Stage 10: live updates throughout.

Well, folks. We’re looking at a radically altered GC at this point. 1 SIMON François FRA BJR en 45:34:09 2 KIVILEV Andrei KAZ COF at 11:54 3 O'GRADY Stuart AUS C.A at 18:10 4 ARMSTRONG Lance USA USP at 20:07 5 BELOKI Joseba ESP ONC at 21:42 6 MOREAU Christophe FRA FES at 22:21 7 ULLRICH Jan GER TEL at 22:41 8 GONZALEZ GALDEANO Igor ESP ONC at 23:34 9 SEVILLA Oscar ESP KEL at 24:07 10 BOTERO Santiago COL KEL at 25:52 11 BOOGERD Michaël NED RAB at 25:58 12 SERRANO Marcos ESP ONC at 26:15 13 MANCEBO Francisco ESP BAN at 27:15 14 JALABERT Laurent FRA CST at 28:06 15 ROUS Didier FRA BJR at 28:40

By VeloNews Editorial Staff

Well, folks. We’re looking at a radically altered GC at this point.

1 SIMON François FRA BJR en 45:34:09 2 KIVILEV Andrei KAZ COF at 11:54 3 O’GRADY Stuart AUS C.A at 18:10 4 ARMSTRONG Lance USA USP at 20:07 5 BELOKI Joseba ESP ONC at 21:42 6 MOREAU Christophe FRA FES at 22:21 7 ULLRICH Jan GER TEL at 22:41 8 GONZALEZ GALDEANO Igor ESP ONC at 23:34 9 SEVILLA Oscar ESP KEL at 24:07 10 BOTERO Santiago COL KEL at 25:52 11 BOOGERD Michaël NED RAB at 25:58 12 SERRANO Marcos ESP ONC at 26:15 13 MANCEBO Francisco ESP BAN at 27:15 14 JALABERT Laurent FRA CST at 28:06 15 ROUS Didier FRA BJR at 28:40 16 GUTIERREZ José Enrique ESP KEL at 29:30 17 MERCKX Axel BEL DFF at 29:48 18 BELLI Wladimir ITA FAS at 29:52 19 HERAS Roberto ESP USP at 29:53 20 MONTGOMERY Sven SUI FDJ at 29:57 21 SASTRE Carlos ESP ONC at 30:02 22 GARZELLI Stefano ITA MAP at 30:12 23 KLODEN Andréas GER TEL at 31:26 24 VINOKOUROV Alexandre KAZ TEL at 32:18 25 CHAURREAU Inigo ESP EUS at 33:19 26 BLANCO Santiago ESP BAN at 33:48 27 BROZYNA Thomasz POL BAN at 34:56 28 VAN DE WOUWER Kurt BEL LOT at 35:11 29 JULICH Bobby USA C.A at 42:07 30 BENETEAU Walter FRA BJR at 42:20

Here are the early results from Stage 10.

1. ARMSTRONG Lance USA USP en 6h 23:47; 2. ULLRICH Jan GER TEL at 01:59; 3. BELOKI Joseba ESP ONC at 02:09; 4. MOREAU Christophe FRA FES at 02:30; 5. SEVILLA Oscar ESP KEL at 02:54; 6. MANCEBO Francisco ESP BAN at 04:01; 7. ROUX Laurent FRA DEL at 04:03; 8. GONZALEZ GALDEANO Igor ESP ONC at 04:03; 9. LAISEKA Roberto ESP EUS at 04:03; 10. PIEPOLI Leonardo ITA BAN at 04:07; 11. BOOGERD Michaël NED RAB at 04:37; 12. KIVILEV Andrei KAZ COF at 04:39; 13. BOTERO Santiago COL KEL at 05:07; 14. MONTGOMERY Sven SUI FDJ at 05:09; 15. ROUS Didier FRA BJR at 06:18; 17. SERRANO Marcos ESP ONC at 06:18; 18. BELLI Wladimir ITA FAS at 06:18; 19. MIKHAILOV Guennadi RUS LOT at 07:05; 20. GARZELLI Stefano ITA MAP at 07:54; 21. BOTCHAROV Alexandre RUS A2R at 08:35; 22. GUTIERREZ José Enrique ESP KEL at 08:39; 23. CHAURREAU Inigo ESP EUS at 08:45; 24. HERAS Roberto ESP USP at 08:45; 25. ATIENZA Daniel ESP COF at 08:58; 26. VAN DE WOUWER Kurt BEL LOT at 10:20; 27. VAUGHTERS Jonathan USA C.A at 10:20; 28. KLODEN Andréas GER TEL at 10:20; 29. SIMON François FRA BJR at 10:20; 30. TRENTIN Guido ITA COF at 10:20; 31. BLANCO Santiago ESP BAN at 10:20; 32. SASTRE Carlos ESP ONC at 10:20; 33. NIERMANN Grischa GER RAB at 11:01; 34. JALABERT Laurent FRA CST at 11:01; 35. VINOKOUROV Alexandre KAZ TEL at 11:01; 36. BROZYNA Thomasz POL BAN at 11:52; 37. RUBIERA José Luis ESP USP at 13:25; 38. DEN BAKKER Maarten NED RAB at 14:17; 39. ETXEBARRIA David ESP EUS at 14:19; 40. CHAVANEL Sylvain FRA BJR at 14:37; 41. MENCHOV Denis RUS BAN at 16:28; 42. PINOTTI Marco ITA LAM at 17:27; 43. LIVINGSTON Kevin USA TEL at 17:29;

