Contador finished in 36th place in the stage, one place behind Cadel Evans. The Spaniard has won the Tour de France at the age of 24.
The top five in the 20th stage of the 2007 Tour de France is:
1. Daniele Bennati (ITA) LAM
2. Thor Hushovd (NOR) C.A
3. Erik Zabel (GER) MRM
4. Robert Hunter (RSA) BAR
5. Tom Boonen (BEL) QSI
Bennati has outsprinted the likes of Zabel, Hushovd and Hunter to claim his second victory in the 2007 Tour de France.
The Quickstep team has come forward and have led out the sprint.
The peloton is about to rush under the 1km to go banner. Deane (C.A) are now aup front of the peloton and trying for a repeat of last year’s victory when Hushovd claimed a stunning win.
The Lampre team is still in charge of the peloton with is less than 2km from the finish. All the big sprint specialists are represented in the lead group...
There are just 3.5km to go in the 2007 Tour de France. The FDJ team is now moving ahead to try and set things up for Sebastien Chavanel.
The Lampre-Fondital team now has six men at the front of the peloton. Bennati has already won a stage but it was the first win for the Italian squad since Jan Svorada claimed victory on the Champs-Elysees in 2001.
The peloton is all together again. The escape was caught with 5.5km to go.
At the start of the final lap, the Flecha and Gutierrez are 8" ahead of the peloton.
The pace of the chase is now really picking up. The peloton is about to catch eight of the 10-man escape group. Flecha and Gutierrez are insisting with their effort but they are within sight of the peloton.
As they exit the tunnel, Gutierrez has attacked the lead group. He has been chased down by Flecha and the two are 12" ahead of the peloton with 7.5km to go.
There are just 9km left in the stage and the 10 escapees are still in with a shot at victory. They are 18" ahead of the peloton.
Paris is covered with clouds but, for the moment, it’s not raining and the roads are still dry.
The Barloworld team continues to lead the pursuit of Gutierrez and Portal (GCE), Flecha (RAB), Gerrans (A2R), Ballan (LAM), Scholz (GST), Charteau (C.A), Fisher (LIQ), Delage (FDJ) and Knees (MRM). The latest check has the 10 ahead by 10".
Robert Hunter still has a shot at winning the green jersey but he must win the stage and Boonen must not take any points in the finale... clearly then, the objective is setting up a sprint to see if Hunter can claim a third victory for the wildcard squad.
The 10 are holding off the peloton which is now 20" behind with just 13km to go.
With 15km to go, the advantage of the escapees is just 30".
There are less than 20km to go in the Tour de France, the advantage of the escapees has dropped to 35" and now Credit Agricole has three men at the front of the peloton.
There are three riders from the Credit Agricole team now moving up to cooperate with Barloworld with the chasing duties.
As the leaders pass the site of the finish - with just three laps to go - the peloton’s deficit is 43".
Only one of the 10 riders who are still 45" ahead of the peloton has won a stge of the Tour de France before. Juan Antonio Flecha is that man. The advantage of numbers, however, lies with the Caisse d’Epargne team that has two men in the lead group - Nicolas Portal and Jose Ivan Gutierrez.
The 10 escapees are now 45" ahead of the Barloworld-led peloton at the 121km mark.
John Gadret (A2R) has just punctured. Another rider who suffered a similar fate recently, Geslin (BTL) has rejoined the peloton with 24km to go.
With only four laps of the 6.5km circuit to go, the 10 escapees have a lead of 34 seconds.
At the 117km mark, the peloton is 33" behind Gutierrez and Portal (GCE), Flecha (RAB), Gerrans (A2R), Ballan (LAM), Scholz (GST), Charteau (C.A), Fisher (LIQ), Delage (FDJ) and Knees (MRM).
The 10 escapees are holding off the peloton which continues to be led by riders from Robert Hunter’s Barloworld team 30" behind.
