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Tour de France

Live Coverage – Stage 4 Tour de France, 2008

05:35 AM: Tune in Tuesday morning at 8:00 a.m. EDTfor live coverage of stage 4 02:06 PM: Good day and welcometo VeloNews.com's Live Coverage of the fourth stage of the 95th edition of the Tour de France, a 29.5km individual time trial in Cholet.

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  • 05:35 AM: Tune in Tuesday morning at 8:00 a.m. EDT

    for live coverage of stage 4

  • 02:06 PM: Good day and welcome

    to VeloNews.com’s Live Coverage of the fourth stage of the 95th edition of the Tour de France, a 29.5km individual time trial in Cholet.

    This first race against the clock is shorter and less technical than a typical Tour de France time trial. The course starts and finishes in Cholet, a bustling town of 56,000, and follows a triangular route: 12km on a winding back road to the town of St. Andre-de-la-Marche, a 6km leg to the south with the only significant hill, and a straight, fast 11.5km blast back to town on a wide main road. The finish is on the Avenue Marceau, just across the Parc de Moine from the start house.

    The remaining 178 riders in the Tour have been leaving the start house since 11:00 this morning, so we have a good impression of what to expect today. The winds today are quite strong – around 25kph – and the sky is cloudy with a small chance of rain, but that has not yet happened.

    Just a few minutes ago, the Garmin-Chipotle team got some good news. The team’s Danny Pate has moved into the hot seat, with a time of 36:54. His time is better Stef Clement (Bouyges Telecom) by 24 seconds. Pate averaged a very solid 48.0kph and set the top mark at the 19.5km time check with 25:50. Interstingly, Pate only passed through the first time check at 11km with the 11th best time, meaning he really ramped it up in the last portion of the TT.

  • 02:12 PM: Tour stages in Cholet

    Only two Tour stages have finished at Cholet. The first, in 1936, was a half-stage, a 65km team time trial won by the Belgian team of eventual overall winner Sylvere Maes, 1:24 ahead of the Dutch squad. The only recent stage in Cholet, in 1998, ended in a mass sprint taken by Dutch rider Jeroen Blijlevens from Italian Nicola Minali.

    The day in Cholet a decade ago was one that was overshadowed by the increasing controversy of the Festina scandal. The day after that stage finish began with the expulsion of the Festina team’s director and ended with the entire squad being thrown out of the Tour. That scandal, of course, resulted in one of the weirdest Tours on record, with teams and riders being arrested, questioned and going on strike on the way to Paris. The race was eventually won by Marco Pantani, who finished the Tour ahead of Jan Ullrich and American Bobby Julich, who was riding on Cofidis at the time. A few months later, the Festina scandal resulted in the creation of the World Anti-Doping Agency and the rest, as they say, is history. Like the Grateful Dead once said, “what a long strange trip it’s been,” eh?

  • 02:14 PM: Who are the favorites?

    On such a short, straightforward course, TT specialists Fabian Cancellara (CSC-Saxo Bank), Stijn Devolder (Quick Step), Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre), Laszlo Bodrogi (Credit Agricole), Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner), Joost Posthuma (Rabobank), Luis Sanchez (Caisse d’Epargne) and the Americans George Hincapie (Columbia), and Christian Vande Velde and Britain’s David Millar (both Garmin-Chipotle) are likely to fight out the stage win, while overall Tour favorites Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto), Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne) and Denis Menchov (Rabobank) will all want to gain time over rivals Kim Kirchen (Columbia), Damiano Cunego (Lampre), Riccardo Ricco (Saunier Duval-Scott) and Carlos Sastre (CSC-Saxo Bank).

  • 02:15 PM: Drop us a line

    If you have comment, complaint or question, feel free to drop us a line by hitting the “Contact our editors” link at the bottom of the Live Update window. We’ll try to answer as many as we can and even post a few of them during today’s coverage.

  • 02:19 PM: The current top five

    1. Danny Pate (Garmin-Chipotle), 29.5km in 36:54 (48kph)
    2. Stef Clement (Bouyges Telecom), at 00:24
    3. Niki Terpstra (Milram), at 00:28
    4. Christophe Riblon (Ag2r), at 00:32
    5. Rubens Bertogliati (Saunier Duval), at 00:36

  • 02:26 PM: 77 riders remaining

    There are 77 riders still slated to ride today.

