The top 10 in stage 13 is:
1. Alexandre Vinokourov (KAZ) AST - 54.0km in 1h06’34"610
2. Cadel Evans (AUS) PRL at 1’14"
3. Andreas Kloden (GER) AST at 1’39"
4. Andrey Kashechkin (KAZ) AST at 1’44"
5. Bradley Wiggins (GBR) COF at 2’14"
6. Yaroslav Popovych (UKR) DSC at 2’16"
7. Alberto Contador (ESP) DSC at 2’18"
8. Sylvain Chavanel (FRA) COF at 2’38"
9. Levi Leipheimer (USA) DSC at 2’39"
10. Mikel Astarloza (ESP) EUS at 2’42"
Michael Rasmussen didn’t falter in this race against the clock. He has finished in 11th place, 2’55" behind Vinokourov. He will lead the general classification by 1’36" over Evans after 13 stages.
Valverde has cracked in the 13th stage. He has been caught by Rasmussen 2.5km from the finish. The sun is now shining and the battle of the former mountain bikers is due to begin tomorrow with Rasmussen and Evans due to start the Pyrenean stages in first and second overall.
Rasmussen needs to finish 2’41" ahead of Evans to keep the yellow jersey. At this stage he is 2’53" behind Vinokourov while Evans was 1’17" behind at the same point. It seems that the Danish rider will maintain his lead in the general classification despite finishing out of the top 10 in stage 13...
Three Astana riders are in the first four positions of the 13th stage. We still await the arrival of Mayo, Valverde and Rasmussen but neither of these will catch Vinokourov’s time. The only thing that now hangs in the balanace is the all-important factor of the yellow jersey... will Rasmussen finish within 2’41" of Cadel Evans?
There are still three riders yet to finish the stage but it appears that Evans will be 2nd in the stage. He is 1’14" behind Vinokourov and 25" seconds ahead of Kloden.
Contador has finished with a time that’s 2’18" slower than ’Vino’. The Spaniard will wear the white jersey in stage 14.
At the 49km mark, Evans is 1’17" behind Vinokourov. The Predictor-Lotto rider won’t win the stage but he may yet take the yellow jersey from Rasmussen.
At the top of the climb, Rasmussen’s time is 2’37" slower than Vinokourov. He is still the leader of the Tour de France but Evans is on an inspired ride and may yet become the fifth Australian to wear the yellow jersey.
At the third check, Evans has posted a time that’s 1’01" behind Vinokourov but the Australian is 18" ahead of the rider who just posted the second best time at the finish, Andreas Kloden.
The Astana team is currently ranked first, second and third in the 13th stage. Vinokourov leads with a time of 1h06’34", in second is Kloden (at 1’40") and Kashechkin is third at 1’44".
At the 35.6km mark, Rasmussen’s deficit to Vinokourov is 2’40". At this stage, he is still in the yellow jersey but his advantage over Evans is diminishing quickly.
The popular belief is that Rasmussen will lose a fair amount of time today. He is yet to reach the second check but he lost 1’42" to Vinokourov at the 18km mark... and needs to stay 2’41" ahead of Evans to keep his yellow jersey.
At the 2nd check Iban Mayo has confirmed what many expected would happen: he’s lost a lot of time, posting a time that’s 4’23" slower than Vinokourov.
Valverde has also just gone past that mark, he is 4’03" behind Vino...
After the part of the course that he claimed he liked before the race, Evans has moved up to second place. The top five at the 38.5km mark is:
1. Vinokourov 38.5km in 50’07"
2. Evans - at 1’01"
3. Wiggins - at 1’19"
4. Kloden - at 1’19"
5. Kashechkin - at 1’36"
At the top of the Cote de la Bauzie, Cadel Evans has posted a time of 51’08", that’s enough for second place at this stage of the race. He’s 1’01" behind Vinokourov.
At the base of the climb, Evans is ranked third. He is 1’12" behind Vinokourov and four seconds ahead of Kloden.
