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tour de france

Stage 20 - Longjiumeau to Paris Champs-Elysees, 102.5km - 25th July
Finally it's over and the great riders have ridden into Paris! Don't we all feel like singing along with Joe Dassin - Les Champs-Elysees! Alberto Contador has ridden to the line in the Yellow Jersey and for the third time running has become the champion of Le Tour de France! The race was won by sprint champion Mark Cavendish but it was the competition between Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador that was the highlight of the whole competition. Andy Schleck eventually finished second overall, 39 seconds behind Contador and looks promising to one day be a multiple winner of the tour, but not this year. Until next year - Au revoir !
Race standings - Top Ten
1 Alberto Contador 91h 58' 48"
2 Andy Schleck 91h 59' 27"
3 Denis Menchov 92h 00' 49"
4 Samuel Sanchez 92h 02' 28
5 Jurgen Van Den Broeck 92h 05' 42"
6 Robert Gesink 92h 08' 19"
7 Ryder Hesjedal 92h 09' 03"
8 Joaquim Rodriguez 92h 10' 25"
9 Roman Kreuziger 92h 10' 42"
10 Christopher Horner 92h 10' 50"
Top Australians
26 Cadel Evans 92h 49' 15"
37 Michael Rogers 93h 08' 59"
47 Matthew Lloyd 93h 28' 50"
103 Luke Roberts 95h 02' 55"
149 Stuart O'Grady 95h 41' 27"
152 Wesley Suzlberger 95h 45' 47"
159 Daniel Lancaster 95h 55' 48"
165 Robbie McEwen 96h 07' 16"
Stage 17 - Pau to Col du Tourmalet, 174km - 22nd July
172 riders took on the last stage of the Pyrenees today. The stage had three steep climbs, the last being an incredibly steep and long ride to the summit and finish line. This was Andy's real last chance to gain time on Contador, who was the holder of the yellow jersey and 8 seconds ahead of Schleck. 7 riders broke early and managed to push a 3 minute lead ahead of the peloton at the 160km mark. 3rd placed Samuel Sanchez had a nasty fall early on and lost precious time but fought back to finish remarkably well. After their early lead, the break aways were reeled in and it was time for Andy to attack. He pushed hard and proved he is one of the best climbers in the world. He managed to lose all riders except for one, Contador. Andy Schleck led the whole final ascent, attacking numerous times to loose Contador but just couldn't break free. Contador proved himself equal to all the attacks and was able to just hold on riding in the wake of Schleck the whole stage, though he did attack once with about 3.5 km remaining. In the end, these two riders proved themselves to be the strongest of the bunch, riding unchallenged to the finish line. In a fair situation, it was Schleck who crossed the line first, seemingly unchallenged by Contador to claim stage honours. The race is now likely going to come down to the time trial in a couple of days time. Contador remains 8 seconds adrift and is favourite to be riding into Paris wearing the yellow jersey but there could still likely be some surprises from Andy Schleck, who has proved himself to be the most formidable and versatile young rider on le Tour.

Race standings - Top Ten
1 Alberto Contador 83h 32' 39"
2 Andy Schleck 83h 32' 47"
3 Samuel Sanchez 83h 36' 11"
4 Denis Menchov 83h 36' 32"
5 Jurgen Van Den Broeck 83h 38' 06"
6 Robert Gesink 83h 39' 20"
7 Joaquim Rodriguez 83h 39' 42"
8 Ryder Hesjedal 83h 41' 57"
9 Roman Kreuziger 83h 42' 51"
10 Christopher Horner 83h 43' 16"
Top Australians
26 Cadel Evans 84h 17' 52"
37 Michael Rogers 84h 40' 02"
47 Matthew Lloyd 85h 00' 57"
103 Luke Roberts 86h 35' 36"
148 Wesley Suzlberger 87h 14' 37"
152 Stuart O'Grady 87h 16' 55"
160 Daniel Lancaster 87h 30' 06"
166 Robbie McEwen 87h 36' 44"
Stage 16 - Bagneres-de-Luchon to Pau, 199.5km - 20th July
172 remaining riders took to the field today to take on the 16th stage, a stage that included 4 huge passes. The early attack came at 5km when a large group of 18, including Armstrong, left the main field. The group was rattled down to 11 by the second climb due to fierce riding that continually kept increasing the lead from the peloton. Sanchez and Gesink showed some trepidation during this ascent as they dropped from the peloton but they were able to catch up once again on the descent. The lead group of 10 were just over 6 minutes ahead of the peloton at the base of the final climb but this just seemed to increase with many riders keen for the win and the king of the mountain jersey. By the top of the climb the lead group was nearly 10 minutes ahead of the peloton. With not a lot of action between Schleck and Contador, the main excitement was with the lead group. Barredo attacked and pulled a lead of 40 seconds ahead of the remaining escapees but he couldn't hold it and was pulled back with 1 km to go. In the end it was the Frenchman Pierrick Fedrigo who showed he had the juice left and pushed hard to get about a bike's length ahead of the pack to claim the stage victory. Armstrong, who would have loved a victory came in at 6th position. The peloton came in 6 minutes and 45 seconds later.

