Luis Sanchez attacked the yellow jersey’s peloton with 5km to go. The top 10 in stage seven is:
1. Luis Sanchez (ESP) GCE - 159km in 3h52’53"
2. Stefan Schumacher (GER) GST at 6"
3. Filipo Pozzato (ITA) LIQ at 6"
4. Kim Kirchen (LUX) THR at 6"
5. Ajelandro Valverde (ESP) GCE at 6"
6. Oscar Pereiro (ESP) GCE at 6"
7. Samuel Sanchez (ESP) EUS
8. Josep Jufre (ESP) SDV at 6"
9. Christian Vande Velde (USA) TSL at 6"
10. Andy Schleck (LUX) CSC at 6"
Luis Sanchez has pointed to the heavens as he crossed the line. He has given Caisse d’Epargne its second stage victory for the 2008 Tour.
There has been an attack by Schumacher in the chase but Sanchez is about to start celebrating his first victory in the Tour de France in much the same manner as his win in Nice in Paris-Nice earlier this year.
Sanchez has a lead of 15" on his nearest rival. The win is looking like it’s his for the taking. The yellow jersey is 35" behind the rider who has just reached the final kilometer of the seventh stage.
Sanchez is less than 2km from the finish. He has a lead of 15" over his nearest rivals. This is going to be the second stage win for his team, but his first victory in the Tour de France.
Sanchez is 3km from the finish. He’s trying to claim a victory that’s akin to what he achieved in Paris-Nice earlier this year: a fast descent and holding off the peloton on the flat run to the finihs. He is 37" ahead of the yellow jersey.
Luis Sanchez is trying to claim a second stage win for his Caisse d’Epargne squad. He is less than 4km from the finish and has a lead of about 20".
Kirchen has just led his group under the 5km to go sign.
Evans, Sastre, Schleck, Sanchez, Valvere, Pereiro, Sanchez, Kirchen, Pozatto, Kreuziger, Nibali, Devolder, Carrara, Valjavec, Schumacher, Kohl, Menchov, Ricco, Cobo, Jufre, Piepoli, De La Fuenta and Vande Velde are the riders in the lead of the seventh stage.
David De La Fuente is about to be caught by a group including the yellow jersey. His bid for stage honors is over but the Saunier Duval rider will wear the polka-dot jersey in stage eight thanks to his attacking antics today.
1. De La Fuente 4pts
2. Sanchez 3pts
3. Pereiro 2pts
4. Piepoli 1pt
De La Fuente has a lead of 10" at the top ofthe final climb.
Pereiro has attacked and dropped Schumacher at the head of the peloton. Meanwhile, at the front of the stage De La Fuente is on his own. The others have been caught by the bunch.
Schumacher is insisting with his attack. He is being marked by Pereiro and Kreuziger.
Schumacher has come to the front of the peloton with 10km to go in the stage. The bunch was 28" behind De La Fuente, Jufre, Sanchez and Nibali at that point.
De La Fuente, Jufre, Sanchez and Nibali are now just 30" ahead of the peloton that is being led by a CSC rider. They have 1km to climb on the final rise of stage seven.
The four leaders are at the base of the final climb. The points for the final sprint were won by:
1. Josep Jufre (SDV) 6pts
2. Vincenzi Nibali (LIQ) 4pts
3. David De La Fuente (SDV) 2pt
The peloton is at 38".
De La Fuente, Jufre, Sanchez and Nibali are about to contest the sprint in Saint-Simon.
With the advantage of De la Fuente’s group down to 45", the CSC team is now taking responsibility for the chase of the escapees.
De La Fuente, Jufre, Sanchez and Nibali are now 52" ahead of the peloton.
The third intermediate sprint is in Saint-Simon with 11km to go in the stage. Then it’s a right-hand turn, direction: cote de Saint-Jean-de-Donne. The leaders have just passed under the 15km to go banner.
The yellow jersey’s peloton is now 1’00" behind the De La Fuente group. Euskaltel are doing the work at the front of the Kirchen’s group.
The final climb of the stage is a 1.7km rise at an average gradient of 9.9 percent. The summit of the St-Jean-de-Donne is at the 150km mark. The bunch has just passed under the 20km to go banner with Euskaltel riders now taking over the pacesetting duties, 1’05" behind De La Fuente, Jufre, Sanchez and Nibali.
