Saturday June 30th, 2012

PrologueLiège / Liège

Start 14h00 GMT 2+

Key moments

video30.06.2012 in 16:30Summary of the race

video30/06/2012 

Summary of the race

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Stage summary30.06.2012 in 17:37Cancellara in yellow on day one - for the 5th time!

Cancellara was the first rider born in the 1980s to win at the Tour de France and that was in Liege eight years ago when he beat the eventual winner of the 2004 Tour, Lance Armstrong, by two seconds. This time around he beat one of the favorites for the title, Bradley Wiggins by seven seconds. Each time the Tour has started on foreign soil since he first started winning at the Tour, Cancellara has won on the opening day. He matches Bernard Hinault's efforts of winning on day one five times....

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video30.06.2012 in 16:00Interview - Stage Winner

video30/06/2012 

Interview - Stage Winner

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interview30.06.2012 in 18:46Sky feeds off the regrets of Omega Pharma-Quickstep

Sky Procycling is the first leader of the team standings of the Tour de France in 2012 to the chagrin of the local team Omega Pharma-Quickstep who had hoped to wear the yellow ‘dossard' in the stage across Wallonia on Sunday. The puncture of Tony Martin in the prologue decided otherwise. “It is a pity also for the team classification because we planned to carry the lead throughout the first week,” said Patrick Lefevere, the manager of OPQS. He was delighted with the performance of...

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Sporting stakes30.06.2012 in 18:37Time for Phil Gil?

After his success on the historic prologue of Liège, Fabian Cancellara could acquire a taste for yellow jersey and try – as he's done in the past – to defend his overall lead in the Tour de France as far as possible. In 2007, the Swiss rider had worn the maillot jaune for seven days. The challenge starts today and the success gives his RadioShack-Nissan team a small quandary: how do they defend the lead of general classification.
The profile for the final stanza of the stage to...

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interview30.06.2012 in 18:05Tejay van Garderen:

Only 15 seconds separated the riders in the top 10 of the prologue in Liège but, with Fabian Cancellara was seven seconds better than anyone else it's a reminder of how close this time trial was. Tejay van Garderen was fourth, one place ahead of a potential rival in the race for the white jersey, Edvald Boasson Hagen.

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interview30.06.2012 in 16:27Fabian Cancellara:

When asked if his win today was an example of Fabian Cancellara at his best, he responded with another question:

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Sporting stakes30.06.2012 in 11:30Who will take the first yellow jersey of 2012?

Over the course of a 6.4km time trial on the streets of Liège big time gaps are not likely to occur but, as the saying goes, the might not be won on day one but it can be lost. A fall can alter the standings or even the starting line-up as we learned the last time that the Tour de France started in this Belgian city. Back in 2004, Matt White was due to make his debut in the race but he crashed while warming up for the prologue and was replaced at the last-minute by a Belgian team-mate. read more

video30.06.2012 in 10:30The prologue's route

video30/06/2012 

The prologue's route

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video30.06.2012 in 10:00Analysis of the stage

video30/06/2012 

Analysis of the stage

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Newsflashes

17:29The top five of the prologue

After 6.4km of racing in the 99th Tour de France, the top five is:

1. Fabian Cancellara (SUI) RNT - 6.4km in 7'13.470 (53.2km/h)

2. Bradley Wiggins (GBR) SKY at 7"

3. Sylvain Chavanel (FRA) OPQ at 7"

4. Teejay van Garderen (USA) BMC at 10"

5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) SKY at 11"

17:26Cancellara's 5th win on opening day

Fabian Cancellara has become the second rider in history to take the yellow jersey for a fifth time on the opening day of the race (equalling Bernard Hinault's efforts). His first victory at the Tour was in Liege in 2004... he's since won the TT at the start of the Tour in London (2007), Monaco (2009), Rotterdam (2010) and Liege - again - in 2012.

17:24Another yellow jersey for Cancellara?

Cancellara has ridden the 6.4km course at an average speed of 53.2km/h. Unless Evans pulls out a super fast final half of the TT, the Swiss rider appears destined to become the second man in Tour history to win the yellow jersey on the opening day five times.

17:24Cancellara: 7" ahead of Wiggins!

Cancellara's time was 7'13.470: he was seven seconds faster than Wiggins and will win the prologue... again!

17:22Evans' first time check...

At the 3.2km mark, Cadel Evans (BMC) is the 10th best rider. He is 6" behind Cancellara at the halfway mark of the prologue.

