Stage 17 – updates all the way to Montluçon

4:59 p.m. Here are the preliminary top-ten: 1. BAGUET Serge BEL LOT in 4:13:36; 2. PIIL Jakob DEN CST at 00:00; 3. LELLI Massimiliano ITA COF at 00:05; 4. SVORADA Jan SLO LAM at 00:13; 5. NAZON Damien FRA BJR at 00:13; 6. ZABEL Erik GER TEL at 00:13; 7. O'GRADY Stuart AUS C.A at 00:13; 8. VAINSTEINS Romans LAT DFF at 00:13; 9. PETACCHI Alessandro ITA FAS at 00:13; 10. CAPELLE Christophe FRA BIG at 00:13; Stay tuned for a complete post stage wrap-up and results, including details on the ever-tightening green jersey race between Stuart O'Grady and Erik Zabel.4:54 p.m. They MADE IT! With the

By VeloNews Editorial Staff

4:59 p.m. Here are the preliminary top-ten: 1. BAGUET Serge BEL LOT in 4:13:36; 2. PIIL Jakob DEN CST at 00:00; 3. LELLI Massimiliano ITA COF at 00:05; 4. SVORADA Jan SLO LAM at 00:13; 5. NAZON Damien FRA BJR at 00:13; 6. ZABEL Erik GER TEL at 00:13; 7. O’GRADY Stuart AUS C.A at 00:13; 8. VAINSTEINS Romans LAT DFF at 00:13; 9. PETACCHI Alessandro ITA FAS at 00:13; 10. CAPELLE Christophe FRA BIG at 00:13;

Stay tuned for a complete post stage wrap-up and results, including details on the ever-tightening green jersey race between Stuart O’Grady and Erik Zabel.4:54 p.m. They MADE IT!

With the field bearing down on them, Baguet pulls off the win.

4:51 p.m. With 2k to go, they are STILL out there!

4:50 p.m. With 3.5km to go, the three are still 30 seconds off the front.

4:45 p.m. Nahhhhh… wishful thinking. The gap is closing down.

The leaders are just 45 seconds ahead.

In the main field, Credit Agricole’s Jens Voigt has flatted. Bad news for O’Grady.

4:43 p.m. The leaders are 10km from the finish and are still one minute ahead.

Hey, maybe Telekom and C.A. are just worrying about each other.

4:37 p.m. With 14k to go, the three leaders — Piil, Baguet and Lelli — upped their lead to 1:20, but the Credit Agricole and Telekom teams have moved to the front and their lead has been trimmed to about one minute.

4:35 p.m. The three leaders are within 16km of the finish and have a 1-minute advantage over the field.

Having watched these guys stay out front since km 5 you have to hope they pull it off.

4:32 p.m. The six pursuers are about to reeled in by the peloton. The three men in the front — Piil, Baguet and Lelli — are 40 seconds ahead of the peloton.

4:27 p.m. Piil crossed through the sprint ahead of Baguet and Lelli, but the three leaders didn’t contest the sprint. They are still trying to stay away from the field.

They now have an advantage of 36 seconds over the six men chasing them and 1:07 on the field.

4:24 p.m. Just 3km from the day’s second sprint, the three leaders are 15 seconds ahead of six riders –Alexandre Vinokourov; Matteo Tossato (Fassa Bortolo); ; Thomas Brozyna (iBanesto); Benoit Salmon (Ag2R-Prevoyance); Patrice Halgand (Jean Delatour); Christoph Mengin (Française Des Jeux).

The main field is at 1:10, which means that the sprint contest between Zabel and O’Grady may have to wait for the finish in Montluçon.

4:19 p.m. Correction. Piil, Baguet and Lelli are 15 seconds ahead of six riders from the original break away group, including Alexandre Vinokourov.

The rest of the break was caught by the main field — which trails the three leaders by 1:08.

4:15 p.m. Massimiliano Lelli (Cofidis); Jacob Piil (CSC-Tiscali); (Kelme)and Serge Baguet (Lotto) are off the front by about 10 seconds, but the rest of the break has been caught by the peloton.

4:12 p.m. Sensing the inevitable, some in the lead group are trying to break off the front.

Lelli and Piil tried a jump, but the rest of the break has stayed with them, but the pace has increased.

4:10 p.m. With 37km to go, the leaders are now less than 1:00 minute ahead of the peloton. It looks as though they will be caught in plenty of time for a big fight between O’Grady and Zabel at the sprint at 171.5km.

