Moreau takes prologue. Armstrong finishes third.

As of 1:20p.m. (Eastern time - U.S.) The French are celebrating in Dunkirk. They have a new race leader. Festina's Christophe Moreau has turned in a 9:20:59 (52.71kph), giving him the win in this Tour de France prologue U.S. Postal's Lance Armstrong finished in third with a 9:24.64 and Telekom's Jan Ullrich took fourth with 9:27.76. As of 1:08p.m. (Eastern time - U.S.) Defending Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong is on the course. Looking relaxed and confident, the U.S. Postal Service star, smiled, checked his radio earpiece and charged off the line, one minute after Telekom's Jan

By VeloNews Editorial staff

As of 1:20p.m. (Eastern time – U.S.) The French are celebrating in Dunkirk. They have a new race leader. Festina’s Christophe Moreau has turned in a 9:20:59 (52.71kph), giving him the win in this Tour de France prologue

U.S. Postal’s Lance Armstrong finished in third with a 9:24.64 and Telekom’s Jan Ullrich took fourth with 9:27.76.

As of 1:08p.m. (Eastern time – U.S.) Defending Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong is on the course. Looking relaxed and confident, the U.S. Postal Service star, smiled, checked his radio earpiece and charged off the line, one minute after Telekom’s Jan Ullrich took off.

Both are looking good on the road. Ullrich appears to be pushing a bigger gear… which makes sense, because Armstrong has concentrated on his spin.

Surprisingly, last year’s prologue winner David Millar finished way off the pace in 104th place, turning in a 10:02:30. Word from the course is that Millar suffered a crash.

As of 1:05p.m. (Eastern time – U.S.) Jalabert has finished, turning in a 9:42.

Joseba Beloki (ONCE) is on the course.

As of 12:55p.m. (Eastern time – U.S.) We have a new leader. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, riding a 9:23:58 (52.43kph).

Brad McGee has finished with a 9:35, good enough for fifth at this point.

As of 12:55p.m. (Eastern time – U.S.) U.S. Postal’s Roberto Heras is on course.

The current leader Florent Brard says that he is “under no illusion” that he will win today.

“The big riders are yet to come, but this is a great way to start out my first Tour de France.”

The Postal’s George Hincapie has finished, about 12 seconds off of the race leader’s pace. Hincapie said he wasn’t expecting to do well. He had apparently cut a tendon and an artery in his hand while unloading his dishwasher at home last week.

He received stitches and is now on antibiotics, though he says that he fully expects to recover in time to be an important asset to the team for the rest of the Tour.

As of 12:45p.m. (Eastern time – U.S.) Brad Mcgee, one of the early favorites for this prologue, is now on the course. The Aussie, riding for Francaise Des Jeux, won the bronze medal in the pursuit at last year’s Olympics in Sydney.

As of 12:40.m. (Eastern time – U.S.) We have a new leader. Festina’s Florent Brard lived up to the expectations put upon France’s national time trial champion and turned in a 9:27.830 (52.08kph).

It’s less than half an hour before the two biggies of this Tour start.

Lance Armstrong is on his bike warming up on a turbo trainer in a covered area between his team bus and one of the Postal team trucks. Armstrong looks fit, relaxed and very ready.

1997 Tour winner, Jan Ullrich has also been warming up, though right now he’s in his team bus, awaiting the start. As last year’s runner-up, he’ll be off the line one minute before Armstrong.

As of 12:36p.m. (Eastern time – U.S.) Mapei’s Stefano Garzelli, the winner of the 2000 Giro d’Italia has finished in 9:49. Riding in his 12th Tour de france, Domo’s Johan Museeuw has just left the start.

The rain has now completely stopped.

As of 12:26p.m. (Eastern time – U.S.) The weather is actually improving a little. The rain has effectively stopped again and the head wind on the closing stretch is easing off from its high of 20mph.

The standings remain unchanged as of now.

The U.S. Postal Service’s George Hincapie has just started and Domo’s Merckx has finished — with a 10:11.

As of 12:10p.m. (Eastern time – U.S.) Rain! A light rain has just started to fall in Dunkirk.

