Tour de France stage 2 as it happened

Stage 2 – Team time trial, Les Essarts, 23km

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1647: And that’s where I’ll leave you for today. Thanks for all your input this weekend. It’s been an exciting start to the 2011 Tour it’s already building up to be a classic.

1642: The official Tour website has just updated all the standings after today’s race. And we have five Brits in the top 25 with Cavendish at 18th and Swift at 24th. New Tour favourite Andy Schleck is 10th, just four seconds off the pace but poor old Contador lost more time today and is down in 75th, 01’42” behind Hushovd.

1637: Bradley Wiggins has also been speaking. He said: “Today wasn’t about egos, it was about the performance of the team. It was about getting the maximum out of every rider and my role was to keep the pace in the final run-in against the wind. When you come away knowing there is nothing more you could have done, there is no disappointemnt. We gained more time on some of the guys and it’s been a fantastic start to this year’s Tour. G [Geraint Thomas] was hungry and that’s the only tinge of disppointment that he didn’t get the [yellow] jersey.”

1635: Here’s what Geraint Thomas thought about the ride today: “We attacked it like we said we would, and it was a great effort by everyone. We rode it well. We knew we were up [after the first checkpoint] but it wasn’t even a second and we lost two guys quite early. We are a bit disappointed as we really wanted to win but Brad’s still up there in the general classification and that’s what matters.”

1630: Australia’s Cadel Evans is third while there is more good news for the British contigent with Sky’s Geraint Thomas is up to fourth in the general classification after today’s efforts and Bradley Wiggins is 12th.

1628: That’s also a first Tour de France stage win for the Garmin-Cervelo team.

It's good news for a British rider
1625: The official results and standings are in and it still makes good reading for British fans. David Millar’s efforts in helping Garmin team-mate Hushovd into yellow, means he is second – on the same time as the Norwegian, but second because he was 16th yesterday, while Hushovd was third.

1622: Here comes the yellow jersey. Gilbert gritting his teeth as he comes down the final stretch and his team-mates gather round him as they stop the clock at 25’27”, that’s 39 seconds or so behind the winner.

1619: After yesterday’s stage defending champion Alberto Contador said: “In today’s cycling, races are won and lost by seconds.” How prophetic. We’ve stil got the Omega Pharma-Lotto team out on the course by the way.

1617: So, so close for Cadel Evans. He held a three-second lead over Hushovd going into the team time trial but his BMC Racing team finished four seconds slower than the Norwegian’s Garmin-Cervelo team.


1615: There’s eight left in the BMC team and here comes George Hincapie powering the team along. Evans jumps onto the front and head down into the final 100m and the clock is counting down and it stops at 24’52”.

1612: Just two teams left on the road then. And BMC have 3km to go. Evans taking his turn on the front. Omega Pharma, heads down and plodding along.

1609: And Leopard-Trek coming to the end and they are five seconds down. No yellow for Cancellara – but a herculean effort from the big man to drag his team round. BMC through the second check six seconds adrift of Garmin – that gives Hushovd yellow by three seconds. Can Evans’ team find three seconds in the closing kilometres? We’re about to find out.

1607: The yellow jersey is set to leave the shoulders of Gilbert after the Omega Pharma team go through the first checkpoint in 09’28” – his three-second lead evaporating before your very eyes. Just Cadel Evans to worry about for Hushovd.

1604: There’s going to be no Brits in yellow tomorrow, but the five have helped their teams to first, second and third in today’s stage, so far. Millar sitting prettiest with Hushovd in provisional yellow while Sky trio Wiggins, Thomas and Swift and HTC’s Cavendish are in contention in the overall classification.

1601: And here come HTC to the finish and they have quickened up in the closing kilometres but they are just outside Garmin’s effort. Five seconds outside and Hushovd can breath easy again – for a few more minutes.

1600: Oh hello. Check out BMC. They are 9’04” through the first 9km. Cadel Evans, who finished second yesterday in that team – he’s got a three-second advantage over Hushovd – I’ll keep you posted.

1555: Leopard-Trek, pushed along by Cancellara, or Spartacus, as he is known, are through the 9km check in 9’09” – that’s seven seconds behind Sky, who were quickest through that zone, six behind Garmin. And race leader Omega Pharma, with yellow jersey wearer Philippe Gilbert in their midst.

1552: BMC Racing the penultimate team to leave the ramp – and here come Radioshack into the finish. They aren’t going to unseat Garmin but they are home in 24’58” – 10 seconds behind Garmin. HTC through the second checkpoint 14 seconds down on Garmin.