Race standings - Top Ten
1 Alberto Contador 78h 29' 10"
2 Andy Schleck 78h 29' 18"
3 Samuel Sanchez 78h 31' 10"
4 Denis Menchov 78h 31' 23"
5 Jurgen Van Den Broeck 78h 32' 49"
6 Robert Gesink 78h 34' 11"
7 Levi Leipheimer 78h 34' 35"
8 Joaquin Oliver 78h 34' 55"
9 Alexandre Vinokourov 78h 36' 22"
10 Ryder Hesjedal 78h 37' 01"
Top Australians
24 Cadel Evans 79h 02' 23"
29 Michael Rogers 79h 13' 14"
48 Matthew Lloyd 79h 46' 43"
97 Luke Roberts 81h 01' 57"
148 Wesley Sulzberger 81h 40' 58"
151 Stuart O'Grady 81h 44' 28"
162 Daniel Lancaster 81h 56' 32"
166 Robbie McEwen 82h 01' 36"
Stage 15 - Pamiers to Bagneres-de-Luchon, 187.5km - 19th July
During the first 100km of this race there were a few attacks but none of the breaks succeeded. It wasn't until this point that a group of 9 managed to break free from the peloton, Luke Roberts from Australia was amongst them. This break away group attained a lead of nearly 8 minutes by the time they had reached the first summit. At this point the Saxo Bank riders began to pile on the pressure, led by Stuart O'grady they set a fast pace and it appeared were reversing the strategies of the previous day from Contador's team. With the final incredibly steep ascent still to be traversed and 30km remaining in the race, the Frenchman, Thomas Voeckler, took off from the break away group. This day marking the 100th anniversary of the Pyrenees into the Tour de France, he was intent on a French victory. Meanwhile, back in the main group, Andy Schleck's team Saxo Bank, had pushed incredibly hard and had left nearly all of the riders in their wake beside the top five. This group was largely led by Schleck himself but there were some small attacks from nearly all of the riders that proved unsuccessful. At approximately 3km from the top of the final ascent, Schleck attacked and may have been successful in putting some time in between his closest rival Contador but for a mechanical mishap. His chain popped off and left him having to do a quick and angry emergency repair. Contador didn't wait around and pushed ahead with a few of the top group to reach the summit about 20 seconds ahead of Shleck, who put in a powerful final ride to the summit to limit the damage from his catastrophe. Contador's group, then managed to put a further 20 seconds on Shleck's final time thanks to the speedy downhill ability of Samuel Sanchez. What could have been a solid attack that could have put more time in between Schleck and Contador ended up costing Andy the yellow Jersey. Contador now leads his closest rival by 8 seconds. The real pride and power of the day was the Frenchman Thomas Voeckler though, his gutsy ride and determined spirit allowed him to hold off all rivals and he passed the line alone, nearly 3 minutes ahead of Contador's group.