Anthony Geslin punctured just as the peloton arrived on the Champs-Elysees. The Bouygues Telecom rider has just suffered another flat tire.
The bunch is now being led by riders from the Barloworld team. They are 30" behind Gutierrez and Portal (GCE), Flecha (RAB), Gerrans (A2R), Ballan (LAM), Scholz (GST), Charteau (C.A), Fisher (LIQ), Delage (FDJ) and Knees (MRM).
Lance Armstrong has just been sighted walking through the ’Zone Technique’ near the finish line.
The peloton is led by riders from the Discovery Channel team and is 30" behind the 10 escapees who began their move with 40km to go. There are now 35km remaining in the Tour de France of 2007.
The points and bonuses for the 2nd intermediate sprint were won by:
1. Simon Gerrans (A2R) 6pts/4"
2. Alessandro Ballan (LAM) 4pts/4"
3. Nicolas Portal (GCE) 2pts/2"
They are part of a 10-man escape group that’s now 22" ahead of the peloton.
Gutierrez and Portal (GCE), Flecha (RAB), Gerrans (A2R), Ballan (LAM), Scholz (GST), Charteau (C.A), Fisher (LIQ), Delage (FDJ) and Knees (MRM) are the riders who are now 15" ahead of the peloton.
The peloton is on the Rue de Rivoli and about to start the third lap of the circuit. Gutierrez, Portal, Flecha, Gerrans, Ballan, Scholz, Charteau, Fisher, Delage and Knees are now leading the peloton by 10".
There are four riders with a slight lead on the peloton for the third traverse of the Place de la Concorde. Gerrans (A2R) was joined by an Agributel rider who was reeled in quickly.
The riders to close down Bichot’s move are Garcia-Acosta (GCE) and Markus Burghardt (TMO). The peloton is now strung out in a long line as the pace of the race has finally picked up.
Bichot’s escape lasted little more than 8km. He has been reeled in by a T-Mobile and Caisse d’Epargne rider.
The first rider to pursue Bichot is Horner of the Predictor-Lotto team. He has been marked but others in the peloton.
Bichot is building his advantage. He’s now 18" ahead of the peloton that continues to be led by the Discovery Channel team.
The advantage of Bichot over the peloton is 15". He is on his own and there has been no real reaction from the peloton.
The first rider to attack the peloton is from the Agritubel team. Freddy Bichot shot ahead of the pack with 48km to go. He now leads by 10".
Sergio Paulinho has led the peloton over the line that will be used for the finish in 52km. All the Discovery Channel team is at the front of the bunch and behind is the Predictor-Lotto team.
The peloton is currently on the Rue de Rivoli, they are 1km away from crossing the finish line for the first time. Discovery Channel is at the front of the bunch with Cadel Evans tucked on the wheel of Alberto Contador.
The peloton is now being led by the Discovery Channel team. Vladimir Gusev is currently ahead of Egoi Martinez and George Hincapie. There have been no attacks in the 20th stage so far.
The peloton has just crossed the River Seine and is now on its way to the first of eight laps of the Champs-Elysees. There are just 60km to go in the 2007 edition of the Tour de France.
There’s no interest in racing in the 20th stage. They peloton is now in Issy-les-Moulineaux (at the 74km mark). The pace has been tranquil all day long and the bunch is currently about 40 minutes behind the slowest scheduled time.
The peloton is now near the 80km mark. There is about another five kilometers to be ridden before the bunch arrives on the streets of Paris.
“Oh jeez, I’m disappointed,” joked Phil Anderson when asked by LeTour.fr how he felt about being eclipsed as the best-placed Australian at the Tour de France. “No, seriously I’m really excited for Cadel. When I was racing, Australians were hardly even aware of the Tour – there was virtually no media coverage at home and if you signed a professional contract when I was racing, you basically left your country behind – because you couldn’t ride the Olympics or anything else for the nation.
