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Stage 20 – Sunday, July 28: Melun – Paris Champs-Elysées

5:15 p.m. Robbie McEwen takes his second stage win on the Champs-Elysées and his second stage win of this Tour, but more importantly, he has broken Erik Zabel's six-year hold on the points jersey. 5:13 p.m. Zabel and McEwen ...McEwen wins the stage and wins the jersey! Lance Armstrong wins the Tour de France. It's done. 5:12 p.m. We are one kilometer from the line. Armstrong can now not lose the Tour with less than 1km to go. The field is together and Telekom is leading. 5:11 p.m. Rumsas is now off on his own. He will be caught. 5:10 p.m. We have 3.5 km to go, Rumsas and Ivanov are

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5:15 p.m. Robbie McEwen takes his second stage win on the Champs-Elysées and his second stage win of this Tour, but more importantly, he has broken Erik Zabel’s six-year hold on the points jersey.

5:13 p.m. Zabel and McEwen …McEwen wins the stage and wins the jersey!

Lance Armstrong wins the Tour de France.

It’s done.

5:12 p.m. We are one kilometer from the line. Armstrong can now not lose the Tour with less than 1km to go.

The field is together and Telekom is leading.

5:11 p.m. Rumsas is now off on his own. He will be caught.

5:10 p.m. We have 3.5 km to go, Rumsas and Ivanov are still a few seconds ahead of the field.

5:09 p.m. The two leaders are caught and a new move has been undertaken by Rumsas and Ivanov.

5:08 p.m. The Telekom team is having a tough time keeping control of the front of the field.

5:06 p.m. The two have been caught and now Laurent Brochard and Robbie Hunter have attacked.

5:06 p.m. Piil (with his pedals at maximum tightness, no doubt) is still holding off at the front. Pedro Horillo is on his wheel as they and the peloton enters the last lap.

5:05 p.m. Piil is trying to escape.

5:04 p.m. The Telkom chase has succeeded and the peloton is back together again.

5:02 p.m. The race is flying toward the finish of the stage and the Tour.

The eight leaders — sans Moreni — are now 8 seconds ahead of the field. Telekom is leading the chase.

5:01 p.m. The leaders are under 10 seconds ahead of the field.

Moreni has given up and is waiting for the field.

4:59 p.m. The nine leaders are now just 10 seconds ahead of the field and are beginning the penultimate lap of the Champs-Elysées.

4:57 p.m. With 18km remaining, the nine leaders are 19 seconds ahead of the main field.

Of the group, Marco Velo appears to be having mechanical problems with his derailleur… forcing him to pedal furiously at a super high cadence.

4:53 p.m. The leaders are still 15 seconds ahead of the field, which is still led by Telekom.

4:52 p.m. The leaders: Jakob Piil (CSC-Tiscali), Marco Velo (Fassa Bortolo), Erik Dekker, Marc Wauters (both Rabobank), Pedro Horillo (Mapei), Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel), Andrea Brognara and Cristian Moreni (both Alessio) and Patrice Halgand (Jean Delatour)… are 15 seconds ahead of the field.4:48 p.m. The lead group includes some of the men in that last bunch.

We have Jakob Piil, Marco Velo, Erik Dekker, Marc Wauters, Pedro Horillo, Haimar Zubeldia, Andrea Brognara, Cristian Moreni and Patrice Halgand.

4:46 p.m. There is a group of nine off the front now. It includes Patrice Halgand and the man who has the best name in the peloton, Marco Velo.

The Telekom team is now chasing, hoping to provide Zabel with a chance to re-take the points jersey.

4:45 p.m. The remnants of the group are still trying to hold-off the main field. ONCE has eased off after Rumsas has been pulled back.

4:44 p.m. The 16 leaders are coming back into the main field.

4:43 p.m. The 16 leaders are just 8 seconds ahead of the field.

4:41 p.m. The leaders are now just 10 seconds ahead of the field. We have 31km remaining.