Race standings - Top Ten
1 Alberto Contador 72h 50' 42"
2 Andy Schleck 72h 50' 50"
3 Samuel Sanchez 72h 52' 42"
4 Denis Menchov 72h 52' 55"
5 Jurgen Van Den Broeck 72h 54' 21"
6 Robert Gesink 72h 55' 43"
7 Levi Leipheimer 72h 56' 07"
8 Joaquin Oliver 72h 56' 27"
9 Alexandre Vinokourov 72h 57' 54"
10 Ryder Hesjedal 72h 58' 33"
Top Australians
22 Cadel Evans 73h 06' 58"
26 Michael Rogers 73h 17' 49"
52 Matthew Lloyd 74h 08' 15"
92 Luke Roberts 74h 55' 26"
144 Wesley Sulzberger 75h 34' 27"
158 Stuart O'Grady 75h 49' 03"
161 Daniel Lancaster 75h 50' 01"
167 Robbie McEwen 75h 55' 05"
Stage 14 - Revel to Ax 3 Domaines, 184.5km - 18th July
The riders reached the Pyrenees during this race and the contest between Schleck and Contador was likely to begin. The race began with a break in the group occuring after 14km, a group of 9 breaking free. The escapees set a good pace of 42km/h and after 36km they were already 7 and a half minutes free of the pack. The Astana team showed signs of an attacking strategy to allow Contador to pick up some time on Schleck and kept a fast pace. The peloton had made up some time on the break away group and with 50km left to go they had halved the largest time gap to just 4 minutes. At the start of the climb the peloton started to divide and numerous riders started to show their mortality and fall behind, Lance Armstrong among them. Schleck and Contador were riding in the midst of the pack but every now and then Contador would lead with an explosive attack. Schleck proved equal to staying on his wheel and not once did he allow Contador to break free and make up some time. Their games benefited other close contenders like Sanchez and Menchov but they obviously believed their lead was too great for these other riders to trouble them. In the end, it was the Frenchman Christophe Riblon who managed to cross the line first, his ability to break and hold gave him a well deserved maiden Tour victory.

Race standings - Top Ten
1 Andy Schleck 68h 02' 30"
2 Alberto Contador 68h 03' 01"
3 Samuel Sanchez 68h 05' 01"
4 Denis Menchov 68h 05' 14"
5 Jurgen Van Den Broeck 68h 06' 01"
6 Robert Gesink 68h 06' 57"
7 Levi Leipheimer 68h 07' 21"
8 Joaquin Oliver 68h 07' 28"
9 Luis-Leon Sanchez 68h 08' 26"
10 Ivan Basso 68h 09' 22"
Top Australians
19 Cadel Evans 68h 15' 09"
26 Michael Rogers 68h 24' 23"
63 Matthew Lloyd 69h 17' 40"
117 Luke Roberts 70h 07' 45"
142 Wesley Sulzberger 70h 20' 47"
158 Stuart O'Grady 70h 35' 23"
159 Daniel Lancaster 70h 36' 21"
166 Robbie McEwen 70h 41' 25"
Stage 13 - Rodez to Revel, 196km - 17th July
The 176 remaining riders began a race that was complete with both climbs and sprint stages. Immediately from the start, 3 stage winners broke from the pack. The trio made it 6 minutes clear at the first ascent but the pack remained at this distance and didn't allow them to make much more time. At 60 km from the finish line the gap was down to less that 3 minutes. The trio couldn't hold the peloton at bay for much longer as there were numerous teams who held out visions of victory for their sprinters. At approximately 10 km from the line there was another small break from the group, an Italian broke free and was followed by another couple, one of them was the Kazakh, Alexandre Vinokourov, who had been banned for two years on a doping charge. Proving that you don't need drugs to compete at the elite level, Vinokourov held all of the other riders at bay and made it to the line to claim the stage victory. His stunning attack on the final climb must have upset many sprinters who were hoping for a stage victory. Of the remaining sprinters, it was Mark Cavendish who lead the pack across the line to take second place.