At the end of the 54km stage, Andrey Kashechkin is ranked 2nd... he is 1’44" behind his team-mate Alexandre Vinokourov.
Christophe Moreau has lost 9’26" to Vinokourov in the 54km stage. The French champion is 113th in the stage so far...
Valverde is currently on the first descent. He is braking heavily going into the turns and, as far as we know, has not yet falled in the time trial but his deficit at the first check to Vinokourov was 2’18".
At the top of the cote de la Bauzie, Andreas Kloden was in the aero tuck on the ascent and crested the climb with a deficit of 1’19" to Vinokourov. The two Astana riders have first and second place at the 38.5km mark.
At the first time check, the gains by Evans over Rasmussen puts the Australian into virtual second place. He is now 1’56" behind the Danish rider with more than half the stage yet to go. Both these two are former mountain bike riders but it looks like they’ll be battling it out for the yellow jersey today... if history is anything to go by, Evans is likely to take the yellow jersey from Rasmussen thanks to his strength in this discipline.
Kloden has set the third fastest time of the stage at the second check... he is 1’16" behind his team-mate.
Rasmussen has reached the first check, 1’42" behind Vinokourov.
Many expected Alejandro Valverde to end the stage in the yellow jersey. He has lost 2’18" in just 18km of the 13th stage... that’s good enough for 41st so far.
The left side of Kashechkin’s knicks are also torn. We haven’t seen footage of his crash but it’s clear that his time trial has been hindered by an incident in the first 30km.
The corner where Kloden crashed is also the one where Cancellara unclipped from his pedals in a moment of panic. The German got through the tunnel where the Swiss rider crashed without incident and we await the next time check for Kloden who was 3rd fastest after 18km...
Andreas Kloden has crashed on the right hand turn that has caused problems for many riders today. He bounced up quickly and is riding again but he lost a bit of time at around the 30km mark.
At the first check, Cadel Evans (PRL) has posted the sixth best time of the stage. He admitted this morning that the first part of the course didn’t suit him well and he expects his time gains to come in the middle part of the time trial. He is 57" slower than Vinokourov in the first 18km.
Vinokourov looks like the winner of the stage even if there are another 18 riders yet to finish. The Kazakh has posted a time of 1h06’34 - an average speed of 48.7km/h!
Popovych has also crashed. He has torn knicks on his right side. It’s almost a mirror image of the injuries sustained by his team-mate Gusev.
The rider in sixth at the start of the day, Carlos Sastre (CSC) has reached the 18km mark, 1’41" slower than Vinokourov. It’s enough to put the Spaniard in 26th at the first check.
At the 49km mark, Vinokourov is at the fourth check in 1h00’08" - that’s 1’57" ahead of Wiggins! He began the day in 19th overall, 8’05" behind Rasmussen; it’s now possible that he’ll end the stage ranked in the top 10.
Andreas Kloden went past the 18km check 34" behind his team-mate. That’s good enough for third with six more yet to arrive at that part of the race.
The forecast of storms arriving late in the day doesn’t look like becoming a reality. The roads are still damp but the rain has stopped, there are rays of sun shining through gaps that are opening in the clouds and the conditions much better now than they were when, for example, David Millar did his time trial.
The latest rider to arrive at the first check is Levi Leipheimer who covered 18km in 24’40"... good enough for 19th place so far.
Rasmussen has left the start house. He insists that he has improved his time trial since the disastrous day in St-Etienne in 2005 when he lost over seven minutes and slipped from third to seventh in the general classification.
The chances of a one-two-three finish for Astana look slim. Andrey Kashechkin has just reached the 1st check with a deficit of 1’30" to his compatriot.
The Astana team appears destined for a stage win. At the 3rd check Vinokourov has beaten Wiggins’ time by 1’19"! And Kloden and Kashechkin are yet to arrive at any of the time check...
