Roman Feillu has enjoyed the experience of wearing the yellow jersey but it didn’t give him any wings. He finished the stage in 169th place, 4’59" behind Schumacher. He will drop right down the rankings and Schumacher will move right up to first overall.
Roman Feillu admitted that he would lose time in today’s stage but he held some hope that he would be able to retain the yellow jersey. That’s not going to happen: he has had his day in the limelight but as he passes the 19.5km check 3’17" behind the time of Schumacher it’s almost over.
There are still four riders to finish the stage but Schumacher will win the stage and take the yellow jersey. It is the second victory in the Tour de France for his Gerolsteiner team and his first.
The average speed for the stage was 49.5km/h.
The only rider who could have challenged Schumacher for the yellow jersey was Kim Kirchen. The rider in the green jersey finished 18" behind the German (in second for the day with only four more riders to finish) which means that it’s now only a matter of waiting for the final riders before Schumacher is confirmed as the new leader of the Tour de France.
At the finish, Cadel Evans has expressed his satisfaction with the stage. "So far, so good," said the rider who finished second in the Tour de France last year. He is currently ranked third in today’s stage and appears satisfied with his effort to beat Cancellara and, so far, finish behind Schumacher and Millar.
Millar has the second best time of the stage. He is 18" behind Schumacher and nine seconds ahead of Evans.
Evans has beaten Cancellara by five seconds on the day that he said the world champion would be unbeatable. Clearly that isn’t the case... but Schumacher has taken over that mantle. The German appears to be untouchable today. He beat the Australian by 27".
Evans has the fifth best time at the 19.5km mark and is now in the final kilometer of the stage. He will not take the win today. He is 28" behind Schumacher... which is good enough for second in the stage.
At the first time check, Feillu has lost 1’48" to Schumacher. The yellow jersey is destined to change at the end of the stage and it appears destined for the shoulders of the rider who will turn 27 on 21 July.
David Millar is having a superb ride. He is ranked second at the 19.5km mark, with an impressive time of 24’57", but it’s still 15" behind the German Stefan Schumacher.
At the 11km mark, the former yellow jersey wearer Alejandro Valderde was 48" behind Schumacher. It’s only good enough for 30th place at the first time check.
At the 2nd time check, Evans was 24" slower than Schumacher. The average speed for the first two-thirds of the stage for the Australian Silence-Lotto rider is 46.6km/h.
Kirchen has just beaten the time set by Millar at the 11km mark. The new top three at the first check is: 1. Schumacher 11km in 13’54"; 2. Kirchen at 11"; 3. Millar at 13".
David Millar has eclipsed the time of all except for Schumacher. The British Garmin rider pasted the first check 13" behind the German.
Stefan Schumacher has been a pro since 2001. He has won Classics (including the Amstel Gold Race last year), stage races (including the Tour of Poland, Benelux Tour and the Bayern Rundfahrt) as well as stages of the Giro d’Italia and, at this stage, he appears the likely winner of the fourth stage of the Tour de France.
Gerolsteiner has only ever won one stage of the Tour (thanks to Georg Totschnig in 2005) but it could be celebrating a historic victory tonight.
Schumacher began the stage 1’52" behind Feillu and, at this rate, it’s possible that he’ll end the day with the yellow jersey on his shoulders.
The rider with the number-one ’dossard’, Cadel Evans, has just passed the first time check in eigth place. He is 22" behind the time set by Schumacher.
Frank Schleck has just reached the first time check with the 38th best time. He’s 1’00" behind the standard set by Steffan Schumacher.
The winner of stage one has departed the start house. He is the fourth last to start today. "He was impressive in the time trials at the Dauphine Libere in June," said the runner-up in that race, Cadel Evans, earlier today. "It’ll be interesting to see if he can repeat that effort a month later."
At the first time check Hincapie was ranked second, at the second check he is sixth. The American was 34" behind Schumacher at the 19.5km mark.
Steffan Schumacher has arrived at the finish with a time of 35’44", which is the best of the day by a long shot. He leads Cancellara by 33"! The average speed for the Gerolsteiner rider was 49.5km/h.
At the end of the 29.5km stage, Vande Velde has posted a time of 36’21", it’s the fourth best of the day so far. He is four seconds behind Cancellara.
