Carlos Sastre may have lost 2’34" to the stage winner today but the CSC team has finally claimed the yellow jersey. The Spaniard will win the Tour de France by 1’05" over last year’s runner-up Cadel Evans.
Carlos Sastre has finished the 20th stage with a raised finger to signal "number-one". He has finished 29 behind Cadel Evans and the Spaniard will win the Tour de France baring disaster tomorrow.
Evans has finished 15" ahead of Kohl in the 20th stage. It will put the Australian into second place overall while the Austrian will remain third overall as well as win the King of the Mountains crown.
Sastre has passed the 7km to go sign and is about to catch his three-minute man, Frank Schleck.
Evans has the seventh fastest time in the stage. He is going to end the Tour de France in second place for the second successive year.
Evans is less than 1,000m from the finish of stage 20. He has gained about 30" on Sastre who is destined to win the Tour de France unless he explodes at the end of the 53km time trial.
Denis Menchov has finished the time trial in sixth place so far. He is 1’55" behind Schumacher who appears destined to win the stage.
At the end of the 53km stage, Vande Velde has a time of 1h04’55"... good enough for fourth place in the stage so far.
At the 15km to go sign, Sastre was 26" behind Evans.
Sastre has lost 23 seconds (the deficit between first and second overall in the 2007 Tour de France) to Evans in the first 36km of the 20th stage. At this stage, the CSC rider will become the seventh Spaniard to win the yellow jersey.
Schumacher was equal with Cancellara at the first check, but the German then muscled his way into the lead for the subsequent kilometers. No one is getting close to the mark set by the winner of stage four. It seems that the rider who earned a day in the yellow jersey with his win in Cholet is about to give Gerolsteiner its third stage win in the Tour de France.
Carlos Sastre has 20km to go in the 20th stage. He is still the leader of the Tour de France but Cadel Evans has moved up to virtual second for the moment, leading Kohl by just 7" according to the GPS time checks.
Kohl has passed the second time check just three seconds shy of the mark set by Cadel Evans. These two are ranked seventh and eighth at the 36km mark.
Evans is running out of kilometers to make up the time he lags behind Carlos Sastre in the general classification. THe Australian is just 15km from the end of the 20th stage.
Andy Schleck has finished the stage 4’04" behind Schumacher. The rider from Luxembourg will keep his white jersey after finish 1’01" ahead of the rider in second place in the youth classification Roman Kreuziger in today’s time trial.
Evans is 1’30" behind Cancellara’s time at the 36km mark. The Australian has lost 22" to Menchov at the second check.
At the 36km mark, Menchov is 1’08" behind the fastest man at the second check today (Cancellara). The Russian’s time is good enough for sixth so far.
The mother of Cadel Evans, Helen Cocks has made the trip from Australia to France at the last minute. She decided at 5.00pm on Thursday to book a ticket and made the journey. Given that Australia is eight hours behind European time, she left it until the very last minute to get here.
She arrived in Paris at 6.30am and drove to St-Amand-Montrond this morning. "The only thing that I wanted to ensure was that Cadel didn’t know I was coming before he started the time trial," she told LeTour.fr exclusively.
"I made the trip with my friends Heath and Jeff who decided that the trip had to be made..."
In the first 18km, Sastre has posted a time that’s eight seconds slower than Evans.
Menchov is gaining time on Evans. The Russian began the stage 1’05" behind the Australian and he now has less than 25km to go in the stage.
Frank Schleck has lost 1’18" to Schumacher at the first check. It’s only good enough to put the former overall leader into 42nd place at the 18km mark.
Bernhard Kohl has ridden the first 18km two seconds faster than Cadel Evans.
After 19 stages, Evans is 1’05" ahead of Menchov. The Russian has made up 16 seconds in the first 18km of the 20th stage.
Cadel Evans is 38" behind Schumacher at the 18km mark.
Andy Schleck has lost 1’03" to Kreuziger in the first 36km of the stage. He led the Czech rider by 1’58" after 3,362.5km in the youth classification.
The time set by Menchov at the 18km mark is the third best so far. He reached the first check in 21’52", 22 seconds slower than Cancellara.
