And, now that the battle for the yellow jersey is all but over as the Tours current second-placed rider, Jan Ullrich, confessed at the conclusion of the climbing stages of the 88th Tour the only real story was that of the quest of a stage victory.
Okay, there was a slight change to the top 10 overall, thanks to the presence of Michael Boogerd in the 25-man escape that began at the 66th kilometer. But for much of the peloton today was essentially a continuation of yesterdays rest day ... if, that is, your idea of rest includes a 232.5km roll through five of Frances southern regions in bright sunshine at a pace faster than the predicted pace of the Tours official road book.
The 15th stage began at a rapid pace (over 46kph), and included four small climbs in the first 75 kilometers. It was between the third and fourth categorized rises that a cluster of 25 rider escaped the grip of a peloton which was always prepared to allow a non-threaten group to scamper free. And it was Verbrugghe, the new favorite son of Belgian cycling, who confirmed his all-round ability.
A day after his 27th birthday, the Lotto rider gave his Belgian-based team their first Tour stage success since Peter De Clercq in stage 20 of the 1992 event. Verbrugghes win came through persistence which wasnt spoiled by his last minute capture by the sprint teams in stage five this year.
The rider who spent a few days in the pink jersey of Giro leader and suffered the whole team in Italy because of falls and poor weather first rose to Tour prominence in the Futuroscope time trial at the end of 1999 when he finished fifth behind the eventual winner Lance Armstrong. Since then hes surpassed the spoiled son of Belgiums national sport, Frank Vandenbroucke to become one of the most complete riders of the season.
Winning the Criterium International requires time trialling, road racing and climbing skill. A Fleche-Wallone victory is only achieved with wit and strength. And the fastest time trial in the history of Grande Tours as is his claim after the 58+kph Giro prologue win is achieved with concentrated, strong pedaling.
The Kelme team had the most to lose from the day the Tour passed near Toulouse. And it was the green, blue and white jerseys which dragged home the peloton over 15 minutes after Verbrugghe to realize that Santiago Botero had lost his grip on eighth-place overall to Boogerd. But while one team looses a top-10 place, another regains some respect in the Tour.
16H47 - Peloton Come In 15'04" Behind Stage Winner The peloton was led home by Damien Nazon 15'04" behind the stage winner. 16H44 - Peloton In Final 2km The peloton is yet to finish the stage. They are being led by the Kelme team and are currently in the closing 2km of the stage.
16H43 - Birthday Bonus For Verbrugghe Rik Verbrugghe celebrated his 27th birthday on the rest day yesterday. His win today was the 2nd for a Belgian rider in the 2001 Tour (after Marc Wauters' victory in stage 2).
16H41 - Fleche: Giro Prologue & Tour Stage For Verbrugghe Rik Verbrugghe has topped off an outstanding season which includes wins in the Criterium International, Fleche-Wallone one-day Classic and the prologue of the Giro d'Italia.
16H39 - Peloton's Latest Check: 15'15" Michael Boogerd (who finished 7th in the stage) looks likely to move into the top 10 overall with his efforts today. He began the day in 16th (31'18" behind the lead of Armstrong). The peloton's latest check was 15'15" behind the stage winner.
16H34 - The Top 10! The provisional top 10 are: 1. Verbrugghe 2. Pinotti 3. Petacchi at 6" 4. Chavanel 5. Mattan 6. Jalabert 7. Boogerd 8. Serpellini 9. Nardello 10. Cardenas
16H33 - Petacchi Leads Home The 23 Others... Alessandro Petacchi has led home the sprint for 3rd place.
16H32 - Verbrugghe Takes The Stage! Rik Verbrugghe has won his first Tour de France stage. He outsprinted Pinotti to win the longest stage of the 2001 Tour.
16H31 - Verbrugghe & Pinotti Play Cat-And-Mouse The two leaders are now contesting the stage win with the group within sight of the leaders. Verbrrgghe leads it out...
16H30 - 1km To Go Verbrugghe has led Pinotti under the 1km to go banner. They lead the 23 others by 13".
16H30 - Lead Down To 10" The two riders are loosing their advantage fast to the 23-man chase. They are now just 10" ahead of the group of Jalabert, Julich et al.
16H29 - Time Trial Time..! Verbrugghe has the record for the fastest time trial in the history of 'Grande Tours' (58kph+ for his Giro prologue win this year). He is now sharing the lead of the stage with Pinotti with less than 2km to race.