Race standings - Top Ten
1 Andy Schleck 63h 08' 40"
2 Alberto Contador 63h 09' 11"
3 Samuel Sanchez 63h 11' 25"
4 Denis Menchov 63h 11' 38"
5 Jurgen Van Den Broeck 63h 12' 11"
6 Levi Leipheimer 63h 12' 46"
7 Robert Gesink 63h 13' 07"
8 Joaquin Oliver 63h 13' 38"
9 Luis-Leon Sanchez 63h 13' 42"
10 Roman Kreuziger 63h 13' 56"
Top Australians
17 Michael Rogers 63h 16' 27"
18 Cadel Evans 63h 16' 48"
82 Matthew Lloyd 64h 19' 19"
108 Luke Roberts 64h 38' 07"
136 Wesley Sulzberger 64h 51' 09"
154 Stuart O'Grady 65h 05' 45"
156 Daniel Lancaster 65h 06' 43"
164 Robbie McEwen 65h 11' 47"
Stage 12 - Bourg-de-Peage to Mende, 210.5km - 16th July
Andy Schleck started this stage in the yellow Jersey with the expectation of an attack by Contador - or any of the other remaining 177 riders in le Tour. The pace was very high at the start and a small group of three made a short attack that was soon caught. The peloton soon broke and allowed some sprinters and climbers to tally some points at various stages. The peloton monitored the break aways from a distance, who had a lead of 3 and a half minutes with 30km remaining. At the bottom of the final climb there were only 4 riders left who retained a lead of 40 seconds with 5 km left in the race. Two Spanish riders attacked at this point, Rodriguez and Contador; Schleck could not stay on them and the two riders overtook all the break aways and made a sprint for the line. It was Rodriguez who made it to the line first to claim the stage victory. Contador would also have been happy with his performance in proving he could break from Andy Schleck and made up 10 seconds on him.

Race standings - Top Ten
1 Andy Schleck 58h 42' 01"
2 Alberto Contador 58h 42' 32"
3 Samuel Sanchez 58h 44' 46"
4 Denis Menchov 58h 44' 59"
5 Jurgen Van Den Broeck 58h 45' 32"
6 Levi Leipheimer 58h 46' 07"
7 Robert Gesink 58h 46' 28"
8 Joaquin Oliver 58h 46' 59"
9 Luis-Leon Sanchez 58h 47' 03"
10 Roman Kreuziger 58h 47' 17"
Top Australians
17 Michael Rogers 58h 49' 48"
18 Cadel Evans 58h 50' 09"
82 Matthew Lloyd 59h 48' 18"
104 Luke Roberts 60h 05' 55"
130 Wesley Sulzberger 60h 17' 39"
153 Stuart O'Grady 60h 32' 15"
160 Daniel Lancaster 60h 37' 17"
163 Robbie McEwen 60h 38' 17"
Stage 11 - Sisteron to Bourg-les-Valence, 184.5km - 15th July
Andy Schleck was wearing the yellow jersey against 179 riders in this race that was undoubtably going to involve a sprint finish. Once again, a small group broke and gained a lead of 5 minutes. The gap dropped to below 3 minutes with 125km in the race remaining and it was clear that these riders were there to take points and promote their sponsors rather than be real contenders for line honours. At 50km to the line the escapees were just 1 minute 40 seconds ahead of a peloton that was beginning to lift its pace and would ultimately catch them well before the line. The sprinters began to line up and battle for top position with 1 km to go. Lead out rider Mark Renshaw used a peculiar technique of head butting opposition Julian Dean to ensure he could get Cavendish a clear passage through. Mark Cavendish once again proved his value and dominance by winning the stage, the 13th of his career. Alessandro Petacchi came in second and Tyler Farrar behind him in third position. Mark Renshaw was subsequently expelled from the tour for his bizarre maneuver and will now be pondering the value of this technique.