The weather may solidify the grip the Spanish riders seem to have on this prologue. As of now, the top-three spots are held by Spanish riders.

1 – Carlos Sastre (ONCE) – 9:34.130

2 – Antonio Tauler (Kelme) – 9:34:34

3 – Jose Gutierrez (Kelme) – 9:36:48

If Sastre holds on, this would be his first pro win ever. This is his first Tour de France.

Domo’s Axel Merckx on the course. He looks strong, but, man, he has an odd position on his bike. If he does well, it’ll be based on strenght and his incredible vital capacity – total volume of air a rider can breath in and out in a minut. Merckx has a capacity of 8.17 liters per minute versus the mean figure of 5.75 for the rest of the peloton. Good genes have got to help, eh?

As of 11:59a.m. (Eastern time – U.S.) Ekimov has finished with 9:37. Telekom’s Kevin Livingston has finished in 10:10.

As of 11:56a.m. (Eastern time – U.S.) It’s just over an hour before the race favorites start their prologues, and the wind has picked up, blowing in off the English Channel. It’s a head wind at about 20 mph all the way along the final 1.8km.

Ekimov is now on the course, and make a huge effort. The Olympic time trial champion is wearing his usual Postal uniform, not the rainbow stripes that he earned in Sydney.

As of 11:49 a.m. (Eastern time – U.S.) Credit Agricole’s Bobby Julich just finished with a 9:46:54, about 12 seconds off of the pace of current leader Carlos Sastre (ONCE).

Jonathan Vaughters, who recorded 9:44, was 10 seconds off the leader’s pace when he finished. “That’ll be 30 seconds by the end of the day,” said the Crédit Agricole rider, just after crossing the line in pale sunshine. “I didn’t have really good legs. I rested up a lot after the Tour of Catalonia, and will try to allow myself to work in the first week (before) the mountains, which I’ve never really done before. I’ve always hit the Tour kind of flying. So we’ll see…. It’s gonna hurt the first couple of days here, but hopefully it’ll work out in the end.

“As for today, the wind is only a factor the last 2km … hopefully it’ll rain for all the other guys. It’s a good course, nice fast corners. I don’t think the (time) differences will be big even though it’s a long prologue. It’s such a fast course, there’s not a whole lot of places where you can make a big difference. But who knows, you’ll probably see Lance or Ullrich come through and win by 20 seconds.”

The weather in Dunkirk is beginning to sour a little. The winds are picking up, the clouds are rolling in and it is beginning to look like rain… though nothing yet.

As of 11:27 a.m. (Eastern time – U.S.) ONCE’s Carlos Sastre has taken over the lead of the prologue TT, turning in a blazing 9:34.130, averaging 51.43kph.

Right now, Lotto’s Rik Verbrugghe is on course. Verbrugghe won the prologue at the Giro d’Italia, setting something of a world record in the process. But at the halfway mark, the Belgian’s time was already four seconds slower than Sastre’s.

So right now, the standings are Sastre in first, followed by Kelme’s Antonio Tauler (9:34:34), U.S. Postal’s Steffen Kjargaard is in third two seconds back.

As of 11:08 a.m. (Eastern time – U.S.) There is a new leader. Kelme’s Antonio Tauler finished in 9:34:34, putting him two seconds ahead of Hushovd and three seconds up on Gonzales, the man who beat him last week for the Spanish national time trial championship.

Tyler Hamilton (U.S. Postal) has finished in 9:46:42, putting him around 18th place. Hamilton said that he “had a little problem with my seat. I hit a bad bump and the nose of my saddle came down.”

Credit Agricole’s Jonathan Vaughters has also finished, turning in a 9:44.76.

Lance watchers will be happy to know that the defending Tour champion is now on the scene. He just arrived along with his new teammate Roberto Herras. The two pulled up in a VW Passat with tinted windows and immediately ducked into the U.S. Postal team bus. As defending champion, Armstrong is, of course, the last rider scheduled to start today.