16H28 - 3km To Go The leading pair are in the final 3km of the stage. Their latest lead on the rest of the break is 15".
16H28 - Less Than 4km To Go Verbrugghe and Pinotti continue to share the workload up front. They are 15" ahead of the rest of the group with 4km to go.
16H26 - Lead Down To 20" Verbrugghe and Pinotti lead the stage by 20" at the 5km to go mark.
16H26 - Jalabert Can't Shake The Rest of the Break Jalabert's attack hasn't been able to rid the rest of the 22 riders. He leads the chase of the two stage leaders as they pass under the 5km to go banner.
16H24 - Nicolas Jalabert In Hot Pursuit Nicolas Jalabert has attacked the 23 riders and is now in pursuit of the two stage leaders. He is 25" behind the lead of Verbrugghe and Pinotti.
16H23 - 160km Break For Pinotti and Verbrugghe The two riders at the front of the stage have been on the attack for 160km so far. The rest of the 25-man break which began at the 66km mark are splitting into pieces with the pace of their chase. But they still lag 30" behidn Verbrugghe and Pinotti.
16H21 - Peloton At 14'40" The peloton have accepted that they won't be contesting the stage. They are led by the Kelme team 14'40" behind the stage leaders. Pinotti and Verbrugghe lead the 23 others by 30" with 8.5km to race.
16H20 - 10km To Go The two leaders now have less than 10km to race. Their lead on the 23 others is about 30".
16H17 - 2 Leaders Verbrugghe has caught the stage leader, Pinotti. They lead the rest of the break by 30".
16H16 - Pinotti... Verbrugghe... Then 23 Riders Pinotti leads Verbrugghe and then a group of 23 riders. The chase by Nardello, Renier, Bouvard and Serpellini is now back with the others from the break which began at the 66th kilometer.
16H15 - Serpellini Joins Nardello's Group Pinotti continues to lead the stage. Then comes Verbrugghe... the next group (Nardello, Bouvard and Renier) has grown to four thanks to a chase by Serpellini.
16H13 - Pinotti's Never Won A Pro Race The rider at the front of the stage, Marco Pinotti, has never won a race as a professional. He is still ahead of Verbrugghe (by 8").
16H12 - Verbrugghe Not Getting Closer Verbrugghe isn't able to make an indent into Pinotti's advantage. The Italian leads the Belgian by 14" - while Nardello, Renier and Bouvard at at 41" and the rest of the break is at 52".
16H09 - Pinotti Pushing On With His Escape Pinotti leads Verbrugghe by 11", Renier, Nardello and Bouvard by 25" and the rest of the escape group 45". The stage is going to be contested without a challenge from the main peloton which is over 14 minutes behind (14'40" to be precise).
16H05 - The Situation Now... Pinotti leads the stage 15" ahead of Verbrugghe. Then comes a group of three - Renier, Nardello and Bouvard (at 30"), then the 20 others from the earlier escape (at 40") and the peloton at 14'15". The stage leader has about 20.5km to race.
16H04 - Renier Out of Chase Franck Renier has been dropped by the chase of Verbrugghe who is 15" behind the stage leader, Pinotti.
16H03 - Bouvard With Nardello As Pinotti continues with his solo break, he is 22" ahead of Renier and Verbrugghe, 30" ahead of Nardello and Bouvard, 42" ahead of the 20 other riders from the break and 14'15" ahead of the main peloton.
16H01 - 25km To Go For Pinotti Pinotti is now in the final 25km of the stage. He is being chased by Verbrugghe and Renier (at 22") and the rest of the 25-man break which escaped at the 66km mark. Nardello is at 30" and the 21 others are at 40".
15H59 - Pinotti Leads By 28" Pinotti is all alone at the front of the stage. His advantage over Verbrugghe and Renier is 28", at 32" is Nardello and Bouvard. The rest of the escape group is 40" behind the Lampre stage leader.
15H57 - Verbrugghe & Renier Chase Pinotti Rik Verbrugghe and Franck Renier are now in pursuit of Pinotti. Pinotti's lead grew to 25" before a chase was instigated.
15H56 - Tauler & Gutierrez Caught By Peloton The Kelme attack at the front of the peloton has been caught.