Vande Velde has the fourth best time of the stage at the 18km mark. He has lost 28 seconds to Cancellara and Schumacher.
There are two Belgians in the from of the Silence-Lotto car following Cadel Evans. Herman Frison is doing the driving while Hendrik Redant is calling the information through to Cadel Evans.
The first leader of the 2008 Tour de France has reached the first time check with a deficit of 1’14" to Cancellara and Schumacher. Valverde’s time is only the 25th best at the 18km mark.
Carlos Sastre has just left the start house. He is clad in a full yellow skin suit and has to hold off Frank Schleck by 1’24", Bernhard Kohl by 1’33" and Cadel Evans by 1’34" if he is to win the Tour.
The German stage leader is 21" faster than Cancellara at the finish.
The last rider to start the stage is Carlos Sastre. His team-mate Frank Schleck has just started the time trial. Now just Sastre is yet to begin the 53km test.
Schumacher has beaten Cancellara’s time. He has posted a time of 1h03’50", this is an average of 49.8km/h.
Like most riders today, Cadel Evans has opted to use a disc wheel on the rear and a deep dish carbon front rim. His Ridley bike features brakes on the back side of the front forks and the rear calliper is positioned near the bottom bracket.
At the 18km mark, Kim Kirchen has posted the third best time of the stage, 24" behind Cancellara and Schumacher.
Schumacher has beaten Cancellara’s time by 14" at the 47.5km mark.
In 1989, Greg LeMond posted the fastest ever time in a race against the clock over 20km at the Tour de France when he won the final stage in the year of Franceâs bicentenary celebrations. He overtook Laurent Fignon and famously won the title by eight seconds.
In 1990, Greg LeMond overtook Claudio Chiappucci to take the yellow jersey. The stage was won by Erik Breukink and the American won the title without winning a stage.
In 2003, David Millar won the final time trial on a day or torrential rain but the general classification was confirmed when Lance Armstrong finished third and Jan Ullrich â who had been a challenger to the Texan for three weeks â crashed on a roundabout and lost any chance of making up the deficit to the overall leader.
In 2006, Floyd Landisâ took the yellow jersey off the shoulders of Oscar Pereiro on the penultimate day but it was a victory that wouldnât lastâŠ as the American would surrender the title retrospectively after testing positive for testosterone.
Cadel Evans is about to start the race of his life. He has to make up 1’34" on Carlos Sastre to reclaim the yellow jersey.
In 1968, Jan Janssen became the first Dutchman to win the Tour de France. He claimed the final stage, a time trial from Izier to Paris, and overtook Herman van Springel on the final day to take the title by 38â.
In 1977, Bernard Thevenet confirmed his victory over Hennie Kuiper by winning the last individual test.
In 1978, Joop Zoetemelk was 14 seconds ahead of Bernard Hinault before the final time trial but the rider from Brittany ended up winning the Tour by 3â56â.
According to the early results of our poll on LeTour.fr, many believe that this final time trial will determine a new leader of the general classification. In the post-WWII period (ie. races since 1947), the final time trial has contributed to a change of race leader 12 times.
In 1958, Charly Gaul won the final time trial and inherited the lead from Vito Favero in Dijon.
In 1962, Jacques Anquetil won the stage in Lyon and overtook Joseph Planckaert in the general classification.
In 1964, the final stage was a time trial from Versailles to Paris. Anquetil was just 14 seconds ahead Poulidor but his victory on the last day sealed his fifth victory. (More to follow.)
At the second time check, Schumacher has slipped behind Cancellara. The winner of stage four is 12" slower than the world champion at the 36km mark.
Thomas Voeckler has posted the slowest time of the stage so far. He is 10’58" behind the time set by Fabian Cancellara.
Roman Kreuziger - the rider who is ranked second in the youth classification - has just left the start house. This means that there are now just 12 riders due to start the 20th stage. Andy Schleck believes that he’s still in with a fight to keep his white jersey although his advantage over Kreuziger is 1’58" after 3,362.5km of racing.
A the first time check the two riders at the top of the time sheet are equal at 21’30". Schumacher was said to have finished ahead of Cancellara but it’s only by a fraction of a second.