De La Fuente, Jufre, Sanchez and Nibali push on with their effort at the front of the stage. They have a lead of 1’10" on the peloton that continues to be led by Siutsou of the Columbia squad. Tucked in behind are riders from Caisse d’Epargne and Silence-Lotto.
The peloton has just caught Mikel Astarloza. Only De La Fuente, Jufre, Sanchez and Nibali remain ahead of the yellow jersey’s peloton which is 1’12" behind.
De La Fuente, Jufre, Sanchez and Nibali are 25km from the finish. There is still another category-three climb yet to go. The cote de Saint-Jean-de-Donne is a 1.7km ascent with an average gradient of 9.9 percent.
The yellow jersey’s peloton is currently 1’20" behind De La Fuente, Jufre, Sanchez and Nibali at the 131km mark. Astarloza is still stuck in between the leading quartet and Kirchen’s group. His deficit to the leaders is 55".
Chavanel won’t be adding any points to his collection in the climbing category today. The King of the Mountains after six stages is currently in a group that’s 11 minutes behind De La Fuente, Jufre, Sanchez and Nibali.
When Luis Sanchez won the stage to Nice in Paris-Nice this year, he launched his winning move on the descent of the col du Tanneron. He flew down the mountain like he was trying to replicate the style of Casey Stoner, skidding in and out of turns in a fearless manner. He is now in the lead of the stage, along with Jufre and Nibali. De la Fuente has just caught up with the leading trio after getting a scare on the fast downhill.
The mist at the top of the Puy Mary made the tarmac slippery but as the bunch descends into the valley leading to Aurillac, the roads are dry again.
Johan Vansummeren (SIL) has crashed on turn on the descent. He slid long on his backside and is now back on his bike.
De La Fuente has had a few close calls on the descent. It appears that his brakes were grabbing and prompting his rear wheel to skid a little on the slippery tarmac. He has lost contact with his escape companions.
On the descent, the four leaders - De La Fuente, Jufre, Sanchez and Nibali - are 1’15" ahead of the yellow jersey’s peloton.
After being dropped on the ascent, Cancellara has wasted no time in rejoining the yellow jersey’s peloton on the descent.
The points for the Puy Mary were won by:
1. De La Fuente (SDV) 10pts
2. Jufre (SDV) 9pts
3. Sanchez (GCE) 8pts
4. Nibali (LIQ) 7pts
5. Astarloza (EUS) 6pts - at 52"
6. Siutsou (THR) 5pts - at 1’30"
Hincapie has just been dropped, along with Cancellara and McEwen, as the peloton approaches the summit of the Puy Mary. The leaders are currently riding in thick fog at the top of the 1,588m high ascent. The roads are dry and, for now, the threat of hail is abating.
De La Fuente, Jufre, Sanchez and Nibali lead the peloton by 1’30" with 1km to climb.
De La Fuente’s quartet is 40" ahead of Astarloza with 1km to climb.
âObviously itâs been a historic Tour for us,â said Michael Zellman, the PR director for the US component manufacturer SRAM which, through the efforts of Riccard Ricco yesterday earned itâs first stage victory at the Tour de France. âThree years into the road market weâve won our first Grand Tour (with Alberto Contador at the Giro dâItalia) and now weâve led the Tour and won a stage with riders using the SRAM Red ensemble. We could not be more excited.
âConsidering how the two teams at the Tour that are using SRAM (Saunier Duval and Agritubel) are performing against some of the best riders in the world, itâs so cool to get our product some recognition. These teams are putting our products at the forefront and, in a year when our competitors have launched new road groupsets, itâs great to get the exposure weâve had so far during the Tour de France.â
Currently, two riders from Saunier Duval are in the lead of the stage. Could it be a second successive stage win for SRAM?
Astarloza is 1’25" behind De La Fuente, Jufre, Sanchez and Nibali who have 2km to climb on the Puy Mary. The peloton is at 1’55" while the second peloton - including the polka-dot and green jerseys - is at seven minutes.
There are five riders from the Columbia team at the head of the peloton including those in the yellow and white jerseys, Kirchen and Lovkvist.
The latest bout of action includes an attack from the rider who finished 10th last year, Mikel Astarloza (EUS). He hasn’t prompted much of a reaction from the peloton.