4:07 p.m. The leaders are just 1:08 ahead of a furiously chasing peloton.

Coming up is the intermediate sprint at km 171.

4:03 p.m. With 42km to go, the leaders have had their advantage cut to 1:23.

3:59 p.m. The Bonjour squad is getting help from Lampre, Bigmat and Domo-Farm Frites.

Despite the presence of Vinokourov in the break, Telekom may soon be moving up soon, since we are now having to keep the sprint contest between O’Grady and Zabel in mind.

O’Grady, of course, would be happy to see as many points swallowed up by the lead group as possible, so the Credit Agricole riders won’t be joining in the chase of a group that includes one of their riders.

3:56 p.m. With 49km to go, the leaders are hovering around 2:00 ahead of the field.

3:53 p.m. The leaders are now 50km from the finish. They have a lead of 2:07.

3:46 p.m. The last time check we had put the leaders at 1:58 ahead of the peloton. Bonjour is still at the front, though the Domo-Farm Frites team is lending a hand.

3:43 p.m. The leaders are keeping the pace high. They are keeping the lead at around 2:05. There are 58km remaining before we reach Montluçon.

3:36 p.m. The Bonjour team is still leaing the chase. The leaders are about 2:00 ahead.

With 60km remaining, the lead group looks destined to be caught. While Bonjour has been leading the chase, if that gap doesn’t change as the finish approaches, we can expect to see other win-hungry squads join the effort.

3:35 p.m.Benoit Salmon crested the climb first among the lead group of 16. He was followed by Delatour’s Stephane Goubert and Matteo Tosatto.

The leaders are just around 2:00 ahead of the peloton.

3:31 p.m. The leaders have gone over the top of the Cat. 4 Cote de Rozeille. Results to come.

3:27 p.m. The 16 leaders seem resigned to the fact that they are being caught. They appear to be easing off, perhaps waiting to be caught and then seeing what sort of counter-attacks develop.

We are approaching the day’s second climb.

3:23 p.m. The leaders are at the 120km mark and their lead has been cut to 1:55.

Looking ahead we have another Cat. 4 climb at Rozeille (125.5km)and an intermediate sprint at Budelière(171.5km).

3:20 p.m. The leaders are now at the 118km mark. Their advantage over the peloton as of the last time check is 2:25.

3:13 p.m. The 16 leaders are in a holding pattern of sorts. Their lead has been trimmed by more than 2:00 minutes over the last 25km, but they seem to be maintaining a 2:30 to 2:40 advantage now. The leaders are now at km 112.

3:08 p.m. There was a small group of riders dropped by the peloton at the feed zone at km 92.5. The group included the Green Jersey holder Stuart O’Grady. His team managed to bring him back into the field. He now leads Telekom’s Erik Zabel by 12 points in the contest for the green jersey and that will be a battle fought, no doubt, all the way into Paris on Sunday.

The leaders are at km 104 and their lead is now down to 2:30. They seem to be conceding the effort and are no longer working well at the front. Bonjour continues to lead the chase.

3:05 p.m. To re-cap, we have a group of 16 riders leading the peloton by around three minutes.

The lead group is now at the 100km mark and has a lead of 2:43. They have been off the front since kilometer five, when Telekom’s Alexandre Vinokourov initiated a break of 10 riders. They were soon joined by six others.

The men in the lead group are Alexandre Vinokourov; Carlos Sastre (ONCE); Matteo Tossato (Fassa Bortolo); Steve Vermaut (Lotto); Massimiliano Lelli (Cofidis); Anthony Morin (Crédit Agricole, ); Benoit Salmon (Ag2R-Prevoyance); Jacob Piil (CSC-Tiscali); Stéphane Goubert (Jean Delatour) ; Felix Rafael Cardenas (Kelme); Serge Baguet (Lotto); Christophe Rinero (Cofidis); Thomas Brozyna (iBanesto); David Etxebarria (Euskaltel-Euskadi) Patrice Halgand (Jean Delatour) and Christoph Mengin (Française Des Jeux).

Of the group, Vinokourov is the highest placed on GC, starting the day in 16th place, just about half-an-hour out of first.

The chase has been led largely by the Bonjour team, with help from Mapei, Rabobank and the U.S. Postal team.

2:55 p.m. The sixteen leaders have reached the halfway mark of today’s stage and their advantage has now slipped below 3:00.

Bonjour is still working hard at the front of the chasing peloton.

2:49 p.m. Another, more accurate, time check gives the leaders just 3:11.

The speed of today’s second hour of racing was right at 42.7kph.