17:20Cancellara into the lead

At the 3.2km mark, Cancellara has the best time: he is one second faster than Chavanel at the same point.

17:19A study of style...

Cadel Evans' time trial bike has an extreme position with his aerobars 23.5cm below his saddle. The Australian is tucking into his TT stance and speeding towards the first intermediate time check. He started one minute behind Cancellara who is not yet at the 3.2km mark.

17:17Evans' defense begins!

Cadel Evans, the last rider to start the prologue, is now racing. He was second in the final TT of the 2011 Tour (when he took the yellow jersey) and, for the second time in his career, he wears the number-one on his back.

17:15Wiggins into first place!

Wiggins has just eclipsed the time of Sylvain Chavanel. The British star was half a second better than the French champion over the 6.4km course.

17:11Wiggins' intermediate time check...

At the 3.2km mark, Wiggins has posted the a time that's 6" behind Sylvain Chavanel. It's good enough for 10th place so far...

17:10Menchov in 8th at 3.2km

Russia's Denis Menchov has posted the 8th best time at the intermediate check. He is 5" slower than Chavanel.

17:08Wiggins racing...

Bradley Wiggins spent roughly 200 meters out of the saddle before settling into the time trial position early in the prologue. He is the 188th rider to start and now just 10 more men are due to start the race today...

17:04Two new names in the top five

Teejay van Garderen (BMC) has finished just 3" behind Chavanel and is now ranked second in the prologue. And Patrick Gretsch (ARG) has just posted the fifth best time, 5" behind the French champion.

17:03New BIke For Tony Martin

The world TT champion is past the first intermediate time check: Tony Martin was the 179th rider to start the prologue. He is the second fastest on the course but his chance of victory is over! He had to change bikes as it appears he had a flat tire.

16:55Sagan almost crashes...

The Tour debutant Peter Sagan had to unclip his left foot in order to save himself from crashing on a tight left turn. He didn't come down but it was oh-so close!

16:53Froome: the 3rd British rider in the top 10...

Chris Froome (SKY) has just finished the time trial with the sixth best time. He is 9" behind Chavanel and 2" ahead of compatriots David Millar (GRM) and Steve Cummings (BMC).

16:51Sagan due to start next...

The winner of the opening time trial in 2005, Dave Zabriskie is pilotting his Captain American skinsuit around Liege right now. He is the one-minute man for the 22-year-old cycling maestro of 2012, Peter Sagan. The Slovenian has just made his Tour debut. He recently won the opening stage of the Tour de Suisse, a 7.3km time trial... when he beat Fabian Cancellara by 4".

16:45Albasini: fast start...

The Swiss rider on the Orica-GreenEdge team was third fastest at the halfway mark of the prologue but Michael Albasini finished the 6.4km race in 7'33" - that's 13" behind Chavanel.

16:41Britain the only nation with more than one in the top 10

Currently the leaders of the prologue is a cosmopolitan cast. The French champion Sylvain Chavanel is still the fastest: he's 4" ahead of a Norwegian (Boasson Hagen), 4" ahead of an Australian (Lancaster), 6" ahead of a Belgian (Gilbert), 8" ahead of a Ukrainian (Grivko), 10" ahead of a Slovakian (Velits), 11" ahead of two Brits (Millar and Cummings) and 12" ahead of a German (Voigt).

16:34George creates some history

George Hincapie (BMC) has just started his 17th Tour de France. He is in the opening kilometer of the prologue. In 2006, he led the race for a day thanks largely to his performance in the opening time trial - when he was second (behind current team-mate Thor Hushovd) in Strasbourg.

He is the first man to start the Tour 17 times.

16:24Levi Leipheimer: "I'm looking forward to the race"

When Levi Leipheimer was asked if the increase in time trial distances this year compared with recent editions works in his favor, he smiled and said, “I hope so.” He was third overall in the Tour in 2007 and is the leader of the Omega Pharma-Quickstep team. “But there's a lot of traps and pitfalls and you have to be careful and pass all the tests along the way.
“It's a three week race and any day you can lose the Tour and it takes the whole three weeks to win it.
“It's...

16:23Velits up to 5th...

The Omega Pharma team has got their formula right today: not only do they have the best time of the day so far, but one of their GC specialists - Peter Velits - has just posted the fifth best time at the 3.2km mark. He is 5" behind his team-mate.