15H55 - Pinotti Leads By 25" There were two Lampre riders in today's break. One of them, Marco Pinotti, is now on the attack. The other, Marco Serpellini is at the back of the 24 remnants of the break. Pinotti's advantage of the 24 others is 25".
15H54 - Pinotti Leads By 18" With 30km to go, Pinotti is alone at the front of the stage by 18".
15H53 - Attack In the Peloton Two Kelme riders - Tauler and Gutierrez - have attacked the peloton.
15H52 - The Attacking Action Has Begun... Pinotti is the next rider to try and escape the leading group. He now leads the 24 other escapees by 8".
15H50 - 25 Leaders Again The 25 riders who have been at the head of affairs since the 66km mark and now all back together again after a brief attack by Jaksche, Brochard, Cardenas, Chavanel and Serpellini.
15H50 - Julich Works To Bring Back 5-Man Break Bobby Julich has done a strong turn to bring back the 5-man escape at the front of the stage.
15H48 - 5 Push Their Lead to 12" The group of Brochard are now 12" ahead of the 20 others from the day-long break.
15H47 - Five Attack Up Front! Jaksche, Brochard, Cardenas, Chavanel and Serpellini have attacked at the front of the stage. The lead the other 20 by 8".
15H46 - 35km To Go The 25 escapees are now less than 35km from the finish. Their leading margin is hovering around the 14 minute mark. They are all still working together. The US Postal team is still leading the peloton.
15H42 - Boogerd's Advantage Moves Him To 8th... The best-placed rider in today's break, Michael Boogerd, has moved up to a virtual 8th place - one place ahead of Santiago Botero. His current gain is 14 minutes. The rider who has won a stage of the Tour (in Aix-les-Bains in 1996) and finished 5th overall (in 1998) began the day in 16th place (31'18" behind Armstrong).
15H36 - Peloton At The Site of 2nd Intermediate Sprint The peloton is now at the site of the 2nd intermediate sprint. Their deficit to the 25 leaders (as they passed the 180.5km mark) was 14'00".
15H34 - Postal Take Over Chasing Duties Again After having three Kelme riders on the front of the peloton for quite some time, the US Postal team are now back in charge of the peloton's chase. They are 13'25" behind the leading 25 riders.
15H33 - When Will The Attacking Begin? The 25 riders in the lead group have been cooperating for about 120km. With several teams boasting more than one rider present in the lead group - and the race now in the final 50km of the stage - we might start seeing some attacking action up front soon. Both Jean Delatour and Bonjour have three riders each in the break... but Rabobank has the escape specialist, Dekker present with his team-mate, Boogerd.
15H28 - 50km To Go The leading 25 are in the final 50km of the stage. Their latest advantage on the Kelme/Postal-led peloton was 13'20".
15H27 - Results of 2nd Sprint The leading group have passed the site of the 2nd intermediate sprint at Saint-Leon (180.5km). The results were: 1. Lino (FES) 6pts 2. Renier (DEL) 4pts 3. Boogerd (RAB) 2pts
15H21 - The Riders In The Break... The 25-man break which began at the 66th kilometer are now 13'20" ahead of the peloton. The group is: Heppner (TEL), Jaksche (ONCE), Lino (FES), Petacchi & Tosatto (FAS), Boogerd & Dekker (RAB), Verbrugghe & Vermaut (LOT), Mattan (COF), Nardello (MAP), Pascal Rodriguez (BAN), Julich (CA), Salmon (AG2), Nicolas Jalabert (CST), Brochard, Bouvard & Goubert (DEL), Cardenas (KEL), Bouyer, Chavanel & Renier (BJR), Serpellini & Pinotti (LAM) and Schnider (FDJ).
15H19 - Kelme Continue To Lead Peloton There are still three of the Kelme team at the front of the peloton. They are currently 13'18" behind the leading break of 25 riders.
15H18 - Four Telekom Rioders Nurse Ullrich Back Into Bunch After his puncture, Jan Ullrich has been supported to the back of the peloton by four of his Telekom team-mates.
15H17 - Puncture For Ullrich As the peloton allow Voigt a moment at front of the bunch to wave to his hometown crowd, his compatriot - and 2nd overall - Jan Ullrich has punctured.
15H16 - Voigt Waves To 'Home Crowd' There are three riders in the Credit Agricole team in this year's Tour who live in the town in which the peloton is currently riding. They are: Jens Voigt, Stuart O'Grady and Chris Jenner.