5:10 p.m. (local time) Giro winner Stephano Garzelli has finished at 7:54.

Francois Simon — a big beneficiary of that bizarre break in stage 8 — has finished about 10:00 back. Still he had enough of a buffer to be able to take the yellow jersey for the overall lead of the Tour de France.

The man who started in yellow — Stuart O’Grady — 5:07 p.m. (local time) Ullrich has finished 1:59 behind Armstrong.

Beloki at 2:09

Moreau at 2:30

Kelme’s Sevilla at 2:54

5:04 p.m. (local time) Armstrong has won the king of the mountain stages of the Tour de France.

Ullrich is still on the course.

5:01 p.m. (local time) One km to go.

Armstrong has this stage wrapped up — well, he had it wrapped early on this climb. He is riding hard to get back as much time as he can.

4:59 p.m. (local time) Armstrong is now nearing the finish — passing the now-well-barriered spot where the bonehead with the camera knocked over the stage leader in 1999.

4:57 p.m. (local time) Ullrich has passed Roux and is off on his own now — two minutes behind Armstrong.

Armstrong is still flying — he is 2km from the top.

4:55 p.m. (local time) four kilometers to go…

Armstrong is well ahead of the Ullrich, Beloki-Moreau group. The feared Kivilev is about 4:00 down.

4:51 p.m. (local time) Armstrong is nearly one-minute ahead as he reaches the 16th of the 21 switchbacks of the Alpe d’Huez.

Roux is about to be caught by Jan Ullrich.

4:49 p.m. (local time) Roux is now 25 seconds behind Armstrong.

The Postal leader has 2:00 on Ullrich and just 5km to go.

4:46 p.m. (local time) Roux has been caught. Lance Armstrong is now leading the climb to the top of Alpe d’Huez. He is two minutes ahead of Ullrich.

4:42 p.m. (local time) If you ignore the fast fading ROux, the top climbers look like last year’s Tour podium in Paris: Armstrong, Ullrich and Beloki.

Roux is fading fast. The gap is just 55 seconds.

Armstrong is riding a fast and steady tempo on this climb.

4:40 p.m. (local time) Ullrich is 1:30 behind Armstrong.

4:39 p.m. (local time) Armstrong is closing in on Roux. He is at 2:01.

He is flying up the hill and Ullrich is suffering.

4:37 p.m. (local time) Armstrong is within 2:30 of Roux.

He is more than one minute up on Ullrich.

He is cr4:34p.m. (local time) Armstrong has blown this race apart.

He is within 3:34 of Roux.

Does this remind you of a certain stage from last year’s Tour?

4:31p.m. (local time) Hey there is an Oscar-winning actor in the Postal car — Robin Williams — but the “suffering” Armstrong has been acting beautifully today.

Armstrong is closing in on Roux. The gap is down to 4:15.

4:30p.m. (local time) Ullrich is way back and Armstrong is charging up the Alpe d’Huez.

Roux has less than 5:30.

4:28p.m. (local time)And guess who is on the front now.

Rubiera and Armstrong are leading the way on the hill. This boy may be up for an Oscar.

Armstrong is off on his own. Ullrich is slipping back.