Before he arrives at the 18km mark, Schumacher has his two-minute man in sight. The German has set the best time of the stage at the first check. He has posted a time of 21’30", a fraction of a second ahead of Cancellara.
At the 47.5km check, Hesjedal has just set the fourth best time. His Garmin team has three riders in the top five: Millar is second (at the third check, 1’10" behind Cancellara), Hesjedal fourth (at 2’14") and Pate fifth (at 2’21"). The team leader, Christian Vande Velde is looking for a place on the podium in Paris. He is currently ranked sixth overall, 4’41" behind Carlos Sastre. The start time for the American is 4.11pm.
At the first check, George Hincapie has posted the sixth best time. He was ninth in the stage four time trial and is currently 51" slower than the best time of the day which has been set by Cancellara.
The riders are now leaving at three minute intervals. The last man to start the 20th stage will be Carlos Sastre. The leader of the general classification is due to begin at 4.26pm.
The winner of the fourth stage, Stefan Schumacher has left the start house.
Erik Zabel is the latest rider to reach the 18km mark. He has the 70th best time at the second check. His compatriot Jens Voigt has posted several top 10 results in Tour time trials but also finished last in the first long individual test of the 2006 race.
There are 10 riders yet to start at two minute intervals. The final 20 men will leave at three minute intervals.
At each check, Fabian Cancellara has set the fastest time. He was the only rider above the 50km/h average at the second check. At the finish he is 1’16" better than Millar and 1’58" ahead of Lang. The average speed for the world champion over 53km is 49.5km/h.
At the third time check today, the world champion is 1’10" faster than the British champion.
Evans and Sastre have raced each other in two major time trials this year.
At the DauphinĂ© LibĂ©rĂ© in June the TT was in Saint-Paul-en-Jarez (31km): Evans beat Sastre by 3â32"
In stage four of the Tour de France in Cholet (29.5km): Evans beat Sastre by 1â16"
At the Tour de France in 2007 there were two time trials.
In AngoulĂȘme (55.5km): Evans beat Sastre by 2â15"
In Albi (54km) - a time trial won by Evans, the difference between him and Sastre was 4â01"
At the Vuelta a Espana, there were two time trial.
In Zaragoza (52.2km): Evans beat Sastre by 1â43"
In Villalba (20km): Evans beat Sastre by 22"
At the Tour de France in 2006 there were two time trials:
In Montceau-les-Mines (57km): Evans beat Sastre by 1â01"
In Rennes (52km): Evans beat Sastre by 22"
At the Tour de France, the difference between Evans and Sastre in the time trials was:
Noirmoutiers (19km): Sastre beat Evans by nine seconds
Saint-Etienne (55.5km): Evans beat Sastre by 1â04"
At the Giro d’Italia there were two time trials in 2002. The first was a 30.3km test in Numana: Evans beat Sastre by 4’28"
In Monticello Brianza, over 44.3km, Evans beat Sastre by 1’37".
LeTour.fr has been looking back at previous time trial results of the two riders many believe are vying for the yellow jersey today. Since 2002, Carlos Sastre has beaten Cadel Evans only once in a major time trial; that was at the start of the 2005 Tour de France when the Australian made his Tour debut. The difference in that 19km test in Noirmoutier was just nine seconds: Sastre in 29th and Evans 35th... in the following newsflashes we’ll present a break down of the TTs over the years.
At the finish Sebastian Lang (GST) has set a time of 1h06’06" which is the fastest so far today, 35" ahead of Danny Pate (GAR).
The best time of the day at the 36km mark goes to the world champion Fabian Cancellara. He is the first man to reach the second check at an average speed of more than 50km/h (50.7km/h to be precise. His time of 42’38" is 1’03" better than Millar’s time at the same point of the TT course.
David Millar briefly held the best time at the 18km mark but he has been beaten by Cancellara (by 43") and Chavanel (41"). The British champion has just reached the check at Charenton-du-Cher in 43’41" - the best time of the day (49.4km/h) so far - with Cancellara the next rider due at this check.
Chavanel is two seconds faster than David Millar at the 18km mark. The winner of stage 19 is ranked second at the first check for the moment, 41" behind Fabian Cancellara.