15H15 - Swiss & Italians Without A Win This Year... Of the nine nations represented in the break, only Switzerland and Italy are yet to win a stage of this year's Tour. The riders from these countries who are present up front are: Schnider (Switzerland), Nardello, Petacchi, Tosatto, Pinotti and Serpellini (Italy).
15H11 - Marie-Georges Buffet On Tour Today Joining the Tour's director, Jean-Marie Leblanc, in his car today is the French Minister of Sports and Youth, Marie-Georges Buffet.
15H06 - 65km To Go The leading group of 25 are now less than 65km from the finish. They have raced 164.5km in this, the longest stage of the 2001 Tour de France.
15H02 - Lead Over 13 Minutes The 25 riders are now 13'15" ahead of the peloton.
15H00 - Kelme Come To Front of Peloton The Kelme team now has three riders at the front of the peloton. The Spanish team has one rider (Felix Cardenas) in the break. Just behind the white, blue and green jerseys are three US Postal riders.
14H57 - 70km To Go... The leading 25 riders have less than 70km to race in the 15th stage. Their lead on the peloton is 12'50".
14H56 - A Big Post-Tour Party Planned For O'Grady Household O'Grady's house will be the site of a big party on the Monday after the Tour. Not only are they celebrating O'Grady's days in the yellow and green jerseys (and his team's win in the team time trial), but also his recent engagement to Anne-Marie (who turns 21 on the Monday after the Tour) as well Stuey's 28th birthday on the 6th of August.
14H53 - Sweet Smells of a Barbeque Nearby The family of Stuart O'Grady - his mother Fay, father Brian and fiance Anne-Marie (as well as several friends) - are having a barbeque today at the house of the sprint classification leader. O'Grady lives near the town of Muret which is about to be passed by the leading 25-man group.
14H49 - Lead Up To 11'50" As the peloton pass the day without a lot of stress, they have allowed the 25 riders up front to push their leading margin up to 11'50".
14H48 - Armstrong & O'Grady Share A Joke The riders in the yellow and green jerseys - Armstrong and O'Grady - are riding side by side. Lance is drinking from a can of Coke, while they have a chat near the head of the peloton. They have broad smiles as they talk; both have strong leads in their respective competitions.
14H46 - Two French Teams Boast Three Riders In Escape Both the Bonjour and Jean Delatour teams have 3 riders in the break today. Bonjour has Sylvain Chavanel, Franck Bouyer and Franck Renier. Jean Delatour has Laurent Brochard, Gilles Bouvard and Stephane Goubert.
14H43 - Lead Up to 10'50" The US Postal team continues to lead the peloton - with Kjaergaard up front for the past 10 minutes. The bunch is now 10'50" behind the 25-man break which includes two stage winners of this year's race (Erik Dekker and Felix Cardenas).
14H41 - Sun Now Shining Brightly On Stage 15 After starting the stage in slightly overcast conditions, the 151 riders remaining in the Tour de France are riding under bright blue skies. The forecast maximum for the stage is 28 degrees Celsius.
14H36 - Lead Over 10 Minutes As the peloton pass the 136km mark, they are 10'10" behind the leading group of 25 riders.
14H35 - The Teams Not Represented In Break There are four teams without riders in the break which now leads the stage by almost 10 minutes. These teams are: US Postal (who are currently leading the peloton along with Kelme), Euskaltel, Domo-Farm Frites and Big-Mat.
14H33 - The Riders In The 25-Man Break... The 25-man break which formed at the 66km mark is composed of riders from 17 teams. The riders involved in the escape which now leads by 9'50" are: Heppner (TEL), Jaksche (ONCE), Lino (FES), Petacchi & Tosatto (FAS), Boogerd & Dekker (RAB), Verbrugghe & Vermaut (LOT), Mattan (COF), Nardello (MAP), Pascal Rodriguez (BAN), Julich (CA), Salmon (AG2), Nicolas Jalabert (CST), Brochard, Bouvard & Goubert (DEL), Cardenas (KEL), Bouyer, Chavanel & Renier (BJR), Serpellini & Pinotti (LAM) and Schnider (FDJ).
14H31 - Three US Postal Riders Lead Peloton As the lead of the 25-man break grows to 9'50", there are three US Postal riders at the front of the peloton. Also hovering up front of the bunch is the green jersey of Stuart O'Grady. Today the Tour passes near the town of Labarthe-sur-Leze, where O'Grady lives during the racing season.
