Saturday July 7th, 2012

Stage 7Tomblaine / La Planche des Belles Filles

Start 12h15 GMT 2+

Key moments

video07.07.2012 in 23:00Summary of the race


Summary of the race

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Stage summary07.07.2012 in 17:35Sky's guys rise up the rankings into first!

The race to La Planche des Belles Filles was destined to show who the genuine contenders for the overall title are and what we saw the end of stage seven was a display of climbing prowess from a team of champions that decimated the hopes of almost all others in the peloton. Team Sky was as brutal as it was efficient on the final climb. With Rogers eliminating all but a handful of others, he handed over the pace setting to compatriot Richie Porte who set such a pace that only four men could...

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video07.07.2012 in 16:00Interview - Yellow Jersey


Interview - Yellow Jersey

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Sporting stakes08.07.2012 in 11:00And now, defend...

And now there's the mountains of the Vosges, the Jura and even more specifically the Swiss Jura now. The Tour is well and truly in climbing territory now and we've seen what we can expect from the British Sky team. The dominance by Bradley Wiggins and his team-mates going up the steep road to La Planche des Belles Filles was a confirmation of what many expected once the Tour got to the start of the second week.
Sky has made such an impression and survived the first week (save for the...

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interview07.07.2012 in 18:43Sky... has no limit

Sky Procycling has been the leader of the team classification since the prologue in Liège and it delivered another stunning blow at La Planches des Belles Billes in stage seven. Christopher Froome won the stage, Bradley Wiggins came third and took the yellow jersey and there are now three riders from the team in the top 10 overall: Wiggins, Froome and Richie Porte. The collective strength of the British team has somewhat killed the suspense with two weeks yet to go before the finish of the...

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interview07.07.2012 in 18:39Sagan: Vincenzo may get stronger

“Vincenzo [Nibali] has moved up to third place in the general classification and this is good for our team. Also, after the intermediate sprint I decided to take it easy and I came up the finish relatively easily but not trying to stay with the leaders.
“I'm not sure what Nibali has to do now to beat Wiggins. The Tour de France is a very long race and Vincenzo may get stronger in the second and third weeks.”

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interview07.07.2012 in 18:36Rein Taaramae: "I was able to complete successfully"

“It was horrible. I have sore legs and that climb was incredible. In the last 500 meters I lost 20 seconds. I do not really like it when it's too steep. But fortunately, the selection was already made, and I was able to complete properly. Fifth in the stage, it's not bad.”

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interview07.07.2012 in 18:34Froome: I decided to sneak away for the stage win

The winner of the stage was asked to comment on the last 400 meters of the climb as they were, according to the reporter, «terrible!» Christopher Froome just laughed and said, «They weren't that terrible.» He clearly can scale steep mountains like few in the world...

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interview07.07.2012 in 18:16Wiggins: I'm pleased we're in yellow

At the end of an impressive display of teamwork, one Sky rider won the stage and the leader took the yellow jersey. Bradley Wiggins explains how this is a day that he's been thinking of for quite some time.

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video07.07.2012 in 11:45Analysis of the stage


Analysis of the stage

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Sporting stakes07.07.2012 in 11:00Using 'La Planche' as a launch pad

The first mountain stage of the Tour will be a complete contrast to the opening week and is was always going to be a different sort of rider who excels on the road to La Planche des Belles Filles. The peloton has been ravaged by crashes in recent days, especially the carnage that wiped out so many riders on the road to Metz. Still, some of the big pre-race favorites all survived the chaos and Wiggins, Evans, Menchov and Nibali are all still in contention for the podiumin Paris. Still many...

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video07.07.2012 in 10:30The day's route


The day's route

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17:21Wiggins to take the yellow jersey!

With his third place in the seventh stage Bradley Wiggins has inherited the lead of the Tour de France. Here is the new top five of general classification:

1. Bradley Wiggins (GBR) SKY

2. Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC at 10"

3. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) LIQ at 16"

4. Rein Taaramae (EST) COF at 32"

5. Denis Menchov (RUS) KAT at 54"

17:19Top 10 in stage seven

The seventh stage was expected to signifcantly alter the standings and that's just what's happened. The top 10 in the stage is:

1. Chris Froome (GBR) SKY

2. Cadel Evans (AUS) BMC at 2"

3. Bradley Wiggins (GBR) SKY at 2"

4. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) LIQ at 7"

5. Rein Taaramae (EST) COF at 19"

6. Haimar Zubeldia (ESP) RNT at 44"

7. Pierre Rolland (FRA) EUC at 46"

8. Janez Brajkovic (SLO) AST at 46"

9. Denis Menchov (RUS) KAT at...

17:16Froome gets his first Tour stage win!