At the 47.5km mark the British-registered Kenyan from the Barloworld team, Chistopher Froome, has set the second-best time: 5" behind Pate.
The rider who is ranked seventh in the climbing classification (thanks to a long escape in the Pyrenees) has just beaten Pate’s time at the second check. Sebastian Lang (GST) is the fastest rider so far today at the 36km mark; he was 15" faster than Pate at the same point.
Cancellara’s time at the 18km mark is 21’30" - 43" better than what David Millar was able to do at the first check.
Millar is four seconds faster than his team-mate Pate at the 18km mark. The British TT champion has posted a time of 22’13" at the first check.
The rainbow is on course: world champion Fabian Cancellara, once again, has his number-13 ’dossard’ turned upside down on the back of his world champion’s jersey. He was the 79th rider to start, two minutes after the Garmin-Chipotle TT specialist David Millar.
Danny Pate has set the fastest time at every check today. The Garmin-Chipotle rider is ending his first Tour de France in fine style, currently leading Seb Rosseler by 37" after 53km.
After finishing the time trial, Robbie McEwen offered some comments to LeTour.fr about the course from Cerilly to St-Amand-Montrond. "It’s perfect for Cadel," said the sprinter from Silence-Lotto. "It’s a hard course. At the start it’s like you’ve got a tailwind and so you relax a little but after about 10km: boom! It hits you in the face and you have to start fighting.
"The road surface is dead. It’s like riding on sawdust or carpet: you have to really fight to stay on top of your gears. It’s a course that someone like me hates but I’ve never been good at time trials. For Cadel, it’s perfect. He is the sort of rider who can power over the undulations and gain time on his rivals. Honestly, I believe Cadel will beat Carlos by two and a half minutes."
The green jersey has just left the start house. Oscar Freire is the 77th rider to begin the time trial. After him is the rider who finished third in the Cholet TT for stage four, David Millar of the Garmin-Chipotle team.
At the 47.5km mark, there are three Australians currently in the top five. Hoste still has the best time while O’Grady (CSC) is second at 30", Lancaster (MRM) third at 36" and Hansen (COL) at 1’58".
Hoste still has the best time at the finish but the Belgian TT champion’s time at the second check has been bettered by compatriot Sebastian Rosseler (QST).
The first rider to set a faster time than Leif Hoste is Danny Pate, the under-23 time trial world champion from 2001. The American was 11 seconds faster than the Belgian after 18km.
Cadel Evans rode the course early today, starting at about 10.30am. âWe left the hotel at nine,â said Silence-Lotto directeur sportif Hendrik Redant, âand we were on the course after a bit of a drive. Cadel rode the entire course to make sure he understands what lies ahead today. He does it as always: paying close attention to all the corners and even stopping, turning back and riding some again to make sure he understand what the best path to take is.
âThere were some corners that he rode three or four times.
âItâs a course that suits him and Iâm confident about his chances. We know what weâre here for: weâre racing for the yellow jersey!â
LeTour.fr recently spoke to the man who will be calling the shots for Cadel Evans who is due to start the time trial at 4.17pm. Hendrik Redant explained, "The course suits him with plenty of power pieces, sections where he can really stamp on the pedals. This is where he’s going to gain a bit of time."
The Belgian directeur sportif will not follow any other riders from the Silence-Lotto team and is looking forward to the challenge that’s facing him this afternoon when he’s going to call the race for Evans. "I’ll be there in the car like I have been all through the Tour. Today it’s a little different but the atmosphere in the team is tranquil. Cadel is calm and I’m confident."
Robbie Hunter (BAR) doesn’t look like suffering a similar fate to 2006 when he was eliminated after finishing outside the time limit in the final time trial when he was a member of the Phonak team. The only South African to win a stage of the Tour past the first check in 14th place, 1’32" behind Hoste’s time.
Leif Hoste has posted the fastest time. He rode the 53km course at an average of 47.0km/h. His time is one hour, seven minutes and 40 seconds - which is 20" better than Brett Lancaster (MRM).