14H22 - Lead Nearing Nine-Minutes The leading margin of the 25-rider break is now 8'55". This time check was taken as the peloton passed the 130km mark.
14H21 - Less Than 100km To Race The 25 riders are at the 134km mark. They now have 98km to race before reaching the finish in Lavaur.
14H19 - Average Speed For 3rd Hour The 3rd hour of racing today was raced at an average speed of 39.8kph. The average speed for the first 3 hours today is 43.23kph.
14H16 - Lead Now 7'50" The 25-man break has been able to lift their leading margin up to 7'50".
14H15 - First Tour Stage Finish In Lavaur Today is the first time the town of Lavaur has hosted a stage finish of the Tour de France. The region of Tarn, however, has hosted stage finishes on nine occassions. The winners in this region of France were: Darrigade in Albi - 1953, De Groot in Albi - '55, Graaf in Albi - '59, Pingeon in Albi - '68, Merckx in Albi - 71, Knetemann in Albi - '75, Cenghialta in Castres - '91, Riis in Albi '94 and Commesso in Albi - '99.
14H07 - Lead Grows To 6'00" The lead of the 25-man break is now up to 6'00".
14H06 - Lead Up To 5'00" At the 120km mark, the 25-man break had pushed their advantage over the peloton to 5'00".
14H05 - Laurent Jalabert Follows Merckx & Hinault Lead Laurent Jalabert, who leads the climbing competition by 46 points, looks like he'll become the 3rd rider in Tour history to win both the Best Climber prize and the Best Sprinter prize. Jalabert won the green jersey in '92 & '95. The only two riders to previously achieve this double are Eddy Merckx (green in '69, '71 & '72; polka-dot in '69 & '70) and Bernard Hinault (green in '79; polka-dot in '86).
13H57 - Lead Over Three Minutes The 25-man break is now 3'15" ahead of the peloton.
13H56 - Two Little Pigs... At the finish in Lavaur, there are two little pigs painted in the colours of two of Tour's prize jerseys. The yellow pig has a tag around its neck stating his name to the 'Armstrong', while the red-spotted pig has been dubbed 'Jaja'.
13H54 - Lead Up To 2'50" The 25-rider break is now 2'50" ahead of the peloton. This is the largest gap of the escape so far...
13H48 - Lead Hovers Around 2'30" The 25 rider break hasn't been able to increase their lead over 2'45" (which was their best leading margin so far today, at the 83km mark). The latest time check has the break of Dekker, Nicolas Jalabert et al, 2'30" ahead of the peloton which is being led by the Euskaltel team.
13H46 - Racing Into 'Jalabert Country' Today The stage finish of today's stage is in the region of Tarn, where the Jalabert brothers were born. One of the brothers, Nicolas, is currently the the 25-man break. The CSC-Tiscali rider's previous best result in a Tour stage was on Bastille Day last year, when he finished 2nd.
13H42 - Boogerd Best-Placed of Break The best-placed rider in today's escape group of 25 riders is Michael Boogerd. The Rabobank rider who finished fifth in the 1998 Tour began the day in 16th place overall (31'18" behind the overall lead of Armstrong).
13H38 - Lead Back Up to 2'25" The 25-man break has pushed their advantage back up to 2'25".
13H33 - Heppner and Boogerd Back With 23 Others... The two attacking riders up front have been caught by the other riders in the break. There are 25 riders at the front of the stage. They are 2'10" ahead of the peloton.
13H31 - Heppner & Boogerd Attack Lead Group At the front of the race, two riders have attacked. They are Jens Heppner and Michael Boogerd.
13H30 - Lead Down To 2'10" The chase by the Euskaltel and Big-Mat teams is bringing back the advantage of the 25-rider escape group. They are now 2'10" ahead after having reached a maximum advantage of 2'45".