In his debut in the Tour, Chris Froome has won a wonderful, animated stage at La Planches des Belles Filles. He led Evans over the line to give Sky it's second stage win this year and the team's fourth since starting the Tour in 2010.

17:16Cancellara finishes... 1'55" behind

Wiggins is going to take the lead of the Tour de France. Cancellara has finished stage seven around 1'55" behind the stage winner.

17:14Evans into the lead

Evans has come around Froome and Wiggins and the Australian is now making a bid to take time out of the Brits. It has cracked Taaramae but Wiggins and Froome are responding.

17:14Froome to win the stage...!

Froome has not just marked Evans but passed him and given Sky its second stage victory in the 2012 Tour de France.

17:13Brajkovic with Menchov and Rolland

The second group on the road is composed of Brajkovic, Menchov and Rolland who are about 30" behind with 1km to go.

17:12Five in contention for the stage win

There are now just five men at the front of the stage. They are: Wiggins, Froome, Evans, Nibali and Taaramae. The steepest part of the climb is yet to come but Rolland and Menchov are well out of contention now...

17:10The lead group

The riders in the front of the stage are: Porte, Wiggins, Froome, Evans, Nibali, Menchov, Zubeldia, Rolland, Taaramae... they are inside the final 2km of the stage but Porte has just lost contact after a strong turn of pace.

17:10Rolland dropped

Rolland has now also lost contact with the lead group as has Menchov. Schleck is at 37".

17:08Less than 3km to go

There is less than 2.6km to go in the stage. Porte is still at the front with Wiggins on his weel. There is only one team with multiple riders and it's Sky. Roche has just been dropped...

17:07The lead group...

Sanchez, Nibali, Taaramae, Evans, Menchov, Froome, Porte, Wiggins, Roche are some of the riders who are still in the lead group. They are 45" ahead of Cancellara.

17:06Sanchez wins fighting spirit award

Sanchez (RAB) will go to collect the red dossard as the winner of the most aggressive rider prize today.

17:05Porte takes over

Porte is now at the front of the stage and leading Wiggins. Rogers time is over and he's now off the back. But Wiggins still has Froome following him. On the wheel of Froome is Evans... Sanchez (EUS) is still in touch with the lead group as is Nibali, Rolland... but it's hard to see past the Sky guys to know who else is holding on.

17:03Rogers causing the pain...!

Rogers is still in his saddle and tapping tempo but behind him there is carnage as riders fight to stay in touch with the main peloton. Mollema and Gesink and have already been eliminated as has van Garderen and Basso and Leipheimer...

17:03Schleck losing contact...

Horner is setting the pace for Schleck but the Luxembourger has lost contact with the group that is now composed of about 15 riders.

17:02Rolland and Kloden remain in the lead group

Rolland and Kloden can be seen near the front of the peloton but we can report that van den Broeck has now passed Cancellara who has finally cracked... the yellow jersey will, as expected, change today.

17:01Sky leads the stage

All the escapees have been caught now. There are four Sky guys at the front: Rogers is setting the pace for Porte who leads Wiggins and then there's Froome. Evans is behind this quartet.

16:59Leaders on the climb

Van den Broeck has been able to catch the peloton just as the six stage leaders begin the final climb. Sorensen is at the front and Sanchez (RAB) has been caught by the peloton that's led by Rogers. Fofonov has also been swallowed up by the peloton.

Boasson Hagen's job is done and he's been dropped by the bunch.

Riblon is about to be caught...

16:59Albasini caught

Only Sorensen remains ahead of the peloton that is led by Rogers (SKY). The rest of the escape has been caught by the bunch that has four Sky riders at the front.

16:56Boasson Hagen leads peloton

On the approach to the final climb, Boasson Hagen and a number of other Sky riders are at the front of the peloton.

16:55Valverde punctures!

Valverde has had to stop because of a puncture. He got a new wheel from a team-mate and his riding again.

VDB has the support of Hansen as he chases down the peloton that is 27" behind the six stage leaders who are about to start the final climb.

16:53VDB Speeding back to the peloton

The escapees are inside the final 10km of the stage. They are 35" ahead of the bunch that is now being pursued by van den Broeck (LTB) who has solved his mechanical problem but lost a lot of ground.