2:48p.m. The latest time check gives the leaders an advantage of 3:25 over the peloton. Bonjour is still the most active team at the front of the chase.

2:45p.m. At the summit of the climb, the leading 16 riders were led by Salmon, Halgand and Tosatto.

2:42p.m. The leaders are nearing the summit of the day’s first climb, the Cote de la Foret de la Feuillade — a climb almost as long as its name.

They have a lead of 3:22.

2:35p.m. At 85 kilometers, the leaders are now 3:40 ahead of the peloton.

2:31p.m. Now at km 82, the leaders have had their advantage cut to 3:49.

2:26p.m. The leaders have lost another 10 seconds to the Bonjour-led chase.

At km 80, they now lead by 4:15.

2:22p.m. Our last time check at km 75 puts the leaders ahead by 4:20.

2:19p.m. The leaders are making the turn off on to the narrow roads we mentioned. This is where the group can take advantage of its compact size and horsepower. Right now they have a lead of 4:40 and the next few kilometers could determine whether this break stays out until the finish in Montluçon or gets reeled in by those teams disappointed by the fact that they have no one in the lead group.

2:10p.m. The results of the sprint at Saint-Hilaire-les-Courbes are1. Steve Vermaut (Lotto);2. Patrice Halgand (Jean Delatour);3. Jacob Piil (CSC-Tiscali);

The leaders will be turning onto to narrower roads soon. That could aid in their effort to stave off the Bonjour-led peloton, which appears to be losing more time. The lead at 68km is 4:35.

2:08p.m. The leaders have passed through the day’s first sprint at Saint-Hilaire-les-Courbes (64.5km)and are still about 4:30 ahead of the peloton.

We’ll have sprint results for you ASAP.

2:05p.m. Now at km 60, with the day’s first intermediate sprint coming up, the leaders are now 4:25 ahead of the peloton.

2:02p.m. While the chase group now involves the Postal and Bonjour teams, the leaders have upped their pace and extended their advantage to 2:30.

1:58 p.m. The leaders are at km 55 and they maintain a 1:30 advantage.

The U.S. Postal team is now moving to the front of the peloton and aiding in the Bonjour effort to chase down the lead group.

1:52p.m. The leaders are at km 53 and have upped their advantage to 1:30.

The lead group is made up of Alexandre Vinokourov; Carlos Sastre (ONCE); Matteo Tossato (Fassa Bortolo); Steve Vermaut (Lotto); Massimiliano Lelli (Cofidis); Anthony Morin (Crédit Agricole, ); Benoit Salmon (Ag2R-Prevoyance); Jacob Piil (CSC-Tiscali); Stéphane Goubert (Jean Delatour) ; Felix Rafael Cardenas (Kelme); Serge Baguet (Lotto); Christophe Rinero (Cofidis); Thomas Brozyna (iBanesto); David Etxebarria (Euskaltel-Euskadi) Patrice Halgand (Jean Delatour) and Christoph Mengin (Française Des Jeux).

1:46p.m. The leaders are still hanging on to a 50-second advantage.

Race radio reports that the average speed for the opening hour today was a brisk 44.9kph, a pretty good clip, especially considering the terrain.

1:37 p.m. Now at kilometer 45, the leaders have bumped their advantage back up to 55 seconds. Looking ahead we have Intermediate sprints at St. Hilaire-les-Courbes (64.5km) and Budelière(171.5km) and Cat. 4 climbs at Forêt de la Feuillade (87km), and Rozeille (125.5km). 1:37 p.m.At 40 kilometers, the leaders’ advantage is down to 48 seconds.

1:34 p.m. The last time check reveals that Bonjour is making some progress in its pursuit of the 16 leaders. The advantage has been cut to 55 seconds at the 39km mark.

1:29 p.m. The leaders are now at the 36km mark and guess what? Their lead is still at 1:00.

Bonjour is still the most active team in the chase, though Mapei and Rabobank are lending a hand.

Telekom, Cofidis, Jean Delatour, Fassa Bortolo, Française Des Jeux, Ag2R-Prevoyance, CSC, Lotto, Kelme and Euskaltel all have riders in the break.

The Postal team, meanwhile, seems content to let this one go… but probably not too far.

1:26 p.m. The lead group of 16 is now at 31km. They are still 1:00 ahead of the peloton.

1:20 p.m. The leaders are at km 29 and are hanging on to an advantage of around 1:00. This is the sort of terrain – twisty roads on wooded hills – that should benefit a group of this size. The peloton, despite its size, has no real advantage over a smaller group of strong and motivated riders.