“Cadel still has a few years left,” said Anderson when asked if he thought his compatriot should race for time bonuses. “There are some traditions in the sport that can be frustrating from time to time but I don’t know what he’d be thinking today. He’ll be nervous because he won’t want Discovery to try and pinch time from him in the sprints today. Traditionally you wouldn’t but, after last year’s race, you never know what’s going to happen.”
Until this year, the best result for an Australian rider in the Tour de France is fifth. Phil Anderson achieved that twice in the 1980s and Cadel Evans equalled that performance last year. Now the rider who turned 30 on Valentine’s Day this year (14 February) is on the verge of claiming the runner-up spot in general classification.
“Cadel is certainly been riding well," Anderson told LeTour.fr today. "For the last few years he’s been so consistent. Now he’s going to be taken a lot more seriously by his team. Hopefully he’ll get a couple more boys on his side to give him a hand. If you see the way Discovery Channel are stacked, they’ve got a full team of riders with top 10 capabilities. If Cadel had that, things might be a bit different.
“The important thing is to get the one at the top of the podium; Cadel is almost there and he’s got a team that’s been centered around Robbie for years. But Australia is lucky to be in the position of having riders at the pointy end of both GC and the sprints – it’s great."
The time bonuses and points for the first intermediate sprint were taken by:
1. Lilian Jegou (FDJ) 6pts/6"
2. Carlos Barredo (QSI) 4pts/4"
3. Steven De Jongh (QSI) 2pts/2"
Two Quickstep riders are about to take the points at the intermediate sprint. It’s Carlos Barredo and Steven De Jongh. They are being shadowed by a FDJ rider...
The Quickstep team is leading the peloton to Chatenay-Malabry at the 72km mark. That’s the site of the LNDD, the lab that does the testing of samples collected during the Tour de France. It’s also where the first intermediate sprint of the final stage will be contested.
The Discovery Channel team has come to the front of the bunch as it approaches the site of the first intermediate sprint. There are time bonuses on offer but the concensus is that none of the three at the top of general classification will try to steal time from each other.
“Yesterday it was a bad stage for David Millar because he had problems with two wheels in a matter of minutes," said the general manager of the Saunier Duval-Prodir team, Mauro Gianetti when asked to reflect on this year’s Tour. "It ended his hopes for a good result in a time trial but I only speak about that because it was a recent event and it’s fresh in my mind. But we are happy with the team because all the guys tried to animate the racing every day; to be in the escape and win the stage. One time Mayo was second on a day that Rasmussen was so strong. If we had a little bit more luck, we could have won that stage or have Cobo or De La Fuente could have had chances at other times. But I don’t complain. To be at the Tour is important for our sponsors and we have other objectives than just winning races.
“We planted 35,000 trees in Mali during the time of the Tour as part of a special project we launched at the beginning of 2007. So far, Saunier Duval-Prodir is responsible for planting 400,000 trees since January this year. We think it will take 18 months to plant one million trees which is our objective.”
“The objective was to win a stage,” said Fabrizio Bontempi of the Lampre-Fondital team when contacted by LeTour.fr today. “We succeeded with Bennati so, for us, it’s mission accomplished. It was a big relief for the team since it had not won anything (other than the youth classification last year) for four or five years. The one small disappointment was that Tadej Valjavec was not completely at his best level because in normal circumstances he would have been able to finish in the top 10 of the Tour. Of course, it’s not over yet and one never knows: it’s still possible for a win today with Bennati and Ballan.”
Steegmans cannot resist the tempation to take the climbing points. The sprinter/lead-out specialist who won the stage to get led Albasini over the top.
The results for the second climb is:
1. Gert Steegmans (QSI) 3pts
2. Michael Albasini (LIQ) 2pts
3. Yaroslav Popovych (DSC) 1pt
There are eight riders now rolling ahead of the peloton on the second climb of the final stage. It’s more that they’re staying on top of their gear rather than dawdling along at the pace of the pack... and it’s all part of the tradition of the final stage. "Contest" the sprint for points at the climbs and make sure your team colors get some exposure. Lampre, Liquigas and Quickstep are at the front...
