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Stage 8 – Sunday, July 14: St. Martin-de-Landelles – Plouay

PRELIMINARY RESULTS 1. Karsten Kroon (Nl), RAB, 217.5 km in 4:36:52. (47.135 kpm) 2. Servais Knaven (Nl), DFF, at ˆ 00:00. 3. Erik Dekker (Nl), RAB, at 00:00. 4. Franck Renier (Fra), BJR, at 00:00. 5. Sebastien Hinault (Fra), C.A, at 00:00. 6. Stephane Auge (Fra), DEL, at 00:00. 7. Raivis Belohvosciks (Let), LAM, at 00:00. 8. Robbie McEwen (Aus), LOT, at 01:55. 9. Erik Zabel (G), TEL, at 01:55. 10. Baden Cooke (Aus), FDJ, at 01:55. 11. Stuart O'Grady (Aus), C.A, at 01:55. 12. Jan Svorada (Cz), LAM, at 01:55. 13. Fred Rodriguez (USA), DFF, at 01:55. 14. Robert Hunter (SA), MAP, at 01:55. 15.

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PRELIMINARY RESULTS

1. Karsten Kroon (Nl), RAB, 217.5 km in 4:36:52.
(47.135 kpm)
2. Servais Knaven (Nl), DFF, at ˆ 00:00.
3. Erik Dekker (Nl), RAB, at 00:00.
4. Franck Renier (Fra), BJR, at 00:00.
5. Sebastien Hinault (Fra), C.A, at 00:00.
6. Stephane Auge (Fra), DEL, at 00:00.
7. Raivis Belohvosciks (Let), LAM, at 00:00.
8. Robbie McEwen (Aus), LOT, at 01:55.
9. Erik Zabel (G), TEL, at 01:55.
10. Baden Cooke (Aus), FDJ, at 01:55.
11. Stuart O’Grady (Aus), C.A, at 01:55.
12. Jan Svorada (Cz), LAM, at 01:55.
13. Fred Rodriguez (USA), DFF, at 01:55.
14. Robert Hunter (SA), MAP, at 01:55.
15. Andrej Hauptman (Slo), TAC, at 01:55.
16. Nico Mattan (Bel), COF, at 01:55.
17. Hans De Clercq (Bel), LOT, at 01:55.
18. Mario Aerts (Bel), LOT, at 01:55.
19. Francois Simon (Fra), BJR, at 01:55.
20. Paolo Bossoni (Ita), TAC, at 01:55.

4:41 p.m. McEwen won the field sprint for 8th… just ahead of Zabel.

Checking the points, it looks as if Zabel keeps the points jersey, as there is only a one-point difference between finishing in 8th and 9th place.

4:39 p.m. It’s Kroon!

Knaven almost caught him, but Kroon got the win. Dekker takes third.

4:37 p.m. Belohvosciks attacks… he is quickly followed by the other six.

Kroon counters…. Knaven follows. Dekker now follows knaven.

4:37 p.m. They are all together as we have 1km to go… all downhill until the final 150 meters which is a slight uphill. They are all freewheeling.

4:36 p.m. Hinault has followed Dekker and they now have 20 meters on the other five.

4:35 p.m. Knaven — the 2001 winner of Paris-Roubaix — attacks. But he, too, is caught. Dekker catches on and attacks!

4:34 p.m. The leaders are cresting the climb just as the peloton is hitting the base.

Belohvosciks has attacked again. He was caught but the Dekker was dropped again.

4:33 p.m. Dekker has rejoined the group as they hit the 4km to go marker.

Dekker attacks, but he is quickly caught.

4:30 p.m. The six leaders are Sébastien Hinault (Crédit Agricole), Servais Knaven (Domo-Farm Frites), Karsten Kroon (Rabobank), Franck Rénier (Bonjour), Raivis Belohvosciks (Lampre Daikin) and Stephane Augé (Jean Delatour). They are having a tough time on the climb and Dekker is catching back on.

4:29 p.m. There are frequent attacks, but the six leaders are still together with 5km to go as they approach the final rated climb of the day.

The peloton is at 2:40.

4:29 p.m. The six leaders are still eyeing each other. Dekker is 13 seconds back. The field is 2:52 back.

4:28 p.m. Belohvosciks has attacked…. the chase is being led by Hinault.

They have caught him again.

Dekker is still off the back, by about 300 meters.

4:27 p.m. Dekker is still struggling, eight seconds behind the group.

The leaders have 8km to go. The peloton is still being led by Postal as they pass under the 10km to go banner. The gap was 2:55.