13H29 - 10 Teams With Stage Victories This Year... 10 teams have won a stage of the 2001 Tour so far. They are: US Postal (Armstrong x 3) Telekom (Zabel x 2) CSC-Tiscali (Jalabert x 2) Rabobank (Wauters & Dekker) Festina (Moreau x 1) Credit Agricole (Team Time Trial) Euskaltel (Laiseka x 1) AG2R (Kirsipuu x 1) Kelme (Cardenas x 1) Fassa Bortolo (Ivanov x 1)
13H24 - Nine Countries Have Won Stages So Far In 2001 There have been victories by riders from nine countries in the 14 stages (and prologue) of this year's Tour. They are: France 4 (Moreau, Jalabert x 2 & Credit Agricole) USA 3 (Armstrong) Germany 2 (Zabel) Belgium 1 (Wauters) Estonia 1 (Kirsipuu) The Netherlands 1 (Dekker) Russia 1 (Ivanov) Colombia 1 (Cardenas) Spain 1 (Laiseka).
13H21 - Big-Mat Join Euskaltel At Front of Peloton The French wild-card team, Big-Mat, have joined the Spanish Euskaltel team at the front of the peloton's chase. The lead of the 25-rider escape is now 2'25". The break began at the 66km mark. The latest time check is from the 93rd kilometer.
13H12 - The Nations Represented Up Front... There are riders from nine countries represented in the 25-man escape group they are: 9 French 5 Italians 3 Belgians 2 Germans 2 Dutch... And one each from USA, Colombia, Spain and Switzerland.
13H10 - Lead Up To 2'45" The Euskaltel team are leading the peloton's pursuit of the 25 rider escape. There are no riders from the Spanish team in the lead group. The latest advantage of Dekker's escape group is 2'45".
13H08 - The 25 Leading Riders & Their Teams The 25 riders who are in front of the stage are: Jens Heppner (Telekom), Jorge Jaksche (ONCE), Lino (Festina), Petacchi & Tosatto (Fassa Bortolo), Boogerd & Dekker (Rabobank), Verbrugghe & Vermaut (Lotto), Mattan (Cofidis), Nardello (Mapei), Pascal Rodriguez (iBanesto), Julich (Credit Agricole), Salmon (AG2R), Nicolas Jalabert (CSC-Tiscali), Brochard, Bouvard & Goubert (Jean Delatour), Cardenas (Kelme), Bouyer, Chavanel & Renier (Bonjour), Serpellini & Pinotti (Lampre) and Schnider (Francaise des Jeux).
13H03 - Seven Previous Stage Winners In 25-Man Break Of the 25 riders in the leading group, seven have previously won stages of the Tour de France. They are: Dekker (who has won 4 stages in the last two years), Heppner (1 win in 1998), Lino (1 win in 1993), Boogerd (1 win in 1996), Nardello (1 win in 1998), Brochard (1 win in 1997) and Cardenas (who won stage 12 this year).
12H57 - Lead Up To 2'00" The 25 riders up front now have a lead of 2'00".
12H54 - Group Push Their Advantage Slightly The 25 rider escape group has pushed their lead up slightly to 1'50". They began their escape around the 60km mark.
12H52 - Peloton 1'45" Behind At Top of Climb The peloton was 1'45" behind the 25 rider escape group at the top of the Cote de Bidalon (71.5km).
12H51 - Results of 4th Climb At the top of the cat-4 Cote de Bidalon, the points were won by: 1. Boogerd (RAB) 5pts 2. Pinotti (LAM) 3pts 3. Mattan (COF) 1pt
12H49 - Lead Grows to 1'20" With 1km To Climb To 4th Summit As the leaders approach the summit of the Cote de Bidalon (at the 71.5km mark), they have an advantage on the peloton of 1'20".
12H46 - The 25 Riders Up Front By 1'00" There are 25 riders 1'00" ahead of the peloton. The riders involved are: Heppner, Jaksche, Lino, Petacchi, Tosatto, Boogerd, Dekker, Verbrugghe, Vermaut, Mattan, Nardello, Pascal Rodriguez, Julich, Salmon, Nicolas Jalabert, Brochard, Bouvard, Goubert, Cardenas, Bouyer, Chavanel, Renier, Serpellini, Pinotti and Schnider.
12H42 - 24 Lead By 20" The 24 attacking riders - who are yet to be named by race radio - now have a lead of 20" on the peloton.
12H40 - 24 Lead By 10" At the 64km mark, 24 riders are 10" ahead of the peloton.
12H39 - 24 Riders On The Attack There have been plenty of riders attempting to gain an advantage on the peloton early in the 15th stage. The latest bit of action has 24 riders on the attack. The peloton is being led by the US Postal team and there has been no announcement of the riders involved in the attack, nor their time gain.