4:26 p.m. (local time) The chase group is on the climb. Armstrong is moving up. The Rabobank riders are attacking, hoping to set up Boogard.

4:21 p.m. (local time) Roux is on the climb. He looks like he’s tiring.

He has just passed the first of the 21 switchbacks. He looks exhausted. Will his 6:20 buffer be enough. We’re betting that he will be caught.

4:17 p.m. (local time) Roux is passing through Le Bourg d’Oisans, the last village before the Alpe d’Huez.

He has a lead of 6:38.

4:12 p.m. (local time) Roux is 6.5km from the base of the climb.

He just passed the covered bus shelter where a young John Wilcockson spent the night while making his first visit to the Tour de France, 35 years ago. He did it on a bike. Now the VeloNews editorial director is riding in the VeloNews car and staying in four-star hotels.

4:10 p.m. (local time) Roux’s advantage is up to 7:00. The Tour’s biggies may be satisfied to conced this stage, concentrating on the war instead of just one day’s battle.

4:07 p.m. (local time) Roux has 6:15. Jiminez is loading up with bottles — he’s conceding that he will be caught.

Armstrong is still hanging at the back.

4:03 p.m. (local time) Roux is approaching the climb at Alpe d’Huez. He is cruising through the valley on the way. Is he going to hold enough of a lead to win this stage?

3:58 p.m. (local time) Francois Simon is back to the group. They are now 6:50 behind Roux.

3:53 p.m. (local time) Telekom has reassembled its forces at the front of the chase group. Vinokourov, Livingston and Kloden are at the front, with Jan Ullrich right behind them. Armstrong and Rubiera and Heras are still with the group, though they have done little to drive the group. Is Armstrong having a bad day — or as one reader suggested — just “playin’ possum? If he is, he should be fresh for the 13km climb up Alpe d’Huez.

We’ll see.

Jiminez looks to be waiting for the chase and Roux is still 6:00 up the road.

3:49 p.m. (local time) Roux is still speeding down the descent of the Glandon. He has a 5:00 lead on the main group and about 2:00 on Jiminez.

Livingston has rejoined the main chase group.

Beloki is on his new climbing bike and back in the group.

3:43 p.m. (local time) Livingston is on his way back to the group. Ahead, Kloden and Ullrich are at the head of the group that has slowed a bit as riders are trying to replenish their reserves and replace their water bottles. Joseba Beloki ONCE is switching over to his climbing bike.

Simon – still the leader on the road – is also nearing the group.

At the front of the race, Roux is about 5:00 ahead.

3:39 p.m. (local time) Livingston has crossed over the Glandon about 30 seconds off of the group.

3:37p.m. (local time) The main chase group — the Ullrich-Armstrong group — are over the top of the climb, with Jalabert leading the charge for KOM points. Telekom’s Kevin Livingston has slipped off the back.

Andreas Klöden is Ullrich’s only teammate in the lead group.

3:33p.m. (local time) Roux is over the top of the Glandon.

Jimiez is on his way down toward the valley that takes him to the Alpe d’Huez.

The main chase group is down to 26 riders. They are 5:45 back.

The Telekoms are still controlling the pace of that group. Armstrong has two teammates with him — Heras and Rubiera. The three are still trailing at the back of the group.

3:27p.m. (local time) Roux very near the top. Jiminez is about one minute back.

5:45 behind Roux, Francois Simon — the virtual race leader — has been dropped by the main chase.

The Glandon’s 26km-long descent (punctuated by a one-kilometer uphill at over 10 percent) leads to the Oisans valley, where 10km of flat roads lead into the final hurdle. Looking to their left, the riders can see most of the 21 switchbacks scaling the deep valley side to the rambling ski resort 3641 feet above their heads. L’Alpe d’Huez is not the steepest or longest climb in the Alps, but the first kilometer is like a wall, rearing up at 11 percent, the steepest pitch of the 13km ascent. The average is almost 8 percent.

3:18p.m. (local time) Roux is closing in on the top of the climb.

He has a one-minute advantage over Jiminez and 6:00 over the Ullrich-Armstrong group.

Armstrong is still hanging on the back of that group. The Telekom men are still at the front, driving the pace.

3:14p.m. (local time) Roux is six minutes ahead of the main chase group, with Jiminez about 1 minute behind him.