At the top of the Cote de Saint-Remy-les-Chevreuse, the points were won by:
1. Gert Steegmans (QSI) 3pts
2. Thomas Lovkvist (FD) 2pts
3. Fredericks Willems (LIQ) 1pt
The bunch is now approaching the first of the two categorized climbs of the final stage. There is no sign of any attacking intentions and riders from Predictor-Lotto, Liquigas and Quickstep are at the front.
“We are quite pleased with the win of Linus at Le Grand Bornand and then for him to spend one day in the yellow jersey was great for the team,” said one of T-Mobile’s directeur sportifs, Brian Holm. “It was a big shame that Michael Rogers crashed out the next day but that’s cycling and there was nothing that can be done to prevent accidents happening.
“We can’t deny that the case with Sinkewitz hit us like a hammer. That was a big downer but afterwards all the guys continued fighting. We knew about Patrick’s positive control just before the start of a stage but Burghardt still managed to find the will to put himself in an escape group.
“Of course it’s easy to have high team spirit when times are good but to hear at the start of a stage that one of the guys tested positive is the worst possible nightmare but all the others showed good spirit and it’s good to come to Paris with Kim Kirchen ranked in the top 10.”
The peloton is around the 37km mark. There are various teams taking turns at the front of the peloton to get their colors on the tellie. The latest squad to lead the bunch is T-Mobile with Bernhard Eisel and the rider ranked seventh overall, Kim Kirchen.
“It finishes in Paris and we are in Marcoussis,” joked Hendrik Redant of Cadel Evans’ Predictor-Lotto team before the start of stage 20, hinting that the rider in second place hasn’t yet accepted his position in the general classification. “No, but honestly I think the day yesterday was what mattered; we battled all the way and now we’re 23 seconds behind. It was one of our objectives to be on the podium and Cadel has achieved that in his third year at the Tour. It’s something special and to finish so close to the winner of general classification and it means that we should be satisfied.
“Normally the last day is a formality and the battle is over. We have to decide how the journey is on the way to Paris. It’s going to be difficult to know what’s going to happen because of the weather. I’m afraid it’s going to be too difficult to make up the deficit although of course we would like to try.
“I think the sprinters are still going to want something today. There are always a few guys who want to try but I don’t’ think Cadel can just slip into an escape on the streets of Paris without Contador and Leipheimer following him all the way. And Cadel isn’t a kamikaze kind of rider: he wants to stay on his bike and make sure nothing goes wrong on the last day. Still, it’s not over until it’s over.”
Alberto Contador has just gone to the rear of the peloton. He is taking drinks from the team car... not in bottles but in a plastic cup. And it appeared to be a bubbly liquid rather than an energy drink. That could be why the photographers started snapping the moment the drink was handed from the window.
The peloton is still all together at the 30km mark.
“Yesterday was a great performance for our guys,” said Dirk Demol referring to the victory of Leipheimer in the pivotal time trial. “Levi was exceptional and to see Alberto finish fifth was great for him. It was not the perfect course for Alberto but he limited his losses and retained the yellow jersey. And, of course, we had ‘Popo’ in fourth and George in seventh so it was a fruitful day at the end of an interesting Tour.
“It was great to watch it and it was a real thriller in the end.
“I think again, it’s always the same mood when the yellow jersey is in the team. We managed to lift to another level. We have led the team classification for the last week and proved again yesterday that we are the strongest squad in the race.
“It’s still a close race in the general classification, Alberto is only 23 ahead of Cadel and Levi is only eight seconds down but we don’t have any plans to fight for the second place. We just have to be careful to see what Cadel wants to do. If he chases any time bonuses, we need to be ready.”