4:39 p.m. The lead group is down to 16, as Radaelli has flatted.

The lead group has lost a good chunk of its lead, now down to 16 seconds. The ONCE team is driving hard to pull that break back. We can expect counter attacks to kick in as the field moves in.

4:37 p.m. The five leaders are 40 seconds ahead of the field and 10 seconds ahead of a chase group that includes Rumsas! That’s right Rumsas is trying to make time on the ONCE team.

The 12 men have joined the Jalabert group and the ONCE team is chasing at the front of the peloton.

4:35 p.m. The five leaders have a 40-second advantage over the field.

4:34 p.m. The five leaders have a 10 second gap on a group of riders that has grown to 12. We may be seeing 17 riders off the front.

4:33 p.m. There is a hard chase of 10 men being driven by Rabobanks Michael Boogerd.

4:31 p.m. The Jalabert group is working hard. There is some serious horsepower in this break and all of them are cooperating. Their lead, however, is just 10 seconds, but … we are cruising at 60kph, so 10 seconds represents quite a distance.

4:29 p.m. The chasers have caught up with Moreni. There are now five riders up front and they have 12 seconds on the field.

We have Tafi, Jalabert, Millar, Moreni and Mauro Radaelli off the front.

Lotto is in pursuit.

4:28 p.m. Jalabert and Millar have been joined by Andrea Tafi (Mapei).

4:27 p.m. Now this is cool. Laurent Jalabert is now chasing Moreni. He is in pursuit along with David Millar (Cofidis).

4:26 p.m. The two chasers are back in the field and Moreni’s lead is back down to 10 seconds.

4:23 p.m. Moreni is still holding on and has upped his lead to 15 seconds.

He is now being chased by Sebastien Hinault (Credit Agricole)and Stephane Berges (Ag2r). They are nine seconds behind Moreni.

4:22 p.m. Ooooo… Chavanel has had a flat.

4:21 p.m. The two leaders are now six seconds ahead of the field. There are 46km remaining in the stage.

4:18 p.m. And a new attack. Two riders — Sylvain Chavanel (F) Bonjour and Cristian Moreni (I) Alessio — are trying their luck off the front.

4:18 p.m. The field is back together again. The pace is still very high and we can expect the attacks to continue.

4:16 p.m. The leaders are breaking apart… Nico Mattan and Jakob Piil have moved ahead of the rest of the group.

4:14 p.m. That group has grown to eight and they now have a lead of 12 seconds. Andy Flickinger, Credric Vasseur and Nico Mattan are the new members of the break.

There has been a crash in the field… iBanesto’s Acosta is the main victim of the crash. He is up and chasing.

4:11 p.m. De Groot and Morin have now been joined by Jakob Piil, Martin Hvastija and Nicola Loda. They are just 5 seconds ahead of the field.

Word is the average speed over the course of the first lap was nearly 56kph.

4:09 p.m. Rabobank’s Bram de Groot and Anthony Morin (Credit Agricole) are off the front of the field with a lead of about 100 meters. Any bets on how long this will last?

4:08 p.m. The pace has most certainly picked up, the field is probably cruising at nearly 50kph.

4:06 p.m. The peloton has completed the first of ten laps around the circuit on the Champs-Elysées. The Postal team is still at the front.

4:00 p.m. The points race is down to the final sprint as neither Zabel nor McEwen contested the sprint…

It was Roberto Heras who took the six sprint point.

So, now it’s going to be a big battle between these two. McEwen has 245 points to the 242 of Erik Zabel, with 35 points to the first-place finisher and 30 to second.

3:59 p.m. The Postal team is still at the front of the field with the sprint mark coming up.

3:58 p.m. We are within a kilometer of the sprint.

3:56 p.m. We are now within four kilometers of the second sprint. We should see the Telekom and Lotto teams moving up to the front of the field soon.