De La Fuente, Jufre, Sanchez and Nibali are 2’00" ahead of the peloton. It would seem that the counter-attack by Le Mevel has been reeled in by the main pack that has been led by the Columbia team since the base of the third climb.
The sprinter/lead-out man Marcus Burghardt of the Columbia team is currently setting the pace for the peloton.
Of the four riders in the lead of the stage, the best on general classification at the start of the seventh stage is Vincenzo Nibali (LIQ). He began the stage ranked 28th, 3’01" behind Kirchen.
This is the eighth time that a stage of the Tour de France has include the 1,588m high Puy Mary climb. The last time was in 2004 when Richard Virenque led over the top.
The peloton is being led by Hincapie and his Columbia team-mates. It is on the pas de Peyrol (aka Puy Mary). It is 1’50" behind the leading quartet on the ascent that is 7.8km long with an average gradient of 6.2 percent.
Today is claiming a few retirees. The latest rider to quit is the climber from the AG2R team John Gadret.
Christophe Moreau has quit the Tour de France. This was the Frenchman’s 12th attempt at the race.
The four escapees are 45" ahead of Le Mevel and 1’40" ahead of the peloton that continues to be led by the Columbia team.
The points at the top of the third climb today were won by:
1. David De La Fuente (SDV) 10pts
2. Josep Jufre (SDV) 9pts
3. Luis Sanchez (GCE) 8pts
4. Vincenzo Nibali (LIQ) 7pts
5. Christophe Le Mevel (C.A) 6pts
6. Kanstantin Siutsuo (THR) 5pts - at 1’15"
The category-two col d’Entremont (at 101.5km) has points for the first six riders over the summit. Results of the 3rd climb today will be posted soon.
Sanchez (GCE), De La Fuente and Jufre (SDV) and Nibali are 35" ahead of Le Mevel and 50" ahead of the peloton with 1km to go on the third climb of the stage.
Jufre’s quartet is being pursued by Le Mevel (C.A) who is in between the yellow jersey’s peloton and the leaders.
The four are 30" ahead of the lone Frenchman and 40" ahead of the peloton.
There are now four riders ahead of the yellow jersey’s peloton. Jufre and De La Fuenta (SDV), Nibali (LIQ) and Sanchez (GCE) are together at the front of the stage with a lead of 40" on the Columbia-led peloton.
Sanchez and Jufre lead Nibali and de la Fuente by 15" and the yellow jersey’s peloton 45".
Lilian Jegou, the first rider to launch an attack in the 2008 Tour, is now out of the Tour. He broke his wrist in a crash around the 75km mark. He is on his way to the hospital. His wife is due to give birth any day now and it could be that both Mr and Mrs Jegou will find themselves in hospital at the same time...
Sanchez and Jufre are 25" ahead of the yellow jersey’s peloton.
The average speed for the 2nd hour of racng was 42.4km/h. The average for the first two hours is 40.7km/h.
Jufre and Sanchez are now being pursued by a group of about 10 riders with 8.5km to climb to the third summit.
Jufre and Sanchez are 18" ahead of the peloton with about 64km to go in the stage.
On the approach to the third climb, Josep Jufre (SDV) has attacked the peloton. He is being followed by Luiz Sanchez (GCE).
The chase has been able to reel in Evans, Cioni, Sastre, Cancellara, Gustov, Schleck, Schleck, Voigt, Valverde, Pereiro, Sanchez, Kirchen, Lovkvist, Pozatto, Kreuziger, Nibali, Kohl, Valjavec, Menchov, Freire, Cobo, Ricco, Vaugrenard, Vande Velde and Millar.
The exciting move lasted about 20km and gained a maximum advantage of 45".
The escape was over at the 93km mark.
The second peloton is about to catch the leading 25 who were 10" ahead at the 90km mark.
The 25 who are now 20" ahead of the peloton are: Evans and Cioni (Silence-Lotto), Sastre, Cancellara, Gustov, Schleck, Schleck and Voigt (Team CSC), Valverde, Pereiro and Sanchez (Caisse d’Eparnge), Kirchen and Lovkvist (Columbia), Pozatto, Kreuziger and Nibali (Liquigas), Kohl (Gerolsteiner), Valjavec (AG2R), Menchov and Freire (Rabobank), Cobo and Ricco (Saunier Duval), Vaugrenard (FDJ), Vande Velde and Millar (Garmin).