“It’s mixed feelings for the Rabobank team of course,” said the former rider Erik Dekker who retired from racing in 2006 and was a directeur sportif for Rabobank at this year’s race. “Until Wednesday it was a wonderful Tour and it looked like we were going to win the yellow jersey. Then, in the evening, something extraordinary happened that was exactly the opposite of a wonderful feeling…
“After Thursday, however, we were proud that the riders who were still in the race could continue and make it to Paris with their heads held high. All these guys did something special in the last two weeks. They achieved something that they would was impossible to do: they controlled the race and almost got the yellow jersey in Paris. Two weeks of controlling the
“There are still too many emotions going through my mind and it will take a few weeks of reflection to really understand what we achieved and what this Tour means for me. I want to look back at the experience and appreciate what was done but right now it’s hard to express my feelings.”
There have been no escape attempts in the first 20km of the final stage. The peloton is currently led by the Quickstep team, the roads are dry and plenty of conversations are permeating through the peloton.
“We won four stages and we have a good lead in the points classification,” said Wilfried Peeters of the Quickstep-Innergetic team. “We’ve had a great Tour, that’s for sure but we haven’t finished yet because we are looking for another win on the Champs-Elysees and to secure the green jersey. The plan for today is to get first place! The weather conditions could make things a little dangerous on the finishing circuits but it’s the same for everyone.
“There were four big highlights but the win for Steegmans in Gent was very special because it was near our headquarters and the public in Belgium were very happy as were the sponsors. We have every reason to be happy.”
The peloton is now around the 15km mark. It is still cruising along with no riders showing any interest in racing yet.
“We are very happy with what we did in the Tour,” said Kim Anderson of the CSC team. “Carlos is, once again, high in the general classification and we earned two stage wins and seven days in the yellow jersey. Every day we were there and mixing it up in the action and we have every reason to be proud of the way our riders performed.
“They controlled the race in the first week and that was a very positive experience. It didn’t cost Carlos too much energy and it also earned the team a lot of respect.
“I was saying to Fabian this morning, maybe he could attack in the last kilometer… but I think we’ve learned that we can expect anything from this guy. He’s full of surprises!”
“We had an objective of winning a stage and this was achieved by Thor Hushovd,” said the manager of Credit Agricole, Roger Legeay. “We thought about the green jersey but, because of the fall in Gent, this objective was compromised. We wanted to show a team that has a good temperament. It is what guys like Halgand, Fofonov did and also Bonnet who was very good in his first Tour. And we are yet to finish the race and a sprint on the Champs-Elysees is likely. It’s a lottery but we’ll once again try to achieve success at the finish.”
The directeur sportif of Agritubel is Denis Leproux. The Frenchman offered his take on his team’s second appearance in the Tour when contacted by LeTour.fr recently. “We had a super first week when I riders achieved the goal of getting some exposure. We then had some problems in the Alps. It was a little better in the Pyrenees, with Duenas Nevado in particular, but then we paid for that with fatigue influencing our performances. The boys did not succeed with the quest of putting themselves into escape in the transitional stages.
“On the whole we have four places in the top 10 of stages which is okay. With regard to Romain Feillu, he had a great ride for a neo pro. He learned and now knows where he stands racing against the world’s best. Next year he’ll arrive mentally prepared and we’ll adjust his program as well so that he starts the Tour fresher than he did in 2007.”
The manager of the Gerolsteiner team, Hans Holczer is aware that not everything went as he would have liked in this year’s race but he’s still pleased with how the Tour unfolded. “I would say it’s been more of an average Tour rather than a great one that we hoped to have,” said the Austian. “The Gerolsteiner riders were not so bad in the sprint it’s just a shame that we couldn’t be there in the overall like we would have hoped. Markus Fothen had a bad time because of a crash and a broken hand before the Tour and he couldn’t train as he would have liked.
“I don’t think the race was as bad as what the media reports suggested because I feel that it’s a turnaround time now. We can see that the Tour is not hiding from any issues. They don’t care who the riders they just did what they had to do and I’ve got a lot of respect for that attitude.”
