Fabian Cancellara has spoiled the party for German cycling today by beating Tony Martin’s time and taking the first yellow jersey of the 2010 Tour. The top five is: 1. Fabian Cancellara (SUI) SAX - 8.9km in 10’00" (53.4km/h) 2. Tony Martin (GER) THR at 10" 3. David Millar (GBR) GRM at 20" 4. Lance Armstrong (USA) at 22" 5. Gerraint Thomas (GBR) SKY at 23"
Alberto Contador, the last rider to start today, has finished 27" behind Cancellara. It’s enough for sixth place in the Rotterdam prologue.
Fabian Cancellara has beaten Tony Martin’s time by 10". The world champion is going to replace his rainbow jersey with a yellow one. It’s the third time that the Swiss rider has won the opening stage of the Tour de France.
Armstrong’s average speed was 51.5km/h. Lance was not able to beat Martin’s time.
Lance is less than 1,000m from the finish. The final turns are on dry roads and he’s trying to make up the five seconds he lagged behind Martin at the 4.2km mark..
Tony Martin will be presented with the white jersey at the end of the stage. It remains to be seen if Cancellara, Armstrong or Contador will beat his time at the finish but the best young rider of the opening stage last year has repeated that effort.
At the 4.2km mark, the defending Tour champion Alberto Contador posted 4’43" - it’s the fifth best for the day, 12" behind Cancellara.
Martin’s time has been beating... at last! The TT world champion has covered the first 4.2km in 4’31" - six seconds faster than Tony Martin.
The final starters are riding on roads that are no more wet than what Tony Martin had when he set the best time early today. Lance, Fabian and Alberto are in focus at the moment and the American has just reached the 4.2km mark with the third best time. He is 5" behind Tony Martin.
Alberto Contador has just begun the time trial. He is the last rider to start today and with Tony Martin having set the best time of 10’10" we wait to see if any of the late starters can eclipse that mark.
Lance Armstrong has started the prologue. He was out of the saddle for about 200m before tucking into the aero position. He appears to have started with a large gear but now he’s tapping away at a high cadence.
The runner-up from the 2005 Tour, Ivan Basso hasn’t competed in the race again... until today. The winner of the Giro d’Italia this May is the leader of the Liquigas team and only four more riders are yet to start the prologue...
At the intermediate check, Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) is 12" behind the time set by his team-mate, Tony Martin.
At the intermediate check, Evans is 13" behind Martin’s time.
Another two-time Tour runner-up, Cadel Evans, is nearing the first time check. He rides with a drop in excess of 23cm (from saddle height to handlebar position) and has superb flexibility to be able to put himself in an aerodynamic position. He has won a stage of the Tour in the past, a retrospective prize from the 13th stage time trial in the 2007 Tour (originally won by Alexandre Vinokourov who was later DQed).
Andy Schleck finished the prologue 59" behind Tony Martin. The runner-up last year (and two-time winner of the youth classification) never claimed to be a specialist in races against the clock...
Sanchez is not going to win the prologue. He has the 40th best time at the 4.2km mark, 18" behind Martin.
The new Spanish time trial champion, Luis Leon Sanchez of the Caisse d’Epargne team, has just begun the prologue. He is the 180th man to begin the race today and appears inspired to put in a good time. The two-time Tour stage winner is the leader of his team in the 2010 race.
The best Dutch rider so far today is Niki Terpstra of the Milram team. Last Sunday he won the road race at the national championships.
The winner of the opening time trials of the Tour in 2004 and 2009, Fabian Cancellara is the second-last rider to start the prologue. He is a favorite for the first yellow jersey today and will wear the rainbow jersey as reigning time trial world champion. He has gold gear and brake cables on his Specialized bike as he warms up in the Saxo Bank compound in the Zuidplein in Rotterdam.
David Millar is the only rider in the last hour to wrestle his way into the top order of the intermediate check. He was second at the 4.2km mark, and at the finish his time is 10 slower than Martin’s. It’s the second best time of the day and Millar’s average was 51.6km/h.