1548: RadioShack through 16.5km in 17 minutes on the nose. That’s 15 seconds behind Garmin. Time to start measuring Hushovd for the yellow jersey?

1545: And HTC have lost nine seconds to Team Sky through the opening 9km – the loss of Eisel perhaps proving the difference. Or are they trying to save a bit for the finish?

1541: Just three teams left in the hutch. Team Leopard-Trek next out – they’ve got the Schleck brothers, Andy and Frank, in their team as well as world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara.

1538: HTC on the highroad and Bernhard Eisel is on the deck almost immediately. Not sure how it happened, he just seemed to slide and tumble and he was back up in a flash, but his team-mates aren’t hanging about. They’ve got Tony Martin to try and get into yellow. Radioshack through 9km in 9’11”.

1536: So no yellow jersey for Geraint Thomas. The only consolation Sky can take is that they matched Garmin’s time over the closing stages. Can anyone take the yellow jersey off Thor Hushovd now? Radioshack and HTC may have something to say about that.

1534: Back into the narrow streets of Les Essarts and they are twisting and turning and into the final straight. This is going to be close and they are all over the line in 24’52” – that’s four seconds outside of Garmin’s time.

1533: Here come Team Sky and there’s only six left and Ben Swift is in danger of falling off the back. But they only need five over the line to count.

1530: Radioshack on the ramp and away. Interesting to see how fast they go through the first 9km.

Infostrada Sports on Twitter:

“Sky-rider Geraint Thomas can become first British rider to wear yellow jersey in 11 years (Millar in 2000).”

1526: And Sky have slowed a fraction through the middle section of the stage. They go through the 16.5km check in 16’49”, four seconds slower than Garmin. Wiggins taking a big turn on the front. But will losing those two riders prove costly?

1523: A little manual refresh and you should get access to live commentary from 5 live’s Simon Brotherton – link on the right of this page. Team Sky powering towards the second checkpoint.

1519: Christian Knees has also fallen off the back of the Sky train. Astana look to have paid the price for going out so quick as they come up to the line and they are losing 31 seconds to Garmin.

It's good news for a British rider
1517: And here we come up to the first checkpoint and Team Sky are…one second…quicker than Garmin-Cervelo. That’s a 9’02” time. But Xabier Zandio looks like he’s finding the pace a little hot.

1515: Team Sky bowling along nicely as Lampre head off down the ramp. Reports suggesting the Sky train are pushing 40mph – Garmin were around 41mph through the first 9km. Thomas, Wiggins and Boasson Hagen following each other in taking turns at the front.

1513: Just eight teams left to set off today. But they include Radioshack, who could threaten, and Cavendish’s HTC Highroad team (1538 BST). Last team out will be Omega Pharma-Lotto that of race leader Philippe Gilbert.

1509: It’s a tight and twisty opening as they leave the small town of Les Essarts but they are away with no drama.

1508: And here come Team Sky. Wiggins, Thomas, Boasson Hagen, Swift, Uran et al on the ramp. Wiggins a picture of concentration, flanked by Thomas. A couple of deep breaths and away they go with Thomas taking up the pace.

1505: The Astana team have blazed through the first 9km in 9’09” – that’s just six seconds behind Garmin. But they’ve already lost two riders.

sumofmarc on Twitter:

“Dont think thats fast enough for Garmin. Look out for HTC/Sky/Radioshack later”

1502: Nobody on the road looking likely to come close to Garmin’s time. Quick Step were 15 seconds slower through the first checkpoint and 34 slower through the 16.5km check.

leguape on Twitter:

“What the HELL is going on with those Astana skinsuits? Has Vino taken control of the styling as well?”

BBC Radio 5 Live
1457: Russian team Katusha next out and then it’s the Team Sky boys. A good time to remind you that there will be live commentary of the closing stages of today’s leg on this website – BBC Radio 5 live commentator Simon Brotherton will be joined by Graham Jones at 1525 BST.

1453: Wow. That was some ride by the Garmin-Cervelo boys. Hushovd looking good for the yellow jersey after that ride – he appeared to be slowing up towards the line as the clock doesn’t stop until the first five are over it. They lead by 12 seconds from Rabobank. Philippe Gilbert’s Omega Pharma-Lotto team needs to be within three seconds of that time, or else his day in yellow will be exactly that.

1450: Here they come then, into the final kilometre and this is going to smash Rabobank’s time. Hushovd gets on the front and he’s looking over his shoulder pulling his team-mates along. And his team-mates bunch alongside and that’s 24’48”. Beat that Team Sky and HTC.