  • 02:41 PM: PAte still in the Hot Seat

    With 69 riders remaining – and 90 finished – Danny Pate (Garmin-Chipotle) is still the rider with the best time.

  • 02:44 PM: Backstedt

    who turned in a 37:39 – 44 seconds behind Pate – said the course was super fast today. He said he hit speeds of more than 50mph (yes miles) at times on the back half of the course.

    “There are patchy winds, gusts from varying direction,” Backstedt said. “It is super fast coming back over the last part. I topped out at just over 82kph on a false flat descent.”

  • 02:50 PM: No change on the leader board

    The top five are still:
    1. Danny Pate (Garmin-Chipotle), 29.5km in 36:54 (48kph)
    2. Stef Clement (Bouyges Telecom), at 00:24
    3. Niki Terpstra (Milram), at 00:28
    4. Christophe Riblon (Ag2r), at 00:32
    5. Rubens Bertogliati (Saunier Duval), at 00:36

  • 02:59 PM: Robbie McEwen

    Is leaving the start house.

    Looking ahead, Denis Menchov is scheduled to start at 3:14 p.m. Riccardo Ricco (Saunier Duval) is up at 3:20. Both men were caught out when the field split yesterday and lost about 38 seconds.

    Speaking of riders who’ve been caught out by mishaps, Maurcio Soler made the start today – despite his buggered wrists – and finished with a time of 40:24, 3:29 behind Pate.

  • 03:07 PM: Voigt

    Jens Voigt is on the road. He is a strong time trialist and we’ll keep an eye on his ride.

  • 03:18 PM: Start times for the top 10 on GC

    169. Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas), 4:38
    170. Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto), 4:40
    171. David Millar (Garmin), 4:42
    172. Jerome Pineau (Bouygues Telecom), 4:44
    173. Oscar Freire (Rabobank), 4:46
    174. Kim Kirchen (Columbia), 4:48
    175. Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne), 4:50
    176. Will Frischkorn (Garmin), 4:52
    177. Paolo Longo Borghini (Barloworld), 4:54
    178. Romain Feillu (Agritubel), 4:56:00

    The big favorite for the stage win today – Fabian Cancellara (CSC) – is scheduled to start at 3:50.

  • 03:20 PM: Sylvain Chavanel

    has just finished with a time of 36:53. He beats Danny Pate’s time by one second.

  • 03:23 PM: The new top five

    1. Sylvain Chavanel (Cofids), 29.5km in 36:53
    2. Danny Pate (Garmin-Chipotle), 36:54
    3. Stef Clement (Bouyges Telecom), at 00:24
    4. Niki Terpstra (Milram), at 00:28
    5. Christophe Riblon (Ag2r), at 00:32

  • 03:26 PM: Gearing questions

    A lot of you have written in to ask about gear selection for a TT like today’s. We’ve been spotting quite a number of 56-tooth chainrings out there, with straightblock cogsets starting at 11 teeth.

  • 03:29 PM: Stuey

    O’Grady finishes with a time of 39:42. That’s 2:49 behind Chavanel’s time.

    His teammate Jens Voigt is out on course. He’s doing quite well, having established the fastest time at time check No. 1 at 11km. He’s pushing hard and about to catch his two-minute man, Julien Dean (Garmin)

  • 03:32 PM: Dark clouds

    the clouds are looking heavy and we’ve seen a few rain drops here and there. Nothing heavy yet.

    Meanwhile, Denis Menchov has hit the 1st time check with the second-best time, behind Voigt’s time. Voigt has now set the best time at time check No. 2. The tough guy from CSC is flying and now he has a tailwind.

  • 03:37 PM: The missing man

    Reader Luis G. writes in to ask

    Hello VeloNews
    I am surprised not to see Dave Zabriski in the Tour. He is a very good TT specialist. Do you have any news as why he is not competing in the Tour?
    Thanks
    Luis

    Yeah, sad to say, he’s still getting back into form after that bad crash in the Giro d’Italia. We’ll be seeing more of him, but he needed some time to recover from a crash that resulted in a broken vertebra. He’s back on the bike, but he was a hurtin’ unit.

  • 03:39 PM: Menchov

    hits time check No. 2 with a 25:11, six seconds off of the best time, established by Jens Voigt.

  • 03:43 PM: Jens!

    Voigt finishes with a time of 36:19, crushing the 36:53 of Chavanel. New top time. Nice ride from one of our favorite riders.