Race standings - Top Ten
1 Andy Schleck 53h 43' 25"
2 Alberto Contador 53h 44' 06"
3 Samuel Sanchez 53h 46' 10"
4 Denis Menchov 53h 46' 23"
5 Jurgen Van Den Broeck 53h 46' 56"
6 Levi Leipheimer 53h 47' 24"
7 Robert Gesink 53h 47' 47"
8 Luis-Leon Sanchez 53h 48' 06"
9 Joaquin Oliver 53h 48' 33"
10 Ivan Basso 53h 48' 34"
Top Australians
15 Michael Rogers 53h 50' 29"
18 Cadel Evans 53h 51' 12"
79 Matthew Lloyd 54h 44' 27"
107 Luke Roberts 55h 01' 56"
132 Robbie McEwen 55h 13' 04"
135 Wesley Sulzberger 55h 13' 48"
152 Stuart O'Grady 55h 24' 22"
166 Daniel Lancaster 55h 31' 59"
Stage 7 - Tournus to Station des Rousses, 165.5km - 10th July
This stage was to be the most difficult of the tour so far with numerous difficult climbs. The break came early and made a lead of 8 minutes after 34km. Jerome Pineau from France won numerous climb stages to rightfully lay claim to the polka dot jersey. The peloton managed to reduce the gap to 6 minutes during the next climb and descent stages, with riders reaching 90km/h at certain points. The next climb stage saw the sprinters suffering and Fabian Cancellara looked destined to sacrifice the yellow jersey, no matter the help he got from team mates he appeared to be struggling. With 35km left in the race, another break away group go looking for the front group. It appeared to drain the power of all riders except for one, Sylvain Chavanel, who pushed ahead to join his fellow country man Jerome Pineau and then overtake him. Chavanel ended up crossing the line alone, getting paid nicely for his decision to attack. This gave him his second win of this tour and handed him the prized yellow jersey.

Race standings - Top Ten
1 Sylvain Chavanel 33h 01' 23"
2 Cadel Evans 33h 02' 48"
3 Ryder Hesjedal 33h 02' 55"
4 Andy Schleck 33h 03' 18"
5 Alexandre Vinokourov 33h 03' 40"
6 Alberto Contador 33h 03' 49"
7 Jurgen Van Den Broeck 33h 03' 51"
8 Nicolas Roche 33h 03' 51"
9 Johan Van Summeren 33h 03' 56"
10 Denis Menchov 33h 03' 58"
Top ten Australians
2 Cadel Evans 33h 02' 48"
20 Michael Rogers 33h 05' 09"
98 Robbie McEwen 33h 25' 28"
114 Luke Roberts 33h 30' 04"
115 Simon Gerrans 33h 30' 15"
126 Wesley Sulzberger 33h 30' 57"
145 Mark Renshaw 33h 36' 05"
155 Matthew Lloyd 33h 39' 57"
162 Daniel Lancaster 33h 42' 55"
171 Stuart O'Grady 33h 45' 47"
Stage 6 - Montargis to Gueugnon, 227.5km - 9th July
Even though this was the longest stage of the tour, it was set to be won by a sprinter. Three break away riders left the peloton early and battled it out for all points in the first sprint stage. The peloton was led well by Team Saxo Bank and Columbia and the gap was stabilised at approximatey 6 minutes. This lead progressively crumbled and it was clear that they would not hold the lead until the end. With 25 km remaining two more riders attacked and joined the small break away group but it was to no avail as the peloton swooped on them and the sprinters all battled for position. Mark Cavendish impressed all the spectators in an exciting race to the line and claimed his 12th tour victory and second this year. Coming in second was Tyler Farrar and 3rd was Alessandro Petacchi.