Millar has opted to use a disc wheel on the rear. He has a huge Union Jack flag emblazoned on the carbon Zipp wheel. He and his Garmin team-mates are wearing yellow ’dossards’ today as the leading squad in the team classification.
The winner of stage 13 last year, Cadel Evans, has just left the start house. The Australian time trial rider is using a 55x11 top gear on a new bike that’s been developed to his requirements by Ridley. There are now just eight others to start the stage.
Sastre has posted a time that’s 1’10" behind his team-mate Cancellara at the finish. It’s the 15th best of the day so far.
At the 11km mark, Hincapie has set a time that’s the second best of the day so far. He is 14" behind Schumacher and 1" ahead of Voigt.
At the 19.5km mark, Schumacher’s time is 23" better than Voigt and 29" ahead of Menchov. The German has never won a stage of the Tour before but at this current rate today could be his first...!
With Hushovd now having departed the start house, it means there are only 13 men left to begin the time trial. The last men to begin the stage will be:
Carrara (QST), Pereiro (GCE), F. Schleck (CSC), Pozzato (LIQ), Evans (SIL), Millar (TSL), Pineau (BTL), Freire (RAB), Kirchen (THR), Valverde (GCE), Frischkorn (TSL), Longo Borghini (BAR) and Feillu (AGR). The start time for the yellow jersey is 4.56pm.
The bike supplier for Credit Agricole, Look, has developed a new frame that will make its Tour debut today. The winner of stage two is riding the new Look 596 TT frame that the company claims has a 15 per cent aerodynamic advantage over the 496 TT that Thor Hushovd used to win the prologue of the 2006 Tour.
Fabian Cancellara has set a time of 36’17" - just 0.88 of a second ahead of Menchov!
Schumacher has oblitorated the best time of the day at the first check. He is 15" ahead of Voigt’s time!
At the first time check Christian Vande Velde of the Garmin team has posted a time that’s 4" behind the standard set by Voigt and 2" behind the world champion.
Fabian Cancellara has less than five kilometers to go in the stage. The finale of the time trial has a tailwind and the world champion has shifted into overdrive to try and make up the seven seconds he lagged behind Voigt at the 19.5km mark.
The rider who is ranked second in the youth classification today is Andy Schleck. As the race leader, Roman Feillu, is also eligible for the young rider category he, in theory, should have the white jersey on his shoulders. But as he’s racing in yellow, the honor of wearing white goes to the young Luxembourger.
At the 2nd time check, the world champion has posted the third best time of the day. He is 7" behind Voigt and one second behind Menchov.
Adam Hansen was used as a bit of a guinea pig for his Columbia team. The Australian time trial champion rode the course earlier today with a disc wheel but he was blown around so much that he will be advising his colleagues to think twice about using a disc wheel. "I’d get blown sideways when the wind blasted through the caravans that line the course," said the 27-year-old.
The world time trial is wearing the number 13 dossard but he’s flipped it upside down for the stage. He is now parting the crowds as he powers towards the second time check. At the 11km mark he was 2" behind his team-mate Voigt... we wait to see if is able to beat the German’s time in a moment.
Vincenzo Nibali has just finished with a time of 36’31", which is good enough for third at the moment. He is the 136th rider to finish the stage.
At the first check, Cancellara is 2" slower than his team-mate Jens Voigt.
The 2004 Giro d’Italia champion and the best young rider of the 2006 Tour, Damiano Cunego, has just posted a time 31" slower than Voigt at the 11km mark.
One of the riders who finished in the top 10 of the first long time trial of last year’s Tour, Yaroslav Popovych, has just reached the 19.5km mark 2’04" slower than Jens Voigt.
At the 2nd time check, Vincenzo Nibali has posted a time that’s 20" slower than Voigt and three seconds faster than Gutierrez.
Stijn Devolder has just left the start house which means that Carlos Sastre is next to leave. The Spaniard is ranked 31st after three stage of this year’s Tour, 1’52" behind Roman Feillu.
Menchov has just finished the stage strongly. The Russian’s time was 36’18", which is one second faster than Jens Voigt.