    New top-five
    1. Jens Voigt (CSC), 36:19
    2. Sylvain Chavanel (Cofids), 36:53
    3. Danny Pate (Garmin-Chipotle), 36:54
    4. Stef Clement (Bouyges Telecom), at 00:24
    5. Niki Terpstra (Milram), at 00:28

    His teammate Fabian Cancellara is set to start in seven minutes. He’s got a target now.

  • 03:48 PM: Gearing

    We just came off the route. There’s nothing too technical or difficult beyond a few traffic circles and a fast run into the finish. There are some big rollers, again nothing that will cause anyone to click out of the big ring. It’s a big-ring course start to finish.

  • 03:51 PM: Security measures

    Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) is taking a page from Lance Armstrong’s playbook in this year’s Tour, employing Belgian police inspector Serge Borlee to shepherd him through the media-fan scrum. The shaven-headed Borlee was a familiar sight to fans — and a menace to journalists — during the American’s last five Tours, serving as a sort of human dam to keep the waves of humanity from swamping his famous charge.

    This year he’s doing the same for Evans, whom Armstrong has picked as a favorite for victory. “Accidents can happen, so I try to make sure Cadel has as much of a hassle-free time as possible from the time he arrives at the race to when he finishes,” Borlee told AFP. “Before the race finish I go to the finish line, wait for him in my car and afterwards I drive him straight to the hotel. He doesn’t even wait for the other riders.”

    For some, Borlee’s presence runs contrary to the spirit of a sport that promotes close contact between the fans and riders. Indeed, Alejandro Valverde’s Caisse d’Epargne outfit doesn’t see a need for a shaven-headed skull-cracker. Says team manager Eusebio Unzue: “We don’t need a bodyguard – we’ve got our press spokeswoman, who isn’t scared of pushing people out of the way if she has to!”

  • 03:52 PM: Menchov finishes

    with a new best time, nipping Voigt by a second-and-a-half. Coincidentally, the man favored to win today’s stage – Fabian Cancellara – rolled out of the start house just as the Russian crossed the line.

  • 03:54 PM: The Garmin crew

    The folks at Garmin-Chipotle were in a good mood today. The riders were all wearing a yellow dossard because the team stands atop the team GC. Pate nailed an early fast time and there’s hope that David Millar can deliver big.

    “David will either win or not finish in the top 10,” said Jonathan Vaughters. “He’’ inconsistent in the time trials, killing it or getting killed.”

  • 03:55 PM: The threat of rain

    is going away.

    Weather is on the upswing. After opening days of cool, wind and rain, forecasters are calling for winds dropping to 10-15kmph, sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 70s. Break out the T-shirts, boys!

  • 03:57 PM: While there is no rain

    The wind is a huge factor. There’s a brisk 25kph breeze blowing from the southwest, meaning it’s most head-cross on the way out. When the course turns back toward Cholet with 16km to go, it turns into a tailwind. Speeds for the best were still 50kph on the way out and topping 70kph on the rip back to the finish.

  • 04:00 PM: If it weren’t for bad luck…

    Talk about mala suerte. We followed behind Spain’s reigning national champ, Luis Leon Sanchez. He was fastest at the day’s first split at 11km, besting Danny Pate by less than one second. His ride soon started to unravel. Soon after, his saddle broke off. Then, after coming the second time check just 1sec off Pate’s time, he punctured with 9km to go.

  • 04:01 PM: Ricco

    Finishes with the 73rd best time of the day. Mmmmmm… doubt we’ll get much glib commentary from “The Cobra” today, eh?

  • 04:06 PM: Cancellara

    appears to be on track to setting a good time. He hits the first time check with a 14:11, two seconds off of teammates time, but better than Menchov’s. Let’s see how he does for the rest of the course.

    He is wearing his race number – No. 13 – upside down, in keeping with a tradition established long ago.

  • 04:08 PM: Gutierrez

    Jose Ivan Gutierrez gets a 36:345. The third-best so far.

    New top-five
    1. Denis Menchov (Rabobank), 36:18
    2. Jens Voigt (CSC), 36:19
    3. Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d’Epargne), 36:34
    4. Sylvain Chavanel (Cofids), 36:53
    5. Danny Pate (Garmin-Chipotle), 36:54

  • 04:10 PM: The man in the hot seat

    Denis Menchov (Rabobank) expressed resignation after losing time in Monday’s stage: “I always lose time in the first week of the Tour. Either in the prologue or in a crash or like yesterday when I was in bad position. I knew I should have been up front, but I couldn’t be there. Now I will have to wait for the mountains to try to attack to regain time. When your legs are good, it’s possible. My legs feel good.”

