Sunday July 1st, 2012

Stage 1Liège / Seraing

Start 12h35 GMT 2+

Key moments

video01.07.2012 in 23:00Summary of the race

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Summary of the race

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Stage summary01.07.2012 in 17:50Sagan Makes A Perfect Debut

He can win on a whim on all sorts of terrain and today Peter Sagan proved that he's not at all daunted by the pressure of the Tour de France. In his second day in the race, he's won a stage.

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video01.07.2012 in 16:00Interview - Stage Winner

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Interview - Stage Winner

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interview01.07.2012 in 19:12Team Standings: Sky's Yellow Helmet

The big news of the 2012 Tour de France was a change in dress code that was obvious thanks to the prominence of the Team Sky riders who wore yellow helmets as part of an innovation created for the 2012 race. They earned the right to do thanks to their domination of the prologue. Bradley Wiggins and his team-mates honored their new distinction by winning the stage one team classification. Sky was one of only eight out of the 22 teams that had riders in the same group as the stage winner in...

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Sporting stakes01.07.2012 in 19:03Which Cavendish in Tournai?

A quick glimpse of the stage profile and everyone makes the same appraisal: a bunch sprint for the finish! And that brings us to the ritual question of recent years: who will be able to beat Mark Cavendish? Dressed in the world champion's colours, the Manxman will be keen to do the rainbow jersey justice and also uphold his status and reputation as the fastest man in cycling. But the early stages of the Tour de France haven't always gone the way he would like.
Once he starts winning,...

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interview01.07.2012 in 18:55Tejay van Garderen: «I'm definitely enjoying it»

Even though his main rival in the youth classification was part of the trio fighting it out for the stage win, Tejay van Garderen finished with the same time as Edvald Boasson Hagen and will spend another day in the white jersey.

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interview01.07.2012 in 18:48Michael Morkov: «This is ironic because I'm not a climber...»

There were five hills with one point on offer, respectively, for the climbing classification. Michael Morkov calculated a way to get on the podium and it was by climbing the «little lumps in the road» faster than the other escapees.

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interview01.07.2012 in 18:19Peter Sagan: «Only I remained with him...»

The finish of stage one was touted as one for the strong men and that was confirmed when a trio of Fabian Cancellara, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Peter Sagan found themselves at the front of affairs at the critical time. Two have previously won multiple stages of the Tour but they couldn't follow the Slovakian debutant when he opened up his sprint.

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interview01.07.2012 in 16:05Fabian Cancellara:

He was beaten in the sprint but the rider in the yellow jersey instigated the attack that ultimately proved to be the winning move. Fabian Cancellara is grateful that he had a late viewing of the final climb and although he lost, he's gaining confidence for the coming days.

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video01.07.2012 in 11:45Analysis of the stage

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Analysis of the stage

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video01.07.2012 in 10:30The day's route

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The day's route

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Newsflashes

17:37The top five of stage one

The champion of Slovakia has won the first stage of the Tour de France that he's contested. The 22-year-old beat the prologue winner in style in Seraing. Here is the top five of stage one:

1. Peter Sagan (SVK) LIQ - 198km in 4h58'19"

2. Fabian Cancellara (SUI) RNT at same time

3. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) SKY at same time

4. Philippe Gilbert (BEL) BMC at same time

5. Bauke Mollema (NED) RAB at same time.

17:34Cancellara will keep yellow

With his second place today, Fabian Cancellara has proven how versatile he is. He might not have been able to beat Peter Sagan in the stage but he's still the leader of the Tour de France.

17:33Sagan wins in style!

Peter Sagan began his first Tour yesterday and today he's won a stage! He made it look so easy but he had to beat Cancellara to claim his triumph. And impressive debut for the Liquigas star!

17:31Three in the lead

There is a large gap between Cancellara, Sagan and Boasson Hagen. This trio is inside the final 500m and one of them is going to win the first stage of the 99th Tour.

17:30Chavanel into the lead

Chavanel has attacked the bunch but now Albasini has reeled him in. Now we see Van Den Broeck putting in a bid for stage honors...

17:30Cancellara & Sagan!

The yellow jersey is at the front with Sagan right on his wheel. The third rider on the road is Boasson Hagen and then comes Evans and the rest of the bunch.

17:29O'Grady ahead of Cooke

O'Grady has just finished his lead-out and Cooke is taking over. Behind him is Goss and Gerrans but Sagan and Boasson Hagen are looking ominous on the steepest part of the climb. Evans is now in the lead of the stage just as Cavendish loses contact with the peloton.