1449: Garmin’s pace is so hot that they are down to six riders. But it’s the strong men left. Zabriskie, Hushovd, Christian Vande Velde, Millar still pushing the pace.

1446: Hushovd putting in another big turn on the front of the Garmin train and he moves aside to allow David Zabriskie to take up the pace. A very well oiled machine. Spanish side Movistar just setting off down the ramp. 20 minutes to Team Sky’s challenge.

1443: Garmin have doubled their advantage over Rabobank and are through the second checkpoint in 16’45” – that’s 13 seconds quicker. If they can keep this going into the headwind, they will set a daunting time for Team Sky. Five kilos to go for the American team.

1440: Could we be seeing Thor in yellow then? Quick Step, which is led by French national road race champion Sylvain Chavanel are off and away.

1433: Good effort by the Dutch team that. A shade over 55km/h. But the bar has been raised by Garmin. Hushovd on the front and that is almost seven seconds quicker as they go through 9km in 9’03”. Sprint lead out man Julian Dean has been dropped though. He has to finish within 30% of his team’s finish time otherwise his Tour will be over. No time to sit up and check out the Vendee countryside then.

1429: And here come Rabobank up to the finish. They are inside the final kilo and eight riders still in touch. Just how quick are they? 25 minutes dead. That’s how quick. And perhaps significantly, Robert Gesink, who was sixth on last year’s Tour, and finished just six seconds behind the leader yesterday, has taken another 16 seconds off Contador.

1426: Here’s Garmin down the ramp. Thor Hushovd in the polka dot shirt for the King of the Mountains leader. He didn’t pick up any points yesterday as there was only one up for grabs and that was taken by stage winner Philippe Gilbert. But as Gilbert will be in yellow and second-place finisher Cadel Evans will be in green, Thor gets the polka dots. He could well be swapping that for yellow today though. Rabobank leading on the road though, still three seconds clear of Saxo Bank through the second checkpoint.

1424: Here’s Sky sporting director Sean Yates on his team’s chances of putting Geraint Thomas in yellow at the end of the day: “It’s very exciting and there’s quite a bit of tension around the race today because it’s up for grabs and we’ve got as good a chance as any. I would consider us to be among the top three. It’s going to be close and tough in the last 5km with the headwind.”

1421: A couple of people pointing out that Wiggins will not get the yellow if he finishes one second ahead of Thomas as the first five in the team all get the same time. Apologies for the mislead – I was relying on information I was supplied. Wiggins could still end up in yellow, but Thomas would have to be dropped by his team.

1419: Nic Roche’s birthday ride is over. His AG2R team stop the clock on 25’41”, 25 seconds behind Contador and they are currently second.

billsghost on Twitter:

“(Re Saxo Bank’s 56km/h) That’s about 35 miles per hour in english”

1413: And as I write that, Rabobank go through the first checkpoint in 9’10” – that’s three seconds quicker than Saxo Bank.

1411: That Saxo Bank time looking pretty good with Vacansoleil finishing 47 seconds down. The big riders still to come though as FDJ, which features one of yesterday’s breakaway riders Jeremy Roy, push off down the ramp.

Infostrada Sports on Twitter:

“Saxo Bank’s avg. is 54.6 km/h. Only twice was a winning team faster in TdF: Discovery (’05 – 57.3 km/h) and Gewiss (’95 – 54.9km/h).”

1406: Euskaltel second home but they are 54 seconds down on Saxo Bank. David Millar’s Garmin team out in about 20 minutes, Sky in an hour and HTC in about 80 minutes.

1404: Mark Cavendish’s lead-out man at HTC-Highroad, Mark Renshaw is predicting a quick time today. He said: “I think we’ll have an average over the whole course of somewhere between 60 and 65 km/h. The winner will do it in about 22 or 23 minutes if the wind stays like it has been.”

Infostrada Sports on Twitter:

“Team HTCHighroad have won last two TTT in all Grand Tours and can become first team in 31 years to win three in a row (Raleigh 78-80).”

1359: Contador’s team putting down the hammer in the closing stages and they stop the clock at 25’16”. That’s an average speed of around 56km/h for the 23km course. Euskaltel and Vaconsoleil are nowhere near close to their time through the intermediate checks.

1357: Ireland’s Nicolas Roche, who finished 19th yesterday, is celebrating his 27th birthday today. He has just set off with his AG2R team-mates. Nic is the son of 1987 Tour champ Stephen.

1355: Saxo Bank themselves have just gone through the second checkpoint in 17’01” – they have shed three riders though and are down to six – first five crossing the line to stop the clock remember.

