Alberto Contador has retained his yellow jersey. The new top 10 after the pivotal time trial from Cognac to Angouleme is:
1. Alberto Contador (ESP) DSC
2. Cadel Evans (AUS) PRL - at 23"
3. Levi Leipheimer (USA) DSC - at 31"
4. Carlos Sastre (ESP) CSC - at 7’08"
5. Haimar Zubeldia (ESP) EUS - at 8’17"
6. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) GCE - at 11’37"
7. Kim Kirchen (LUX) TMO - at 12’18"
8. Yaroslav Popovych (UKR) DSC - at 12’30"
9. Mikel Astarloza (ESP) EUS - at 14’14"
10. Oscar Pereiro (ESP) GCE - at 14’25"
There is just 31 seconds between first and third place after 19 stages of the 2007 Tour de France. Levi Leipheimer finished just eight seconds behind Cadel Evans after the time trial.
Alberto Contador has finished fifth in the stage. He will keep the yellow jersey and wear it for the final stage. His advantage over Cadel Evans with one stage to go is 23".
Alberto Contador has just gone under the 1km to go banner. He is 1’23" behind Evans at the 54.5km mark of the 55.5km stage... and he appears destined to win the Tour de France.
Levi Leipheimer is going to win the 19th stage. He covered the course at an average speed of 53.1km/h. He was 51" ahead of Cadel Evans... and the only rider yet to reach the finish is Alberto Contador.
At the end of the time trial, Cadel Evans has posted a time of 1h03’35". He is nine seconds ahead of Leipheimer in the general classification!
Evans is 1’17" ahead of Contador in with 5km to go.
At the third check, Alberto Contador was fifth best: 1’29" behind Leipheimer. The yellow jersey has just 5km to go in the stage while Evans is in the final kilometer.
Leipheimer is destined to win the stage. He is 1’56" ahead of the next best so far. His average speed for the 55.5km stage is 53.1km/h.
At the 50.1km mark, Leipheimer is just 8" behind the overall time of Evans. The Australian lost 51" to the American in the first 50.1km of the stage.
At the 5km to go mark Evans was 35" behind Leipheimer.
Leipheimer has done the race of his life. Could it be that he ends the stage with the yellow jersey? He is just 11" shy of Evans in the general classification. The advantage for Leipheimer over Karpets at the 50.1km mark is 1’46"!
Alejandro Valverde has finished the time trial in 1h06’21" - it’s enough for 13th place with five riders yet to reach the end of the stage.
With 15km to go, Contador has lost 1’05" to Evans.
Sastre started three minutes ahead of Leipheimer but the American has caught and past the Spaniard. Discovery Channel may yet earn the two top spots in the general classification... such is the speed of the American.
With all riders now past the 35km mark, the top five is:
1. Leipheimer (DSC) - 35km in 39’44"
2. Evans (PRL) at 35"
3. Karpets (GCE) at 1’13"
4. Popovych (DSC) at 1’28"
5. Contador (DSC) at 1’29"
Leipheimer started the day just 59" behind Evans. At the 35km mark, the American was 35" ahead of the Australian... At the 35km mark, the virtual GC had Evans 56" behind Contador, while Leipheimer was at 1’20".
Alberto Contador has passed the 35km mark with a deficit of 55" to Evans.
At the 35km, Evans has the second best time. He is 35" behind Leipheimer. The Australian’s average speed for the first 35km is 52.1km/h.
The fastest man at the first two checks is Levi Leipheimer (with Evans and Contador yet to reach the 35km mark). The American is now less than 20km from the end of the 19th stage. Could it be his first victory in the Tour de France...?
At the St-Genis time check (35km), Levi Leipheimer has the best time of the day. He was 39" ahead of Karpets at 17.5km and at the second check his time was 39’35" - his advantage had grown to 1’13"!
Sastre has lost 48" to Karpets at the 35km mark. The Spanish CSC rider’s time is good enough for 8th place at the second check.