4:25 p.m. Dekker is chasing hard. The leaders have 9km to go. Dekker is coming strong and may soon join up.

The leaders had a gap of 3:00 at the last time check.

Coming up is the final climb at Ty-Marrec, which crests 2.5km from the finish.

4:23 p.m. The peloton is now on the finishing circuit. The gap is around 3:20.

Up front, with 11km to go, Belohvosciks has attacked.

It appears that Dekker has been dropped. But Belohvosciks has been caught. Dekker is about 200 meters back.

4:21 p.m. The gap is still 3:25, so it is clear that the winner will be one of the seven leaders. There are 12km to go.

The leaders are going up one of the climbs on the finishing circuit. They are not driving hard, though. They all appear to be tired from this long break, which began at km 108.

4:18 p.m. The attacks are continuing as the seven riders are coming on to the finishing circuit… about 600 meters past the start of the original world’s circuit.

Behind, Postal is leading the peloton — not chasing, just keeping Armstrong out of trouble.

4:17 p.m. The seven are still together, though the attacks are continuing.

The peloton in back is resigned to the fact that today’s winner will emerge from the lead group.

4:15 p.m. Up front, Dekker and Kroon — the two Rabobanks — are attacking in turn.

Kroon is off the front and Hinault is on his wheel. They have 16km to go, coming into Plouay and then they have to do one lap of the circuit used for the World Cahmpionship in 2000.

4:12 p.m. With 20km to go, the leaders have an advantage of 3:25. — It looks as though that Ag2R has given up the chase.

4:07 p.m. Belohvosciks was the first of the men in the break to cross the summit of the climb at the Cote de Kervalan. He was followed by Renier and Kroon, though, again, the riders did not contest the sprint to the line.

The peloton crested the climb 3:45 after the leaders.

We have 25km remaining in today’s stage.

4:00 p.m. The leaders have less than 30km remaining and are maintaining a lead around the 4:00 mark.

ONCE and the other teams appear content to allow this one to go all the way, assuming it doesn’t get too much of a gap.

3:51 p.m. With 36km remaining (182 down), the seven leaders still enjoy an advantage of 3:50.

Coming up are Cat. 4 climbs at Kervalen (187km) and Ty-Marrec (214km).

3:41 p.m. The gap is at 4:03 and the leaders are 44km from the finish in Plouay. Three of seven leaders — Hinault, Augé and Rénier — are French, so there is a good chance that if this break lasts, we may see a French winner on Bastile day. Of course, three of them are also Dutch, two of whom — Dekker and Kroon — are on the same Rabobank squad.

3:36 p.m. At 171km, the seven leaders — Sébastien Hinault (Crédit Agricole), Servais Knaven (Domo-Farm Frites), Erik Dekker (Rabobank), Karsten Kroon (Rabobank), Franck Rénier (Bonjour), Raivis Belohvosciks (Lampre Daikin) and Stephane Augé (Jean Delatour) — are 4:10 up on the field.

3:29 p.m. At the 165 km mark (with 52km remaining) the 7 leaders are 4:30 up on the main field.

3:24 p.m. The seven leaders — Sébastien Hinault (Crédit Agricole), Servais Knaven (Domo-Farm Frites), Erik Dekker (Rabobank), Karsten Kroon (Rabobank), Franck Rénier (Bonjour), Raivis Belohvosciks (Lampre Daikin) and Stephane Augé (Jean Delatour) — are now less than 5:00 ahead of the field. Ag2R and ONCE are still doing the bulk of the chase work in the peloton. The gap is 4:45.

Hinault took the sprint at 160.5km. He was followed by Kroon and Knaven, though the riders did not contest the mark.

Ahead we have two more Cat. 4 climbs at Kervalen (187km) and Ty-Marrec (214km).

3:19 p.m. The Ag2R team of JAan Kirsipuu is helping ONCE with the chase now and the leader’s advantage is coming down.

At 158km, their lead is now down to 5:12.

3:08 p.m. These guys are still building their advantage. At 150km, the seven leaders have an advantage of 6:00.

Race radio has announced that the average speed for the last hour was righ at 46.2kph, making for a three-hour average of 48.3kph.

3:00 p.m. The leaders are continuing to build their advantage.

Right now they are at the 143km mark and have a lead of 4:50, which makes Renier the leader on the road. As a result, you can expect ONCE to up the tempo, if for no other reason than to minimize the time gap.