There’s a rainbow racing today. The world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara is the latest rider to leave the start house. This year he has already claimed 10 victories including a number of time trials, amongst them are: prologue of the Tour of California, the fifth stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, prologue of the Tour of Luxembourg, and the Swiss championship. He is the favorite for today’s stage.
At the first time check, Vincenzo Nibali of the Liquigas team has posted the third best time. He is five seconds slower than Voigt.
The winner of the ’espoir’ time trial at the world championships in 1999, Jose Ivan Gutierrez (GCE) has set the third fastest time of the stage at the 11km mark. He is nine seconds behind the time of Voigt at the first check.
The former German time trial champion Sebastian Lang is racing with Shimano’s soon-to-be released electronic shifting system. There’s a small battery attached to the down tube of his Specialized frame. It is a product that’s been years in the making and rumor is that it will be available for the public by the end of the year.
Jens Voigt has covered the 29.5km course at an average speed of 48.7km/h. It is the fastest time of the day by far. He is 33 seconds faster than Sylvain Chavanel.
At the second time check, Menchov’s time is 25’11, 5.6 seconds slower than Jens Voigt after 19.5km.
The junior world champion from the road race at the 2004 world champion, Roman Kreuziger Jnr, has just set the sixth fastest time of the stage at the 19.5km mark. He is 54" behind the mark set by Voigt at the second check.
At the 2nd time check, Voigt has again set the fastest time of the stage. He is 34" ahead of the previous best, Sylvain Chavanel.
Voigt has just gone past his two-minute man before the 15km mark. The new top five at the 11km check is:
1. Voigt (GER) CSC - 11km in 14’19"
2. Menchov at 4"
3. Bertogliati at 21"
4. Chavanel at 27"
5. Froome at 28"
The fastest rider today is Jens Voigt. He has beaten the best time so far at the 11km mark by 21". The German is four seconds faster than Menchov who is the latest to pass the first time check.
Sylvain Chavanel has set the fastest time of the stage. He beat Pate’s mark by 2 seconds. The French champion declared that he would have a fast ride today and he’s been true to his word. His average speed was in excess of 48km/h.
Alexandre Botcharov has just started which means little in relation to a time trial but it does mean that his Russian compatriot Denis Menchov is the next to start.
The Rabobank rider lost time yesterday and is ranked 52nd after three stages, 2’30" behind Feillu. He is a two-time winner of the Vuelta a Espana, a stage winner of the Tour de France and one of the favorites for the Tour title this year.
The French time trial champion Sylvain Chavanel has set the fastest time of the day at the 2nd check. He is 11 seconds faster than Danny Pate. The average speed for the first 19.5km of Chavanel’s race was 45.6km/h.
The 2003 ’espoir’ time trial world champion Marcus Fothen (GST) is the latest rider to start the stage. He is the 120th rider to begin the time trial. He was seventh in the time trial around Rennes in the Tour de France two years ago, a result that netted him the white jersey for the 12 stages before it was taken from him by Damiano Cunego, the best young rider of the 2006 Tour.
At the first time check, Sylvain Chavanel has posted the second fastest time. He is six seconds behind Rubens Bertogliati at the 11km mark and one second ahead of Christopher Froome.
The first three week race that Danny Pate has contested during his seven-year career was the Giro d’Italia this year. Together with his Garmin team-mates, he won the opening stage (at team time trial) and made it all the way to the finish in Milan. The final stage of the Giro this year was a 38.5km time trial and Pate was sixth.
Danny Pate, the 2001 ’espoir’ world champion, still has the fastest time. He finished the 29.5km course in 36’54", 24 seconds better than Clement (BTL). The advantage of the American over the rider currently ranked last, Leonardo Piepoli (SDV) is 5’34".
Only two stages of the Tour have concluded in Cholet before today. The last time was in 1998 when Jeroen Blijlevens won a sprint and Stuart O’Grady became only the second Australian to claim the yellow jersey. The CSC rider is the latest to start today’s time trial. There are another 65 men to begin the race that begins and ends in Cholet.
The 111st rider to start the stage today is Sylvain Chavanel, the French time trial champion who finished eighth in the stage 13 time trial last year. After his escape in stage two this year he stated that he wanted to take it easy in stage three to try and save his legs in favor of doing a good ride today. His start time was 2.42pm.