Levi Leipheimer is riding in short sleeve and gloves with lycra that extends to his wrists. He and Contador are both wearing shoe covers.
The set-up for Evans is different: he has long sleeve, no gloves and no shoe covers.
Evans has dropped his chain to the 11-tooth cog. His top gear today is 55x11. At the first check he was 22" ahead of Contador. That advantage is growing if the data offered by French television is accurate.
With all riders past the 17.5km check, the top five is:
1. Leipheimer (DSC) 17.5km in 19’36"
2. Evans (PRL) at 14"
3. Contador (DSC) at 36"
4. Karpets (GCE) at 39"
5. Kirchen (TMO) at 41"
At the first time check, Evans is 14" behind Leipheimer but 22" ahead of Contador.
At the end of the time trial Vladimir Karpets has posted a time of 1h04’40", that’s an average speed of 51.5km/h - and 31" faster than his team-mate Gutierrez.
French Television has calculated that Evans’ advantage over Contador at the 10km to go mark is 15".
At the first time check, Cadel Evans (PRL) has posted a time of 19’50", it’s 14" slower than Leipheimer (DSC).
Cadel Evans just lifted himself out of the saddle and pounded out a rapid cadence on the small rise leading to the first time check. We’ll know if he’s able to retain his second place in the general classification in less than an hour. He is the next rider due at the 17.5km mark...
Leipheimer is the only rider to reach the 17.5km mark in less than 20 minutes. His time of 19’36" is 39" faster than Karpets at the first check!
At the 17.5km mark, the leader of the CSC team, Carlos Sastre, has posted the third best time so far. he is just 4" behind (GCE) Karpets and 2" behind Kirchen (TMO).
The rider with the fastest time at the moment (with just 20 men yet to finish) is Jose Ivan Gutierrez of the Caisse d’Epargne team. His time for the 55.5km course was 1h05’11" - an average speed of 51.1km/h.
Contador is riding in a one-piece yellow skinsuit. Like most other riders he has a rear disc wheel and up front is a four-spoke carbon wheel.
The Spaniard lost 1’14" to Evans in stage 13 and believes that his lead of 1’50" at the start of today is sufficient for him to win the 2007 Tour title.
The Spanish time trial champion Jose Ivan Gutierrez has beaten Hincapie’s time at the finihs. The Caisse d’Epargne rider is 6" ahead of the Discovery Channel recruit. The new time to beat is 1h05’11".
Cadel Evans is riding with his chain on the top sprocket of his rear cluster at the moment. He’s on an ascent but still tucked in the aero position. "I’ve been trying to ride at a higher cadence in the time trials," he said at the start of the year.
He is using a rear disc wheel and a deep dish front wheel.
At the 2nd time check, Karpets has set a time that’s 31" faster than his team-mate Gutierrez.
Cadel Evans has spent considerable time perfecting his time trial position in recent years. His bike supplier, Ridley, has created a machine that allows him to get as low at the front as possible. "I spent a lot of time trying to get the position that I’m happy with," said the rider who is aiming for the yellow jersey today. "If I got any lower than how I sit right now, my knees would hit my chest."
Cadel Evans took about 100m before he settled into his saddle and dropped his arms to the aerobars of his time trial bike. The Australian is riding a top gear of 55x11 and looking to make up 1’50" on Contador.
Hincapie has covered the 55.5km course at an average of 51.0km/h; he is 15" faster than Hoste his 1h05’17" effort.
There are realistically only three riders who can still win the 2007 Tour de France. Levi Leipheimer, Cadel Evans and Alberto Contador have such a lead on the others that one of them will surely be crowned the champion of the 94th edition tomorrow. Leipheimer has just started the 55.5km time trial. In three minutes’ time Evans will begin what he hopes will be the race of his life. He has to finish 1’50" ahead of Contador to take the yellow jersey.