3:12p.m. (local time) The weather is turning cold at the top of Alpe d’Huez.

But we have a long way before we hit those hills.

Roux is still leading Jiminez. The chase group is 7:00 back.

Bocharov is in between, but he is about to be caught.

3:03p.m. (local time) Roux is accelerating on the climb and appears to be dropping Jiminez.

Festina’s Angel Casero has abandoned.

2:59p.m. (local time) Bocharov has joined and then passed Tauler. He is about one minute ahead of the main chase group.

Six minutes up the road, Roux and Jiminez are continuing to climb, about 8km from the summit.

2:57p.m. (local time) Julich is about 35 meters off the back of the main chase group.

Armstrong is still hanging toward the rear. Up front Ullrich and three of his teammates are driving the pace.

Bocharov is about 50 seconds ahead.

Jimenez and Roux still have advantage of 7:00.

2:53p.m. (local time) Alexandre Bocharov (Ag2R-Prevoyance) has accelerated and has a small gap on the rest of the main chase.

Alexandre Vinokourov (Telekom) is driving the main group. Bobby Julich is drifting off of the back of the group. Armstrong is still there, but at the back.

2:51 p.m. (local time) Telekom is still driving the pace. Ullrich, Klöden and Livingston are up front.

A few small attacks off the front of the main chase group.

Armstrong is hovering near the back. The strain is beginning to show on his face.

2:45 p.m. (local time) The two leaders are now less than seven minutes ahead of the two leaders.

Here are the results of the KOM points for the Col de la Madelaine:1. Roux; 2. Jimenez; 3. Tauler @ at 3:10; 4. Jalabert at 8:20; 5. Garzelli; 6. Boogerd; 7. Sevilla; 8. Belli; 9. Van de Wouwer; 10. Atienza; 11. Ullrich; 12. Kloeden; 13. Vaughters; 14. Botero; 15. Livingston;

2:39 p.m. (local time) Armstrong appeared to be having a few problems with his radio.

The Armstrong – Ullrich group is now 3km into the Col du Glandon.

Ullrich and the Telekoms are driving the chase.

2:38 p.m. (local time) Lance Armstrong has gone back to his team car for a quick conference. He’s moving back up.

2:34 p.m. (local time) The leaders are on that steep (7-percent) 19km ckimb up the Glandon.

The chase group — which now includes Vaughters and Julich again — is in the short flat between the two climbs.

2:30 p.m. (local time) The leaders are still on the descent. Their lead is still estimated to be 3:15 ahead of Tauler.

The first chase group is at 8:15 behind the two leaders.

2:25 p.m. (local time) On this steep hairpinned descent, the twoleaders still have an advantage of about 8:25.

2:23 p.m. (local time) Livingston, grabbed several bottles and a hat — which he put on.

Ahead, the wind up the Glandon will help the climbers. It is cloudy and quite cold at the top of the climb, which begins almost right after this long descent.

2:21 p.m. (local time) Livingston went to the back of the group waving furiously for his team car.

It looks like he just needs water.

2:18 p.m. (local time) Armstrong is moving his way up through the lead chase group. For most of the way up the climb, he stayed near the back of the group. Ullrich looked a study in concentration but Armstrong looked tired and strained.

2:13 p.m. (local time) The Armstrong-Ullrich group has crested the hill 8:15 behind the two leaders. Tauler was at 3:15.

CSC’s Laurent Jalabert just outsprinted Mapei’s Stefano Garzelli for the fourth-place KOM points.

2:11 p.m. (local time)

Roux won the KOM atop the Madeleine, putting him even on points for the climber’s polka-dot jersey with Jean Delatour’s Patrice Halgand – but he is in the Armstrong group, so he should get a few more points soon.

Armstrong’s group is within one km of the summit.

2:07 p.m. (local time)

Armstrong and Rubiera are sitting near the back of their group, with Festina’s Christophe Moreau behind them. There are 45 riders in that group, which is still being driven by Telekom.

By the way, Armstrong and Heras (and Moreau) are riding the new Mavic Ksyrium SSC SL wheels with 40 grams machined off of each one between each pair of spokes.

Tom Steels (Mapei) has now quit the Tour de France.

2:03 p.m. (local time)

Jimenez just put on a long-sleeved jersey loaded with water bottles in the pockets, and Roux zipped up his jersey as they approach the treeless summit. The crowds are thick as these two are now less than 500 meters from the top.