As of 10:52 a.m. (Eastern time – U.S.) Tyler Hamilton and Christian Vandevelde are on course. Norwegian Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) continues to lead the standings with his 9:37.18. ONCE’s Santos Gonzales is in second and Telekom’s Andreas Kloden is in third, having ridden a 9:39.76.

As of 10:38 a.m. (Eastern time – U.S.) Credit Agricole’s Thor Hushovd has taken the early lead, finishing the 8.2km course in 9:37:18.

As of 10:00 a.m. (Eastern time – U.S.) The rain has stopped for now and the roads have dried off in Dunkirk, even though a raging rainstorm continues 50km south of here, and all over northern France reports of severe weather are coming in. The weather is warm and muggy – around 75 degrees Fahrenheit – and calm. If the wind stays down and the rain stays away, it could make for equal opportunity to make the podium. On the other hand, if the wind and rain kick up later, some of the early starters could find themselves as surprise beneficiaries of the gods.

Yesterday, the US Postal Service team went out on a training ride together on their time trial bikes. We caught up with them at their hotel, a beautiful chateau in the country south of Calais, just as they returned from their training ride and headed for lunch. They jabbered excitedly about how fast they are going, what good condition everyone on the team is in, and how great it is to be staying in an isolated place out in the country.

While most of the other teams are in hotels in larger towns and cities in the area, the Postmen are in beautiful pastureland far from any population. The chateau’s proprietors are guarding their privacy by parking a tractor across the entrance to the walled enclave and withholding directions from people calling on the phone.

They were very excited at how fast they were going in their team time trial mode without even trying to push the pace. It bodes well for today and for the team time trial on the 12th.

Sebastien Talabardo of Big Mat and Servais Knaven of Domo (the Paris-Roubaix champion) are now on the 8.2km circuit on the streets of downtown Dunkirk. The 88th Tour de France is on!

Stay tuned here for continuing coverage today and all three weeks of the Tour!