17:27Sagan follows Boasson Hagen...

There are still three Lotto riders at the front. Then comes four GreenEdge and, just nearby, we can see the national champion's jersey of Norway (Boasson Hagen) who is being closely marked by Sagan - the champion of Slovakia.

17:26Vinokourov punctures

Inside the final 5km, Alexandre Vinokourov has got a flat rear tire. His bid for stage honors ended before he could even get near the front of the bunch.

17:25Edet wins 'Fighting Spirit' award...

Edet (COF) has received the most votes for the combative classification. He will get a red dossard for his part in today's escape group.

17:24Lotto and Orica up front

Greipel is sprinting as a lead-out man right now. He has two Lotto team-mates on his wheel and this trio is followed by four riders from Orica-GreenEdge.

17:21Escape over...

And with that, a long day of work is void. Bouet was the last of the escapees to be swallowed up by the bunch. Lotto-Belisol is now in charge and has four riders at the front.

17:2010km to go

Edet is giving it one last go at the front but his escape is doomed. The peloton has five GreenEdge riders at the front and they are about to catch the escapees.

17:19Six leaders holding on...

Despite the speed of the pursuit (currently led by Orica-GreenEdge) the six in the lead are holding on to an advantage. It is, however, dropping quickly. With 10km to go there is just 12" between the Morkov group and the bunch.

17:18Velits needs service...

Peter Velits and Remy Di Gregorio are two riders who have dropped out of the bunch in the last minute to get service from their respective mechanics.

17:16BMC leading peloton...

Burghardt and four of his BMC team-mates are at the front of the peloton that is yet to catch the escapees. There are 14km to go in the stage and now we also see GreenEdge and Rabobank moving forward. Liquigas is also represented at the head of the bunch that is 19" behind Morkov's group.

17:14O'Grady took yellow in Seraing...

The last time that Seraing hosted a stage finish of the Tour was in 2001 when Erik Zabel won the stage. He beat Emmanuel Maignan and Stefano Garzelli in the slightly uphill sprint (on the same street as today but with a different approach). Lance Armstrong was 10th in that third stage...

But the yellow jersey would go to Stuart O'Grady who took the lead of GC for the second time in his career. The Australian is still competing today and yesterday he started his 15th successive...

17:11All crash victims riding again...

All the men who were caught in recent crashes are riding again. The speed of the bunch is causing the main group to split to pieces. There are now three distinct groups of riders in pursuit of the escapees.

17:09Six lead by 30"

As they pass under the 20km to go banner, the escapees are just 30" ahead of the peloton.

17:08Voeckler also caught up...

Voeckler is another rider named by Radio Tour as having been caught up in the recent crash that was caused by a spectator leaning in to the peloton to try and get a photo.

17:07Another crash...

The first crash victims had juststarted riding again when another crash ocurred.

Valverde (MOV), Monfort (RNT) are some of the riders involved in the second incident.

17:05Sanchez, Rogers & Rojas crash

Rogers (SKY), Sanchez (RAB) and Rojas (MOV) have been caught up in a crash with 23km to go. Rogers is racing again but we wait to see what is happening with the others...

17:02Omega, Katusha & Rabo almost coming forward

The peloton is now inside the final 25km and several other teams are trying to get some riders to the front of the bunch on the approach to Seraing.

17:00Popo back at front...

There are two types of teams at the front of the bunch now that the escapees are less than a minute ahead.

The head of the chase is composed of a mix of sprinters' teams and GC teams. RadioShack is trying to defend the yellow jersey, Sky is busy keeping Wiggins out of harm's way, and BMC does likewise for Evans. And then we've also seen glimpses of the rainbow jersey of Cavendish near the front of the bunch as well as a smattering of GreenEdge riders who have promised to work hard to...

16:51Setting things up for the finale

Until about 45km to go, RadioShack accepted that it had to take charge of the chasing duties but with the escapees only 1'25” ahead, several other teams moved to the front of the bunch, including Lotto-Belisol, BCM, Orica-GreenEdge and Sky. The advantage is now just 1'05".

16:44Yvon Ledanois: It's good to go unnoticed

LeTour.fr recently spoke to Yvon Ledanois from the Movistar team to find out if he believes today is a good stage for Alejandro Valverde. “All eyes are on other riders and it's suits us just fine, it's good to go unnoticed before this kind of stage. But it is true that the end may be very appropriate to Alejandro. He has a good feeling right now, but it is the result of tonight will tell us if it is really like."