Oscar Pereiro has posted the fourth best time at the first check. He is 13" behind his team-mate Karpets and 1" ahead of Hincapie at the 17.5km mark.
At the 51km mark, Hincapie (DSC) is the first to overtake the time of Hoste. The American was 12" faster than the Belgian TT champion.
Valverde is the latest rider to leave the start house. Only five men are yet to begin the time trial from Cognac to Angouleme. Hoste continues to lead the provisional standings with a time of 1h05’32"520. He is seven seconds ahead of Dekker who was as much as 22" ahead (at the 35km mark) before fading in the finale.
Another Predictor-Lotto rider is having a good time trial. Chris Horner has passed the 17.5km mark with the third best time. He is 11" behind Karpets and 1" behind Gutierrez.
The Spanish time trial champion, Jose Ivan Gutierrez has just raced past his two-minute man, Amets Txurruka. The Caisse d’Epargne rider is 13" ahead of Hincapie at the 35km mark...
Two riders from the Caisse d’Epargne squad are leading at the 17.5km mark. Karpets reached the first check in 20’15", 10" ahead of his team-mate Gutierrez and 14" faster than Hincapie.
Linus Gerdemann (TMO) has posted the fourth best time at the finish. He is 29" behind the mark set by Hoste.
At the second time check, Hincapie was seven seconds faster than Schumacher. The American’s time was 41’41". The new top five at the 35km mark is:
2. Schumacher at 07"
3. Dekker at 09"
4. Hoste at 16"
5. Cancellara at 31"
At the end of the 55.5km race, Thomas Dekker of the Rabobank team has finished wtih the second best time of the day, he is 6.7 seconds slower than Hoste.
The order for the time trial is the reverse of the rankings in the general classification. There are now just 12 men yet to begin the 19th stage: Arroyo (GCE), Pereiro (GCE), Astarloza (EUS), Soler (BAR), Popovych (DSC), Kirchen (TMO), Valverde (GCE), Zubeldia (EUS), Sastre (CSC), Leipheimer (DSC), Evans (PRL) and Contador (DSC).
The start time for the yellow jersey is 4.20pm.
The rider who finished fourth in yesterday’s stage, Michael Boogerd, is about to start his last time trial at the Tour de France. The Dutchman is going to retire from racing at the end of 2007. He is currently ranked 13th overall.
The president of the UCI has arrived at the finish of the time trial. Pat McQuaid is currently doing an interview in the television tribune near the finish line.
At the first check, Hincapie’s mark has been bettered. Jose Ivan Gutierrez (GCE) is now four seconds ahead of the American at the 17.5km mark.
Vladimir Karpets has started the time trial. There are now just 15 men yet to start.
Gusev is about to pass the 35km mark. It’s raining at St-Genis at the moment but it’s hardly heavy enough to wet the road.
At the 17.5km mark, Hincapie (DSC) has posted the best time. He leads Schumacher by 3" and Dekker by 4".
At the second check, Dekker (RAB) is two seconds behind Schumacher (GST). The Dutchman is seven seconds ahead of Hoste at the 35km mark.
Juan Manuel Garate has just started the time trial. Riders are now departing Cognac at three minute intervals. Only 20 riders are yet to begin the 55.5km race.
The rider in the white jersey today is Amets Txurruka. The Euskatel rider is ranked 23rd overall and third in the youth classification after 18 stages. He is wearing white because the two others ahead of him in the young rider category are wearing the yellow and polka-dot jerseys.
At the 17.5km mark, Moreau (A2R0 is 59" behind Schumacher; good enough for 18th place with 35 riders yet to reach that point.
Linus Gerdemann has reached the first check 17" slower than Schumacher.
The latest to start the time trial is George Hincapie. The Discovery Channel rider was the 116th starter; only five more men will start two minutes apart from each other. From then on, it’s three minute intervals for the final 21 riders.
Only one second separates Thomas Dekker (RAB) from the best time of the day at the 17.5km mark. The Dutchman reached the first check in 20’33", 10 seconds faster than Cancellara (CSC).