Race standings - Top Ten
1 Fabian Cancellara 28h 37' 30"
2 Geraint Thomas 28h 37' 50"
3 Cadel Evans 28h 38' 09"
4 Ryder Hesjedal 28h 38' 16"
5 Sylvain Chavanel 28h 38' 31"
6 Andy Schleck 28h 38' 39"
7 Thor Hushovd 28h 38' 46"
8 Alexandre Vinokourov 28h 39' 01"
9 Alberto Contador 28h 39' 10"
10 Jurgen Van Den Broeck 28h 39' 12"
Top ten Australians
3 Cadel Evans 28h 38' 09"
23 Robbie McEwen 28h 40' 19"
27 Michael Rogers 28h 40' 30"
89 Luke Roberts 28h 44' 55"
104 Wesley Sulzberger 28h 45' 48"
111 Simon Gerrans 28h 48' 09"
126 Mark Renshaw 28h 50' 56"
151 Daniel Lancaster 28h 57' 46"
165 Stuart O'Grady 29h 00' 38"
170 Matthew Lloyd 29h 04' 06"
Stage 5 - Epernay to Montargis, 187.5km - 8th July
188 riders began the race and an eager team of three broke nearly immediately from the start. They pushed hard, travelling at an average speed of 41km/h and made it 8 minutes clear of the peloton at their best. The peloton then began to close the gap as there were a number of teams eager to get their sprinters in position for the race to the line. Little by little the peloton came back, intent on foiling the plans of the escapees. At 10km from the finish the gap was less than 1 minute and this lead was demolished approximately 4 km from the line. Petacchi got himself trapped while Mark Renshaw created a perfect lead for Mark Cavendish to demolish the opposition with his incredible power. The UK rider scored his first win of this tour and shed tears of joy.

Race standings - Top Ten
1 Fabian Cancellara 22h 59' 45"
2 Geraint Thomas 23h 00' 08"
3 Cadel Evans 23h 00' 24"
4 Ryder Hesjedal 23h 00' 31"
5 Sylvain Chavanel 23h 00' 46"
6 Andy Schleck 23h 00' 54"
7 Thor Hushovd 23h 01' 04"
8 Alexandre Vinokourov 23h 01' 16"
9 Alberto Contador 23h 01' 25"
10 Jurgen Van Den Broeck 23h 01' 27"
Top ten Australians
3 Cadel Evans 23h 00' 24"
23 Robbie McEwen 23h 02' 37"
27 Michael Rogers 23h 02' 45"
90 Luke Roberts 23h 07' 10"
104 Wesley Sulzberger 23h 08' 03"
112 Simon Gerrans 23h 10' 24"
128 Mark Renshaw 23h 13' 14"
156 Daniel Lancaster 23h 20' 04"
161 Stuart O'Grady 23h 21' 37"
172 Matthew Lloyd 23h 26' 21"
Stage 4 - Cambrai to Reims, 153.5km - 7th July
The 189 remaining riders took on the 4th stage of le Tour de France going from Cambrai to Reims; a race that was likely to be taken out by a sprinter. The first attack was lead by a group of 5 men early in the race. The group managed to get nearly 4 minutes ahead of the peloton at their best but the peloton was always aware of how far ahead they were and never let them get too far adrift. At 40 km from the finish line, the gap was just one minute. The break away 5 tried hard to maintain their lead but it was always going to be tough with a determined peloton full of sprinters eager for a race win. The 5 break aways tried but with 10 km left and only a 15 second lead the hungry peloton had them in their sights and managed to engulf them just a few km from the line. At 1 km from the line the team strategies to put their sprinters through became apparent. Renshaw was providing a nice line for Cavendish and Petacchi and Robbie McEwen were looking very dangerous. The exciting sprint to the line seemed to be started by Petacchi and he held on with amazing power to cross the line first, proving himself to be one of the most formidable sprinters of 2010. In other world news, the Spanish armada conquered the German Blitzkrieg 1 - 0. The Spanish will now meet the Dutch in the world cup final to produce a new Football World Champion!