2:52 p.m. At 137 kilometers (80 remaining) the leaders have an advantage of 4:15. The ONCE team is leading the chase, but it appears that they are simply monitoring the gap and not driving as hard as they did with earlier breaks.

2:47 p.m. At 133 km, the leaders’ advantage has grown to nearly 4:00.

2:41 p.m. The leaders — Sébastien Hinault (Crédit Agricole), Servais Knaven (Domo-Farm Frites), Erik Dekker (Rabobank), Karsten Kroon (Rabobank), Franck Rénier (Bonjour), Raivis Belohvosciks (Lampre Daikin) and Stephane Augé (Jean Delatour) — are at km 128 and have a 3:00 lead over the main field.

2:36 p.m. Now 124km from the start and the leaders’ advantage is at 2:45.

Will this one stick?

2:29 p.m. At 120km, the leaders’ advantage was right at 2:00.

2:28 p.m. At km117 the leaders had an advantage approaching two minutes.

2:23 p.m. The leaders are building up their advantage quickly. At km 115, they are now 1:30 ahead of the peloton.

2:21 p.m. Our last time check at km 113 gives the riders in the break an advantage of about 1:00. Theis group may not pose as much of a threat. Renier is the best placed of the bunch at 4:39.

2:18 p.m. The riders in the break are Sébastien Hinault (F) Crédit Agricole, Servais Knaven (Nl) Domo-Farm Frites, Erik Dekker (Nl) Rabobank, Karsten Kroon (Nl) Rabobank, Franck Rénier (F) Bonjour, Raivis Belohvosciks (Lat) Lampre Daikin and Stephane Augé (F) Jean Delatour.

2:12 p.m. Given that high rate of speed, it should come as no surprise that we have another attack. We’ll try to get an ID and time gap ASAP.

2:09 p.m. The word from race radio is that the average speed for the second hour was a brisk 49.7kph. The two-hour average has been 49.6kph.

2:04 p.m. We are just finishing up passing through the feedzone and are now at 103km.

Looking ahead, we have another sprint coming up at Noyal-Pontivy (160.5km) and then two more Cat. 4 climbs at Kervalen (187km) and Ty-Marrec (214km).

2:02 p.m. Now the entire group has been caught. We are at km 100 and we have 117 remaining.

2:00 p.m. The lead group has fractured. Only Patrice Halgand (Jean Delatour); Ludovic Turpin (Ag2R); Franck Bouyer (Bonjour); Sandy Casar (FDJeux.com); Fred Rodriguez (Domo) and Pavel Padrnos (U.S. Postal) remain up front. They have a lead of just 12 seconds at 98km.

1:56 p.m. At 95km, the leaders are just 15 seconds ahead of the field. ONCE is driving hard. Postal’s Padrnos is the best-placed rider in the group and he’s just 1:46 out of the yellow jersey, so the ONCE team is not going to let that one get away.

1:52 p.m. Casar took the sprint. He was followed by Kelme’s Tauler and Halgand.

Four kilometers later, the 12 leaders are seeing their advantage trimmed by a hard chase by ONCE. They now have just 20 seconds on the field.

1:50 p.m. The 12 riders in the break now have 50 seconds and will be taking the day’s second intermediate sprint. So the Zabel-McEwen battle will have to wait for some other point.

The 12 riders are: Patrice Halgand (Jean Delatour); Cristian Moreni (Alessio); Ludovic Turpin (Ag2R); Fabien De Waele (Mapei); Jérôme Pineau (Bonjour); Sylvain Chavanel (Bonjour); Franck Bouyer (Bonjour); Sandy Casar (FDJeux.com); Fred Rodriguez (Domo); Arvis Piziks (CSC); Antonio Tauler (Kelme) and Pavel Padrnos (U.S. Postal)

1:42 p.m. Correction that group is composed of 12 riders and they now have 35 seconds on the field.

1:41 p.m. Race radio reports that a group of 9 riders has slipped off the front. We have yet to I.D> all of them, but Domo’s Freddy Rodriguez is among them… perhaps he misread those “Allez Fred” signs as being for him.

1:38 p.m. We are just three km from the intermediate sprint at Montauban-de-Bretagne.

1:34 p.m. The two men off the front are back in the fold. The peloton is all together on the way down the back side of the climb.

We are at 79km and the next intermediate sprint is coming up in 6km. Keep an eye open for the continuing points battle between McEwen and Zabel.

1:32 p.m. Ivanov crested the climb ahead of Mengin. Mengin still has a good hold on the jersey. Jean Delatour’s Stephane Goubert took the third spot, which is just how deep points go on a Cat. 4 climb.