16:20The 10th Tour finish in Liege

Today will be the 10th time that a stage of the Tour has concluded in Liege. The first time finish in this Belgian city was in 1948 when the overall champion of that year, Gino Bartali took the win.
Below is a list of the former winners in Liege.
1948: Bartali.
1950: Leoni
1953: Schaer
1956: Darrigade
1965: van Looy and Team Ford
1980: Lubberding

16:19Gilbert's time at the finish...

The local favorite, Philippe Gilbert (BMC) has finished the prologue with a time of 7'26.88. He is fourth in the opening TT of the 99th Tour... for the moment. There are 66 riders yet to finish.

16:16Gilbert 2nd at 3.2km

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) won the Belgian national time trial championship recently. He is in the tricolore jersey today and has just posted the second best time at the intermediate check. He is 2" behind the French TT champion, Sylvain Chavanel.

16:15Tony Martin ?? The big favorites are Cancellara and Wiggins

“It's always hard to say how you're going to go in a prologue,” said the time trial world champion, Tony Martin (OPQ) two days ago when asked of his chances of success in Liege are. “There are the normal names when you nominate who could win. I think the big favorites are Cancellara and Wiggins.
“I did the time trial for the national championships and I made a good preparation for that – I spent a long time on the TT bike beforehand – and I've continued with it for another...

16:12Sylvain Chavanel??s comments...

The current leader of the prologue, Sylvain Chavanel offered an interview to France Televisions at the finish and gave his impression of the time trial. “Since the beginning of the season I've been doing good time trials and I've thought about this prologue nonstop for three days. But now we must now wait, because of those who come after, there are pure beasts who can churn huge gears. I was on a 54x11, but I kept on top of it almost all the time.”

16:09Not today 'Dodger'...

The rainbow bands on his arms reflect his TT pedigree but today Michael Rogers could do no better than finish 17" behind the reigning French champion, Sylvain Chavanel.

16:02Rogers racing...

The triple world TT champion, Michael Rogers, has just started the prologue. He did his second Tour de France in 2004 when Liege last hosted the Grand Départ and he wore the rainbow jersey... but things didn't go how he would have liked as he crashed on the course and finished in 121st place.

He recently finished second overall (behind his team-mate Bradley Wiggins) in the Criterium du Dauphiné.

16:00Chavanel into 1st place...!

Sylvain Chavanel has beaten Boasson Hagen's time by 4". The average speed for the French time trial champion was 52.3km/h.

15:57Chavanel sets best time at 3.2km

Chavanel has beaten the previous best time at the 3.2km mark. He is 3" faster than Lancaster and Boasson Hagen.

15:54Hinault: the only five-time winner on day one

Today Fabian Cancellara (RNT) has the chance to become only the second rider in history to take the first yellow jersey of the Tour de France. His first victory in the Tour was in Liege in 2004 when he was one second faster in the prologue than the eventual winner of the title that year (Lance Armstrong).
Since then Cancellara has won in London (2007), Monaco (2009) and Rotterdam (2010).
The only rider to have won five times on the opening day is Bernard Hinault who was first on...

15:52French champion racing...

Sylvain Chavanel is the latest to leave the start house. He won the TT at the French championships a little over a week ago and is wearing the tricolore jersey for the time trial. He is the 113th man to start time prologue.

15:47Cavendish: 13th...

At the end of his time trial today, Cavendish has posted a time that's 12" behind his team-mate Edvald Boasson Hagen. That's good enough for 13th place for the moment.

15:43Henderson fifth at 3.2km

The only New Zealander in the 99th Tour de France is Greg Henderson (LTB). The 35-year-old is making his debut in this race and he's started out fast: clocking the fifth best time at the intermediate check. He is 4" behind the time set by Lancaster at 3.2km.

15:41Boasson Hagen was 9th in 2010 prologue

The best time is still held by Edvald Boasson Hagen. The Norwegian made his Tour debut when the opening day was a 8.9km prologue in Rotterdam. He finished ninth that day (32 seconds behind Cancellara).

15:38Cavendish about to start

The winner of 20 Tour de France stage, Mark Cavendish, is in the Sky colors today (instead of his rainbow jersey) as it's a time trial. He has just arrived in the start house and is wearing a clear helmet visor and a bit of stubble on his chin. He is the 100th to start the prologue.

15:34Zubeldia slips down to 15th place...

Despite his fast start, Zubeldia could not crack the top 10 of the prologue. He has finished in 15th place, 13" behind Boasson Hagen.

15:33Zubeldia into fourth at 3.2km

The Spaniard who came third in the prologue of the 2003 Tour (in Paris) was Haimar Zubeldia. The RadioShack-Nissan rider has just posted the fourth best time at the intermediate check in Liège. He is just 4" behind the time set by Brett Lancaster.