The first long time trial of the 2007 race was contested after the first mountain range (the Alps), in stage 13. The rider who posted the fastest was later disqualified after testing positive for a homogulous blood transfusion and Cadel Evans was later notified that he was, in fact, the official winner of the stage that began and finished in Albi.
Here is a reminder of the top 10 from that stage:
1. Alexandre Vinokourov
2. Cadel Evans at 1’14"
3. Andreas Kloden 1’39"
4. Andrey Kashechkin 1’44"
5. Bradley Wiggins 2’14"
6. Yaroslav Popovych 2’16
7. Alberto Contador 2’18"
8. Sylvain Chavanel 2’38"
9. Levi Leipheimer 2’39"
10. Mikel Astarloza 2’42"
Of the top 10 only Evans, Popovych, Chavanel and Astarloza are in the Tour this year.
âIâm interested to see Menchovâs time,â said Cadel Evans this morning. âI think I should be able to see him finish before I start. I think heâs going to be one of the best today but, to be honest, I think the course is so well suited to the strong guys. I don’t think anyone can beat Cancellara today.â
Menchovâs start time is 3.14pm. The world time trial champion, Cancellara, will start at 3.50pm. And Evans is due to begin at 4.40pm.
The Australian who is ranked ninth in the general classification after three stages has ridden the course this morning and wanted to do it again but with the publicity caravan on the road that loops out and back from Cholet, he opted to return to his hotel to get some rest after finishing the ride before lunch.
The Australian time trial champion has the 45th best time of the day so far. He was asked to take it a little easy today in favor of saving some energy for tomorrow. Expect to see more of Adam Hansen in the future. "He’s got one of the most powerful engines in the team," said Mark Cavendish before the start of the Tour.
The left armwarmer worn by Leif Hoste appeared to be torn as he crossed the line. The Belgian time trial champion has the 23rd best time of the day but it could be that he has crashed somewhere on the course today. He was to be one of the riders who was testing the course in race conditions to report back to his team leader Cadel Evans.
Niki Terpstra is the first rider in a while to wrestle his way into the top five. The Dutch Milram rider has pushed into third place at the second time check, 28 seconds behind the time set by Danny Pate.
âI wouldnât say itâs an easy course,â said the winner of the first long time trial of last yearâs Tour de France, Cadel Evans. The Australian rode the 29.5km loop that starts and finishes in Cholet earlier today, departing at about 10.30am. âThe headwind out makes the harder part of the course interesting. Thatâs when the surface is rough and there are more climbs than on the way back when the bitumen is much smoother.
âIt was the first time Iâve seen this course and I donât think itâs too technical. There are only about three corners where Iâll have to brake. That will change if it rains, of course.â
With 70 men having arrived at the finish of the 29.5km test, the fastest remains the American rider Danny Pate who covered the course at an average of 48km/h. He leads Clement (BTL) by 24" and Riblon (A2R) by 32".
Adam Hansen has been asked by his Columbia team to take it a little easy in today’s time trial. The Australian TT champion is the room-mate of Mark Cavendish for the Tour and the hope is that, tomorrow, the two will team up to try and bring the peloton to the line for a bunch sprint... with ’Cav’ the protected rider.
Voeckler has just started his time trial. The current leader of the climbers’ classification is not a renowned time trialist and he admitted after stage two that his 296km of escapes in the first two stages has taken its toll. Don’t expect a great time from him today.
The winner of stage three, Samuel Dumoulin, is the latest rider to start the time trial. He is rider number 85 for today. Although he gained time from his escape yesterday, he is still ranked 94th overall after three days of racing.
At the end of the 29.5km race, Pate has set a time of 36’54". It is the best by 24". His average speed is 48.0km/h.
At the first time check, Moreau is 21" slower than Bertogliati. The Frenchman was the 65th rider to start the time trial.
Going on the times posted early today, Cadel Evans has told LeTour.fr that he believes the winning time will be around the 35 minute mark. Currently, the fastest of the 52 riders at the finish is Stef Clement of the Bouygues Telecom team who covered the 29.5km course in 37’18" (an average of 47.5km/h). "After riding the course, I reckon the fastest average should be around 50km/h," said the runner-up in last year’s Tour.