16:42Leaders inside final 40km

The escape appears doomed as the advantage has dwindled to just 1'25" with 40km to go. The maximum gain of the break that has earned Morkov the polka-dot jersey was 4'50" at the 42km mark. They have been in the front of the stage since the moment the white flag dropped to signal the start of the stage.

16:38A little story about a little lady...

After getting his appraisal on Michael Morkov, LeTour.fr asked Luke Roberts what the name of his daughter is. She was born while he was racing at the Giro d'Italia and he couldn't be there for the birth but he saw it happen thanks to technology.
“Ella Skye is my daughter's name,” Roberts told LeTour.fr “and we had already decided on the middle name before I watched the birth live on Skype. It's just a coincidence the middle name was Skype without the ‘p'.”

16:35Comments on Morkov...

LeTour.fr recently heard from Luke Roberts who is a cyclists with the Saxo Bank team. Like the rider who is currently the virtual leader of the Tour (Michael Morkov) the Australian is a former Olympic medalist in the team pursuit. His Danish colleague is going to get the polka-dot jersey today so we asked what he was like. “He's a pretty serious guy,” said Roberts, “and he's been working really hard to get a start in his first Tour. He's really good on the track – doing madisons and...

16:32Peloton closing in on leaders...

Voigt and his colleagues continue to set the pace of the peloton which is now inside the final 50km. The bunch is just 1'40" behind the six escapees. Here's a reminder of the men who have been on the attack since kilometer one:

- Yohann Gene (FRA) Europcar

- Pablo Urtasun Perez (ESP) Euskaltel-Euskadi

- Maxime Bouet (FRA) AG2R La Mondiale

- Nicolas Edet (FRA) Cofidis

- Anthony Delaplace (FRA) Saur-Sojasun

- Michael Morkov (DEN) Saxo Bank-Tinkoff...

16:27Chavanel picks Sagan...

When asked what he thought his chances are in today's stage, Sylvain Chavanel said that he thought the finish was too hard for him. The rider who is currently ranked third overall has nominated Tour debutant Peter Sagan as the likely winner.

16:26RadioShack in charge of chase...

Alain Gallopin said this morning that he wanted his team to try and defend the yellow jersey but he didn't want to put all nine of his riders on the front. That is the case now as Jens Voigt does the driving in the wind with eight team-mates tucked into his slipstream.

The oldest man in the bunch isn't showing any sign of slowing down and his effort has pulled back the escapees to just 1'40".

16:15Gene punctures...

One of the riders in the escape group has been forced to stop to attend a mechanical problem. Yohann Gene is about to rejoin the other five escapees.

16:13Urtasun and Morkov bolt ahead

Urtasun and Morkov are the only riders with climbing points. This pair sprinted for the point on offer for the fourth climb today and Morkov is celebrating with a thumbs up - seems he likes the fact that he's destined for the podium in his first Tour de France. He will take the polka-dot jersey today...

16:1060km to go

Urtasun is leading the escape on the slopes of the fourth climb. The top is 59km from the finish and the six leaders are 2'40" ahead of the peloton. Delaplace has just ducked ahead and the foxing is on to see who can earn the one point on offer at the cote de Barvaux.

16:08Christian Guiberteau: ??The finish is too hard for Marcel??

When contacted by LeTour.fr earlier today Christian Guiberteau of the Argos-Shimano team explained that he believed the finish doesn't suit his squad's leader Marcel Kittel. “Today we will not participate in the pursuit of the escapees because the end of the stage is too hard for Marcel [Kittel]. This is a sprinter who can show himself in an uphill sprint, but today's finale is too steep. So I prefer that my riders preserve their energy for tomorrow, that stage is a more traditional...

16:02Breakdown of nations in the 99th Tour

There are 31 countries represented in the 2012 Tour de France. Here is a breakdown of the number of riders from each nation:

44: France
21: Spain
18: Netherlands
15: Italy
14: Belgium
13: Germany
12: Australia
8: USA
5: Denmark, Great Britain and Russia
4: Belarus, Kazakhstan and Slovenia
3: Slovakia and Switzerland
2: South Africa, Ireland, Portugal, Sweden and Ukraine
1: Argentina, Austria, Canada, Croatia, Estonia, Japan,...