16:52Van den Broeck has mechanical trouble

Lars Bak has stopped to help his team leader van den Broeck who was forced to stop and tend to trouble with his bike. He's racing again but has to make up some ground on a bunch led by Boasson Hagen.

16:51Katusha now leading peloton

Vande Velde's stint of leading out Martin (GRS) is over. As is Zabriskie's. But Martin still has Millar there for support as they approach the final climb. The peloton is just 52" behind the escapees and Albasini is the one setting the pace of the break.

Vorganov of Katusha has shown himself at the head of the peloton.

16:49Peloton at 1'05"

The bunch is closing in on the seven escapees. There is now just 1'05" between Albasini's group and the peloton. Gautier is unable to maintain the pace of the lead group and there are now six in the lead of the stage.

16:47Hoogerland crashes with 15km to go

Hoogerland has hit the ground at the 15km to go mark. He's standing again and looks like he's about to remount his bike just as a dropped Mark Cavendish rides past him.

16:47Seven together again...

Gautier has caught up with his escape companions and there are seven men in the lead of the stage after Fofonov's little surge...

16:46Fofonov attacks with 15km to go

Fofonov (AST) is the first of the lead group to attack his escape companions. He did so with 15km to go and all but Gautier have been able to catch up with the Kazakh rider... that said, the Europcar rider isn't conceding just yet.

16:4415km to go...

The escapees are inside the final 15km and have a lead of 1'25". Sorensen is currently setting the pace ahead of Albasini...

16:43Details of final climb...

The final climb today makes its debut in the Tour this year. It rises to an altitude of 1,035m and is rated category-one (but there are double points on offer today as it's the final challenge of the stage - so there are 20 points on offer for first over the line). It is 5.9km long with an average gradient of 8.5% but there are sections that have a gradient of almost 20%!

16:41Three Garmins lead peloton

Vansummeren and Farrar have been dropped but there are now three Garmin riders at the head of the peloton. Vande Velde is leading Millar who is leading Martin.

16:40All seven still together

A reminder of the riders who started their attack at the 15km mark - as all seven are still together:

- Albasini (OGE), Gautier (EUC), Riblon (ALM), Sanchez (RAB), Sorensen (STB), Velits (OPQ), and Fofonov (AST) ... They lead by 1'32" with 18km to go.

16:39Here comes The Jens

Jens Voigt is now at the front of hte bunch and looking around for his team leaders. We can assume that Horner has returned to the peloton after his flat front tire with about 25km to go but the guys Voigt is most likely looking for are Schleck and Klöden.

16:36Five Lotto riders lead peloton

There is a lead-out of a different kind taking place for Lotto-Belisol today. The team that's already won two stages this year is looking to set up Vanendert and van den Broeck for the final climb. Their work has helped reduce the advantage of the seven escapees to just 2'00" with 20km to go.

16:34Albasini & Sanchez doing the most work

Of the seven in the lead, all men are working but Albasini and Sanchez appear to be at the front more often that Fofonov, Riblon, Gautier, Velits or Sorensen. These seven have a lead of 2'05" with 21km to go.

16:31Horner punctures

With the pace of the peloton picking up, Chris Horner has punctured his front tire. He will soon get a new wheel and start his chase.

16:28Here comes Lotto...

The teams that have done most of the work at the head of the peloton today are BMC, Garmin, Sky and Omega Pharma but Lotto are now sending a few riders forward. They have Jelle Vandendert and Jurgen van den Broeck - two quality climbers who the team management believe could be able to make an impact on the final climb.

16:2630km to go

The escapees are inside the final 30km of the stage. The road begins to rise soon but it's to a hill that doesn't have points on offer for the climbing classification. Then there's a brief descent before the final challenging climb to La Planche des Belles Filles which makes its debut in the Tour de France today.

16:25Millar now up front

Garmin-Sharp may have lost two men yesterday but they are not giving up their chances. They have Dan Martin for the finish and now we see Millar appear at the front of the peloton to help with the chase of the seven leaders.

16:23Lead under three minutes

With the peloton at the 165km mark, it is 2'45" behind the seven escapees.

16:19Vansummeren delivers drinks...

Johan Vansummeren lost skin on a large percentage of his body yesterday and just now he's come to the front of the peloton to give drinks to Dave Zabriskie who has been given the responsiblity of setting the pace for the Garmin-Sharp team.