2:00 p.m. (local time) Jimenez and Roux are nearing the top of the Col de la Madelaine.

Nine minutes behind them, Klöden is still leading Livingston and Ullrich are right there with him. Also in that group are ONCE’s Joseba Beloki and Kelme’s Oscar Sevilla as well as Laurent Jalabert

1:58 p.m. (local time) José Luis Rubiera (U.S. Postal) has slipped back to confer with the team car. Heras is in the group riding with Armstrong.

1:53 p.m. (local time) Up front, Jimenez and Roux have gone off on their own. They have one minute on Tauler.

Bolts is way off of the Armstrong/Ullrich group and being passed by team cars. Vaughters and Julich are about 75 meters off of the group and ahead of Bolts.

1:49 p.m. (local time) Credit Agricole’s Jonathan Vaughters and Boby Julich have slipped off of the back of the Armstrong Ullrich group.

1:46 p.m. (local time) Kevin Livingston is now leading the Armstrong/Ullrich group with his Telekom teammates Klöden, Vinokourov, Ullrich and Bölts behind him

1:42 p.m. (local time) George Hincapie and now Jens Heppner (Telekom) are dropped from the Armstrong/Ullrich group.

That group is beginning to shed riders quickly. Also now dropped are Brochard, Aerts, Boogerd, Verbrugghe (though our reporter just told us Verbuggen – Hein may be a tenacious bureaucrat, but we doubt he’s up there riding, today) and Mapei’s Michele Bartoli.

Roberto Heras is riding comfortably with Armstrong

1:38 p.m. (local time) The leaders are still more than 11 minutes ahead – they are 8km from the summit. The lead group of chasers is now being led by Telekom’s Andreas Klöden. He’s hammering at the front again, his shirt half unzipped and a Breathe Right on his nose.

All of the leaders are Leaders (break) are in their largest rear cogs, which for U.S. Postal is a 39-23 on all of the bikes.

1:30 p.m. (local time) The leaders are still 13:00 minutes ahead of the Armstrong Ullrich group. Giuseppe Guerini (Telekom) fell back to Victor Hugo Peña (USPS) and Geert Verheyen (Rabobank), but Peña just pulled them back up to the back of the bunch.

Guerini, you might recall, is the man who won here in 1999 — even surviving getting knocked down by that bonehead with the camera.

1:26 p.m. (local time) The three leaders are 11:35 ahead of the Armstrong Ullrich group — which is being powered by the Telekom squad and Kloen in particular. Francoise Simon — the beneficiary of that stage 8 brak — is in the that group, too. Peña (Postal) and Halgand are in there, but appear to be having trouble.

The O’Grady Zabel group in another 1:50 back.

1:19 p.m. (local time) The leaders are still 14km from the summit and have an advantage of 12:00.

Hamilton has slipped back to the second group.

1:16 p.m. (local time) The leaders are now 12:04 ahead of their nearest chasers.

O’Grady is getting a bit of a hand — literally, right on the back — from one of his teammates. He has slipped to the third main group.

He told us last night that he figured he’d lose the jersey today.

1:11 p.m. (local time) The peloton has broken up into several groups. The front group is now being led by Postal and Telekom. After eight-and-one-half minutes of climbing, O’Grady – the yellow jersey – has fallen back to the second peloton.

Among those riders dropped by the field is yesterday’s stage winner Sergei Ivanov… his 15 minutes are now up.

Up front, the leaders look like they are enjoying what on any other day would be a tranquil training ride in the mountains.

1:09 p.m. (local time) Hamilton is now at the front of the peloton, leading the drive up the hill. Jan Ullrich is moving up to make an appearance at the front. He has Udo Bolts with him.

1:06 p.m. (local time) With 25km to the top of the Medeleine, the lead is now 13:30. As the peloton begins the climb, a lot of riders have been dropped, including Steels and Kirsipuu.

1:01 p.m. (local time) At the feedzone at the base of the climb, the peloton is at 13:05. Ekimov is again doing almost all of the work. The Posties pulled off the front when the lead dropped below 12 minutes, but then it shot back up when no one else really took up the charge.

12:57 p.m. (local time) The three leaders’ advantage has increased to more than 13 minutes. Ekimov is back at the front of the peloton and the next Postal rider Hamilton, now in about fourth spot.