3:52 p.m. The peloton is cruising onto the streets of Paris. The Postal team is up front, largely for the privilage of entering the city at the front of the field. But when the race hits the Champs-Elysées, the battle of the sprinters kicks in again for that intermediate sprint at km 81.

3:48 p.m. The peloton is at 71km. We are 10km from the sprint and 73 from the finish.

3:37 p.m. We are now at kilometer 65 and we have 79km to go. It is now 16km before the next sprint. The pace has again slowed to around 30 to 32kph.

3:22 p.m. The two points leaders are still off the front of the peloton. Zabel is mugging for the cameras abit, while the normally easy going Aussie is stone-faced serious.

Zabel has pulled over, probably to take a quick nature break and McEwen is back in the peloton.

The next sprint will be at km 81, just as the peloton enters the Champs-Elysées.

3:20 p.m. With one Kilometer to go.

Telekom leads to the line…

And now McEwen scoots out of the crowd and takes the sprint and Zabel second.

The point gap is now three points.

3:18 p.m. The Lotto team is still at the front of the peloton… and they have company, a bunch of guys in pink jerseys.

The pace is still not super fast, but it is up around 40kph.

3:17 p.m. The Lotto team is moving to the front. We are at 51km.

3:13 p.m. We are now at 49km and the sprint is coming up in 5km.

3:08 p.m. Alrighty then. The peloton is now at 46km and coming up in 8km is the day’s first sprint.

2:48 p.m. Sorry for the infrequent updates, folks. It’s just that the peloton has covered 30.2km in its first hour of racing and we’re feeling almost as relaxed as they are…

Don’t worry, things will be picking up very soon as we get near the 54km mark.

2:28 p.m. We are still cruising at a very moderate and relaxed pace. After nearly about 50 minutes of racing — or decompressing, to be more accurate — we have reached the 24km mark.

2:14 p.m. We are still taking a moderate cruise through the countryside outside of Paris. The peloton has just barely reached the 16km mark.

The heat and humidity are still making things uncomfortable, though there is a slight breeze picking up. Again, we are seeing a remarkable number of American flags along the route.

2:05 p.m. We told you it might be a moderate pace today. It looks like right now, we are cruising at about 29kph or less. The peloton has just reach the 12km mark and there are no attacks… which will be the case until we get near the 54km sprint.

1:55 p.m. The pace is quite moderate right now, with many of the men in the jerseys — Armstrong, Basso, Jalabert and McEwen — near the front for the swarm of photographers and TV crews on motorbikes to get a shot.

Of course, Erik Zabel isn’t to far out of the picture, there, either.

1:47 p.m. The peloton is on its final cruise into Paris. By tradition, the race is a fairly mellow affair, with the attacks not really starting until the race moves onto the Champs-Elysées (of course now that we’ve said that….)

If looking at the course profile you only see the one intermediate sprint at Champs-sur-Marne (54km), there is another at the 81km mark, today. That is right on the Champs-Elysées by Arc de Triomphe. We can expect to see a big battle forming at each of those spots as well as the finish.

Will McEwen get help from the other Aussie sprinter’s in the bunch?

1:42 p.m. All 153 riders remaining in the Tour de France started this morning (could you imagine dropping out now?) and they are on their way to Paris for that final run to the Champs-Elysées.

1:41 p.m. And they are off.

1:35 p.m. The peloton is now cruising through the neutral zone, so it should be soon.

1:35 p.m. Things seem to be running a bit late today. The announcement usually comes over race radio, but we’ve heard nothing yet on our drive to Paris, slightly ahead of the race on today’s course.

1:31 p.m. Good morning. The 20th stage of the 2002 Tour de France.

Here is a lookat today’s stage details. As you can see, we are looking at a nicecruise into Paris, except for those bothersome sprints. By the way, theLotto squad this morning refused to let the media shoot pictures of McEwenwearing the green jersey, saying it was “bad luck” given the closenessof the points race.