The former Italian time trial champion Marzio Bruseghin has just reached the first time check and posted the fourth best time of the day. The winner of a time trial at the Giro d’Italia this year is 17" behind the time set by Schumacher at the 17.5km mark.
The winner of stage 18, Sandy Casar (FDJ), has just finish the time trial. He is currently ranked 66th, 7’12" behind the Hoste who was the 16th rider to start.
Millar lost any hope of a good result in the time trial right at the start because of a blown rear tire. He has finished with a time of 1h10’37" - 5’05" behind Hoste who covered the 55.5km course at an average of 50.8km/h.
The German who wore the yellow jersey for a day in the second week of the Tour, Linus Gerdemann, has just started the penultimate stage. He is ranked 37th after 18 stages, 1h29’38" behind Contador in the general classification.
At the 35km mark, Merckx (TMO) has posted the 23rd best time. He is riding in a shower of rain at the moment. The roads have been wet in patches and, at the finish, the sun is shining.
Millar had to swap his bike right after the start because of an issue with his rear tire. The Scott has the 30th best time at the second check, 3’12" behind Schumacher.
At both the first and second checks, the second rider from the Discovery Channel team to start the time trial, Sergio Paulinho, has posted the fifth best time. He was 24" behind Schumacher at 17.5km and 53" behind at 35km.
The fastest time is still held by Leif Hoste of the Predictor-Lotto team. He is seven seconds ahead of Cancellara, 29" ahead of Schumacher and 58" ahead of last year’s Belgian TT champion Sebastien Roesseler. The average speed of the reigning Belgian TT champion, Hoste, is 50.8km/h.
The latest rider to reach the third check is Andriy Grivko; he is 1’11" behind Hoste at the 50.1km mark which is good enough for a provisional fifth place. He was the 61st rider to start today.
After bursting out of the start house determined to post a good time, David Millar came to a grinding halt. The images are now being shown of his rear tire bursting off his wheel. He had a clumbsy bike change but is now back riding again. It cost him considerable time and, at the 17.5km, he was 1’38" behind Schumacher.
At the start of the 19th stage Patrice Clerc the President of ASO and Christian Prudhomme the Director of the Tour de France held a press conference in Cognac to explain the evolution of their relationship with the UCI.
“The UCI has demonstrated that, in the best case, it is incompetent and, in the worst case, its will to harm the Tour de France. The result is a calculated, Machiavellian and irresponsible approach. When an organization behaves this way towards another, the only option for is resignation.
"The UCI cannot control the rebuilding of a new model for cycling so we have decided to lead the reconstruction with those who share our values.
“We will host a meeting this coming October at the time of the presentation of the 2008 Tour de France, when we will detail the result of the work which will be undertaken. Our plan is to create an ethical passport which will be an essential precondition to be able to take part in our races. We do not want to exonerate ourselves from cycling’s governing body but we want the controlling power to be virtuous, responsible and independent.
“We want the fight against doping to be intensified but it’s not up to the Tour de France to regulate the problems of doping. WADA is the organization that has the competence to lead this fight in sport and not just cycling.”
Hoste continues to lead the stage. He was the 16th rider to start the stage and now leads Cancellara by seven seconds and Schumacher by 29". The German Gerolsteiner rider posted the best times at the first and second checks but then faded at the finish to pass the 50.1km mark, 29" behind Hoste.
Millar has reached the first check with a time he’d be frustated by: he was 1’38" behind Schumacher after 17.5km of the 55.5km stage.
The clouds are lifting and the sun is shining brightly at the finish in Angouleme. The conditions will be considerably warmer for the later starters and the wind is also picking up but, as Heinrich Haussler reported earlier today, "It’s pretty much tailwind all the way..."
At the 35km mark, Schumacher is nine seconds faster than Hoste. The German’s time at the second check is 41’48".