He appears to be unwrapping the bandages in his right wrist and tearing some of them off. They seem to be bothering him.

12:53 p.m. (local time) The three leaders are now on the lower slopes of the Col de la Madeleine.

In back, the pace has slowed.

12:45 p.m. (local time) The three leaders are now 3km from the base of the Col de la Madeleine. They have an 11:50 advantage.

Ekimov and several members of the La Francaise des Jeux team are leading the chase in the peloton. The crash victims are trying to chase back on, but are still back.

Telekom’s Steffan Wesemann has flated, changed his wheel and is also trying to reconnect.

12:41 p.m. (local time) All of the riders are back up on their bikes and chasing. Ekimov is still driving the peloton.

12:39 p.m. (local time) There has been a crash in the peloton. One of the victims is Postal’s Kjaergaard. We will try to update quickly.

12:37 p.m. (local time) The three leaders are at km 79 and they have had their lead narrowed to 12:00.

We are about 10km away from the start of the Col de la Madeleine. The picture of this stage – indeed of this entire Tour – will start changing as we hit this climb, the highest of this year’s Tour.

12:28 p.m. (local time) The three leaders passed through the sprint at Albertville in the following order Laurent Roux (Jean Delatour), Antonio Tauler (Kelme) and Eladio Jimenez (iBanesto.com).

Ekimov is powering the chase for Postal in the peloton and the gap is beginning to narrow a bit.

12:21 p.m. (local time) It’s time for the Postal team to put in the effort. Ekimov is at the front. The whole team is working now to trim the gap. It looks as though the whole burden of the chase is falling to Postal.

12:14 p.m. (local time) The leaders — Eladio Jimenez (iBanesto.com) Laurent Roux (Jean Delatour) and Antonio Tauler (Kelme) — are now at the 62km mark. The peloton is at km 50.

The Postal team is now riding hard tempo at the front of the peloton. Of the riders ahead, Tauler is the best placed – 18 minutes down on Armstrong on GC.

12:11 p.m. (local time) The leaders now have an advantage of 12:30. A look at the course profile may make you believe that the road leading to the sprint at Albertville is flat. Yes, we are in the Isère valley, but the road twists and turns and goes over short risers until just a few km from Albertville.

It’s a tough little stretch.

The intermediate sprint is coming up at the 68.tkm mark.

12:05 p.m. (local time) The three leaders have a nice buffer — they are nearly 12 and-a-half minutes ahead of the peloton.

After being dropped, chasing back on and being dropped again, Belgian national champion Ludovic Capelle (Ag2R-Prevoyance) is off the back of the main field chasing just to survive this long day.

Up front, the mood is much more relaxed. Roux is enjoying his momeent of celebrity and waving at fans along the route.

11:59 a.m. (local time) A crash in the peloton. Florent Brard and Tom Steels crashed on one of those tight hairpins on the descent. The peloton had passed over the climb more than 12 minutes behind the three escapees.

We’ve noticed a slight tailwind coming up the Isère valley.

11:53 a.m. (local time) The leaders are on the descent, what our John Wilcockson describes as a “mini Alpe d’Huez, with 15 hairpin turns over 5 kilometers.”

The leaders now have an advantage of 10:30. They have completed 2300 feet of climbing… but, according to our figures, there are 17,385 feet of climbing in total today. Think about that when you start complaining about how hard your job is today, eh?

11:49 a.m. (local time) The three leaders have crested the first climb of the day in the following order Jimenez, Tauler and Roux.

By the way, the average speed for the first hour was 37.6kph. Not a lot until you consider the fact that they climbed 2000 feet in the first hour.

11:46 a.m. (local time) The three leaders are at km 39 and they have a lead of 6:50. They are on the slopes of the Category 3. Col du Frene.

None of these riders are really a threat on GC, but the climbers are not going to let them stay out there for two long. Alpe d’Huez is too important for that.

We spoke with Credit Agricole’s Bobby Julich about this stage and what is so special about a finish at Alpe d’Huez.

“The thing that really interests me about Alpe d’Huez – and we actually stayed there for two days at our training camp and rode up to Alpe d’Huez twice over two days. I had the time, and there were no spectators in the way, you could actually see the names of the winners and the year they won around each switchback. It will be neat to have your name on that because you know it would be there for the next 50 or 100 years. And I thought that was pretty cool. I’m sure it’s the most coveted prize as far as the climbers go this year.”