16:18Eisel taps out the tempo

The peloton is closing in on the seven stage leaders but, as the DS of Rabobank noted earlier today, there are quality riders in the escape and they are now just 34km from the finish. Eisel, Burghardt, Zabriskie and Knees are the riders swapping off at the head of the peloton.

16:08Verdugo with Farrar

There are two wounded riders now on their own at the back of the stage. Gorka Verdugo (EUS) and Tyler Farrar (GRS) have been dropped on the second climb and they face a long, lonely ride to the finish today.

16:06Warm conditions for stage seven

The temperature at the moment is 27 degrees Celsius. The sun is shining on the peloton and at the site of today's finish atop the climb to La Planche des Belles Filles.

16:03Peloton at 3'45"

Vansummeren has rejoined the peloton before the top of the second climb. The bunch crested the Mont de Fourche 3'45" behind the seven escapees.

16:02Farrar dropped again

Farrar was dropped by the peloton on the first climb and he and team-mate Johan Vansummeren (who was also involved in the crash yesterday) are now off the back of the bunch as they ascent the second climb of the stage.

16:00Two more points for Sorensen

Chris Sorensen (STB) has claimed the two points for first place at the second climb. He led Sanchez (RAB) over the top of the Mont de Fourche at the 150.5km mark.

15:59Second stage seven attack for Gautier

This is the third Tour de France for Gautier (EUC). His first appearance in the race was in 2010 when he joined his team-mate Thomas Voeckler in an attack in stage seven to Les Rousses. That was the day Chavanel took the yellow jersey for a second time in the 97th Tour and Gautier finished 15th.

15:55Red 'Dossard' leads peloton

The rider who was awarded the 'Fighting Spirit' award yesterday is Dave Zabriskie (GRS). He is now at the front of the peloton which is 4'20" behind the escapees.

15:542km to climb

Riblon and Velits are the riders at the front of the escape inside the final 2km of the second climb. Sanchez is expressing his concerns with the antics of the spectators but there's little that can be done about the fans who run alongside the rider...

15:52Leaders on second climb

The escapees are now on the slopes of the Mont de Fourche which rises to 620m and is 5.9km long with an average gradient of 8.5 per cent. The top is at the 150.5km mark of today's 199km stage.

15:51History of Riblon in escapes...

Christophe Riblon is a rider who has once netted the grand reward of being in an early escape: he won a stage of the Tour in 2010. Here is a summary of the French rider's time in breakaways during his time in this race.
The AG2R rider was in the escape to Arcalis in 2009 when Brice Feillu won. The team enjoyed the coup of taking the yellow jersey (for Rinaldo Nocentini) that day.
Riblon was also prepared to attack later in that year's race and he was part of the escape group on...

15:43Quinziato leading peloton

Manuel Quinziato of the BMC team is sharing the work at the front of the bunch with Eisel and Knees from Sky. These are the teams that have done most of the work together but Liquigas and Omega Pharma are making sure that their riders are also well represented in the lead of the main pack, as is Katusha.

15:41Inside final 60km

The escapees are 59km from the finish. They have been on the attack since the 15km mark and are currently 4'45" ahead of the peloton.

15:40Pierre Rolland: This is not the ideal

“It's not ideal to start these mountain stage this way,” said Pierre Rolland (EUC) who was caught up in the crash yesterday and started the day ranked 40th overall. “I do not know what will happen now: maybe I'll have to change my original goals. This may require me to stay calm and remain in the peloton for a few days before settling on another strategy. I have not needed stitches to a wound on my elbow, but it's a deep cut and it really hurts.”

15:36Erik Zabel: 42 today...

Today is the 42nd birthday of the German who won the Tour's green jersey six times, Erik Zabel.

15:28Sorensen keen to try for polka-dot... but realistic discussed the idea of chasing the polka-dot jersey with one of the riders who is in the escape today. Chris Sorensen has expressed his interest in targeting the climbing classification but he pointed out that a lot of things need to be taken into consideration. "It's difficult," he said earlier this year, "because the big points are usually on offer when it's an important stage and that means it's hard to make the escape group and, unless the right selection is made, the break...

15:23Speed of the third hour

The average speed for the 3rd hour today is 36.8km/h. The average for the first three hours is 41.4km/h.

15:21Cavendish delivers drinks...

Cavendish has loaded up his rainbow jersey with bottles and he's now arrived at the front of the bunch to give Knees and Eisel something to drink.