Leif Hoste (SIL) has posted the fastest times at each intermediate check. The Belgian time trial champion is used by his team to get a gauge of the course and offer advice to his leader Cadel Evans. Hostes times were: 22â28â at 18km, 45â16â at 36km, 1h01â33â at 47.5km and he’s due to arrive at the finish soon. Expect him to have the fastest time so far today.
Brett Lancaster (MRM) has the best time so far today. He covered the 53km course in one hour and eight minutes and currently leads Riblon (A2R) by 17".
The rider who is poised to become the first rider to finish last in the Tour de France three times, Wim Vansevenant, just told LeTour.fr his thoughts on achieving this result. "Well, Lance has seven titles and that’s why he’s in the history books. At least I could set another record, three times the ’Lanterne Rouge’... but at least I know I’ve helped my team-mates during the course of my time at the Tour de France."
Bernhard Eisel, the first rider to start the time trial, told LeTour.fr at the finish: "Someone told me that it was a tailwind today... but it felt like a headwind all the way for me."
Stephane Auge: "It’s a course made for Cadel. There are no big hazards on the road and the only trick might be the wind. Sometimes it’s pushing you, other times it’s like riding into a wall."
The fifth rider to start the time trial, Riblon, is the second rider at the 2nd time check. He has overtaken his two-minute, four-minute and six-minute men: Sprick (BTL), Krauss (GST) and Vansevenant (SIL).
Brett Lancaster has past the 2nd time check with the best time so far. The Australian Milram rider is one second faster than Christophe Riblon at the 36km mark.
After 36km of racing in stage 20, Wim Vansevenant has lost 4’27" to the best time so far (posted by Riblon of the AG2R team). The Belgian is thus back in the last place of the general classification and, if he doesn’t finish outside the time limit in today’s stage, he will become the first rider to claim the Lanterne Rouge three times at the Tour de France.
In 2006, Robbie Hunter finished outside the time limit in the final time trial of the Tour de France and didn’t get to ride to Paris with the rider who wore the yellow jersey on the final day, some guy called Floyd.
Hoste has beaten Riblon’s time at the first check. The Belgian TT champion rode the first 18km in 22’28", 22" faster than the AG2R La Mondia rider who is currently ranked second.
The time trial world champion Fabian Cancellara will start the time trial at 1.54pm. "It will be very important for me to have the time reference of Fabian [Cancellara] who is the best in the world at the time trial," said Carlos Sastre after stage 19. "Then Iâll have the advantage to know about Menchov and Evans. I will count on my strength and my confidence."
The poll on the Tour de France’s official site today asks the question:
Will Carlos Sastre still wear the yellow jersey after the 20th stage?
Yes or no?
Be sure to click on the link on LeTour.fr (or LeTour.com) and post your thoughts.
With seven rides having gone past the first time check, Christophe Riblon has the best time so far. He did the first 18km in 22’50", versus Mr Vansevenant who posted a time that is 2’29" slower in 11th place...
Before the 2008 Tour, six riders have finished as the last rider in the general classification of the Tour. The latest is Wim Vansevenant (2006 and 2007); he is currently ranked second last after 19 stages but challenging to become the first rider to finish last three times.
The other double ’lanterne rouge’ winners are: Masson (1922 and 1923); Schambacher (1979 and 1980); Hermans (1987 and 1989); Casper (2001 and 2004) and Flores (2002 and 2005).
Wim Vansevenant is waging a battle with Bernhard Eisel for the title of ’Lanterne Rouge’. After 18km of the 20th stage, the Austrian is holding on to his position as the last rider in the general classification (which was 42 seconds at the start of the stage). At the Rond-Bernand check the Belgian has the worst time, 37 seconds behind Eisel.
Leif Hoste - the Belgian time trial champion, team-mate of Cadel Evans and the rider who the Silence-Lotto squad generally uses to offer advice to the Australian team leader on conditions - is due to start at 11.48am. In the equivalent stage of the 2007 Tour de France, a test around Angouleme, Hoste finished ninth (2’48" behind the American winner Levi Leipheimer).
Jimmy Engoulvent (C.A) is the latest rider to leave the start house in Cerilly. He is ranked 10th last in the general classification. The rider to start after the Frenchman is an Australian who was part of the gold medal winner team pursuit quartet at the Athens Olympics, Brett Lancaster (MRM). The 11th starter has also won a time trial at a Grand Tour before, albeit a very short prologue at the Giro d’Italia in 2005 when the race was just 1.15km long.