11:37 a.m. (local time) At kilometer 33, the leaders now have 4:30 on the peloton.

We had a chance to ask Tyler himself about the arm “This frickin’ arm has been a little bit of a pain for me… and the medication for it has kind of messed my stomach up (a little digestion problem). I’ve definitely been empty these past couple of days.”

Hey if you’re a celebrity, star-watchin’ sort, you’ll be happy to see that Robin Williams is here at the race today. This guy is a huge Lance fan, but more importantly he’s been a bike geek for a long time. He brought his bike.

11:28 a.m. (local time) The three leaders are at 27km and have a lead of 2:55.

We had a chance to speak with Jonathan Vaughters this morning, just to see how he’s feeling about today’s stage. He was surprisingly relaxed. “I actually don’t get nervous before mountain stages because you either have it or you don’t. There’s no in between,” he said.

Good point.

If you can go look at Tyler Hamilton’s diary entry for yesterday. He’s been suffering a bit. We spoke with assistant Dirk Demoll this morning and he said it has been tough on Hamilton these past few days.

“Yesterday there was a moment-like in overdrive – and we said ‘okay let’s just survive today and we’ll see tonight and tomorrow’ He slept well last night and ate normal in the morning (today). The important thing for Tyler is to just survive today and tomorrow.”

11:19 a.m. (local time) We are now 22km into this stage. Only 187km to go before the finish on Alpe D’Huez.

At the finish line, Lennard Zinn reports that the crowds are lining the final climb all the way to the ski area on top of this 21-turn climb. And they have sunshine making this a relatively pleasant day.

But before we see that we have a lot of ground to cover.

Coming up in about 18km, the first climb of the day, the Cat. 3 Col du l du Frene, then a points sprint at Albertville (km 68.5), the feedzone at Rognaix (87km) , the two hors categorie climbs: Col de la Madeline (114km) and Col du Glandon (156.5) ; then a sprint at km 193 and then the big climb.

11:15 a.m. (local time) We are now 18km from the start and the three leaders have an advantage of 1:15.

11:11 a.m. (local time) Eladio Jimenez (iBanesto.com) Laurent Roux (Jean Delatour) and Antonio Tauler (Kelme) have a 33-scond lead. If they manage this one, they have a looooooong ride ahead of them.Of course, they have that no matter what.

11:05 a.m. (local time) The three leaders now have a gap of about 30 seconds. The Postal team of Lance Armstrong is moving up to the front of the peloton, sitting about six places back, right now.

11:01 a.m. (local time) Wow, don’t these people know we have a seven-hour day ahead of us?!?!?

We now have three riders off the front — Eladio Jimenez (Banesto) Laurent Roux (Jean Delatour) and Antonio Tauler (Kelme) – they have an advantage of 15 seconds.10:58 a.m. (local time) Well, that didn’t last. After chatting amicably at the front of the pack Paolo Bettini jumped and has shaken things up a bit. He is now off the front with about seven other riders, the pace is picking up and the peloton is already stretched out in pursuit.

10:49 a.m. (local time) It’s a beautiful day at the finish line. The temperature at the finish line is about 55.

The road is already lined with thousands of fans.

We saw just one “LANCE” painted on the road, mixed in there with the hundreds of “JAN”s but the U.S. Postal jersey seemed to be the favorite choice among those lining the road.

Back in the peloton, the pace is easy – a big change from yesterday’s furious attacks from the gun.

10:45 a.m. (local time) Well, despite the dire predictions of the five-day forecast, the day is actually quite nice and we will see sunshine for much of the day – we hope.

10:42 a.m. (local time) They have now passed the official start banner and they’re off.

10:34 a.m. (local time) Good morning! This is the stage we’ve all been talking about. You know it’s going to be a long day… the start is 2 hours earlier than usual for one thing and we’re facing three – count ’em three -hors categorie climbs. It should be spectacular.

This will be the 21st time the Tour finishes up that famous road to Alpe d’Huez. But before that we have the third categorie Col du Frene, a warm up at 40km, the HC Col de la Madeline (114) and the Col du Glandon (156.5) – those, by the way are the tops of the climbs. That distinction is especially important today.

The remaining 173 riders of the Tour have just left the Esplanade du Lac in Aix-les-Bains and we should be hitting the flying start any minute.