1. MOREAU Christophe FES 09:20;
3. ARMSTRONG Lance USP at 0:04;
4. ULLRICH Jan TEL at 0:07;
5. BRARD Florent FES at 0:07;
6. BOTERO Santiago KEL at 0:10;
7. BELOKI Joseba ONC at 0:13;
8. O’GRADY Stuart C. A at 0:13;
9. SASTRE Carlos ONC at 0:14;
10. TAULER Antonio KEL at 0:14;
11. KIRSIPUU Jaan A2R at 0:15;
12. MC GEE Bradley FDJ at 0:15;
13. WAUTERS Marc RAB at 0:15;
14. GUTIERREZ José Enrique KEL at 0:16;
15. ROUS Didier BJR at 0:16;
16. BROCHARD Laurent DEL at 0:16;
17. CASERO Angel FES at 0:16;
18. KJAERGAARD Steffen USP at 0:16;
19. HUSHOVD Thor C. A at 0:17;
20. EKIMOV Vjatceslav USP at 0:17;
21. GONZALEZ Santos ONC at 0:17;
22. JAKSCHE Jorg ONC at 0:18;
23. HINCAPIE George USP at 0:19;
24. KLODEN Andréas TEL at 0:19;
25. PENA Victor Hugo USP at 0:21;
26. BARTOLI Michele MAP at 0:22;
27. BROZYNA Thomasz BAN at 0:22;
28. JALABERT Laurent CST at 0:22;
29. DURAND Jacky FDJ at 0:23;
30. VERBRUGGHE Rik LOT at 0:23;
31. GONZALEZ Aitor KEL at 0:23;
32. BERTOGLIATI Rubens LAM at 0:24;
33. PINOTTI Marco LAM at 0:24;
34. KNAVEN Servais DFF at 0:24;
35. NARDELLO Daniele MAP at 0:24;
36. VAUGHTERS Jonathan C. A at 0:24;
37. MATTAN Nico COF at 0:25;
38. SEIGNEUR Eddy DEL at 0:25;
39. HEULOT Stéphane BIG at 0:25;
40. VOIGT Jens C. A at 0:26;
41. GUTIERREZ Ivan ONC at 0:26;
42. BERGES Stéphane A2R at 0:26;
43. JULICH Bobby C. A at 0:26;
44. PASCUAL LLORENTE Javier KEL at 0:26;
45. HAMILTON Tyler USP at 0:26;
46. GONZALEZ GALDEANO Alvaro ONC at 0:26;
47. TOSATTO Matteo FAS at 0:27;
48. MORIN Anthony C. A at 0:27;
49. NIERMANN Grischa RAB at 0:27;
50. HALGAND Patrice DEL at 0:27;
51. DE GROOT Bram RAB at 0:28;
52. BELOHVOSCIKS Raivis LAM at 0:28;
53. DIERCKXSENS Ludo LAM at 0:28;
54. SIVAKOV Alexei BIG at 0:29;
55. SERRANO Marcos ONC at 0:29;
56. VOGONDY Nicolas FDJ at 0:29;
57. CHAVANEL Sylvain BJR at 0:30;
58. CUESTA Inigo COF at 0:30;
59. PASCUAL RODRIGUEZ Javier BAN at 0:30;
60. LELLI Massimiliano COF at 0:31;
61. VANDEVELDE Christian USP at 0:31;
62. GARZELLI Stefano MAP at 0:31;
63. MAIGNAN Gilles A2R at 0:32;
64. MANCEBO Francisco BAN at 0:32;
65. DEKKER Erik RAB at 0:32;
66. ETXEBARRIA Unai EUS at 0:32;
67. VINOKOUROV Alexandre TEL at 0:32;
68. HUNTER Robert LAM at 0:32;
69. CAPELLE Christophe BIG at 0:32;
70. PEREZ Luis FES at 0:33;
71. JALABERT Nicolas CST at 0:33;
72. IVANOV Serguei FAS at 0:33;
73. AGNOLUTTO Christophe A2R at 0:34;
74. ODRIOZOLA Jon BAN at 0:34;
75. JENNER Christopher C. A at 0:35;
76. WESEMANN Steffen TEL at 0:35;
77. BELLI Wladimir FAS at 0:36;
78. VAINSTEINS Romans DFF at 0:36;
79. ORIOL Christophe DEL at 0:36;
80. BOUYER Franck BJR at 0:36;
81. KIVILEV Andrei COF at 0:36;
82. MAGNIEN Emmanuel FDJ at 0:37;
83. GARCIA CASAS Félix FES at 0:37;
84. TRENTIN Guido COF at 0:37;
85. BOOGERD Michaël RAB at 0:37;
86. PETACCHI Alessandro FAS at 0:37;
87. AERTS Mario LOT at 0:38;
88. SEVILLA Oscar KEL at 0:38;
89. SCHNIDER Daniel FDJ at 0:39;
90. BLAUDZUN Michaël CST at 0:39;
91. MONCOUTIE David COF at 0:39;
92. PIIL Jakob CST at 0:39;
93. VAN HEESWIJK Max DFF at 0:39;
94. BOUVARD Gilles DEL at 0:39;
95. PRADERA Mikel ONC at 0:39;
96. ZUBELDIA Haimar EUS at 0:40;
