 54km/h for the time trial specialists. Degano’s victory three years ago was in a sprint finish.
The first time that the Tour de France began with a short time trial (known as a prologue) was in 1967. That was in Angers and a Frenchman very nearly claimed the first yellow jersey of the race: Raymond Poulidor came close to victory but was beaten by just 0.6 of a second by a Spaniard, Errandonea.
Two of the riders favoured to win the prologue are British. David Millar has won on the opening day of the Tour de France in the past (back in 2000) and he is motivated for a repeat performance today. The Scot is scheduled to start his time trial at 5.49pm.
The other local favourite is Bradley Wiggins. The Olympic pursuit gold medallist from 2004 is due to start at 5.55pm.
Enrico Degano has left the start house and is now on the course on the streets of London. He is the first of 189 riders to begin the prologue; the next is Ruben Lobato of the Saunier Duval-Prodir team.
The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone is currently in the start house posing for photographers only moments before the first rider starts the 7.9km time trial on the streets of the British capital.
The 2007 edition of the Tour de France is schedule to start at 3.00pm local time. The conditions for the prologue in the center of London are ideal for the 7.9km time trial; the sun is shining, a light breeze is blowing and there’s no sign of the rain of recent days theatening to spoil the action on what many riders say is a fast course.
The start house is located at Whitehall, just next to Trafalgar Square where huge crowds gather to watch the team presentation yesterday evening.
The first rider to begin the prologue is Enrico Degano of the Barloworld team. Riders will depart at one minute intervals with the last man to leave the start house, Oscar Pereiro of Caisse d’Epargne, due to begin at 6.08pm.
Live coverage of the 94th Tour will commence shortly.