An American who is making his Tour debut this year, Danny Pate of the Garmin team, has just posted the fastest time at the second time check. He covered the first 19.5km in 25’50" - that’s two seconds faster than Bertogliati at the same point.
So far 58 riders have passed the first check (at 11km). The fastest is Bertogliati (in 14’30"); the slowest is the lightest rider in the field, Leonardo Piepoli (in 16’56").
The rider who was voted the most aggressive of last year’s Tour de France, Amets Txurruka (EUS) is the latest rider to start time time trial. He is the 64th man to start. Just behind him is Christophe Moreau - the first rider in the field to have previously won a time trial at the Tour (the prologue of the 2001 edition).
There has been little interruption to the top order lately. The only rider to nudge into the top five of late is Yoann Le Boulanger (FDJ) has just posted the third best time at the 11km mark, he is eight seconds behind Bertogliati and seven seconds shy of Christopher Froome’s time at the first check.
So far 57 men have started the time trial. The 65th on the start list is Christophe Moreau who has won a prologue of the Tour in the past. He lost time after the peloton split near the end of stage three and is currently 114th overall, 5’16" behind his team-mate Roman Feillu in the general classification.
The temperamental weather that has been a feature of this year’s Tour de France is again prompting a regular update on conditions. Although a few drops of rain fell earlier today, the sun is now shining on Cholet.
The Dutch time trial champion Stef Clement has posted the best time of the day with 37’18". His average speed is 47.5km/h, enough to put him eight seconds ahead of Christophe Riblon.
There has been a heavy cloud cover over Cholet for much of the day. At the moment there are a few drops of rain falling at the site of the finish but the roads are still essentially dry. Some riders have made the comment that there isn’t too much of a need to brake on the course today but, if it rains, there are some turns that they’ll need to ease off for.
The two-time Dutch national time trial champion Stef Clement has posted the third best time at the 19.5km mark. The Bouygues Telecom rider is 10" behind Bertogliati’s time at the same check.
The Swedish Garmin-Chipotle rider who just offered his thoughts on the stage to LeTour.fr, Magnus Backstedt, is currently 12" behind the best time of the day so far. It’s the fourth best time, behind Riblon, Bertogliati and Froome.
âA bastard of a time trial,â is how Magnus Backstedt began to describe the race today. âItâs a headwind and hilly on the way out and mainly climbing to about 10km from the finish. After that itâs basically just long, dragging descents with a full on tailwind. Gear selection is a major, major issue today. I had a 54x11 and it was nowhere near enough on the way back!
âIf I had the chance to do it again, Iâd have a 50 on the inside and a 57 on the outside. Weâre talking about 82 or 83km/h on the way back to the finish! Itâs long descents and, with the wind, youâre just flying. If you donât have the right gear to push, then youâre just spinning like mad.â
Today is the 52nd birthday of the manager of Bouygues Telecom, Jean-Rene Bernaudeau. The Frenchman was the winner of the youth classificaiton in the 1979 Tour de France. His son, Giovanni, is part of his team’s roster but is not competing in the Tour.
The winner of the prologue of the Giro d’Italia a few years ago, Brett Lancaster of the Milram team, is the next rider to start the time trial. This is his first chance to start a long time trial of the Tour de France; although he made his debut last year, he crashed early and abandoned before the race against the clock in stage 13 in Albi.
Paolo Tiralongo of the Lampre team is 31 today. He is currently on course and was the 14th man to begin the time trial.
Christophe Riblon has eclipsed the time of Bertogliati. The Frenchman covered the 29.5km course in 37’26" - four seconds faster than the previous leader.
Christopher Froome of the Barloworld team has come closest to bettering Bertogliati’s time. The Kenyan is registered to race as a Brit and his time is just three seconds shy of the Swiss Sunier Duval rider.
The former Swiss time trial champion Rubens Bertogliati has posted the best time of the day so far. He was involved in a crash two days ago but has just ridden the 29.5km course in 37’30", which translates to an average speed of 47.2km/h. He is 1’27" better than the next-best of the early starters Nicki Sorensen of the CSC.
The second rider to start the stage, Mattieu Sprick (BTL) has posted a time that’s 2’02" better than the first to start (Wim Vansevenant). The early standard for the 29.5km course is 39’00" (45.4km/h).