Alexandre Vinokourov is a rear disc wheel and what looks like a four-spoke front wheel in the Kazakh colors. The new top five at the 2nd check after he past the 35.6km mark is:
1. Vinokourov 35.6km in 44’00"
2. Wiggins - at 52"
3. Hoste - at 1’17"
4. Popovych - at 1’29"
5. Gusev - at 1’39"
Evans (PRL) has just left the start house. The Australian is ranked fourth overall which means that only three more men are yet to begin the time trial.
At the 35.6km mark Vinokourov has posted a 44’00", that’s 52 seconds faster than Wiggins.
Moreau is ranked 53rd at the first check. He has lost 2’55" to Vinokourov in just 18km.
The Russian TT champion has finished 42" shy of Wiggins. He is actually a fraction of a second faster than Hoste (PRL) and ranked third in the stage for now...
Considering his nasty crash in the closing kilometers, Vladimir Gusev has posted a very impressive time. He is 4th at the end of his time trial.
Andreas Kloden has just started his time trial. His team leader has set the best time of the day at the first check and the German - who was second in the prologue - is expected to be high in the rankings again today.
The rain has stopped and there are even a few rays of sun shining through the clouds. The times for the GC riders should eclipse the mark set by Wiggins earlier today because the roads are much drying than an hour ago.
Vladimir Gusev has the third best time at the 35.6km and fifth best at 38.5km but the Russian TT champion just crashed on a roundabout and almost smashed his face into the curb. He slid quickly to the edge of the road and suffered a nasty fall but he’s now back on his bike and racing.
Chavanel has the 4th best times at the first and second check, third best at 38.5km, second best at 49km also at the finish. Cofidis is now in first and second at this stage...
Andreas Kloden has just had his bike checked by the scrutineers at the start. The BMC time trial machine weighed in at 7.8kg. The German uses 177.5mm cranks on his time trial bike, five millimeters longer than those used by his Kazakh team leader Alexandre Vinokourov.
With Vinokourov past the first check the new top five is:
1. Vinokourov (AST)
2. Wiggins (COF) - at 10"
3. Cancellara (CSC) - at 39"
4. Chavanel (COF) - at 40"
5. Popovych (DSC) - at 1’05"
Popovych passed the first check 55" behind Wiggins but it was the rider who started after the Ukrainian who was expected to come to the fore today. Alexandre Vinokourov has reached the 18km mark and eclipsed the time of Wiggins by 10".
At the top of the climb, Boogerd has pushed his way into the top five. He is 1’31" slower than Wiggins at the 38.5km mark and three seconds faster than Hincapie.
Between the second and third time checks, Chavanel improved his time from 50" shy of his team-mate Wiggins to 42" behind the British rider.
At the top of the Cote de la Bauzie, Sylvain Chavanel is ranked third. He is ahead of Hincapie and behind Wiggins and Hoste. The deficit to the stage leader is 42". Traditionally Chavanel starts his time trials fast and fades at the end but the Frenchman is currently third fastest at the first, second and third checks.
There are two Belgian riders currently ranked in the top four. Leif Hoste (PRL) is 42" behind Wiggins at the finish. And last year’s time trial champion of Belgium, Sebastien Roesseler is fourth, 1’21" behind. Today is the national holiday in their country.
At the top of the climb, Hincapie is ranked third. He covered the first 38.5km of the time trial at an average speed of 43.6km/h and is about 21" shy of Wiggins mark at the third time check.
Gerdemann (TMO) has just started his time trial. He was down on the time trial bars faster than most guys, taking only a matter of 100m or so before he was in the aero tuck. The former overall leader of the Tour is currently ranked 16th...
George Hincapie was sixth when he went past the 18km mark, he is now up to fourth in the rankings. At the base of the climb, the US road race champion is 1’39" behind Wiggins.
The times are getting faster now that the rain is easing. Chavanel (COF) is currently ranked third at the first check, one second behind Cancellara’s time at the 18km mark. It is still 30" behind Wiggins but a sign that the favorites might have better conditions that many of the riders who started in the middle of the field.