The CSC team has been setting the tempo of the lead group since it split the peloton around the 74km mark. It is now 25" ahead of the Lampre-led main pack.
The leaders are 75km from the finihs of the stage. The Col d’Entremont comes with 57.5km to go. It is a 6.5km long ascent at an average gradient of 4.7 percent.
The yellow jersey’s peloton is now 30" ahead of the main pack that is being led by riders from the Lampre team.
The main pack is strung out from the pace of the day. The latest rider to lose contact with the long paceline is Moreau of the Agritubel team.
Lilian Jegou (FDJ) crashed recently and is now in the ambulance with a fractured wrist. He is the sixth rider to abandon the 2008 Tour.
There are 25 men in the lead of the stage. Here is a reminder of the riders involved: Evans, Cioni, Sastre, Cancellara, Gustov, Schleck, Schleck, Voigt, Valverde, Pereiro, Sanchez, Kirchen, Lovkvist, Pozatto, Kreuziger, Nibali, Kohl, Valjavec, Menchov, Freire, Cobo, Ricco, Vaugrenard, Vande Velde and Millar.
They are 35" ahead of the second group.
The lead group is now 42" ahead of the next peloton that includes Cunego. Also involved in the escape is Tadej Valjavec of the AG2R team.
Radio Tour has just announced the names of the riders involved in the escape. They are:
Evans and Cioni (SIL)
Cancellara, Gustov, Schleck, Schleck and Voigt (CSC)
Valverde, Pereiro and Sanchez (GCE)
Kirchen and Lovkvist (THR)
Pozzato, Kreuziger and Nibali (LIQ)
Menchov and Freire (RAB)
Ricco and Cobo (SDV)
Millar and Vande Velde (GAR)
The points for the sprint in Paulhac were won by:
1. Oscar Freire (RAB) 6pts
2. Kim Kirchen (COL) 4pts
3. Volodymir Gustov (CSC) 2pts
Freire is being followed by Kirchen to the site of the 2nd intermediate sprint.
Millar has rejoined the lead peloton after changing his bike. His group includes: Evans, Popovych, Sastre, Cancellara, Schleck, Schleck, Voigt, Valverde, Pereiro, Sanchez, Kirchen, Lovkvist, Pozzato, Nibali, Valjavec, Kohl, Menchov, Freire, Vaugrenard, Cobo, Vande Velde and Millar. They are 500m from the second intermediate sprint. Ricco is also part of the first peloton that’s now 40" ahead of the second bunch.
Millar has just stopped to get a new bike. He had been riding with a flat tire for about 10-12km.
The CSC team is insisting with their effort at the front of the stage. Their group includes the yellow jersey and the rider in second overall but the second peloton is now 40" behind.
Contrary to a recent newsflash, the yellow jersey is in the lead group. The riders named in the lead group are: Evans, Sastre, Cancellara, Schleck, Schleck, Voigt, Valverde, Pereiro, Sanchez, Kirchen, Lovkvist, Pozzato, Nibola, Valjavec, Kohl, Menchov, Freire, Vaugrenard, Cobo, Vande Velde and Millar...
There are six or seven riders from the CSC team at the head of the first peloton which has isolated the yellow jersey.
Mauro Facci has quit the Tour de France. The Quickstep rider is the fifth rider to retire from the 2008 race.
Luis Sanchez of the Caisse d’Epargne team has attacked the peloton at the moment the six escapees were caught.
Voigt, Barredo, Millar, Vaugrenard, Florencio and Scholz have been caught by the first peloton around the 65km mark.
The Garmin-Chipotle rider in the lead of the stage has had a history of mechanical issues at crucial times in the Tour. His latest issue is a flat front tire as the time that he was attempting to become the virtual leader of the race.
Millar has been riding ith a flat front tire for about the last five minutes. He didn’t yet get a wheel change but he’s insisting on being part of the escape group despite his mechanical problem.
The yellow and polka-dot jerseys are part of the first peloton that’s 25" behind Voigt, Barredo, Millar, Vaugrenard, Florencio and Scholz. The second group - including Cunego is at 45".
Millar has somehow been able to rejoin the lead group after a recent puncture.