A yellow jersey wearer from 2008 and stage winner last year, Frank Schleck has just bolted out of the start house with a high cadence. He rode the first straight with the chain up on the cluster. As he reached the first turn, he thumped the gear lever down and tucked into the aero position. As he began, Millar reached the first check with the second best time of the day, three seconds behind Martin.
It’s been 10 years since David Millar made his Tour debut with a TT win in Futuroscope. He is the latest rider to start the prologue today. "The prologue is not my specialty because I prefer a longer test," he said the other day. "I no longer have the explosive power that I had in my younger days." He was second in the Parisian prologue of the 2003 Tour de France (behind his friend Brad McGee).
Mark Cavendish is the 143rd starter today. He has just begun his fourth Tour de France. He is not expected to be amongst the leaders today but perhaps he will be motivated to push a little harder after seeing how another sprinter (and rival of Cavendish), Tyler Farrar, has gone on the slippery course today. The American is ranked third at the moment.
Andreas Kloden is 26" behind compatriot Tony Martin at the finish. It’s enough to put the former German champion into eighth place so far.
The winner of the opening stage of this year’s Paris-Nice, Lars Boom, is the 135th rider to start the prologue today. The former cyclo-cross world champion is making his Tour debut today. His victory in March this year was in an 8km TT.
At the intermediate check, Andreas Kloden is 11" behind his compatriot Tony Martin. It’s enough for fifth at the moment.
Ignatas Konovalovas, the winner of the final time trial of last year’s Giro d’Italia, is the latest rider to reach the finish. He is 34" behind Tony Martin who has been at the top of the rankings since the start of the day.
The two-time runner-up in the Tour (from 2004 and 2008), Andreas Kloden has just left the start-house. He is one of three riders on the RadioShack team to have finished in the top three of the Tour de France in the past.
The road is still wet in Rotterdam, with some puddles on the route of the 8.9km course. Riders are reporting it to be slippery, especially on the white lines marking the lanes. But for the moment, the rain is just a light drizzle. There is a headwind for the final straight but it’s not particularly strong. The clouds are getting darker and the late starters could expect wetter conditions than those endured by the likes of Martin, Thomas and Farrar who continue to lead the rankings.
Koos Moerenhout, a Dutch rider who previewed the prologue course for ProCycling magazine’s July edition, predicted that today’s course would be a "53" - meaning one in which the winner posts an average speed around the 53km/h mark. So far, that is yet to be achieved by any rider today. Tony Martin continues to lead (after 107 men have reached the finish) and the German’s average speed is 52.5km/h.
Oscar Freire, the winner of the green jersey two years ago, has just begun his time trial. He is one of two Spaniards on the Dutch Rabobank team. As Freire begins the TT, Robbie McEwen finishes his. The triple green jersey winner is back in the Tour after a one-year absence.
Jens Voigt is the 109th rider to start the time trial today. "When you’re there about to start and the count-down begins, that’s a wonderful feeling," he said two days ago. "It’s the moment we all wait for - to start the Tour de France and see if the work we’ve done in the lead-up will pay off." This is the German’s 13th Tour de France.
The last of the AG2R riders to start the prologue today - the former Irish champion (from 2009), Nicolas Roche, is celebrating his 26th birthday today. He begins the time trial at 7.24pm.
Gerraint Thomas of Team Sky has just set the second best time of the prologue. The new British road race champion is 13" behind Tony Martin after 8.9km of racing in the 2010 Tour.
Charlie Wegelius of the Omega Pharma-Lotto team has just finished his first race since the Giro d’Italia in May. He set a time of 11’10" (52nd so far). LeTour.fr spoke to him at the finish to get his thoughts on the wet conditions. "It’s slippery out there, especially on the white lines which are treacherous," said the Brit. "It’s crowded at the start. It’s difficult to ride while waiting because they are checking all the bikes and it’s crowded in places where we normally would be able to ride."
The conditions are still wet, the roads a slippery and there have been a few incidents in the prologue today. Mathias Frank of the BMC team has just arrived at the finish with blood streaming out of his mouth. Exactly what the cause is uncertain at this stage but he’s currently consulting the race doctor.