The Russian TT champion has finished less than a minute behind Wiggins at the first check. His time was posted just ask Alexandre Vinokourov arrived in the start house. The GC men are now lining up for the 54km test in Albi... the question is: will they take the risk on a course that is slippery in the quest for time gains or opt to be cautious instead?
“I rode the course this morning, starting my reconnaissance around the same time as Cancellara,” said the rider who is ranked fourth overall prior to today’s time trial, Cadel Evans. “I wanted to see what it was like so I was on the bike at about 9.30am. My appraisal of what it was like…? The first part suits Andreas Kloden, the middle is good for me and the final section should be where Cancellara gains his time.
“That was before the rain started to fall but I’ve spoken with a few of my team-mates who have already finished and they said that it is slippery out there.”
The Australian’s start time is 4.09pm.
There are a number of riders now pushing into the top 10 at the first time check. Jens Voigt is the latest to reach the 18km mark: he is 1’18" behind the time of Wiggins.
Hincapie is ranked sixth at the first check. He is 1’26" behind Wiggins who is sitting in his Cofidis team bus waiting anxiously to see if his times - first at each check including the final one - is good enough for him to win the stage.
For the first time since Grivko, someone has pushed their way into the top 10 at the 18km mark. Carlos Barredo of the Quickstep team has the sixth best time at the first check. He is 1’44" behind Wiggins but it’s a sign that the easing rain is improving conditions at the moment.
Vladimir Gusev has just left the start house. He has a black patch on his left shin and is wearing the colors that denote his status as Russian time trial champion. He is ranked 30th overall after 12 stages.
The winner of an individual time trial stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia, last year’s Italian TT champion Marzio Bruseghin has just finished 12th. His time is 3’48" behind that of Wiggins. His ride was done in slightly better conditions than what many men endured but the rain is starting to fall again.
"Wiggins rode an excellent time trial, especially in the first part of the course but even in the end, when it was raining, he kept on riding really quickly," said the Cofidis director Francis van Londersele. "For the moment, he hasn’t won. We have to be patient but it’s true that, with a little bit of luck, he can win the stage.
"First of all because, if the rain continues, it’ll be difficult for any rider to go faster than Bradley. Secondly, because the leaders of the race like Kloden won’t take many risks on this kind of course; they want to be able to finish near Rasmussen and the other GC riders... they’re not exactly racing for the stage win."
The 130th rider to start the stage is George Hincapie (DSC). He has just left the start house. It’s another hour and 22 minutes before Rasmussen is scheduled to start the 54km time trial.
At the second check, Savolvelli’s time is 4’50" slower than Wiggins. He has been past the site of Cancellara’s crash and he too suffered some close calls prior to the categorized ascent.
The rain has stopped falling in Albi for the time being. It’s still very overcast and it’s likely to shower again but the downfall of earlier today has eased and we may see some of the favorites riding in more favorable conditions than what guys like Cancellara, Millar and Savoldelli have endured.
Johan Vansummeren has just reached the 49km mark with the 10th best time. He is 3’31" behind the time of Wiggins.
The descent is proving hazardous for all the riders. Even the rider famous for his bike handling ability, Paolo Savoldelli (AST) has been suffering on the slippery roads. He just loked up the back wheel and almost slid off the side of the road at the same section that Cancellara had troubles. The Italian on Astana is less than 25km from the finish.
Moments after Dario Cioni came out of the start house the motorcycle following him suffered a front wheel slide. The paint in the center of the road appears to be extremely slippery because the moment the motorbike’s wheel hit the white lines it came crashing down.
The last two riders to finish have pushed their way into the top 10: Portal (GCE) has the eighth best time (1h12’25") and Egoi Martinez (DSC) is now ranked sixth (2’14" behind Wiggins).
Wiggins’ time of 1h08’48" translates to an average speed of 47.1km/h. He continues to lead at all the time checks. At the finish he is 42 seconds faster than the rider who began in ninth, Leif Hoste.