15:59All RadioShack-Nissan riders lead peloton

The peloton is now 3'50" behind the six escapees and being led by all nine riders from the RadioShack team.

15:50Discussion at front of the bunch...

The RadioShack team seems as though it's going to take a break from the chasing duties. Jens Voigt was at the front of the bunch having a chat with riders from other teams while Cancellara drifts to the back of the peloton along with Frank Schleck.

There's a brief reprieve in the pace of the peloton and the escapees are benefitting. Their advantage is now back up to 3'45".

Popovych (RNT) has reassumed position at the front of the bunch but instead of there being eight of his...

15:48Boasson Hagen the only rider with points in prologue and stage one

Points for the green jersey are awarded to the first 15 riders in a prologue time trial. Of the riders who have taken points in the intermediate sprint today, only Edvald Boasson Hagen earned anything yesterday: he was fifth in the prologue and 15th in today's intermediate sprint.

15:46Results of intermediate sprint

Here is the full result of the intermediate sprint at the 116.5km mark.

1. Gene (EUC) 20pts

2. Urtasun (EUS) 17pts

3. Edet (COF) 15pts

4. Delaplace (SAU) 13pts

5. Bouet (ALM) 11pts

6. Morkov (STB) 10pts

7. Goss (OGE) 9pts - at 2'35"

8. Cavendish (SKY) 8pts

9. Greipel (LTB) 7pts

10. Renshaw (RAB) 6pts

11. Van Hummel (VCD) 5pts

12. Sagan (LIQ) 4pts

13. Rojas (MOV) 3pts

14. Bozic (AST)...

15:40Gene takes 20 points at intermediate sprint

The leaders have contested the intermediate sprint. Gene (EUC) was first over the line. The full results will follow once the peloton - currently 3'40" behind - reaches the line. We can report that Lotto-Belisol is now lining up at the front of the peloton but they are being challenge by Orica and Vacansoleil riders.

15:37Average speed for 3rd hour

The leaders have covered 36.3km in the third hour of stage one. The average for the first three hours is 37.8km/h.

15:345km to intermediate sprint...

The six escapees have been at the front of the stage for 111km. They are inside the final 5km leading to the intermediate sprint. Points for the green jersey are allocated to the first 15 riders over the line.

15:24The six escapees increase their advantage...

There's a little bit of rain falling on the Tour de France right now but it doesn't even seem enough to make the roads wet... yet. There were huge crowds in the feedzone and the peloton has just exited that area and is now 4'10" behind the six escapees who had been reeled in a little in the last hour. Their maximum gain so far today was 4'50" but that dropped to 2'35" recently... and it's grown again.

The six at the front are now 10km from the site of the intermediate sprint.

15:20Monfort stops to greet his family...

Maxime Monfort (RNT) has jus stopped at the end of the feedzone to greet his family. The peloton is now inside the final 100km of the first stage.

15:14Morkov a silver medalist in Olympic team pursuit

The virtual leader of the Tour de France is a rider who made his debut in the race yesterday. Michael Morkov was a track specialist for the early phase of his cycling career and he was part fo the Danish squad that finished second in the team pursuit at the Beijing Olympics. That was the race the British team won by setting a new world record (which has since been eclipsed - at the world championships this year).

This is Morkov's third Grand Tour after having done the Giro d'Italia in...

15:07Morkov leads climbing classification

Morkov has led over the second and third climbs which means he has two points for the climbing classification, twice as many as Edet (COF). The Danish rider is the virtual leader of both the general classification and the race for the polka-dot jersey.

15:05Result of third climb

The point for the cote de Lierneux was won by Morkov (STB).

Delalace was the rider who tried to get ahead early but he was the last of the lead group to reach the top.

15:03Delaplace on the attack

Delaplace is the rider scampering ahead to try and claim the one point for the third climb of the stage. He is being chased down by Morkov...

15:02Leaders near third climb

The côte de Lierneux is another category-four ascent and the top is at 94km. The six leaders are all together on the early slopes and their advantage remains around 2'55". This is a 2.1km long climb with an average gradient of 5.1 per cent. Edet is currently at the front but he's being closely marked by the five others...

14:58More from Yates...

When asked how he imagines the final being played out in Seraing, the directeur sportif of Sky, Sean Yates had a pretty clear vision. “I imagine that Philippe Gilbert will attack early. That's fairly standard for him and I'd prefer that Edvald rides with a bit of patience and let's the gradient sort out some of his rivals.”
Yates himself viewed the final for stage one for the first time on Wednesday. “We went and had a look at the finish and filmed it so that the riders have an...