  • 04:16 PM: Cunego

    the little prince reaches the second time check with the 10th fastest time. – 25:53

    New top-five
    1. Denis Menchov (Rabobank), 36:18
    2. Jens Voigt (CSC), 36:19
    3. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), 36:32
    4. Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d’Epargne), 36:34
    5. Sylvain Chavanel (Cofids), 36:53

  • 04:18 PM: Cancellara

    hits the second time check with the third-best time, trailing Voigt’s time by seven seconds and Menchov by 1 second. Let’s see how he does over these last 10km.

  • 04:21 PM: Hincapie in da house

    George Hincapie is now on the road. He’s 19th overall on GC.

  • 04:22 PM: Sastre

    the little Spanish climber is time trialing quite respectably today. He hits the time check at 19.5km with the 13th best time so far. Not bad.

  • 04:24 PM: I sing the shifter electric

    Gerolsteiner rider Sebastian Lang, who’s currently on course, is the first rider to use a new Electronic time trial shifter prototype from Shimano. The team received the shifters on Saturday, and Lang tested them this morning. The new shifters provide four shift points, on the aero bar ends and integrated into the shifters on the bullhorn mounted brake levers. The shifters offer two distinct advantages the ability to route around almost any obstacle on the bike internally and externally with no degradation in shifting performance and the fact that Lang can shift from the bullhorns when sprinting out of a corner of climbing.

  • 04:26 PM: The Dean of time trials?

    Tour favorite Cadel Evans will start the race on a new time trial bike from Ridley called “The Dean.”

    The new bike incorporates a airfoil technology licensed from Oval Concepts. Oval calls the design “JetStream” and Ridley’s version is called “Rflow.” The airfoils in the seatstays of the frame and the blades of the fork are said to accelerate air over the outside of the first foil which creates a suction that pulls air away from the high drag wheel that’s rotating in the opposite direction. In the press conference for the bikes launch, Evans himself said that the technology allowed him to maintain a 45km speed with 15 fewer watts than his previous bike. The technology is also built into the new Noah his teammate Robbie McEwen has been riding during the road stages.

  • 04:27 PM: Fabian

    Nips Menchov’s time by a second. He turns in a 36:17. He’s now in the top spot. Will he hold it?

  • 04:32 PM: Top five

    New top-five
    1. Fabian Cancellara (CSC-Saxo), 36:17
    2. Denis Menchov (Rabobank), 36:18
    3. Jens Voigt (CSC), 36:19
    4. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), 36:32
    4. Thomas Lovkvist (Columbia), 36:32

  • 04:33 PM: Vande Velde

    hits the second time check with a time of 25:12, slightly better than Cancellara’s and good enough for the third best so far.

  • 04:37 PM: Now there’s a question:

    Liam writes in to ask a really good question:

    How does a $10,000 bike have a saddle come off?

    Uhhhh…. maybe a minimum wage mechanic?

  • 04:40 PM: Looking ahed

    Columbia’s Bob Stapleton is optimistic for tomorrow’s stage, the longest of the Tour.

    “Except for Lovkvist, Kirchen and Hincapie, today is a rest day for everyone else. We’re confident for tomorrow. I think Mark (Cavendish) will win. He’s super strong right now. No one wanted to help us pull yesterday. I think the other sprinter teams are afraid of him.”

  • 04:41 PM: Big George

    Hincapie is riding a new bike that was co-developed by his team in partnership with sponsor Giant. The team commissioned Simon Smart, a former Formula 1 aerodynamicist with 12 years of experience, to consult on the bike. Smart, who worked with the Red Bull F1 up until the end of last season, spent seven months working up the fastest shape he could using fluid dynamics software and the wind tunnel. The result is the bike Hincapie is currently suffering on. It’s a bike that the team believes is the fastest time-trial bike in the peloton.

  • 04:42 PM: Millar is on the road

    He’s tearing out of the start house. His two-minute man is none other than Cadel Evans.