Grivko’s average speed for the 54km is 45.7km/h. He has the fifth best time of the day, 2’02" behind Wiggins.
Another rider who has been able to muscle his way into the top five is Andriy Grivko. The Milram rider was 2’01" behind Wiggins at 35.6km, 2’14" behind at 38.5km and 49km. He was the 82nd rider to start the stage.
The only rider who has been able to interrupt the top five lately has been David Millar (SDV). He has finished 1’13” shy of Wiggins’ time. “Oh man,” said Millar at the finish, “it’s so dangerous! I almost stopped on the descents, but I quite like time trialing in the rain: it feels faster.
“I had good fun out there but it’s treacherous, absolutely treacherous! When you’re on time trial equipment everything is a lot stiffer, your tire pressure is a lot higher and we’re not used to riding on these wheels or these bikes so you just don’t know how far you can push it.
“When I won in 2003 I fell off that day when I was going about 10km/h… you’ve just got to take care. It’s a zero risk day. I think we’ll see the GC guys having to take it really easy. That’s what I’m going to recommend to Mayo anyway.”
Millar has finished with the third best time of the day. He is 1’13" behind Wiggins at the 54km mark. Only Hoste separates the two Brit from the Scot with a time that’s 42" behind the stage leader.
The fastest times of the day have been posted by those who started early before the rain became heavy and the roads trecherously slippery. The only rider who has pushed into the top five at all the checks in the heavy downfall has been Millar who was 5th at 18km, 4th at 35.6km and 38.5km... and 3rd at the 49km mark. He is 1’26" behind Wiggins with 5km to go.
The last time Millar won a stage of the Tour de France was in 2003 when torrential rain fell for the entire day fo the penultimate stage. The Saunier Duval rider is coping fairly well today, posting the fourth best time at the top of the climb. He is 1’56" behind Wiggins but it appears that the Cofidis rider is going to hold his advantage for much of the day... he raced on wet roads but it was nothing like it is now: puddles are forming and the road surface is very slippery.
Millar is 1’50" slower than Wiggins at the second check but he has moved up the rankings from fifth (at 18km) to fourth at 35.6km. Cancellara was 2’06" behind at the same check... and this was before his crash.
David Millar has done the first 18km in 25’04", it’s 1’45" slower than Wiggins who continues to lead at every check.
Kim Anderson of the CSC team was following Fabian Cancellara when he crashed and, at the finish, he had this to say: "It’s just bad luck," said the directeur sportif. "He is a little bit sore, I’d imagine. He came down hard but it was just a slip of the front wheel and there was nothing he could do about it. It’s one of those things and it’s a lesson for everyone today: you’ve got to be careful as well as fast."
Cancellara has the 29th best time, 6’31" behind Wiggins. He had the second best time at the first check but the crash near the end of the 54km race hindered his hopes. After crossing the line, Cancellara went straight into a campervan parked a couple of hundred meters past the line and was tended to by a soigneur. He appeared concerned about his hip but didn’t appear too injured. He was walking fine and is probably more shaken than hurt.
The time trial world champion rode the course earlier today as a warm-up and to make sure he knew every twist and turn, rise and descent. Fabian Cancellara began his reconnaissance at around 9.30am. He began his race at 12.06pm and is yet to reach the 49km mark but at the third check he was 3’17" behind Wiggins.
At the top of the categorized climb today, Boonen is 7’46" behind Wiggins. The ascent is 3.4km long with an average gradient of 4.7 percent and it’s cost Boonen almost one minute to the lead of Wiggins.
The world time trial champion is 3’17" behind the world pursuit champion at the third check. Fabian Cancellara’s time at the 38.5km mark is good enough for ninth so far.
Stefan Schumacher turns 26 today. He is the latest rider to leave the start house but his manager this morning told LeTour.fr that it’s unlikely he’ll be much of a force in the time trial. Schumacher has been suffering in the heat of the last couple of days and has an upset stomach because of the high volume of fluids he needs to drink to stop himself from dehydrating.