1:29p.m. Well we spoke a bit too soon. Ivanov is still off the front. He is being chased by none other than the man in the climber’s jersey Chritophe Mengin.

1:28 p.m. Alessio’s Ruslan Ivanov has tried an acceleration about 2km from the top of the climb. He’s not gotten far as the FDJeux team of KOM leader Mengin is keeping an eye on the field.

1:22 p.m. We are at 66km and will be starting the climb soon.

Oh sorry folks. I always try to put a link totoday’s stage details in these live updates, but it had slipped mymind. Here ya go.

1:17 p.m. And now they’ve been caught. Does Jalabert want another win today? Look for attacks on the climb coming up at Bécherel (72km). We are now at 64km.

1:16 p.m. Apparently few people want to see this little break succeed. Several teams — including iBanesto and CSC — are chasing. The two leaders’ advantage is now down to 15 seconds.

1:08 p.m. The are lots of signs along the road today proclaiming “Allez Fred!”

They’re not for our man on Domo — Fred Rodriguez. The race is now in the home region of Frédéric Guesdon (FDJeux.com) and his fans are out in force.

The leaders are now 45 seconds ahead of the field and we are at the 55km mark.

1:03 p.m. Race radio reports that the average speed for the first hour was 48.9kph. That need for a Bastille Day win can really inspire the peloton, no?

By the way, Laurent Jalabert won last year on Bastille Day.

This is the first Tour stage to end in Plouay, although a stage did start here (in the rain) in 1998. This stage started in St. Martin de Landelles, the hometown of the long-time Tour de France announcer Daniel Mangeas; halfway into the race it passes through St. Méen-le-Grand, hometown of the late three-time Tour winner Louison Bobet; and it ends at Plouay, where the annual GP Ouest-France has been held for the past 70 years.

1:02 p.m. The two leaders have an advantage of 45 seconds over the field.

12:57p.m. At km 45, the two leaders now have 40 seconds on the field.

Coming up ahead, we have a Cat. 4 climb at Bécherel (72km), sprints at Montauban-de-Bretagne (86km) and Noyal-Pontivy (160.5km) and then two more Cat. 4 climbs at Kervalen (187km) and Ty-Marrec (214km).

12:51 p.m.The two leaders have been caught and there is a new attack underway. Jean Cyril Robin and Raivis Belohvosciks are off the front with a 17-second lead. 12:48 p.m.The two men have established a 10 second lead as we approach the 37km mark. Of the two, Vogondy is the best placed. He is in 71st overall at 3:54.

Hushovd is the Lantern Rouge at 33:46.

12:45 p.m. Well, here I was all set to list the men in the break, but they were caught before I could get all 16 names down.

Among the riders in the break were U.S. Postal’s Ekimov and ONCE’s Olano. We are at km 36 and the group is back in the fold…

The group was too big and the they were too close to the day’s first sprint at Bazouges-la-Perouse. So they were caught.

Lotto’s McEwen beat Telekom’s Zabel to the line on that one. He is now within three points of the points jersey again.

The man who took third in the sprint, French national champion Nicolas Vogondy (FDJ) kept riding and tried an attack. He was joined by Credit Agricole’s Thor Hushovd.

12:41 p.m. There are now 16 riders off the front the field. Brad McGee has jumped out of the peloton and chased down the break.

They have 10 seconds’ lead.

12:39 p.m. The peloton is at 28km and there has been an attack by 15 riders. We do not have ID on them yet.

It was the Mapei team of world champion Oscar Freire that announced he would pull out of the Tour this morning.Freire, who won the second stage in Saarbrucken, Germany, fell late on in Saturday’s seventh stage and was taken to hospital for tests suffering from back problems.

The 26-year-old, who won the world professional road race in both 1999 and 2001, had not expected to finish his first tour and probably would have pulled out before the Pyrenees mountains to stay fresh for the rest of the season.

12:31 p.m. Hello and Happy Bastille Day.

We had an on-time start at noon today under clear skies. There were 182 riders, with Oscar Freire from Mapei unable to start because of injuries he suffered in a crash and Lotto’s Aart Vierhouten unable to start due to illness.

We are now 20km into today’s stage from St. Martin-de-Landelles to Plouay.

There have been several attacks, including one at km 7 by none other than Jacky Durand (FDJeux). He was joined by 21 riders. Nearly every team was in the break, save the U.S. Postal team of Lance Armstrong. The Postal team chased and the break ended at km 13.