Race standings - Top Ten
1 Fabian Cancellara 18h 28' 55"
2 Geraint Thomas 18h 29' 18"
3 Cadel Evans 18h 29' 34"
4 Ryder Hesjedal 18h 29' 41"
5 Sylvain Chavanel 18h 29' 56"
6 Andy Schleck 18h 30' 04"
7 Thor Hushovd 18h 30' 14"
8 Alexandre Vinokourov 18h 30' 26"
9 Alberto Contador 18h 30' 35"
10 Jurgen Van Den Broeck 18h 30' 37"
Top ten Australians
3 Cadel Evans 18h 29' 34"
23 Robbie McEwen 18h 31' 47"
28 Michael Rogers 18h 31' 55"
91 Luke Roberts 18h 36' 20"
106 Wesley Sulzberger 18h 37' 13"
113 Simon Gerrans 18h 39' 34"
130 Mark Renshaw 18h 42' 24"
153 Stuart O'Grady 18h 47' 16"
162 Daniel Lancaster 18h 49' 14"
175 Matthew Lloyd 18h 53' 04"
Stage 3 - Wanze to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut, 213km - 6th July
With 191 riders left in le Tour, this was going to be a tricky and risky stage due to the occurence of 7 cobble stone patches throughout the track. The first attack occurred after 8 km from a group of 7 men, while the first accident of the day occurred after 96 km, taking out several riders. The 3.5 min advantage from the breakaway group was reduced to 2.5 min with 40 minutes to go by vigilant cycling from both Lance Armstrong's and Andy Schleck's teams. The peloton increased its pace just prior to the last cobble stone patch but dust and tight corners resulted in another crash at 35 km from the finish; causing another couple to retire from the race. At this point, another group broke from the peloton to hunt down the leading group. Once the riders hit the final cobble stone patch, riders Tony Martin and Frank Schleck hit the turf hard and Frank was forced to retire. Andy Schleck and Cadel Evans break with a group from the peleton at this point with 20 km in the race remaining. The original break away group is down to one man, only 30 seconds ahead of Cadel's group of 6 with 15 km remaining. They catch the final man with 2 km to go and the race is decided by an exciting sprint to the line. Thor Hushovd proved too fast for the final 6 to claim the stage win. The gutsy fight from Cadel has pushed him into 3rd position and Robbie McEwan climbed ahead of over 50 racers!

Race standings - Top Ten
1 Fabian Cancellara 14h 54' 00"
2 Geraint Thomas 14h 54' 23"
3 Cadel Evans 14h 54' 39"
4 Ryder Hesjedal 14h 54' 46"
5 Sylvain Chavanel 14h 55' 01"
6 Andy Schleck 14h 55' 09"
7 Thor Hushovd 14h 55' 19"
8 Alexandre Vinokourov 14h 55' 31"
9 Alberto Contador 14h 55' 40"
10 Jurgen Van Den Broeck 14h 55' 42"
Top ten Australians
3 Cadel Evans 14h 54' 39"
23 Robbie McEwen 14h 56' 52"
28 Michael Rogers 14h 57' 00"
91 Luke Roberts 15h 01' 25"
106 Wesley Sulzberger 15h 02' 18"
114 Simon Gerrans 15h 04' 39"
135 Mark Renshaw 15h 07' 29"
155 Stuart O'Grady 15h 12' 21"
162 Daniel Lancaster 15h 14' 19"
176 Matthew Lloyd 15h 17' 27"
Stage 2 - Brussels to Spa, 201 km - 5th July
Fabian Cancellara was wearing the yellow jersey at the start of this stage despite his fall in the previous race. From the start, there were a few attacks but no group was successful in breaking away until kilometre 15, when a group of 8 made some space. At 54km into the stage they managed to get 5 min ahead of the main group, though shortly after Stuart O'Grady pushed the peloton to help Cancellara's team close this gap. A little rain saw the road get slippery and as expected more accidents followed. The break away was only 1 minute away from the peloton on the last challenge of the day but then they were scattered due to another major fall. Two men remained in the break away at this point and that was when Sylvain Chavanel decided to dig deep and head out on his own with 15 km to go. He pushed hard and was rewarded with his 2nd ever stage win and the yellow jersey. The peloton remained 4 min behind.