The winner of the penultimate stage of the 2003 Tour de France, David Millar (SDV) is the latest rider to leave the start house. He set the second fastest average speed for a time trial at the Tour when he won in Nantes four years ago. A strong tailwind contributed to his rapid pace but he did fall on that day.
In the 13th stage this year, he was the fastest of the riders to do the time trial when it was raining. He finished 20th in Albi, 3’27" behind some guy called Vinokourov.
Hoste still has the best time at the finish. Cancellara was 11" ahead of the Belgian at the first check but then dropped to 15" behind at the 35km and 50.1km marks. At the finish the world time trial champion is seven seconds behind the Predcitor-Lotto rider.
Cancellara is at the 50.1km mark with the same deficit to Hoste that he had at 35km: the Swiss is 15" behind the Belgian at the third check.
At the first check, Stefan Schumacher has the best time of the day. The Gerolsteiner rider is 11" faster than Cancellara at the 17.5km mark.
The German time trial world champion, Bert Grabsch (TMO) has nestled into 2nd at the finish. He is 1’20" behind Hoste.
The 26th rider to start the time trial was William Bonnet (C.A). He has finished in 1h07’55" - 2’22" behind Hoste.
Fabian Cancellara has reached the second check. He is 15" behind the time set by Leif Hoste at the 35km mark... enough for second-best at this stage of the race.
The triple time trial world champion (from 2003, 2004 and 2005), Mick Rogers offered his prediction for the stage win earlier today: "Cadel has to be the favorites," said the Australian, "he was good in Albi and he’s really going well in the time trials now."
Rogers then considered the entire field and amended his predictions slightly. "If Fabian [Cancellara] has a good day, he could be the man to get between the GC guys and the stage win. My forecast is for Cancellara to win, Evans, second, Contador third and Leipheimer probably fourth... but I don’t know if Cadel can make up the time on Contador in the general classification. If could end up like in 1989 when only eight seconds separated first from second. That’d be great for the race!"
LeTour.fr recently spoke to the 13th rider to start the time trial. Heinrich Haussler of the Gerolsteiner team said that it’s windy on the course but "it’s pretty much tailwind all the way. There was a bit of rain around the halfway mark but not enough to even wet the roads. I don’t think that it’s going to cause any problems today.
"If the wind gets stronger, I think it’ll be better for the last guys. Let’s hope so," said Haussler who was born in Australia and is cheering for Cadel Evans today. "I hope Cadel wins. He was good in the first time trial and he’s got a lot to fight for today..."
At the finish, Hoste’s time is 1h05’32", 2’36" better than De Groot. The Belgian has set the best times of the day until the arrival of Cancellara who was five seconds better at the first time check.
As he’s done at the first two checks, Leif Hoste has set the fastest time at the 50.1km mark. He is 2’10" ahead of De Groot at the third check.
At the 17.5km mark, Cancellara’s time is 5" faster than Hoste’s.
The triple time trial world champion Mick Rogers recently spoke to LeTour.fr and offered his prediction for today’s stage. "It’s going to be a close one and I really don’t know if Cadel can make up the 1’50" to Contador but it’s possible," said the Australian who crashed out of the Tour on the stage to Tignes while in the virtual lead of the general classification.
"Cadel could be up for it but just watching him on television, it seems like he’s getting a little bit tired but there are others in the bunch who aren’t nearly as fresh. One thing is certain: it’s going to be an exciting stage today. Can you imagine if it’s so close that time bonuses could decide the winner of the Tour de France?" asked Rogers. Maybe that’s what will happen tomorrow. If I was in a situation like that, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at all I’d be so anxious."
At the end of the 55.5km race, Thor Hushovd (C.A) has the fourth best time. Only five riders have reached the finish and the winner of the prologue last year is 4’18" behind the standard set by De Groot (RAB).
At the 2nd check, Hoste (PRL) has set the best time so far today. He is 1’18" ahead of De Groot (RAB) at the 35km mark.