Leipheimer very nearly eclipsed the time of his compatriot Farrar at the finish but the RadioShack recruit is ranked third, just 0.02 of a second behind the Garmin-Transitions rider.
Alexandre Vinokourov is making his return to the Tour de France today. The Kazakh has just finished the time trial in 10’38" - 28" behind Tony Martin.
Leipheimer has finished his time trial with the third best time of the day. He is a fraction of a second behind compatriot Tyler Farrar who is 18" behind Tony Martin.
Tyler Farrar is known for his sprinting ability after having recently won two bunch sprints in the Giro d’Italia but today the American has turned into a time trialler. He has beating Edvald Boasson Hagen and is currently ranked third, 18" behind Tony Martin (THR). In the past, he may have contemplated trying to turn a good TT place into a day or two in the yellow jersey by using time bonuses, but this is the second Tour de France in succession where no time bonuses are awarded to stage winners.
Today is the 40th birthday of Serhiy Honchar of the Ukraine. He won two time trials in the 2006 edition of the Tour and briefly led the general classification after his first Tour stage win (in Rennes). Kim Kirchen turns 32 today. He wore the yellow jersey for several days early in the 2008 edition of the Tour de France. The former champion of Luxembourg is part of the Katusha team but he is not in the race this year after recently having a health scare that he’s said to be recovering from.
Of the 197 starters in the 2010 Tour, there are 24 reigning national champions (from both the road race and time trials). Of them, 11 are time trial champions: Andy Schleck (Luxembourg), Jakob Fuglsgang (Denmark), Bradley Wiggins (Britain), David Zabriskie (USA), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway), Tony Martin (Germany), Maxime Montfort (Belgium), Nicolas Vogondy (France), Luis Leon Sanchez (Spain), Rui Alberto Costa (Portugal) and Ignatas Knovolovas (Lithuania).
Wiggins will not take the first yellow jersey of the 2010 Tour as many believed could be the case. The Brit finished the 8.9km time trial in 10’56" - good enough for 14th at the moment.
At the intermediate check, Wiggins is 21" behind the time of Tony Martin.
It seems that the weather is going to be a factor in the result of today’s stage. Tony Martin remains unchallenged after being the 11th man to start the time trial. He did his race without any rain but only damp roads. But the later starters are likely to have to contend with slippery conditions. Rain is now falling in Rotterdam and we await the arrival of Bradley Wiggins at the finish.
The winner of the opening stage of the 2005 Tour de France, a 20.5km time trial, Dave Zabriskie, has reached the first check in a time that’s 15 seconds slower than Tony Martin. When he took the yellow jersey five years ago, it was a long, straight, flat road while today’s course is an out-and-back route on the streets of Rotterdam - not too technical, but completely different to how it was in Noirmoutier in 2005.
Bradley Wiggins is now storming around the 8.9km prologue course. The British rider is the leader of Team Sky and is hoping to improve on his fourth overall in last year’s Tour. Wiggins won the opening stage of the Giro d’Italia in May when he beat Brent Brookwalter and Cadel Evans in Amsterdam.
Wes Sulzberger is making his Tour debut today. The Francaise des Jeux rider is one of 11 Australians in the race this year. This is a record number of starters from the land down under (one more than in 2005 when all 10 Aussie starters reached the finish). Sulzberger recently won a round of the French Cup, the GP Plumelec - which finished at the same site of the opening stage of the 2008 Tour de France.
After the brief shower in Rotterdam around 3.00pm, the rain has eased off after falling enough to wet the roads. As the first men commenced the time trial, there were a few puddles on the road which are drying out rapidly thanks to relatively warm conditions in the Dutch city. It had been hot in the days leading up to the start of the 2010 Tour but it’s a little cooler today than yesterday when the temperature was over 30 degrees Celsius. It’s overcast but dry... for the moment.
Tony Martin has withstood the challenge from Edvald Boasson Hagen: the German currently has the best time and he leads the Norwegian by 22" after 8.9km of the 2010 Tour.
Vande Velde has arrived at the finish. He is the first team leader to finish the prologue and he has already lost 50 seconds to Tony Martin.