15:31O'Grady begins his 15th Tour

The "road captain" of the Orica-GreenEdge team, Stuart O'Grady, has just started his prologue. This is the 15th successive Tour start for the Australian veteran who was 94th in the first TT he did in the Tour (1997). The next year he would become only the second Australian to wear the yellow jersey at the Tour... he's since won three stages (including a team time trial in 2001) but, this year, he will be a 'domestique' for his Tasmanian team-mate Matt Goss.

15:26Boasson Hagen beats Lancaster...

Team Sky now leads the prologue thanks to its Norwegian star Edvald Boasson Hagen. The dual stage winner from the 2011 Tour has covered the 6.4km course with an average speed of 51.9km and he is a fraction of a second faster than Brett Lancaster (OGE).

15:23Boasson Hagen 2nd at 3.2km...

At the first check, Edvald Boasson Hagen has the second best time of the day. He is a fraction of a second behind Lancaster and now has just 2km to race.

The Australian leads the Norwegian by just 2/100th of a second: 3'38.360 versus 3'38.380.

15:15Lancaster takes best time...

Lancaster (OGE) has beaten Grivko's time. The average speed of the Australian was 51.8km/h. He is 4" ahead of the next-best rider. Millar is at 7" and Cummings is ranked fourth at 7".

15:13Lancaster leads at 3.2km...

Brett Lancaster leads Grivko at the intermediate check by 3". The Australian was the winner of a very short prologue of the Giro d'Italia in 2005 and he's now challenging for the best time... he was the 68th rider to start today's prologue.

15:07Millar 2nd at the finish...

David Millar has posted a time that's just 3" behind Grivko. That's good enough for second at the moment. His average speed was 51km/h... which, considering he was too sick to attend the team presentation only two days ago, is an impressive effort.

15:05Gutierrez the 94th starter today...

In 2004, the prologue of the Tour de France was also on the streets of Liege. Back then - as we've said before - the winner was Fabian Cancellara. He beat Lance Armstrong by 2". In third place was José Ivan Gutierrez at 8".

The top 10 in 2004 included five winners of a Tour prologue: Cancellara and Armstrong, as well as Bradley McGee (who was fourth), Thor Hushovd (who was fifth) and Christophe Moreau (who was eighth)...

15:01Millar racing...

David Millar is a rider who won the first Tour time trial he contested (at the start of the 2000 edition). He has been sick earlier this week and although he's said to have recovered in time to take the start, his team isn't expecting him to challenge for the win today. "It's a shame," DS Allan Peiper told LeTour.fr recently, "because this is normally a day when he could put in a good performance. But we're just happy that he's well enough to ride and if he posts a good time it will...

14:54Grabsch 11th at 11"...

The 2008 TT world champion Bert Grabsch has finished his race today but he didn't get the best time. He is ranked 11th, 11" behind Grivko who was the fourth rider to start the stage.

14:51Voigt now in second place

The oldest rider in the 99th Tour is Jens Voigt. One of his (many) famous quotes is "Shut Up Legs!"... and clearly he refused to feel the pain today - as he's posted the second best time of the prologue so far. He is just 4" behind Grivko at the finish.

14:49Cummings second by one second...

The Brit on the BMC team, Steve Cummings, has just posted the second fastest time at the 3.2km mark. He is just one second slower than Grivko at the intermediate check.

14:48Liege 2004 Liege vs 2012: "Hard to compare"

The day's route has changed slightly since 2004 when the prologue winner was Fabian Cancellara. Jean-Francois Pescheux, who is the technical director of the Tour de France, explained the changes recently to LeTour.fr. “We added 300 meters to avoid a section of the course that was no longer feasible with the urban developments that have been made since then. But this is not the only change,” said the Frenchman. “It's quite difficult to compare the times of 2004 with those of...

14:45Farrar's time at the finish...

The American sprinter who claimed the win in stage three of the 2011 Tour de France, Tyler Farrar, has demonstrated that he's also very quick in short time trials. He has posted the fourth best time of the prologue so far. He was the 38th rider to start and he is 6.19 seconds behind Grivko.

14:43Le Tour life on at #TDF12...

The Tour de France has had a social media presence in the past but it's increased significantly in 2012. Use #TDF12 if you want to follow the action on Twitter.

14:42Knees into 3rd... Farrar starting fast!