Vansevenant (PRL) was the first to start but he never set the best time; he was caught by Sven Krauss (GST) before the end of the stage. The German started four minutes behind the Belgian and finished 4’06" ahead.
Krauss also caught the rider who started two minutes ahead of him, Geraint Thomas (BAR). The best time of the day with three riders home is 1h08’39".
Julian Dean (C.A) has just left the start house. Which means that the next rider to begin the time trial is the reigning world champion Fabian Cancellara.
Bram De Groot (RAB) has set the best time so far at the 2nd and 3rd checks. He covered the first 35km in 43’15" and has just reached the 50km mark in 1h02’01". His advantage over second at the 3rd check (Krauss - GST) is 53".
"I think that Evans will finish the time trial one minute ahead of Contador," said the directeur sportif of the CSC team Alain Gallopin when asked for his prognostic for the race today. "But Cancellara will win the stage."
“We saw the course yesterday evening,” said the directeur sportif of the CSC team, Alain Gallopin at the start of the day. One of the favorites for the time trial is Fabian Cancellara and Gallopin believes that the Swiss rider can claim his third stage win of the 2007 Tour de France in today’s time trial. “He feels fresh but a lot of things can happen in a time trial.
“Fabian is strong on all sorts of courses,” said Gallopin about the winner of the prologue in London three weeks ago, “but this one suits him really well. He has dealt with the mountains well and has been focused on this stage for a few days now."
The world champion’s rainbow jersey will be on display for the third time in the Tour today. Fabian Cancellara is the 37th rider to start the race against the clock. The winner of the prologue three weeks ago is confident of a good result as is his directeur sportif Alain Gallopin. “It’s natural for him to be considered a man capable of winning, he is the world champion in this discipline after all.”
The start time for the Swiss CSC recruit is 12.32pm. If things go according to the plan set out by the Predictor-Lotto team, Hoste should have the best time at each check... at least until Cancellara’s arrival. The Belgian has been instructed to attack the course as fast as possible. Hoste was 13th in the 13th stage because of a similar approach but that was on a day when rain poured down and hindered the times of many riders - and also claimed a few victims such as Cancellara who crashed hard and lost a lot of time.
“There are no tricks to the time trial,” said Cadel Evans this morning. “You get on your bike, you go as fast as you can and hope you set the best time. It’s not complicated.”
The Australian has been asked the same question repeatedly for the past few days: Can you take the yellow jersey after the time trial? “I honestly don’t know,” is what he says. “All I can do is to try my hardest. The same rule applies for the final time trial of the Tour de France every year: you’re tired but you give it everything knowing that Paris is almost in sight.
“I don’t like offering a prediction of the result of any races but today I don’t think anyone really knows what’s going to happen. Contador is a very talented rider and he has a solid lead on me at the moment. I just hope it’s not that way at the end of the day.”
Hendrik Redant has been given the responsibility of calling the time trial for Cadel Evans. The Belgian directeur sportif was also in the following car in the 13th stage time trial. “We have Leif Hoste on the course right now and he’s going to report on how the conditions are in the race,” said Redant who was with Evans after the reconnaissance ride this morning. “This morning he didn’t ride the course too fast… that’s what he’ll do this afternoon!
“We want Leif to ride as fast as he can so he can give Cadel some feedback about how fast he can attack the course.”
The Belgian rider was the 16th to start today and he has just reached the first check with the best time, 20’48” – 14” better than De Groot.
The rider ranked second overall after 18 stages, Cadel Evans (PRL), has just ridden the course for the time trial. He started a reconnaissance at about 10.15am and has recently stepped into the Predictor-Lotto team car and is now on his way back to the team’s hotel.
“It’s harder than I thought it would be,” said the 30-year-old Australian who is 1’50” behind Contador in the general classification. “It’s windy now but it’s hard to tell if it’s going to get stronger later in the day. I think it should be pretty steady all day… or that’s what I hope anyway. The last section is difficult and the final climb taxing on the legs.”