Edvald Boasson Hagen has passed the first check in a time that’s seven seconds slower than Tony Martin. Big things are expected of the young Norwegian who is making his Tour debut this year. "He is one of the most gifted athletes I’ve ever worked with," said his team manager David Brailsford just before the prologue. "But we’re not putting any pressure on him. All we ask of him is that he gives his best. This is something he always does anyway... he’s a true professional."
The rider who finished fourth overall in the 2008 Tour de France, and the leader of the Garmin-Transitions team Christian Vande Velde has reached the 4.2km mark in a time that’s 24 seconds slower than Tony Martin. It is Vande Velde’s first race since crashing twice in the Tour de Suisse in June (when he broke ribs in both incidents). "I’m not in the best shape possible," he said yesterday, "but I’m on par with where I was at this time last year. I hope to ride into form..."
Tony Martin’s time trial took just 10 minutes and 10 seconds. He is 25 seconds faster than Brent Brookwalter with 11 riders having finished the prologue so far...
There is one intermediate time check for the prologue today. It is at the 4.2km mark of the 8.9km course. The 11th rider to pass this check, Tony Martin (THR) has a lead of 13" at that mark.
Andy Schleck has the chance to become the second rider in the history of the Tour to win the white jersey as best young rider (after Jan Ullrich). Last year’s runner-up will start his time trial at 7.09pm. Only he and Tony Martin wore the white jersey in last year’s Tour. There are 38 riders eligible for the youth classification in 2010 and both Martin and Schleck are amongst the favorites for the youngest of the prize jerseys in the Tour; the white jersey was first awarded in 1975.
Iban Mayoz is the first to finish the prologue. The Spaniard finished the 8.9km course in Rotterdam in 11 minutes and 10 seconds. He is six seconds faster than the second starter, Mauro Da Dalto (Lampre), The third man to start the prologue, Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank) is the first Dutch rider and he has set the fastest time of the day so far: 10’49".
When the Giro d’Italia began in Amsterdam in May this year, an American rider got off to a great start in his Grand Tour debut - in his first three-week race, Brent Brookwalter finished second in the opening time trial. The Team BMC recruit is the first from his team to begin the Tour today. His start time is 4.24pm. Brookwalter begins his race one minute ahead of a favorite for the prologue today, Tony Martin of the HTC-Columbia team.
Iban Mayoz has begun his first Tour de France. The Spaniard is the first starter of the 2010 edition and he departed the start house at the Zuidplein in Rotterdam at 4.15pm. The 196 other riders will now leave at one-minute intervals until 7.32pm when Alberto Contador begins his title defence.
There have been instances in the past when a rider was replaced at the 11th hour of the Tour de France but this was not possible after the exclusion of Xavier Florencio because it was a voluntary suspension by his Cervelo TestTeam. Had he crashed and injured himself, the squad would have been allowed to nominate someone else to take his place... but as it was an error on the rider’s behalf, there is no recourse and the UCI commissaires are holding firm on the decision to deny a replacement.
Xavier Florencio was part of the Cervelo TestTeam that was presented to the public on Thursday evening but the Spaniard will not start the 2010 Tour de France because of a medical situation. He used a product (that contained ephedrine) to treat a wound and because of this he stood the risk of failing a doping control. The team made the decision to suspend him and therefore they now only have eight men in the line-up for their second Tour. A request to replace him was denied by the UCI.
Overcast Conditions For Prologue A light rain shower began at 3.00pm; it was only enough to make the road a little damp and while there are a few puddles on the 8.9km course for the time trial, the rain has ceased to fall for the moment. Several teams have considered the conditions - which had been dry in Rotterdam in the days before the Tour - and have nominated leaders as early starters. One example is Team Sky which has Edvald Boasson Hagen as their first rider (at 4.33pm).
The 97th edition of the Tour de France is due to begin at 4.15pm. The first man to start will be Iban Mayoz of the Footon-Servetto team. Riders will then depart at one-minute intervals, and the last man to set off on the 8.9km prologue will be the defending Tour champion Alberto Contador of the Astana team - his start time is 7.32pm. Live coverage of the 2010 Tour will commence shortly.