The green jersey has passed the 2nd check with a deficit to Wiggins of 6’53". Tom Boonen’s time at the 35.6km mark is the 50th best so far.
At the 35.6km mark, Cancellara is ranked fourth. He is 2’06" behind the time of Wiggins. The top five with the world champion at the second check is:
1. Wiggins - 35.6km in 44’52"
2. Hoste - at 25"
3. Roesseler - at 1’26"
4. Cancellara - at 2’06"
5. De Groot - at 2’27"
Robbie Hunter is not taking the risk of finishing outside the time limit like he did in the penultimate stage of last year’s Tour. He is currently ranked 12th at the fourth check, 4’45" behind the mark set by Wiggins. He is 2nd in the points classification behind Tom Boonen.
So far 55 riders have reached the first time check at 18km. The best time is still owned by Wiggins (23’19"), who is 29" faster than Cancellara. There is 5’52" between first and last so far with Fred Rogriguez the slowest with a time of 29’11".
The first South African to win a stage of the Tour de France, Robert Hunter of the Barloworld team, was a victim of the rapid speed of the penultimate stage of the 2006 Tour de France. Riding for the Phonak squad, he finished 18’09" behind the stage winner of the time trial in Macon. He was eliminated from the race on the eve of the final stage after finishing outside the time limit.
At the first time check of the day, Boonen has already lost 4’05" to Wiggins.
At the 35.6km mark, Bert Grabsch of the T-Mobile squad has the 11th best time so far. He is the reigning German time trial champion, 3’08" behind Wiggins.
At the first check, Cancellara is 29" behind the time set by Bradley Wiggins.
"It will be wet for everyone, but it’s not particularly dangerous," said the Directeur de la Competition, Jean-Francois Pescheux. "It’s a little bit technical - especially on the descent of the Gorges du Tarn which is very fast indeed. The climb is also quite technical. On this course specialists like Wiggins, Cancellara and Millar will surely be present but it should handicap the overall favorites like Kloden and Vinokourov.
"I expect that the winning time will be about one hour and five minutes."
The T-Mobile rider who won this year’s chaotic edition of Gent-Wevelgem, Marcus Burghardt has posted the fourth best time at the fourth check. He is 3’30" behind the standard set by Wiggins.
The two riders who have won twice at the 2007 Tour de France - Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara - started the time trial in 51st and 52nd, respectively. Boonen began today’s stage at 12.04pm, and Cancellara left two minutes later. They are yet to arrive at the first check but we can count on a good time from the prologue winner and reigning world champion, Mr Cancellara.
"It’s a day that’s entirely different to what we expected," said the manager of the Bouygues Telecom team, Jean-Rene Bernaudeau. "With Stef Clement we had a rider who is capable of a top 10 finish in the time trial but he was outside the time limit in stage 12. So now it will be a day without any real ambition for our team... the priority will be caution and make sure we don’t crash so that we arrive in the Pyrenees with good condition."
The 52nd rider to start the stage is the world time trial champion, Fabian Cancellara. He is due at the first check in about 15 minutes and, if the first two weeks of the Tour are anything to go by, he is likely to post the best time.
Britain’s Bradley Wiggins has posted the best time at every check. He was 1’06" ahead of Host at 18km, 25" ahead a 35.6, 23" ahead at 38.5km, 39" ahead at 49km and 42" ahead at the finish.
His time for the 54km course is 1h08’48".
"It’s wet all the way," said the 12th rider to finish, Thor Hushovd (C.A), "but it’s not too slippery. The conditions look bad but it’s the same for everyone. I didn’t expect a good time today. I’m not concentrating on the time trials."
The winner of the prologue in 2006 finished 7’22" behind the best rider so far, Leif Hoste (PRL).
At the 49km mark, Hushovd’s time is 6’39" slower than Hoste.
At the 18km mark, Wiggins (COF) was 1’06" better than Hoste but by the next check (at 35.6km) he was just 25" ahead... at 38.5km, the Brit still has the best time but it’s just 23" better than Hoste. Could this mean that caution is the priority on a wet day in Albi?