1351: Euskaltel through the first checkpoint in 9’29, that’s 16 seconds slower than Saxo Bank.

tokugawasmile1 on Twitter:

“Hard to feel any sympathy for Contador really but yesterday was a MASSIVE dent in his chances of defending (or not) his title.”

1345: There are two intermediate time checks today – the first after 9km, the second at 16.5km. Reports from France suggesting an overcast day with a tailwind for the first half of the race.

1340: The second team out on the road is the Euskaltel bunch. They will be followed by Vaconsoleil and AG2R. First intermediate time in and Saxo Bank through it in nine minutes, 13 seconds. Just how quick that is will become apparent as the afternoon wears on.

Basgooner on Twitter:

“Come on Team Sky, big chance for the Yellow Jersey for Geraint Thomas, has Contador lost the tour after one day?”

1330: Plenty to talk about then over the next three hours or so as Contador and Saxo Bank to get us going.

1329: Should Schleck have waited for Contador yesterday? Here’s the Leopard Trek rider’s take on events: “Cycling is not just about pedalling, it’s also important to ride with your brain and stay up front in such conditions. When a crash happens while we are going 65 kph, it’s impossible to see who is there or who isn’t. We knew it was important to go full gas because there would be riders left behind. It wasn’t until later that we learned Contador was in the second group.”

1326: There is little love lost between the pair after an

incident on the climb up Port de Bales last year.

The chain on Schleck’s bike slipped and jammed his back wheel while he was attempting an attack and Contador appeared to take advantage, riding away from his main rival for the yellow jersey. A furious Schleck claimed it was against the race’s etiquette to profit in this way. In Contador’s defence, he had waited for Schleck on stage two of last year’s race after the Luxembourg rider had been caught up in a crash.

1322: Contador is well aware of the significance of the time loss. He said: “In today’s cycling, races are won and lost by seconds and it is going to take some time to make up the [time] I lost to the other favourites.”

1318: What of everything else going on yesterday? Hats off to Gilbert for his first Tour de France stage win, but arguably the bigger story was the sub-plot involving race favourite Alberto Contador and the man who has twice finished runner-up, Andy Schleck after a crash nine kilometres from the end split the peloton. Contador was delayed by the accident and finished the race 80 seconds behind the winner, while Schleck avoided the incident and is 74 seconds ahead of the Spaniard.

keyno6 on Twitter:

“big big chance for Team Sky today, would love to see super G in the MJ.”


Text in your views on 81111
1315: Saxo Bank, the team of defending champion Alberto Contador are first off at 1330 BST with the other 21 teams following at seven minute intervals. Garmin are due off at 1426, Team Sky at 1508 and HTC Highroad at 1536. So, just time to let me know your predictions for today. Will we see a Brit finish the day in yellow? If so, who? If not, who? Tweet me via hashtag


or text on 81111 with TOUR before your message. (Not all contributions can be used. Messages will be charged at your standard operator rate)

1313: Here’s how today works. The clock stops once the first five of the team’s nine riders cross the line, so keeping together is key. Simple.

1310: But Millar will also have his eye on the big prize – he is also a time trial specialist and has David Zabriskie and speed specialists Thor Hushovd and Tyler Farrar in his Garmin team, which is considered as one of the strongest. As for Cavendish, his HTC-Highroad team is used to leading out the train at the head of the peloton to deliver the Manxman to the line and this completely flat 23km stage could play into their hands.

1307: British-based Team Sky are among the favourites though and count Olympic track pursuit champions Wiggins and Thomas among their number. Thomas is best-placed after finishing the opening stage with a speedy ascent of Mont des Alouettes to end sixth overall, meaning Wiggins, who finished 50th, or Swift (70th) would need to cross the line one second ahead of Thomas to go into yellow, should Team Sky win the stage of course. How focused are Sky on this? Here’s team manager Dave Brailsford: “We come from team pursuit and this is very similar. Obviously we have this team time trial at the back of our minds.”

1304: Amidst all the attacks and crashes, the quintet of Geraint Thomas, David Millar, Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish and Ben Swift, were all awarded a finish time six seconds behind opening stage winner Philippe Gilbert and although the experts are predicting that today’s time trial is too short for huge time gaps to be won and lost, the Belgian’s advantage is looking slim as his Omega Pharma-Lotto team is not among the favourites.

It's good news for a British rider
1302: Afternoon all. From a British perspective, day one could not have ended much better, with all five home riders being in contention to take the yellow jersey after today’s 23km team time trial in Les Essarts.

1300: Recovered from

yesterday’s dramatic finish to the opening stage of the Tour de France?

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