14:55Yates: ??It is hard, and it will be hectic...?

LeTour.fr contacted the directeur sportif of the Sky team, Sean Yates, to get take on what the tactics will be for the stage to Seraing. “It's a day when Edvald could get the win,” said Yates. “He will go for it and try to take the win but our most important objective is to keep Bradley safe. It will be hectic in the finale and it is a hard finish but it's also an interesting one where a number of things can happen.
“Surely there'll be a break during the stage but I'd...

14:41Leipheimer gets help with his bike...

Leipheimer has recently pulled over to the right side of the road to get some adjustments made to his saddle. He is back on the bike and racing through the convoy to rejoin the peloton.

14:39Advantage drops below 3'00"

The six leaders who escaped in the first kilometer are sharing the workload evenly at the front. Their advantage is now 2'55" and we see most members of the RadioShack team at the front of the peloton. Just behind is Marcus Burghardt of the BMC team and, on his wheel, is Bradley Wiggins in the green jersey (and with a yellow helmet).

14:36Average speed for 2nd hour...

The leaders have covered 38.2km/h in the second hour of stage one. The average speed for the first two hours combined is 38.6km/h.

14:35Birthdays today...

The rider who finished third in the prologue, Sylvain Chavanel, celebrated his 33rd birthday yesterday. Today there are a number of people with links to the Tour who celebrate their birthdays:

- Sylvain Calzati turns 33 today, he won the eighth stage of the 2006 Tour.

- Jean-Claude Colotti is 45... he contested the Tour nine times in the 1980s and 1990s and was a former team-mate of Greg LeMond.

- Roland Schar is 62... he was the Swiss champion in 1975 and is the father...

14:27Lead drops to 3'55"

At the 68km mark, the peloton is 3'55" behind the six escapees. The maximum advantage of the break was 4'50" - that was at the top of the first climb (at 49km).

14:20Brief notes on Martin's injuries...

LeTour.fr has contacted the Tour's medical staff to get a report on the injuries of Tony Martin who crashed around the 11km mark of today's stage in an incident that also involved the South African champion Robbie Hunter. "He has a sore wrist and some contusion on his leg," said the race doctor, Florence Pommerie, who was coy about offering any more details about the TT world champion. "You'll find out more in our full report at the end of the day."

14:14More from Matt Goss...

When LeTour.fr caught up with Matt Goss at the team presentation, we asked about his relationship with his former team-mate Mark Cavendish. The pair are now rivals in the sprint, so... what do they discuss when you do get the time to catch up?
“We actually talk about very similar things to what we did when we were team-mates," said the Orica-GreenEdge rider. "I haven't had much of a chance to speak to him in Liège – just a brief g'day – but during the Giro we spoke pretty much...

14:07No former stage winners in the escape

Michael Morkov (STB) remains the virtual leader of the Tour de France. He also shares the lead of the climbing classifcation with Edet (COF) - each with one point to their credit.

None of the six men in the lead have previously won a stage of the Tour de France.

14:05Eight RadioShackers at the front of peloton

Allan Gallopin, the DS of RadioShack, told LeTour.fr this morning that they wouldn't put all nine riders on the front to defend the yellow jersey. Currently we see eight guys from Cancellara's squad at the front of the pack that is 4'15" behind the six escapees.

14:01Comments from Matt Goss...

LeTour.fr caught up with Matt Goss of the Orica-GreenEdge team a few days ago to get his thoughts on the first week. Obviously some stages are better for you than others, we said. Everyone is talking up stage one as a difficult finish but it seems as though it's good for you...
“We looked at stage three the other day (Wednesday) and we'll look at stage one on Friday," said the Tasmanian who won Milan-San Remo in 2011. "From what I hear there is about two-and-a-half kilometers uphill;...

13:55Result of second climb

The point for the climb at Francorchamps was won by:Urtasun Perez (EUS).

According to Laurent Bezault who drives the car that is just ahead of the lead group, "The six leaders all fought hard" to get the point of the category-four climb.

13:48Jean-Francois Pescheux: ??The approach is completely different (to 2001)?

“The finale today is good for Sagan or Evans,” the Tour's technical directeur Jean-François Pescheux told LeTour.fr earlier today. He was asked if the finish was similar to the last stage contested in Seraing (in 2001 when Erik Zabel was the winner) and he said that the actual finish straight is the same street but the approach is entirely different. “This is much harder and I think we will see a sprint between the strong guys.”