  • 04:44 PM: Remaining starters


    172. Jerome Pineau (Bouygues Telecom), 4:44
    173. Oscar Freire (Rabobank), 4:46
    174. Kim Kirchen (Columbia), 4:48
    175. Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne), 4:50
    176. Will Frischkorn (Garmin), 4:52
    177. Paolo Longo Borghini (Barloworld), 4:54
    178. Romain Feillu (Agritubel), 4:56:00

  • 04:45 PM: Vande Velde

    finishes with a 36:21, fourth best of the day, so far.

    Interestingly, Stephan Schumacher is setting new high marks at the intermediate check points.

    Meanwhile, the wind is easing off. We may see a big ride by Millar, if the wind is less of a factor now.

  • 04:47 PM: Schumacher

    now here’s a surprise folks. Schumacher comes in with a time much better than Fabian Cancellara’s 36:17. He nails it with a stunning 35:44. Wowie.

  • 04:51 PM: Valverde is out there

    on the road. We’ll keep track of his time, too.

    Let’s see how Millar does when he hits the first time check.

  • 04:52 PM: Will Frischkorn

    is on the road now. He’s having a nice grand tour debut.

  • 04:55 PM: Race numbers

    Frischkorn is wearing the red race number of the most combative, while his teammates are sporting yellow dossards, as the top team in the Tour.

  • 04:57 PM: All riders on the road

    The yellow jersey is riding.

  • 04:57 PM: Hincapie

    finishes with the sixth fastest so far. Not a bad ride.

  • 04:59 PM: Millar

    comes through the time check with the second fastest time, trailing Schumacher’s by 13 seconds. Go figure.

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  • 05:04 PM: Vaughters

    is in the car behind David Millar and giving him updates throughout. Millar knows what he has to do to win this one. Right now he’s powering through big, big, crowds.

  • 05:05 PM: Evans

    hits the second time check with a time of 25:06, third best so far, but not all that close to Schumacher’s 24:42.

  • 05:07 PM: Millar

    comes through time check No. 2 with a 24:57, he’s lost another two seconds to Schumacher’s time.

  • 05:09 PM: Hushovd

    Thor Hushovd finishes with a 39:20… way back in the 80s.

  • 05:11 PM: Ricco

    is still not too worried about his performance these past two days:

    “My objective here is to win a stage, not the GC,” he said. “My next focus is Thursday’s stage in the Pyrenees.”

    As one scribe suggested, maybe he should sign for Garmin. Super-Besse is securely planted in the Massif Central.

  • 05:12 PM: Feillu

    the yellow jersey isn’t giving our race leader the hoped-for boost today. He just hit the first time check in 124th place.

  • 05:14 PM: Kim Kirchen

    in the green points jersey hits the second time check with the second-best time of the day, beating Millar’s time by a couple of seconds.

  • 05:15 PM: Millar is really punching it

    on the last – and fastest – part of the course. Can he make up those 15 seconds?

  • 05:15 PM: Evans in the final kilometer

    Let’s see how he does.

  • 05:17 PM: Evans

    Finishes with the second-best time. 27 seconds down. Nice ride!
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  • 05:18 PM: Millar

    comes in with a 36:02! Second-best of the day, but dang, Schumacher is still leading. Who’da thunk it?

  • 05:21 PM: It looks like Schumacher

    will score the stage win. The next question is who will move into yellow today. Kim Kirchen is turning in a strong time, but Schumacher’s time may be good enough to put him into the jersey, too.

  • 05:22 PM: Feillu

    is out there suffering. He’s probably not going to keep the jersey today.

    Let’s see how Frischkorn fares. He’s close on GC and not a slouch of a time trialist himself.

  • 05:24 PM: Feillu

    is out there suffering. He’s probably not going to keep the jersey today.

    Let’s see how Frischkorn fares. He’s close on GC but his time at the first time check was well back, with 15:36… 118th.

  • 05:34 PM: Sorry for the delay

    We’ve had a slight technical burp.

    It looks like the jersey will move to Schumacher. Valverde finishes 18 seconds back, a little better than Millar. Valverde, meanwhile, finishes well down, in 23rd at 37:18.

    UPDATE – We had network issues today. We apologize for the drip in service. It appears the hamster running our server scampered out of the wheel and our posting tool froze up.

    As you, by now, know, Schumacher has taken the stage and the jersey with a stellar performance today. We apologize for the crash and will hire a back-up hampster so that this doesn’t happen again.

    Be sure to check back with us tomorrow and we promise to stay with you through the entire stage tomorrow.