Christian Knees has finished with the third fastest time: 6" behind Grivko after 6.4km mark. Meanwhile, at the 3.2km check, Tyler Farrar has posted the second best time: just 2" behind Grivko.

14:40Start times of TT world champions...

There are four riders in the peloton who have won the TT world championships in the past. Here is a reminder of who those guys are, and what time they are due to start the prologue today:

- Bert Grabsch (2008 TT world champion - starts at 2.46pm)

- Michael Rogers (2003, 2004 and 2005 TT world champion - starts at 4.01pm)

- Tony Martin (2011 TT world champion - starts at 4.58pm)

- Fabian Cancellara (2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010 TT world champion - starts at 5.16pm)

14:30Riders challenging Grivko's standard...

At the 3.2km check, there are three new names: Daryl Impey (OGE - 3" behind Grivko), Marcel Kittel (ARG - at 4") and Kevin De Weert (OPQ - at 4").

Kittel has just finished his race and is six seconds slower than Grivko who is still the fastest of the day...

14:2850" between first and last...

With 19 riders at the finish, there is a difference of 50" between the best time of the day so far (Andriy Grivko) and the last (Matt Lloyd). The Ukrainian is a TT specialist, the Australian a climber who has previously on the King of the Mountains title of the Giro d'Italia (2010).

14:17Eisel 6" behind Grivko...

The first rider from Team Sky to start the prologue is Austria's Bernhard Eisel. He has the third fastest time so far at the 3.2km mark, 6" behind Grivko.

14:14Grivko A TT Specialist...

Andriy Grivko is the Ukrainian national champion in both the road race and time trial. He has won the TT gold medal at the Ukrainian title four times (2005, 2006, 2008 and this year).

14:12Grivko fastest at the finish...

Andriy Grivko (AST), who was third in the prologue of the Criterium du Dauphine this June, has posted the best time of the day so far. He covered the 6.4km course in Liege in 7'28". Just like he has done today, he was an early starter in the TT in Grenoble that kicked off the one-week stage race. Grivko's time is 14" better than that of Simon Gerrans (OGE).

14:09Gerrans 1" behind Veelers...

At the first time check, Gerrans has posted a time that's one second slower than Veelers. There are now four men past the 3.2km check and Grivko (AST)has posted the fastest time so far: 3'41". Martin Velits is the slowest: 14" behind the Ukrainian.

14:04Veelers: 3.2km in 3'49"

The first time posted in the 2012 Tour prologue is 3'49" for Tom Veelers at the 3.2km mark.

14:03One intermediate time check today...

The organizer have one intermediate time check for the prologue. It is at the half-way mark of the time trial (at 3.2km) and is on the Quai de la Goffe.

14:00Racing in the 99th Tour de France!

And so, the race has begun! Tom Veelers (ARG) is the first rider to begin the time trial today. He has 6.4km to ride on a circuit which loops through the streets of Liege. The starting straight is the Avenue Rogier, which then switches to Boulevard d'Avroy before a long, sweeping right hander leading to the Boulevard de la Sauveniere.

Veeler has started the time trial.

13:57Kittel the 23rd starter...

The leader of the Argos-Shimano team for the 99th Tour is Marcel Kittel. The young German is considered a sprint specialist but he has also had success in time trials. In the 2010 world championships, while riding in the under-23 category, he was the bronze medallist. Ahead of him that day was Taylor Phinney, the winner of the prologue of the Giro d'Italia this May, and Luke Durbridge who claimed the prologue win of the Criterium du Dauphine this June.

Kittel is the 23rd rider to...

13:49Australian champion - second to start...

The rider who gave the GreenEdge team its maiden victory earlier this year, Simon Gerrans, will be the second rider to start the time trial today. He claimed the national champion's jersey in January, then went on to win the title of the first round of the UCI WorldTour - the Tour Down Under - and then, in March, he claimed the win in Milan-San Remo, outsprinting Fabian Cancellara (RNT) and Vincenzo Nibali (LIQ).

Gerrans was sixth in the prologue of the Criterium du Dauphine earlier...

13:06Welcome to the live coverage of Le Tour 2012

The 99th Tour de France is scheduled to get underway at 2.00pm today. The race begins with a 6.4km time trial around the streets of Liege in Belgium. There are 198 riders on the start list and the first to begin the prologue is Tom Veelers of the wild-card team Argos-Shimano. Riders will depart at one-minute intervals all afternoon until 5.17pm when Australia's first Tour champion, Cadel Evans (BMC), will begin his title defense.
The temperature is in the mid-20s (Celsius) and the...

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