97. VAN DE WOUWER Kurt LOT at 0:40;
98. VERHEYEN Geert RAB at 0:40;
99. TEUTENBERG Sven FES at 0:40;
100. WADECKI Piotr DFF at 0:40;
101. MIKHAILOV Guennadi LOT at 0:40;
102. DEN BAKKER Maarten RAB at 0:40;
103. ZANINI Stefano MAP at 0:40;
104. CHANTEUR Pascal FES at 0:40;
105. BETTINI Paolo MAP at 0:41;
106. BALDATO Fabio FAS at 0:41;
107. LINO Pascal FES at 0:42;
108. SALMON Benoit A2R at 0:42;
109. RODRIGUEZ Fred DFF at 0:42;
110. MILLAR David COF at 0:42;
111. SORENSEN Rolf CST at 0:42;
112. DE JONGH Steven RAB at 0:42;
113. CASSANI Enrico DFF at 0:43;
114. MONTGOMERY Sven FDJ at 0:43;
115. BENETEAU Walter BJR at 0:43;
116. LAISEKA Roberto EUS at 0:44;
117. VAN HYFTE Paul LOT at 0:44;
118. HEPPNER Jens TEL at 0:44;
119. GARCIA-ACOSTA Vicente BAN at 0:44;
120. CASAGRANDE Francesco FAS at 0:45;
121. HERAS Roberto USP at 0:45;
122. ZABEL Erik TEL at 0:46;
123. LOTZ Marc RAB at 0:46;
124. MENGIN Christophe FDJ at 0:46;
125. RENIER Franck BJR at 0:46;
126. BLANCO Santiago BAN at 0:46;
127. RUBIERA José Luis USP at 0:46;
128. BERNARD Jérome DEL at 0:46;
129. SORENSEN Nicki CST at 0:46;
130. GOUVENOU Thierry BIG at 0:47;
131. CARDENAS Félix KEL at 0:48;
132. VIDAL José Angel KEL at 0:48;
133. JIMENEZ Eladio BAN at 0:48;
134. MUSEEUW Johan DFF at 0:48;
135. FLORES Iker EUS at 0:48;
136. TALABARDON Sébastien BIG at 0:49;
137. PRETOT Arnaud FES at 0:49;
138. HINAULT Sébastien C. A at 0:49;
139. ROBIN Jean-Cyril BJR at 0:50;
140. ETXEBARRIA David EUS at 0:50;
141. LIVINGSTON Kevin TEL at 0:50;
142. RINERO Christophe COF at 0:50;
143. SERPELLINI Marco LAM at 0:51;
143. BOTCHAROV Alexandre A2R at 0:51;
145. LOPEZ DE MUNAIN Alberto EUS at 0:51;
146. GUESDON Frédéric FDJ at 0:51;
147. BAGUET Serge LOT at 0:51;
148. STEELS Tom MAP at 0:51;
149. MERCKX Axel DFF at 0:51;
150. CHAURREAU Inigo EUS at 0:52;
151. SIMON François BJR at 0:52;
152. MENCHOV Denis BAN at 0:52;
153. BOLTS Udo TEL at 0:53;
154. CASTRESANA Angel EUS at 0:53;
155. SVORADA Jan LAM at 0:53;
156. BASSO Ivan FAS at 0:53;
157. MILESI Marco DFF at 0:54;
158. DEL OLMO Txema EUS at 0:54;
159. ROUX Laurent DEL at 0:54;
160. VERSTREPEN Johan LAM at 0:56;
161. GOUBERT Stephane DEL at 0:57;
162. CASPER Jimmy FDJ at 0:57;
163. FORNACIARI Paolo MAP at 0:57;
164. DEMARBAIX Sébastien A2R at 0:57;
165. TURPIN Ludovic A2R at 0:57;
166. TRASTOUR Olivier DEL at 0:57;
167. LARSEN Nicolay Bo CST at 0:57;
168. GUERINI Giuseppe TEL at 0:58;
169. ATIENZA Daniel COF at 0:58;
170. DESBIENS Laurent KEL at 0:58;
171. AUGER Ludovic BIG at 0:58;
172. VERMAUT Steve LOT at 0:59;
173. FRUTTI Matteo LAM at 1: 01;
174. LAMOULLER Loïc BIG at 1: 01;
175. CAPELLE Ludovic A2R at 1: 02;
176. JAN Xavier BIG at 1: 02;
177. POZZI Oscar FAS at 1: 02;
178. LODA Nicola FAS at 1: 02;
179. GARCIA Marcelino CST at 1: 02;
180. BESSY Frédéric C. A at 1: 03;
181. CEREZO Francisco CST at 1: 03;
182. BRAMATI Davide MAP at 1: 06;
183. NAZON Damien BJR at 1: 09;
184. PIEPOLI Leonardo BAN at 1: 12;
185. LEYSEN Bart MAP at 1: 13;
186. PERRAUDEAU Olivier BJR at 1: 17;
187. AUGER Guillaume BIG at 1: 18;
188. BLIJLEVENS Jeroen LOT at 1: 31;
189. DE WAELE Fabien LOT at 1: 56;