There are three sites to check on the progress of the riders in today’s time trial. The intermediate checks are at 18km, 36km and 47.5km. Be sure to stay in touch with the status of the race by clicking on the "Intermediate Timing" link on the Tour’s official website (LeTour.fr or LeTour.com).
In theory itâs still possible for Erik Zabel (MRM) to steal the green jersey off Oscar Freire in the final two days but the Rabobank rider would have to do something terribly wrong to lose the lead of the points classification that heâs had for 11 days. The Spaniard has 244 points while the German is the only other rider with more than two hundred points (202).
Thor Hushovd (C.A) slipped from second to third in the sprintersâ category after finishing eighth in stage 19 (when Zabel was fourth). The winner of the green jersey in 2005 has 198 points while the consistent Colombian sprinter Leonardo Duque (COF) is fourth with 164 points.
The runner-up in the 29.5km time trial of stage four, Kim Kirchen (COL) is ranked fifth in the points classification with 145pts.
The points allocation for todayâs time trial is: 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 for the first 10 riders.
The first two men to start the 20th stage are on their way. Wim Vansevenant (SIL) has been the ’Lanterne Rouge’ (ie. the last rider in the general classification) in the two previous editions of the Tour de France. He has held the same position for much of the 2008 race but the rider who finished last in stage 19, Bernhard Eisel (COL), has stolen his ’title’ with two stages remaining this year.
Eisel is three hours, 47 minutes and 11 seconds behind Sastre after 3,362km of racing. Vansevenant is ranked 144th three hours, 46 minutes and 29 seconds behind the overall leader.
After the 19th stage from Roanne to Montlucon, Cadel Evans contacted LeTour.fr to offer his take on the racing on the eve of the time trial. "Is it just me or was that a super fast stage?" asked the Australian. "I thought everyone was getting tired but there are plenty who still have enough energy to keep the pace high!
"That’s another phase of the race out of the way," continued the rider who finished second overall in 2007. "Now I just want to get a good nights sleep, see how the weather is in the morning and have a look at the course again."
The Australian did a preview of the 53km time trial route at the end of June. "We wanted to see all the crucial stages," he said at the time, "and although it’s important to know what the terrain is like, I have to admit that this is going to be a time trial like all others: it’ll be fast and hurt."
The race for the yellow jersey is far from over. Todayâs 53km test against the clock will determine whether or not Carlos Sastre will become the seventh Spaniard to win the Tour de France. He has a lead of one minute 24 seconds over CSC team-mate Frank Schleck who was the second rider from Luxembourg to wear the leaderâs jersey in 2008, 50 years after his compatriot Charly Gaul won the title.
Bernhard Kohl (GST) is also within striking distance of the overall lead, just one minute 33 seconds behind Sastre but the rider in the polka-dot jersey is realistic about his chances in todayâs relatively flat time trial. No Austrian has ever won the Tour before but the 26-year-old from Vienna came close to the overall lead, spending two days just seven seconds shy of the coveted âmaillot jauneâ.
The consensus is that Cadel Evans represented the biggest challenge for Sastre. The Australian has won only one stage of the Tour de France in the past and that was the time trial in Albi for stage 13 last year. The runner-up in the 94th edition of the Tour knows that today is his chance to get back in the yellow jersey he wore for five days this year. He is one minute 34 seconds behind the Spaniard. No Australian has ever won the Tour before; Evans came within 23 seconds of achieving that honor.
The crucial final time trial of the 2008 Tour de France is schedule to get underway at 11.18am today. There has been plenty of rain in the Allier and Cher departments but within a few minutes of the start it’s not falling. The roads are, however, wet and the forecast is for the temperature to rise from 22 degrees Celsius to around 24 degrees by the end of the day.
Riders will start in reverse order of their place in the general classification. Bernhard Eisel of the Columbia team is the last rider in the race after 19 stages and he will leave the start house in Cerilly in a few minutes.
The first 125 riders will depart at two minute interviews while the final 20 will be separated by three minutes for the 53km race.