As the peloton makes its way towards Paris, LeTour.fr will be conducting brief interviews with the directeurs sportifs and managers of the 19 teams remaining in the Tour de France. We’ll post them as the stage progresses and the question for each man will is the same: what was your impression of your team’s performance in this year’s race?
As expected, the peloton is just cruising along in the early kilometers of the final stage. It’s little more than a tranquil pace and an opportunity for photos to be taken at the moment. The yellow jersey has just pulled over to the side of the road to chat with his team director but Alberto Contador now riding again.
Alberto Contador is destined to become the first rider to win both the white and yellow jerseys in the Tour de France since Jan Ullrich in 1997. He has a lead of 16’41” over Mauricio Soler (BAR) in the category open to riders born after 1 January 1982. In third place is Amets Txurruka (EUS) who is 49’24” behind the overall leader after 19 stage. The white jersey has been worn by Txurruka since Contador first donned the ‘maillot jaune’.
The final stage has begun. The peloton has reached the site of the official start at 2.01pm. The riders in the prize jerseys are at the head of the peloton - Contador in yellow, Boonen in green, Soler in the spotted top and Txurruka in white - there are 141 riders still in the race.
Mauricio Soler won the stage to Briancon at the start of the second week. He has worn the polka-dot jersey ever since. The Colombian Barloworld rider has 206 points in the mountains classification. In second place is Alberto Contador (DSC) with 128 points while third place is held by the winner of the youth classification in 2005, Yaroslav Popovych (DSC) with 104 points.
“It’s a battle all the way to the finish,” said the leader of the points classification, Tom Boonen after the 18th stage. “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 in the lead with over 48 points, you’re not safe in the knowledge that victory in the points classification is assured.”
The Quickstep rider has a tally of 234 points. In second place is Robert Hunter (BAR) with 210pts and third is Erik Zabel (MRM) with 206pts.
Alberto Contador held on to the overall lead at the end of the time trial for stage 19. The 24-year-old Spaniard from the Discovery Channel team will wear the yellow jersey for the final stage. He has a lead of just 23 seconds over Cadel Evans (PRL) and is 31 seconds ahead of his team-mate Levi Leipheimer who won the 55.5km race against the clock yesterday.
There are still time gains on offer today: two intermediate sprints with six, four and two seconds of bonuses for the first three across the line. And 20, 12 and eight seconds for the first three riders at the end of the stage.
“We’ll wait and see what happens in the race.” This is all Evans would say about how he would approach the race when LeTour.fr spoke with him earlier this morning.
Leipheimer was more concise with his response when asked how he would contest the final stage. He was robbed of fifth overall two years ago when Alexandre Vinokourov claimed a time bonus by winning the stage and moved ahead of the American in the general classification on the final stage. “Cadel can rest easy,” said Levi at the finish yesterday, “I don’t plan on trying to do a ‘Vino’…”
The peloton is currently rolling along in the neutral zone. It won’t be long before Christian Prudhomme waves the white flag from the race director’s car to signal the start of racing.
The 146km race from Marcoussis to the Champs-Elysees in Paris includes two category-four climbs (the cote de St-Remy-les-Chevreuse at 51km and the cote de Chateaufort at 54.5km) and two intermediate sprints: the first in Chatenay-Malabry (at 74km) and the second at the Haut des Champs-Elysees on the third of eight laps of the finish circuit (at 108.5km).
There is a short ride through a neutral zone before the riders reach the site of the official start which is expected to be at around 1.50pm.
The final stage of the 2007 Tour de France is schedule to start in Marcoussis at 1.40pm. The 146km journey to the finish on the Champs-Elysees in Paris will begin in sunny conditions although it was raining at the site of the start earlier today. There have also been some showers in the French capital early today but, for the moment, it’s overcast and the roads are drying up.
Live coverage of stage 20 will commence shortly.