13:46Leaders near second climb

The côte de Francorchamps is the second climb of the stage. It is 1.1km long and has an average gradient of 6.4 per cent. The top is at the 49km mark.

The escapees have a lead of 4'50" on the peloton as they approach this second category-four ascent.

13:41Result of first climb

Edet (COF) has attacked the escape group near the top of the first climb. His group of six is now 4'00" ahead of the bunch. The Frenchman was the rider who instigated the escape in the opening kilometer today but he didn't win the race for the polka-dot point: that was taken by Michael Morkov (STB).

13:38Leaders on the first climb

The six escapees are about to contest the uphill sprint for one point at the cote de Cokaifagne.

13:35Average speed for first hour...

The six escapees have covered 39km in the opening hour of racing in stage one. They are currently 3'45" ahead of the peloton.

13:34Alain Gallopin: Commentary on tactics...

LeTour.fr contacted the directeur sportif of Cancellara's RadioShack team this morning to find out what the plan of attack would be for today's stage. Allan Gallopin explained that the prologue victory for Fabian was not a surprise as “we prepared for this race very carefully”.
But, once the podium protocol was finished, there was still more work to do for the rider who wears the yellow jersey today. “After the prologue we went to see the final of the stage for today,”...

13:31Leaders near first climb

The six escapees are about to contest the climb of the cote de Cokaifagne at the 42km mark. This is a 2.9km long uphill with an average gradient of 5.1 per cent. It is ranked category-four which means there is one point on offer for the first man across the line.

13:26Yellow helmets for Team Sky

As part of a new initiative at the Tour this year, the leaders of the team classification will wear yellow helmets. In the past, a yellow race number has denoted this status but before the race organizers requested that all teams have their helmet supplier issue a yellow colored version for the Tour.

13:21The position of the escapees on general classification

The break is now at the 31km mark and have a lead of 2'40". The current virtual leader of the Tour is Michael Morkov who started the stage ranked 51st, 24" behind Cancellara. The others in the escape are ranked as follows:

Bouet (ALM) - 97th at 31"

Urtasun (EUS) - 117th at 35"

Delaplace (SAU) - 146th at 40"

Gene (EUC) - 163rd at 44"

Edet (COF) - 177th at 47"

13:17Lead up to 2'40"

The escapees had reached gain of 2'30" before being stopped by the train. It then dropped to 1'10" but the peloton appears content to allow the escapees to continue with their break. They are now 2'40" ahead.

13:16Martin has several medical consultations

Tony Martin (OPQ) was one of four riders who have crashed early in stage one. He has consulted the race doctor a number of times since the incident that ocurred at the 11km mark. He rejoined the peloton quickly after his fall but appears to have concerns with his injuries although we cannot (yet) confirm what they are...

13:15Roux and Tankink also in a crash

At the 22km mark, there was a crash that involved both Anthony Roux (FDJ) and Bram Tankink (RAB). They remounted their bikes quickly and rejoined the peloton.

13:14Peloton won't be stopped because of level crossing incident...

According to the rules, level crossings are considered part of the race and therefore there the race jury will not stop the peloton for the same amount of time that the escapees were forced to wait for the train to pass.

13:13Advantage grows again...

At the 25km mark, the peloton is 1'50" behind Morkov, Gene, Urtasun, Edet, Bouet, and Delaplace.

13:12Lost connection...

LeTour.fr was briefly off line with technical difficulties... apologies for a brief stint of no news because of this problem. We're now back on the air and can report that a train has slowed the progress of the escapees.

13:12Train crossing stops the escape...

At the 24km mark, when the six escapees had a lead of 2'30” they were brought to a halt at a level crossing. They waited for roughly 45 seconds before setting off again once the train had passed. The next time check had six-man Morkov escape group 1'10” ahead of the peloton.

13:11Hunter and Martin in a crash...

Tony Martin (OPQ) and Robbie Hunter (GRM) have been caught up in a fall at the 11km mark. Both are back on their bikes and are about to rejoin the peloton. From all reports, it wasn't a bad fall but they had to chase for a little while.

12:50Eddy Merckx in the race today...

Eddy Merckx is the guest in the car of the race director Christian Prudhomme for this stage which is being raced entirely in Belgium today.