15:18Farrar returns to peloton

After being dropped on the first climb of the day, Farrar (GRS) has caught up with the peloton at the same time that Cavendish is is back with the Sky car collecting drinks for his team-mates.

15:14Comments on final climb from Boardman

“It's a good climb at the finish but I'm not convinced that it's going to split until the final 500 meters,” said Chris Boardman after arriving at the top of La Planche des Belles Filles. “I can't think of a road that I've seen in a bike race that is as steep as that bit but the rest of the climb isn't so brutal. Okay, it's not easy but I'd say that the GC guys will be together most of the way up.”
After a brief discussion about other climbs that he could compare it to, the rise...

15:10Knees leads peloton

The bunch is 4'50" behind the escapees as it ascends the col de Grosse Pierre. Knees (SKY) is at the front and Sagan is going back to collect food from the team car... on the climb.

15:08Result of first climb

The points for the first climb of stage seven were won by Chris Anker Sorensen (STB) 2pts; and Luis Sanchez (RAB) 1pt.

14:58Leaders on first climb

Fofonov has led the front group to the early slopes of the col de Grosse Pierre - which is a cat-3 ascent that is 3.1km long and has an average gradient of 6.4 per cent. There is an enormous crowd on hand.

Points for first and second are on offer at the top: 2 for 1st, 1 for 2nd.

14:55Sagan still well clear of peloton

Sagan opened up a big lead on the peloton at the sprint and now he's stranded on his own well ahead of the bunch. He is soft pedalling and waiting for the rest of the riders but it took them some time to catch up with him...

14:54Full result of intermediate sprint

The points in Gerardmer were won by:

1. Gautier (EUC) 20 pts
2. Fofonov (AST) 17pts
3. Sanchez (RAB) 15pts
4. Albasini (OGE) 13pts
5. Riblon (ALM) 11pts
6. Velits (OPQ) 10pts
7. Sorensen (STB) 9pts
8. Sagan (LIQ) 8pts
9. Goss (OGE) 7pts
10. Impey (OGE) 6pts
11. Greipel (LTB) 5pts
12. Hutarovich (FDJ) 4pts
13. Lancaster (OGE) 3pts
14. Cooke (OGE) 2pts
15. Casar (FDJ) 1pts

14:52Sagan easily takes 8th place

There was a strong effort from Orica to lead Goss to the intermediate sprint but Sagan just toyed with the Australian who eventually conceded that it would be too much to beat the rider in the green jersey and he eased off and let the Slovakian take the eighth place 4'50" behind the stage leaders.

14:48Escapees take points for the first seven places...

The points for the first three places of the intermediate sprint were won by:

1. Gautier (EUC) 20pts

2. Fofonov (AST) 17pts

3. Sanchez (RAB) 15pts

We'll post the full results once the peloton reaches Gerardmer.

14:442km until first sprint

Albasini is at the front of the escape group inside the final 2km leading to the sprint in Gerardmer. It was here, in 2005, that Peter Weening won his stage of the Tour de France. That was a two-man sprint between the Dutch rider (who is now with the Orica-GreenEdge team) and Andreas Klöden (who is now with the RadioShack team).

14:40Maassen: Injuries will influence how Mollema and Gesink ride today

“Luis said he is feeling better so we're happy that he's gone from the last place of the peloton where he's been most of the first week, to the front group,” said Frans Maassen of Sanchez's Rabobank team when contacted by recently. “It looks a little bit better and we're happy that he's in the break.
“There are a lot of good riders in the break so that's a problem for us but we will wait and see what he can do. We talked this morning and we tried to think of a plan....

14:38Burghardt of BMC leading peloton

With the escapees less than 5km from the intermediate sprint, we can report that the advantage has dropped to 4'55". Burghardt and Quinziato are at the front of the bunch and then come a number of Sky riders including Eisel, Knees and Cavendish.

14:24Katusha leading peloton

Denis Menchov moved up from sixth overall to fifth in yesterday's stage. His Katusha team-mates are now setting the pace at the head of the peloton that is nearing the feedzone and has a deficit of 5'20" on the seven escapees.

14:23Sanchez says he's feeling better...

The Spanish rider in today's escape is Luis Leon Sanchez. The Rabobank rider has won three stages of the Tour in the past, his most recent in stage nine last year (in Saint-Flour). He crashed in stage one this year and has spent much of the opening week riding in last position of the peloton alongside another rider with wrist injuries, Tony Martin (OPQ).