Another rider who was involved in the recent crash was Damiano Cunego. He has holes torn into his knicks but he’s back on his bike and has the support of several Lampre team-mates as he attempts to rejoin the peloton.
Voigt, Barredo, Vaugrenard, Florencio and Scholz are now 15" ahead of the first peloton. The second bunch is at 30".
There are now five riders in the lead of the stage. The rider ranked fifth overall at the start of the day was in the escape but Millar has recently punctured.
Juan Antonio Flechas was a rider caught up in the recent crash. He is back on his bike now and attempting to rejoin the peloton which is riding at an extremely rapid pace.
There has been a crash in the peloton. There are now about 40 riders in the lead of the main pack but we have no information on the riders involved in the recent fall. It has, however, split the peloton into several groups.
The peloton is 15" behind Voigt, Barredo, Millar, Vaugrenard, Florencio and Scholz who are now less than 100km from the finish.
The bunch is closing in on Voigt, Barredo, Millar, Vaugrenard, Florencio and Scholz. The latest time check has the peloton 15" behind the escapees who attacked around the 50km mark.
There are three Columbia riders at the head of the peloton now but there’s no sign of their team leader Kim Kirchen. Tucked in behind the squad of the race leader are riders from the Garmin-Chipotle team.
The peloton is 20" behind Voigt, Barredo, Millar, Vaugrenard, Florencio and Scholz.
George Hincapie and Gerald Ciolek at the two Columbia riders trying to limit the gains of escapees which are now 37" ahead of the peloton.
There are two Columbia riders swapping off at the front of the peloton. Right behind are men from the Garmin team who have just gestured for the motorcycles carrying cameramen away. They don’t want the bunch to close in on the escape of six which includes David Millar.
Millar’s group is now 30" ahead of the peloton at the 54km mark. The Columbia team is setting the pace of the peloton and appears intent on reeling in the move that includes the rider ranked fifth overall.
Of the six in the lead of stage seven the best-placed on GC is David Millar of the Garmin team. He was fifth overall at the start of the day, 47" behind Kirchen.
At the top of the 2nd climb the peloton was 20" behind Voigt, Barredo, Scholz, Florencio, Vaugrenard and Millar.
At the top of the cote de Villidieu (52km) the points were won by:
1. Jens Voigt (CSC) 3pts
2. Ronny Scholz (GST) 2pts
3. David Millar (GAR) 1pt
Millar, Voigt, Florencio, Barredo and Scholz have been joined in the lead of the stage by Benoit Vaugrenard.
The cote de Villedieu is a category-four ascent. Points are awarded to the first three over the line. Currently Jens Voigt, Carlos Barredo, Ronny Scholz, Xavier Florencio and David Millar are 18" ahead of the peloton on the approach to the second summit of the day.
David Millar (GAR), Jens Voigt (CSC) and three other are ahead of the peloton on the approach to the second summit of the stage.
At the intermediate sprint in St-Flour (46.5km), the points were won by:
1. Robbie Hunter (BAR) 6pts
2. Robbie McEwen (SIL) 4pts
3. Thor Hushovd (C.A) 2pts
Hushovd has missed out on claiming first place at the St-Flour sprint. He was beaten to the line by a rider from Barloworld.
The first sprint of the stage is in St-Flour. This town in the Cantal department has twice hosted a finish of the Tour de France. The first was in 1999 when David Etxebarria claimed the victory, the second was in 2004 when Richard Virenque was first.
At the 42km mark, the peloton is being led by riders from Credit Agricole who are attempting to lead Thor Hushovd to the sprint in Saint-Flour.
The average speed for the first hour of racing stage seven is 39.0km/h.
"Frank actually got bumped in the sprint because one guy swayed in front of him, so he had to take his foot out of the pedal in order to avoid crashing,â said Kim Anderson, a directeur sportif of the CSC team about the elder Schleck brother who finished stage six in fourth place. âHe could’ve gotten an even better result had it not been for that particular incident, but it’s fantastic that he’s on form though.
The CSC team was prominent in the finale of the stage to Super Besse with both Schleck and Carlos Sastre finishing in the top 10. Before the final climb, however, Fabian Cancellara tried to stir things up at the head of the peloton. âIt was not the right time for Fabian on such a steep climb,â said CSC boss, Bjarne Riis. âI think he was mainly testing to see how the peloton would react to his move.â
The Giant bike used by Kirchen has been repainted so that the silver sections that are part of the Columbia team’s color scheme is now colored yellow.