12:49Lead up to 2'10"

The six escapees have pushed their advantage up to 2'10" as the peloton reaches the 9km mark.

12:46Morkov the virtual leader

Of the six in the escape group that is now 30" ahead of the peloton at the 8km mark, the best on GC after the prologue is Michael Morkov of the Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank team. He was 51st in the TT yesterday and was 24" slower than Cancellara in the 6.4km race.

12:41Advantage grows

It could be that the first attack of the day is The Break as some riders in the peloton are now taking a moment to answer the call of nature. The move began as soon as the flag was dropped to signal the official start and the first rider to pounce ahead was Nicolas Edet of the Cofidis team.

The six escapees are now 30" ahead of the bunch.

12:39The escapees...

The riders who are in the lead are: Gene (EUC), Urtasun Perez (EUS), Bouet (ALM), Edet (COF), Delaplace (SAU) and Morkov (STB)... they are 20" ahead of the peloton at the 4km mark.

12:38Six lead by 20"

We still don't have a confirmation of the names of the riders who are on the attack but can report that they have an advantage of 20" on the peloton that is led by four men from the RadioShack-Nissan team.

12:37Official start 12.34pm

The first stage started at 12.34pm. All 198 riders are still in the peloton. There are six riders on the attack and the peloton has just reached the 2km mark.

12:35Racing in stage one!

The flag has been dropped by Christian Prudhomme and immediately there has been an attack. Six riders are off the front of the bunch and three of Cancellara's team-mates are policing the peloton. We'll soon have the names of the escapees... if their move survives long enough to take their numbers.

12:26Peloton still in the neutral zone...

The stop because of a protest lasted only a matter of minutes before the peloton started rolling again. The riders are still bunched up close to the red number-one car that contains Christian Prudhomme, the race director who will soon wave the white flag to signal the official start to stage one from Liege to Seraing.

12:19Peloton stopped by protest...

While still in the neutral zone, the peloton has been forced to a halt by a passive protest with people blocking the road. There are five RadioShack-Nissan riders on the left side of the road, with van Garderen in white just beside Cancellara. They didn't seem too perturbed by the stopage... and, just now, they've started riding again.

12:16Prize classification review: part 03 ?? white jersey

There was no climb in the prologue so the first polka-dot jersey of the 99th Tour will be awarded at the end of stage one. The white jersey, however, is present in the peloton and is worn by Tejay van Garderen (BMC). He is one second ahead of Boasson Hagen (SKY) in the youth classification, then comes Patrick Gretsch (ARG) at 2”, Kittel (ARG) at 11” and the Estonian who was second in this category last year, Rein Taaramae (COF) at 12”.

12:13Prize classification review: part 02 ?? green jersey

As Cancellara is wearing the yellow jersey, the green jersey will be worn by the prologue runner-up, Bradley Wiggins. Although the Brit has finished fourth overall in the race before (2009) he has never worn a prize jersey in the Tour de France until today.
The allocation of points for this classification in the time trial yesterday was:
20 for Cancellara (1st), 17 for Wiggins (2nd), 15 for Chavanel (3rd), 13 for van Garderen (4th) and 11 for Boasson Hagen (5th).

12:09Prize classification review: part 01 ?? yellow jersey

This is the 22nd day that Fabian Cancellara has worn the yellow jersey in the Tour de France. He has led the general classification on the first Sunday of the race five times now: 2004, 2007, 2009, 2010 and today. His collection of race leader's jersey is equal to the three-time overall champion Greg LeMond, as well as the tally of the race winner in 1980, Joop Zoetemelk.
Cancellara has a lead of seven seconds over Bradley Wiggins (SKY) and yesterday's birthday boy Sylvain Chavanel...

12:04Formalities underway on start line

Christian Prudhomme is standing at the front of the peloton on the 'départ fictif' in Liège as the formal ceremony prior to stage one takes place. Fabian Cancellara is next to the race director. All riders are on their bikes and they've just started to roll along through the neutral zone.

11:56Welcome to the live coverage of Le Tour 2012 - stage one

Things are in place for the start of the first stage of the 99th Tour de France. Riders will begin rolling through the 7.4km neutral zone at midday. The forecast is for a maximum temperature of only around 18 degrees Celsius and although it's cool this morning, the sun is trying to break through the light cloud cover in Liège.

There are five category-four climbs in the 198km stage from Liège to Seraing: the cote de Cokaifagne (at 42km), the cote de Francorchamps (at 49km), the cote...

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