The riders who finished first and second in the closest ever Tour de France (1989), Greg LeMond and Laurent Fignon, are both attending the race this year. Once they were rivals and today they were sighted today chatting away as they crossed the finish line of the 29.5km course in Cholet.
The injured Colombian Barloworld rider, Juan Mauricio Soler has just passed the second check in a time of 28’05". He has been suffering after his fall in stage one but is still insisting on being part of the race in the year when he’s the defending champion of the mountains classification.
Wim Vansevenant has just reached the site of the first time check. He covered the first 19.5km in 28’29". Okay, he’s the first man to start the stage but at least he has the best time even if it’s only for a few minutes.
The rider in the yellow jersey is also in the lead of the youth classification. Roman Feillu is 1â52â ahead of the younger of the two Schleck brothers from CSC, Andy. In third place in the category thatâs open to riders born after 1 January 1983 is Yury Trofimov (A2R), at 152â.
So far five riders have past the first check at the 11km mark. The best time of the day goes to the winner of the first stage of the 2002 Tour in Luxembourg, Rubens Bertogliati, the Swiss rider who also inherited the yellow jersey after his victory six years ago. He was 35" faster than the Danish champion Nicki Sorensen today.
Thomas Voeckler continues to lead the climbing classification with 19 points. As there were no climbs in the third stage, and none again today, he is assured of a few visits to the podium to collect the polka-dot jersey. The Bouygues Telecom rider is eight points ahead of Sylvain Chavanel and 10 ahead of escape companion from day one, Bjorn Schroder (MRM).
Kim Kirchen retains the green jersey for a second day. The leader of the Columbia team is currently ranked fifth overall but he has a tally of 69 points in the race for the green jersey, this is five more than the winner of stage two, Thor Hushovd (C.A). Spaniard Oscar Freire (RAB) is ranked third with 55pts and stage one winner Alejandro Valverde (GCE) is next with 49pts.
Roman Feillu may have only started training again on April Foolâs day this year after suffering a bout of toxoplasmosis at the end of 2007 but he is back! The 24-year-old Frenchman who rides for the wildcard invitee team Agritubel is the new leader of the Tour de France. The 83rd French rider to wear the yellow jersey is 35â ahead of one of his escape companions from stage three, Paolo Longo Borghini (BAR) and 1â42â ahead of the man who instigated the escape in St-Malo, William Frischkorn (TSL).
The previous race leader, Alejandro Valverde (GCE) is ranked fifth, 1â45â behind Feillu while the rider in the green jersey, Kim Kirchen (THR) holds down sixth place at 1â46â.
There are still 178 riders in the Tour de France. The two retirees - both victims of crashes - are Herve Duclos-Lassalle (COF) and Angel Gomez Marchante (SDV).
The men currently on the time trial course are: Vansevenant (SIL), Sprick (BTL), Soler (BAR) and Sorensen (CSC). All of these riders at the bottom of the general classification list have crashed during the first three stages of the 95th Tour.
Conditions are overcast for the 29.5km race against the clock. There is a breeze blowing from the south east at about 20km/h and the temperature at the start of the stage is around 19 degees Celsius. The first rider, Vansevenant (SIL) is now on course and, for the moment, the roads are still dry although there have been a few drops of rain falling in Cholet this morning.
Wim Vansevenant (SIL) is the first rider to start the time trial today. His departure time is 11.02am. The 36-year-old Belgian âdomestiqueâ has been the âLanterne Rougeâ â the last rider in general classification at the end of the Tour â for the past two years. He is currently ranked 178th of the 178 riders in the 2008 Tour, 16â40â behind the new race leader, Roman Feillu (AGR).
There will be two intermediate time checks during the fourth stage. The first is at Saint-Andre de la March (at the 11km mark), the second is at Les Vignes (19.5km). (To keep track of the riders’ progress, click on the ’Intermediate Timing’ link on LeTour.fr.)
The 29.5km time trial for stage four is due to commence at 11.02am. The first to start is Wim Vansevenant is the the first to start. Riders will then depart at two-minute intervals all day, starting in reverse order of their position in the general classification. The new race leader, Roman Feillu (AGR), will start his race against the clock at 4.56pm.
Live coverage of the stage will begin shortly.