The bunch is now at the 33.5km mark and has caught the five escapees.
Gutierrez, Quinziato, Arrieta, Pineau and Gerard are the five riders who have been on the attack for the last 10km.
The four escapees never gained more than 30" on the peloton, thus the names were not announced on Radio Tour. At the 32km mark the bunch is closing in on the four fugitives who attacked at the 22km mark.
The four riders are still on the attack. The peloton is at the 28km mark and still less than 30 behind the escapees. The teams which are doing the work at the head of the peloton are Bouygues Telecom and Columbia.
As we wait for news from Radio Tour, it’s time to remind you of the poll on LeTour.fr. The question today is:
"Eight riders have worn the yellow jersey in 1958 and 1987. Will this record be beaten this year?"
Be sure to send your vote by clicking on the link in the "Survey" section of the Tour’s homepage.
The four riders who attacked at the 22km mark are insisting with their effort. Alas, we still don’t have the names of the men involved in the move. As soon as they are announced, we’ll post the names.
The bunch is at the 22km mark and four men have gone on the attack. Again, the names have not yet been announced by Radio Tour. If the escape gains more than 30, we’ll learn who the men involved are.
âItâs not an easy stage today,â said the rider currently ranked second overall, Cadel Evans. âThe climbs are not particularly hard but there are enough to cause some splits in the bunch. âI havenât ridden the climbs before the Tour but after studying the road book Iâd say itâs a finish that suits a guy like Valverde. He might be wrapped up in bandages but that doesnât mean heâs slowing down. We saw that he has good legs yesterday and Iâm sure heâll be up there again today.
âWant my forecast? Okay, Iâd say thereâll be a group of about 70 or 80 riders coming to the line together and someone like Oscar Freire will be there to take the win.
âThe long descent from the Puy Mary will give some of the more resilient sprinters the chance to catch up again and Freire falls into that category.â
At the 19km mark, the escapees have been reeled in by the peloton.
The bunch is at the 17km mark and we have no further news about the escape attempt but can report that the Caisse d’Epargne team is at the head of the peloton.
There is a group of about 15 riders now trying to form an escape group but the peloton is reacting to the move and racing at a very rapid pace early today.
The peloton has just arrived in the Cantal department. The stage began in Haute-Loire but the final 142km of stage seven are in the Cantal.
There are five riders on the attack at the 12.5km mark. Radio Tour has yet to identify the men involved but we’ll post their names as soon as they are announced.
After the top of the climb, the peloton has caught the riders who scampered ahead to claim a few points in the mountains classification. The bunch is all together at the 11.5km mark, with the exception of a number of riders who were dropped, including John Gadret and Francesco Chicchi.
1. David Millar (GAR) 4pts
2. Sandy Casar (FDJ) 3pts
3. David Moncoutie (COF) 2pts
4. Bram Tankink (RAB) 1pt
There are eight riders with a slight advantage on the peloton as it approaches the top of the first climb.
After having his green jersey taken from him by Kim Kirchen, Thor Hushovd will now try everything to make up the small deficit in the points classification. LeTour.fr contacted the Norwegianâs directeur sportif Serge Beucherie before the start of the stage to find out what Credit Agricole is planning to do in the stage to Aurillac. âToday the finish of the stage is very difficult and we cannot image that Thor will be able to claim the win. That said, a lot depends on the size of the escape group and we will see if, for example, there are still points to be taken in the intermediate sprints. If so, Thor will definitely try to claim some.
âWe will do everything we canâŚ it will not be easy to catch Kirchen and, compared with last year, we donât have the flat stages that traditionally open the Tour de France. And thus weâve lost a few stages for the sprinters.
âWe saw on the stage to Plumelec that the last hurdle provided an advantage for riders like Valverde and Kirchen and that meant less points were available to us.
âWe havenât yet lost the green jersey. I donât think Kirchen, who is now defending the yellow jersey, will take risks in the final of Toulouse in the quest to take more points so that will be a big stage for Credit Agricole (tomorrow).â
The first summit of stage seven is at the 11km mark. The peloton is currently climbing the 4.5km long cote de Fraisse which has an average gradient of 4.4 percent.