As he rode past Matt Rendell yesterday, the British journalist asked how he was feeling and Sanchez responded, "Much better!" He...

14:19Average speed of 2nd hour...

The average speed for the second hour of stage seven is 40.7km/h. The average of the first two hours today is 42.3km/h.

14:13Comparing points classification lead of 2011 with 2012

Last year, after six stages of the Tour de France, Philippe Gilbert led the race for the green jersey with 144 points. He was one point ahead of José Rojas.

This year, after the same number of stages, Sagan's advantage over the next best rider is far greater: he has 209 points, while second best is Matt Goss who has 31 points less.

14:10Maximum advantage reached

At the 76km mark, the seven escapees have matched their biggest gain since gonig on the attack after 15km. The group is composed of: Gauteir (EUC), Sanchez (RAB), Chris Sorensen (STB), Fofonov (AST), Martin Velits (OPQ), Albasini (OGE) and Riblon (ALM). They are 5'55" ahead of the bunch that is at the 76km mark.

14:07Report on Movistar's two latest retirees...

The Movistar team issued a statement about the injuries of Imanol Erviti and José Ivan Gutierrez who were injured in accidents during stage six. Both have abandoned the race but this is what the team had to say:

"Erviti has a deep wound in his right leg with loss of muscular mass that will require surgery and will keep him at the French medical center for 48 hours... Ivan Gutierrez is into serious doubt to take the start on tomorrow's stage as he suffers from a huge blow in his right...

14:00Canuti crashes...

There has been a fall in the peloton involving Federico Canuti (LIQ).

13:5917 riders now out of the Tour

With the retirement of Anthony Delaplace (SAU) during the stage today, the tally of abandons in the 2012 Tour is up to 17. That's equal to the number of riders who had quit the Tour (for various reason) during the Tour of 1998.

In recent years, the number of abandons after seven stages is as follows:

2011: 8. 2010: 11. 2009: 4. 2008: 9. 2007: 9. 2006: 6. 2005: 4. 2004: 12. 2003: 11. 2002: 5. 2001: 12. 2000: 3. 1999: 4. 1998: 17...

13:43Two sets of brothers in top six of Slovakian championships

When the national championship of Slovakia was contested on 24 June this year, Peter Sagan - the winner of three stages of his debut Tour - claimed the victory. In second place was Peter Velits... in fifth was the other Velits twin, Martin (who is in today's escape). And in sixth was Sagan's younger brother Juraj (who is also a member of the Liquigas team - although he's not in the Tour de France this year).

13:40First Tour for Martin Velits

The Slovakian rider in the escape today is Martin Velits. He is the twin brother of Peter who is also riding the Tour as a member of the Omega Pharma-Quickstep team. This is the first year that Martin has done this race but he has been a pro since 2004. He's done the Vuelta a España four times and also finished the Giro d'Italia earlier this year.

He's currently ranked 80th overall and started the stage today 9'10" behind Fabian Cancellara.

13:34Albasini: If I got in a breakaway, I've got a good chance...

“I'm really motivated but one of my problems now is that, everyone knows me and they know that if I go in a breakaway I've got a good chance of winning,” Michael Albasini (OGE) told recently. “That means it's not that easy anymore... the element of surprise is gone. And it means I have to try harder to get into breakaways. I experience that already in the Tour de Suisse.”
He's been able to make the selection today and he's one of seven men who are almost six minutes...

13:34Leaders in Roville-aux-Chénes

The escapees are at the 57km mark and their lead over the peloton now is 5'35".

13:29Peloton at 50km

The peloton has covered 50km today and its deficit to the Riblon group of seven is 5'40".

13:24Michael Albasini: Maybe the breakaway is my strength...

“I'm a rider who never accepts that winning comes easy but when you have two legs, you try and some times it's possible to win,” Michael Albasini told before the start of the 2012 Tour. The Swiss rider has three stage victories and one overall title to his credit in the debut season for Orica-GreenEdge.
“I had a good start to the season with a big win in Catalunya and the whole team have kept the spirit high since the victories of Simon Gerrans in the Tour Down Under...

13:22Delaplace out of the 2012 Tour

Anthony Delaplace has quit the race. He fractured his wrist in the crash and tried to keep on going but the Saur-Sojasun team is now down to eight men.

There are 181 riders left in the field of the Tour de France.