So far eight riders have reached the site of the first time check. The best time is held by Bram De Groot (RAB) who rode 17.5km in 21’02", 40" faster then Geraint Thomas (BAR) and 42" faster than Sven Krauss (GST).
For the second successive day, the rider who is ranked third in the youth classification will wear the white jersey. Amets Txurruka (EUS) is 45’54" behind Alberto Contador in the category open to riders born after 1 January 1982 but as Contador is in yellow today and the rider in second in the race for the white jersey, Mauricio Soler, is in the polka-dot top so the Euskaltel rider gets a consolation prize for his aggressive approach to the stages in the Pyrenees.
Txurruka has spent 274km of the Tour in escape groups and is currently ranked 23rd in the general classification.
Tom Boonen (QSI) continues to lead the points classification. The Belgian who has won two stages this year has a tally of 234 points, 24 more than Robert Hunter (BAR) and 28 more than Erik Zabel (MRM). “I’m happy and I know why: we’re getting closer to Paris," said Boonen after stage 18.
"It’s a battle all the way to the finish… that’s what I said on the first day I took the green jersey and it remains the same now. As long as you’re not 48 points in the lead, you’re not safe in the knowledge that victory in the points classification is assured."
That said, he looks destined to win the green jersey for the first time in his illustrious career.
Mauricio Soler (BAR) has an unbeatable lead in the mountains classification. He has worn the polka-dot jersey since the 10th stage when he was ranked second but wore the climbers’ colours because Michael Rasmussen was the leader of the general classification. The Colombian just needs to reach Paris to be declared the King of the Mountains of the 2007 Tour de France. He leads Alberto Contador, 206 points to 128. In third place in the climbing category is Yaroslav Popovych (DSC) with 104pts.
Alberto Contador (DSC) faces his last real challenge of the 2007 Tour de France today. He has a lead of 1’50" over Cadel Evans (PRL) and is 2’49" ahead of his team-mate Levi Leipheimer in the general classification. It’s the Spaniard’s second day in the yellow jersey and his team is confident that he will be able to end the day in the overall lead. "Cadel Evans is a better time trial rider," said Johan Bruyneel on the day that Contador was first presented with the race leader’s jersey, "but I think that Alberto’s advantage should be enough..."
The first riders to start the time trial have reached the 17.5km mark. Vansevenant’s time was 22’43" but the Welsh rider from Barloworld who is ranked second-last in the general classification after 18 stage - Geraint Thomas - has just posted a time that’s 1’01" better than the Belgian.
A few drops of rain fell in Angouleme early this morning but at the moment the roads are dry but it is overcast in the Charente department today. The forecast is for it to remain this way for most of the day. There is a breeze blowing that’s favourable for the riders early on the 55.5km course but, Alain Gallopin of the CSC team believes it will be difficult after the first 15km with side- and cross-winds blowing.
The winner of stage two this year has just begun the time trial. Gert Steegmans is ranked 136th in the general classification after 18 stages, 3h34’45" behind Contator. The Quickstep rider is the sixth man to leave Cognac.
Five riders have already begun the time trial. The last to leave was Bram De Groot (RAB). There are three intermediate checks in the stage from Cognac to Angouleme. The first is in Sigogne at the 17.5km mark, the second in Saint-Genis-d’Hiersac at 35km, and the final one at the 50km point of the 55.5km course.
The 19th stage of the Tour de France is scheduled to commence at 11.20am. The first man to start the 55.5km time trial from Cognac to Angouleme will be Wim Vansevenant of the Predictor-Lotto team. Riders will leave the start house at two-minute intervals until the final 21, who will depart at three-minute intervals.
Alberto Contador (DSC), the rider who leads the Tour after 18 stages by 1’50" ahead of Cadel Evans (PRL), is due to begin his race at 4.20pm.
Live coverage of the stage will start soon.