Moreau and Frischkorn have been caught by the peloton at the four kilometer mark.
Christophe Moreau (AGR) and Will Frischkorn (GAR) are the riders who are currently at the front of the stage.
There are a number of riders currently attempting to establish an escape group. They have a lead of just five seconds and have yet to be identified by Radio Tour. The team of Kim Kirchen is at the head of the peloton.
Riccardo Ricco (SDV) was the best rider eligible for the youth classification in stage six. Then came Roman Kreuziger (LIQ) and the rider who wore the white jersey on day six, Thomas Lovkvist (COL). The Swedish rider retains the lead in the category thatâs open to riders born after 1 January 1983. He has a lead of 46â over Maxime Montfort (COF) and 1â04â over Andy Schleck (CSC).
There are 176 riders still in the 95th Tour with no overnight retirees. The official start time for stage seven is 1.17pm.
Two French riders at the top of the climbersâ classification: Sylvain Chavanel (COF) and Thomas Voeckler (BTL) both have 27 points but the polka-dot jersey will be worn by the rider who initiated the escape in stage six, Chavanel. He has twice been voted the most aggressive rider in a stage of the 2008 race and earned the right to wear the spotted top in stage seven. Heâll also have the red âdossardâ representing the most combative rider of the previous stage. He leads Voeckler because he claimed first place at the top of the first category-two ascent of the 95th Tour.
The winner of stage six, Riccardo Ricco (SDV) is ranked third with 20 points, all of which were earned at the top of Super Besse, a climb that had double points because it was a climb ranked category-two and was the last test of the stage.
The peloton is currently on its way to the start of the seventh stage from Brioude to Aurillac.
âI came here focused on getting the first stage win and got very close [finishing fourth], but if that was a bit disappointing I made up with a great time trial, better than I expected, on stage four,â said the Tour leader, Kim Kirchen (COL) who is also on top of the points classification standings with 97 points. In second place in the race for the green jersey is Thor Hushovd (C.A) with 88 points while Spanish sprinter Oscar Freire (RAB) is third with 85 points.
âMy guess is that weâll see a group of 70 or 80 riders contest the finish in Aurillac,â said Cadel Evans before the start of the seventh stage. âIf I was to put a bet on the winner, Iâd nominate Freire. Iâm not a gambling man but heâs the sort of rider who is able to climb reasonably well and still has plenty of speed in a sprint.â
âItâs been an exceptionally good Tour for me and Team Columbia so far,â said the new race leader, Kim Kirchen of the Columbia team after stage six. âI was holding the points jersey for several stages and now Iâm in yellow. I wanted to go for the stage win to take the yellow jersey but there was a strong headwind and then some late attacks and I got blocked so I couldnât move ahead.â
He is the first rider from Luxembourg to lead the Tour de France since Charly Gaul in 1959. Kirchen has a six-second advantage over last yearâs runner-up, Cadel Evans.
âI was hoping that my form was going to be good but itâs even better than expected,â said Kirchen after finishing fifth at Super Besse.
The previous race leader, Stefan Schumacher (GST) crashed in the finale of the sixth stage and finished 25th, losing 32 seconds at the top of the second category-two climb of the 2008 Tour. He is currently ranked third overall 16 seconds behind Kirchen.
There are five climbs on the itinerary for the seventh stage: the cat-3 cote de Fraisse (at 11km), cat-4 cote de Villedieu (52km), cat-2 col dâEntremont (101.5km), cat-2 pas de Puy Mary (117km) and the cat-3 cote de Saint-Jean-de-Donne (150km). The intermediate sprints for the 159km stage are in Saint-Flour (46.5km), Paulhac (74km) and Saint-Simon (148km).
The 159km seventh stage of the 2008 Tour de France is scheduled to start at 1.10pm. There is a 3.3km neutral zone before the flag will fall to signal the beginning of racing on the day the race goes south from Brioude to Aurillac in the Cantal department. The weather is expected to turn a little nasty towards the end of the stage with forecasts even suggesting that there could be a chance of hail between 3.00pm and 5.00pm.
For the moment, the rain is holding off and the temperature for the start of the stage is about 25 degrees Celsius.
Live coverage of the stage will commence shortly.