13:17Fastest first hour so far this year

The average speed for the first hour of stage seven is 43.9km/h. That's the fastest start to a stage of the 2012 Tour.

13:12Peloton at 37km

The seven stage leaders have an advantage of 5'30" at the 37km mark. This means that Christophe Riblon is the virtual leader of the Tour de France.

13:11Stephane Heulot on Jérôme Coppel spoke with the manager of the Saur-Sojasun team, Stephane Heulot earlier today to find out what we can expect from his leader Jérôme Coppel today. The Frenchman is one of nine team leaders who is still within a minute of the yellow jersey. “We're pleased that Jérôme hasn't last any time in the opening week,” said Heulot. “We can say that the start of the Tour has been relatively good for him. We now move to the next phase of the race and I think most riders are pleased to...

13:06Albasini has already won three times in 2012

One of the riders in the escape today has already enjoyed significant success already in his first season with the Orica-GreenEdge team. Michael Albasini has won the mountains classification in the Tour de Suisse in the past, as well as the overall title of the Tour of Austria (in 2009).

This year he claimed two successive stage victories of the Volta a Catalunya on his way to taking the overall title. And, in June, he took out the eighth stage of the Tour de Suisse which finished in...

13:01Wauters on Lotto-Belisol's approach to stage seven...

“Yesterday for André was not so good but we got to the end relatively safely and we are happy with that,” said Marc Wauters of the Lotto-Belisol team when he spoke with earlier today. “Now we change our plans and it's time for Jurgen [van den Broeck] and Jelle [Vanendert). The Tour starts for the classification now, eh? We've enjoy success in two stages but as we go into the mountains we have other riders for the victory.”
Is there a temptation for Jelle to try to get...

12:57Advantage almost at six minutes

The seven in the lead now enjoy an advantage on the peloton of 5'55"...

12:52Two former stage winners in escape group

Two of the seven riders who are now 4'10" ahead of the peloton have previously won stages of the Tour de France.

Christophe Riblon (ALM) was the winner of stage 14 in 2010 to Aix-les-Thermes.

Luis Leon Sanchez (RAB) has won three stages in total: stage seven of 2008 in Aurillac, stage eight in 2009 in St-Girons, and stage nine in 2011 in St-Flour.

12:47Riblon best on GC in escape, not Sorensen...

An earlier flash stated that the Danish rider in the escape is the best on GC. It is, in fact, Christophe Riblon one of the two French representatives in the move that is now 3'25" ahead of the peloton. They began their attack after 15km of racing.

12:46Names, nations, teams and position on GC of escapees

Here is a summary of who the riders in the escape today are, and where they are on GC after six stages:

- Christophe Riblon (FRA) AG2R La Mondiale: 55th overall, at 5'04"

- Chris Anker Sorensen (DEN) Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank: 56th overall, at 5'13"

- Martin Velits (SVK) Omega Pharma-Quickstep: 80th overall, at 9'10"

- Michael Albasini (SUI) Orica-GreenEdge: 85th overall, at 9'56"

- Cyril Gauter (FRA) Europcar: 91st overall, at 10'40"

- Dmitri Fofonov...

12:42Seven lead by 1'25" at 18km

The escapees are 1'25" ahead of the peloton after 18km of racing.

12:41Sorensen the best placed on GC of escapees

Of the seven in the lead of the seventh stage, the best placed on GC after six stages (and the prologue) is Chris Anker Sorensen of the Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank team. He began the stage ranked 56th overall, 5'13" behind Cancellara.

12:39The escape group...

Gautier (EUC), Riblon (ALM), Sanchez (RAB), Chris Anker Sorensen (STB), Fofonov (AST), Martin Velits (OPQ) and Albasini (OGE) are the riders who are in the escape today.

12:35Schleck calls team car

While the the early attacks continue, we can report that Frank Schleck (RNT) has dropped behind the peloton to consult the team car.

Other than Vinokourov none of the attacking riders have been named. We are uncertain if the move of 19 men (who broke free at 11km) are still ahead of the peloton but can report that there are two others hovering just ahead of the main pack.

12:33Alain Gallopin: Until the crash, it was a dream week

The directeur sportif of RadioShack-Nissan, Alain Gallopin spoke with this morning to give us his take on how the race is going to date. “Fränk (Schleck) is actually going pretty well this morning,” said the Frenchman about the rider who was third overall last year but lost 2'09” after being held up in the crash near the end of stage six. “He took a bigt hit to his shoulder and ribs, but he's recovered well.
“Obviously he lost two minutes, unfortunately. And it is...