The ninth rider to start, Leif Hoste (PRL) has posted the best time of the day at all checks... prior to Wiggins’ arrival. The Belgian has just finished the stage in 1h09’30" - this is 2’56" better than Verbrugghe (COF) and 3’52" better than Thomas (BAR).
At the 49km mark, Hoste’s time is 2’49" better than his compatriot Verbrugghe. The best time so far today at the fourth check is 1h03’14" for the Predictor-Lotto rider.
After 12 stages and 2,303.4km of racing two brothers - Ralf and Bert Grabsch - are ranked next to each other in the general classification. Bert rides for the T-Mobile team and is the reigning German time trial champion, while Ralf is a member of the Milram squad. They will start the time trial two minute apart with Bert chasing his sibling.
The rain is getting heavier in Albi. The roads are now wet and the first rider to arrive at the finish is Rik Verbrugghe (who was the second to start). His time is 1h12’25" for the 54km.
The rider in third overall after 12 stages understands that his position in the general classification is under threat in the time trial. Iban Mayo offered his appraisal of what will happen today after finishing 40th in the stage to Castres yesterday: “I’m not going to estimate a specific amount of time I’ll lose,” said the Saunier Duval-Prodir rider, “but I know time trialists will take full advantage… it’ll be a long and difficult TT, but I’m not complaining since the day after […] come the Pyrenees and there are three mountain stages ahead.
“I’m sure the Tour will be decided over these climbs rather than in the time trial.”
The weather bureau’s forecast is coming true; rain has started to fall in Albi. It’s only a light drizzle at the moment but the showers are expect to continue throughout the day with conditions only getting wetter as the stage progresses.
One of the pre-race favorites, Alexandre Vinokourov, admits that he’s been plagued with problems in the first two weeks of the Tour but he’s not giving up hope of a good result. "Today we didn’t want to attack like yesterday," he said after the 12th stage. "My feelings are getting better every day. It’s good. But I can’t say about the time trial of tomorrow. It’s more than 50km of constant effort. Wait and see… But my moral is back."
Vinokourov is ranked 19th overall after 12 stage, 8’05" behind Rasmussen.
The Olympic pursuit champion has set a time that’s 1’06" faster than Hoste at the 18km mark. Bradley Wiggins reached the first check in 23’19".
“I think that Marcus [Fothen] really wants to try and perform well today,” said the manager of the Gerolsteiner team, Hans Holczer, earlier today. “He admits that he’s not in the form that he had when he made his Tour debut last year but the ex-time trial under-23 world champion wants a good result. I think he’ll be in the top 10 of 15… that’s what he told me that he expects in Albi today.”
One rider in the Tour celebrates a birthday today. Stefan Schumacher turns 26 but he does not expect a good performance in the time trial according to Holczer. “Stefan will definitely not go for a result today. He has suffered a lot in the heat over the last few days and has had some stomach problems because of how much he’s had to drink. He will just finish the stage today and hope to recover in the next few days.”
When asked for a forecast on the winning time, Holczer said he wouldn’t even attempt to forecast it but he suggested that the two riders who finished first and second in the London prologue would be formidable today. “Iit’s clear that Cancellara is a very good time trial rider and we also saw that Kloden is going well but we don’t know how much he’s suffering but I think he’ll do a good time because he’s a specialist in this discipline.”
The first two to start the stage have arrived at the 35.6km mark. Verbrugghe’s time at the 2nd check is 47’46", 1’49" faster than Vansevenant.
No riders have yet reached the base of the climb on today’s course (at the 35.6km mark). But we can report that Leif Hoste (PRL) has set the best time of the day at the 18km mark - 24’25", 52" faster than the next best rider at the first intermediate check.
The day began with mild weather: a high cloud cover over Albi and temperatures around 25 degrees Celsius. The weather bureau is forecasting that conditions will deteriorate as the day progresses with rain expected prior to storms late in the afternoon.