Race standings - Top Ten
1 Sylvain Chavanel 10h 01' 25"
2 Fabian Cancellara 10h 04' 22"
3 Tony Martin 10h 04' 32"
4 David Millar 10h 04' 42"
5 Lance Armstrong 10h 04' 44"
6 Geraint Thomas 10h 04' 45"
7 Alberto Contador 10h 04' 49"
8 Levi Leipheimer 10h 04' 50"
9 Edvald Boasson 10h 04' 54"
10 Linus Gerdemann 10h 04' 57"
Top ten Australians
13 Michael Rogers 10h 04' 57"
19 Cadel Evans 10h 05' 01"
39 Simon Gerrans 10h 05' 12"
60 Luke Roberts 10h 05' 19"
78 Robbie McEwen 10h 05' 28"
127 Wesley Sulzberger 10h 06' 12"
148 Mark Renshaw 10h 11' 23"
158 Daniel Lancaster 10h 14' 52"
173 Matthew Lloyd 10h 15' 25"
187 Stuart O'Grady 10h 20' 35"
Stage 1 - Rotterdam to Brussels, 223.5 km - 4th July
The first attack of the race came quickly, with 3 riders breaking just 4 minutes from the start. The trio made it 7 minutes clear of the peloton after just 35 km. Early in this break away, a dog wanted to get involved in the race and managed instead to cause quite an accident, causing several riders some nasty gravel rashes. By half way through the race the peloton had managed to close the gap on the break away group of three and had narrowed the gap to just 4 minutes. The peloton kept getting closer and were only 1.5 minutes away from the leaders just 60 km from the finish line. This narrowed even further to just 40 seconds with about 40 km to go and then they were caught by the peloton 9 km from the finish. The last section of race saw numerous accidents. Among them Mark Cavendish and Oscar Freire 2km from the end. Following that there was another large pile up, causing many big names to either fall or be held up - including a spill by Cancellara. The final saw an exciting sprint to the line and it was the Italian Alessandro Petacchi who managed to claim the honours for his 5th stage victory in his career.

Race standings - Top Ten
1 Fabian Cancellara 5h 19' 38"
2 Tony Martin 5h 19' 48"
3 David Millar 5h 19' 58"
4 Lance Armstrong 5h 20' 00"
5 Geraint Thomas 5h 20' 01"
6 Alberto Contador 5h 20' 05"
7 Tyler Farrar 5h 20' 06"
8 Levi Leipheimer 5h 20' 06"
9 Edvald Boasson 5h 20' 10"
10 Linus Gerdemann 5h 20' 13"
Top ten Australians
14 Michael Rogers 5h 20' 13"
23 Cadel Evans 5h 20' 17"
40 Daniel Lancaster 5h 20' 27"
52 Simon Gerrans 5h 20' 28"
78 Luke Roberts 5h 20' 35"
79 Adam Hansem 5h 20' 35"
105 Stuart O'Grady 5h 20' 44"
108 Robbie McEwen 5h 20' 44"
115 Mark Renshaw 5h 20' 46"
162 Matthew Lloyd 5h 20' 59"
Prologue - Rotterdam to Rotterdam, 8.9 km - 3rd July
Not since 1954 has Le Tour had a prologue stage but here it is, back again. Starting in the Netherlands, the riders began with a time trial stage around Rotterdam. Tony Martin was the first to assert himself and set a strong time of 10 minutes and 10 seconds. Then the rain began and made it hard for anyone to usurp him. David Millar also set a good time but was still 10 seconds behind the leader. The favourites, Cavendish, Schleck, Menchov and Sastre were all reasonably slow and seemed to be exercising too much caution. However, the favourite Fabian Cancellara delivered and made it to the finish line 6 seconds ahead of Millar to take the stage. Lance Armstrong came in 5 seconds ahead of his rival and current champion Alberto Contador to take out 4th spot. Our favourite Cadel Evans came in at 23rd with a time 39 seconds adrift of the leader. Michael Rogers, another promising Australian came in at 14th.

Race standings - Top Ten
1 Fabian Cancellara 10'00"
2 Tony Martin 10'10"
3 David Millar 10'20"
4 Lance Armstrong 10'22"
5 Geraint Thomas 10'23"
6 Alberto Contador 10'27"
7 Tyler Farrar 10'28"
8 Levi Leipheimer 10'28"
9 Edvald Boasson 10'32"
10 Linus Gerdemann 10'35
Top ten Australians
14 Michael Rogers 10'35
23 Cadel Evans 10'39"
41 Daniel Lancaster 10'49"
54 Simon Gerrans 10'50"
80 Luke Roberts 10'57"
81 Adam Hansem 10'57"
108 Stuart O'Grady 11'06"
111 Robbie McEwen 11'06"
118 Mark Renshaw 11'08"
166 Matthew Lloyd 11'21"