12:3019 in the lead group at 11km

There is an escape that's just ahead of the peloton. It includes three riders from Astana including Alexandre Vinokourov. We wait to see if it is able to gain ground and, if so, we'll post the names as soon as they're announced.

12:29Katusha's report on Freire

One of the non-starters today is the winner of the green jersey in 2008, Oscar Freire. His Katusha team issued a release about his injuries late yesterday.

"The three times world champion broke the third rib in his right chest," states the release, "and the fracture opened a wound in his pleura. Freire will have to stay at the hospital under observation for three days at least, then the doctors will decide when he will be able to come back home."

12:27Three departments host today's stage

Stage seven begins in the Meurthe-et-Moselle department, passes in to the Vosges at 50km and then finishes in the Haute-Saône.

12:268km raced - peloton all together

After eight kilometers of racing in stage seven the peloton is still all together. There were a few early surges but no escapees have managed to break free in what is a rapid beginning to the 199km stage.

12:25Prize classification review: part 04 ?? white jersey

There has been a change to the top order of the youth classification as Edvald Boasson Hagen (SKY) last time in stage six. Tejay van Garderen (BMC) is still in the white jersey second place in this category – open to riders born after 1 January 1987 – is the triple stage winner Peter Sagan (LIQ) who is just nine seconds behind the American on GC. Then comes last year's runner-up in the best young rider prize, Rein Taaramae (COF) at 12”, Tony Gallopin (RNT) at 1'28” and Boasson Hagen...

12:24Prize classification review: part 03 ?? polka-dot jersey

Michael Morkov spent three successive days in long breakaways so that he could earn some podium time in his first Tour de France. After this race, the Danish rider will go to London to see if he can improve on his silver medal in the team pursuit from Beijing... the track specialist was almost amused that he could earn a stint in the lead of the climbing classification at the Tour de France – as he laughed after receiving his first polka-dot jersey and said, “I've never led a climbing...

12:23Delaplace dropped early...

Anthony Delaplace (SAU) has a fractured wrist but he has started the seventh stage. That said, he's already been dropped by the peloton.

12:21Prize classification review: part 02 ?? green jersey

Peter Sagan (LIQ) has won three of the six stages in the 2012 Tour. He already has 209 points in the race for the green jersey and it seems likely that he'll get is wish of leading the points classification all the way to Paris. In second place after stage six is the sprinter from Orica-GreenEdge, Matt Goss with 178 points. The winner of two stages – and the runner-up in Metz yesterday – is André Greipel; he's ranked third in this category with 167 points.
The intermediate sprint...

12:20Prize classification review: part 01 ?? yellow jersey

According to the race leader, the yellow jersey is bound to change today. Fabian Cancellara is the only man to have led the general classification of the 99th Tour. And although there was carnage with 26km to go in stage six, there are still nine team leaders within a minute of the race lead after 1,218.5km of racing.
Cancellara is seven ahead of Wiggins (SKY) and, because of the crash, Boasson Hagen (SKY) slipped from fifth overall to 29th (at 2'16”).
Denis Menchov (KAT) is now...

12:19Movistar down to just five riders

With two abandons because of the crashes in stage six, there are now just five riders left in the Movistar team. Other outfits with multiple abandons are:

- Rabobank which is without Tjallingii and Wynants.

- Garmin-Sharp which is without Hesjedal and Hunter.

12:18Racing in stage seven!

The stage has begun with an immediate attack. The official start time for stage seven is 12.15pm. There are 182 riders left in the race.

The non-starters are: Txurruka (EUS), Hesjedal (GRS), Hunter (GRS), Dupont (ALM), Freire (KAT), Wynants (RAB), Erviti (MOV) and Gutierrez (MOV).

12:15Welcome to the live coverage of stage seven of the 99th Tour

Racing in the first day of true mountains in the 2012 Tour de France is about to begin. There is a 1.9km neutral zone before riders arrive at the site of the official start. This is expected to be at about 12.15pm.

The sun is shining in Tomblaine and the peloton faces 199km of racing today.

There are a number of riders who were not at the sign on and we'll report their names once racing begins but they were all casualties of crashes in stage six.

Live coverage of the...

12:15Riders in the neutral zone

The peloton is currently making its way through the neutral zone before the start of stage seven.


Jersey wearers after the stage 9

Classifications after the stage 9


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