Gerraint Thomas’ time at the first check is 25’19". He is 19" faster than Kuschynski (LIQ) and 33" better than two Cofidis recruits - Verbrugghe and Nuyens - who reached the 18km mark at the same time as each other (25’52").
As the Welsh rider who is currently ranked last in the youth classification, Gerraint Thomas (BAR) sets the best time of the day at the 18km mark, it’s time to note who the leaders of the category open to those born after 1 January 1982 are.
Alberto Contador (DSC) is ranked fifth overall and wears the white jersey again today. He has an advantage of 3’37" over the former Tour leader, Linus Gerdemann (TMO) and 3’41" over the winner in Briancon Mauricio Soler (BAR).
Mauricio Soler (BAR) added another 10 points to his tally in the race for the polka-dot jersey in stage 12. He now trails Michael Rasmussen (RAB) in the mountains classification by just nine points.
In third place is Yaroslav Popovych (DSC) who has 86 points, 12 less than the Danish rider who also leads the general classification.
The polka-dot jersey is worn by Soler while Rasmussen is in the yellow top.
The winner of stage 12 has a commanding lead of the points classification. Tom Boonen (QSI) is one of two men to have won two stages of the 2007 Tour. He has a tally of 195 points, 20 more than Robert Hunter (BAR) and 21 more than Erik Zabel (MRM).
The first two riders have reached the 18km mark. Verbrugghe (COF) has set the early standard with a time of 25’52" at the first check. He leads Vansevenant by 49".
After 12 stages of the 2007 Tour de France, Michael Rasmussen still leads the general classification. The Danish Rabobank rider has an advantage of 2’35" over Alejandro Valverde (GCE) at the start of the 13th stage. When he was last in contention for a high overall finish, Rasmussen faltered in the time trial; that was in 2005 when he began the penultimate stage ranked third, but he finished 77th in the 55km stage in St-Etienne and lost 7’47" to the stage winner... and slipped down the GC ranks to seventh place.
In third at the start of today’s stage is Iban Mayo (SDV, at 2’39").
The three-time runner-up in the Tour of Flanders, Leif Hoste (PRL) is the latest rider to begin the time trial. He started 16 minutes after his team-mate Vansevenant who is yet to reach the site of the first time check (at 18km).
The first rider to start who has previously won a time trial stage of the Tour de France is Thor Hushovd (C.A). The Norwegian claimed victory in the prologue at the beginning of last year’s race. He is the 11th man to start the Albi stage and he is due to begin racing at 10.42am.
Wim Vansevenant (PRL) has started the time trial. He is ranked 166th overall after 12 stages the next man to begin the individual test is Rik Verbrugghe (COF) followed by Anthony Charteau (C.A).
Verbrugghe has finished in the top 10 of a Tour time trial in the past, that was in 1999 when he was fifth in the penultimate stage, 2’02" behind the winner of the 57km Futuroscope stage.
There are four intermediate checks during the 54km time trial. They are in Villefranch-d’Albigeois (at 18km), at the base of the cat-four cote de la Bauzie (at 35.6km), at the top of the climb at (38.5km) and at the 49km mark.
(Click on the ’Intermediate Timing’ button on LeTour.fr to access the information as the race progresses.)
There will be two minutes between the start times for the first 142 riders in the 13th stage. The final 25 men will be separated by three minute intervals. The last man to begin the Albi stage is Micahel Rasmussen, the rider who currently leads the general classification by 2’35". The Danish Rabobank recruit will start his time trial at 4.18pm.
The 54km time trial for stage 13 is scheduled to start at 10.24am when the rider currently ranked last in the general classification will leave the start house. Wim Vansevenant of the Predictor-Lotto team is 168th overall after 12 stages of the 2007 Tour de France so he get the honor of riding the undulating course first. The start and finish is in Albi in the Tarn department.
The conditions for the race against the clock are mild with a temperature of about 27 degrees Celsius.
Live coverage of the time trial will begin shortly.