1:16 p.m. At kilometer 23, the lead is still at 1:00. Rabobank and Mapei are helping Bonjour in the chase, but Postal has pulled back, apparently concluding that none of the riders poses a real threat to Lance Armstrong’s hold on the yellow jersey.

Have a look at yesterday’s results and overall standings.

1:13 p.m. At km 21, the leaders are maintaining an advantage of 1:00.

1:09 p.m. Postal is leading the chase along with Bonjour and Mapei. Still, the lead group is working well together and they have upped their lead to more than 1 minute. Again, the riders in the break are Alexandre Vinokourov (Telekom); Carlos Sastre (ONCE); Matteo Tossato (Fassa Bortolo); Steve Vermaut (Lotto); Massimiliano Lelli (Cofidis); Anthony Morin (Crédit Agricole); Benoit Salmon (Ag2R-Prevoyance); Jacob Piil (CSC-Tiscali); Stéphane Goubert (Jean Delatour); Felix Rafael Cardenas (Kelme); Serge Baguet (Lotto); Christophe Rinero (Cofidis); Thomas Brozyna (iBanesto); David Etxebarria (Euskaltel-Euskadi); Patrice Halgand (Jean Delatour) and Christoph Mengin (Française Des Jeux).

1:06 p.m. A glance at the overall standings shows that of the men in the group, Telekom’s Vinokurov is highest placed — 16th, 30:32 out of first.

By km 16, the peloton has cut the lead down to 50 seconds.

1:05 p.m. At kilometer 14, the leaders now have an advantage of 1:00. The men in the group are Alexandre Vinokourov; Carlos Sastre (ONCE); Matteo Tossato (Fassa Bortolo); Steve Vermaut (Lotto); Massimiliano Lelli (Cofidis); Anthony Morin (Crédit Agricole, ); Benoit Salmon (Ag2R-Prevoyance); Jacob Piil (CSC-Tiscali); Stéphane Goubert (Jean Delatour) ; Felix Rafael Cardenas (Kelme); Serge Baguet (Lotto); Christophe Rinero (Cofidis); Thomas Brozyna (iBanesto); David Etxebarria (Euskaltel-Euskadi) Patrice Halgand (Jean Delatour) and Christoph Mengin (Française Des Jeux).

12:55 p.m. At kilometer 8, the lead group of ten has been joined by another group of six riders. The leaders have an advantage of 20 seconds on the main field.

12:54 p.m. There are ten riders in that Telekom-initiated break, including Alexandre Vinokourov.

They are about 8 seconds ahead of the peloton.

12:52 p.m. Jalabert’s attack — which came at km 3 — was caught within one kilometer.

The Telekom team has initiated another attack at km5. 15 riders are off the front with a small lead.

12:49 p.m. Laurent Jalabert has jumped off the front with a small group of riders. But the CSC rider is fairly high up in GC and the Postal team is putting on a chase. This one won’t last too long.

12:45 p.m. As we said, from the look of today’s profile we can expect to see attacks starting pretty soon after the start.

Wladimir Belli tried a small surge off the front, but he was quickly caught. We should see more in the next few minutes.

12:41 p.m. They’re off. There were 145 riders who started today. Rabobank’s Grischa Niermann withdrew overnight. He, too, was a victim of yesterday’s crash.

12:30 p.m. The peloton has left the starting village in Brive La Gaillarde and should be passing under the start banner in about 10 minutes. From the looks of the road after the start, we could see attacks starting from the gun. The course scoots up a short six-kilometer climb and continues on through hilly, forested country roads.

There were a number of riders looking at today’s stage as an opportunity for a solo break. One of them, however, told VeloNews that he isn’t in the shape to try an attack anymore. Crédit Agricole’s Bobby Julich said he got pretty banged up in that crash yesterday and bruised a large portion of his shoulder in the accident.

Sven Montgomery, the worst injured in yesterday’s mishap, fractured his skull and was operated on last night. His prospects for recovery are good, though it will take a while, said doctors.

12:04 p.m. Good afternoon from Brive La Gaillarde. The 17th stage of the 2001 Tour de France is scheduled to begin at 12:30, with riders passing out of town and under the Flying start at about 12:40.

We are facing a 194km stage to Montluçon. We should have 146 starters today. Five riders were forced to abandon yesterday after a bad crash. 43 riders have now left the Tour since its start in Dunkirk. Have a look at yesterday’s results and overall standings.