12H34 - Brochard Attacks Up Front The six riders were caught by Tosatto and Halgand. The latest bout of action is an attack by the 1997 world champion, Laurent Brochard.
12H32 - Six Riders Up Front Now... The peloton has mostly reformed now. There are still six riders - Tosatto, Bessy, Aerts, Bouyer, Brochard and Verburgghe. Petacchi and Halgand are now chasing these six riders.
12H29 - Nine Leaders About To Be Caught There are currently nine riders at the front of the stage. They are about to be caught by another group of nine. Behind these 18 riders are another attacking cluster (of six riders). (There have been no time checks on these group for several minutes.)
12H26 - Six Riders In 3rd Group... Moncoutie, Garzelli, Menchov, Julich, Agnolutto, Garcia are the latest group of riders to attack the peloton.
12H25 - 9 Lead 9 By 12" The nine leaders are 12" ahead of the nine counter attackers.
12H24 - Nine Leaders: Nine Chasers... Gonzalez Galdeano, Verbrugghe, Atienza, Bartoli, Odriozola, Roux, Pascual Llorente, Merckx and Sivakov are now in pursuit of the nine riders at the front of the stage.
12H23 - Nine Leaders Now Garcia Casas, Tosatto, Aerts, Baguet, Bettini, Bessy, Brochard, Halgand and Bouyer are at the 51km mark. They are 20" ahead of the peloton.
12H19 - Five Lead Four By 15"... Tosatto, Baguet, Brochard, Bessy and Bouyer lead four chasers (Garcia Casas, Aerts, Bettini and Halgand) by 15" and the peloton by 35".
12H17 - Five Riders Lead The Stage There are now five riders at the front of the stage. They are Bessy, Brochard, Tosatto, Bouyer and Baguet. They have a lead of 30" on the peloton.
12H15 - Results of 1st Intermediate Sprint The first sprint of the day has been contested at the town of Rabastens-de-Bigorre. The points were won by: 1. Baguet (LOT) 6pts 2. Bessy (CA) 4pts 3. Tosatto (FAS) 2pts
11H56 - Five Riders 20" Ahead There are now five riders 20" ahead of the peloton. They are: Belli (FAS), Aerts (LOT), Bettini (MAP), Wadecki (DFF) and Baguet (LOT).
11H55 - Results of 2nd Climb The attacking group was quickly joined by Mario Aerts. At the 2nd climb, the points were won by: 1. Wadecki (DFF) 5pts 2. Bettini (MAP) 3pts 3. Aerts (LOT) 1pt
11H54 - Five Riders Counter Attack... Livingston, Baguet, Piepoli, Halgand and Bouyer have also attacked the peloton.
11H50 - Peloton Together Again The five riders who escaped on the first climb are now back in the peloton. The next climb is the Cote de Lamayou at the 27th kilometer. This is a cat-4 rise which is just 900 meters long (at an average gradient of 8.7 percent).
11H49 - Results of 1st Climb Five riders escaped on the first climb. These five won the points on the Cote de la Tricherie. 1. Vinokourov (TEL) 10pts 2. Halgand (DEL) 7pts 3. Odriozola (BAN) 5pts 4. Sastre (ONC) 3pts 5. Cardenas (KEL) 1pt.
11H45 - Vinokourov Attacks On Climb Telekom's Alexandre Vinokourov has attacked on the first climb of the stage.
11H44 - Peloton On The Climb The peloton is currently on the only cat-3 climb of the stage. The Cote de la Tricherie is 1.5km long (at an average gradient of 7.2 percent) and peaks at the 22km mark of the stage.
11H42 - Peloton Together Again At the 19th kilometer the escape by Bartoli and Roux has been caught by the peloton.
11H41 - Chavanel Caught Chavanel's escape has been caught by the peloton. Bartoli and Roux are still at the front of the stage. There is still no time gap given.
11H40 - Chavanel Chasing Two Attackers Bonjour's Sylvain Chavanel has also attacked the peloton. He is now in pursuit of Bartoli and Roux.
11H39 - Two Riders Attempt A Break Bartoli and Roux have attacked at the 16th kilometer mark. There is no time check on the escape by the Mapei and Jean Delatour riders.
11H38 - Surge At 12th Kilometer There has been some signs of attacking intentions at the front of the bunch at the 12th kilometer. But the peloton has reacted quickly and, for now, the race is all together.
11H35 - Peloton All Together The peloton is all together. There was one early attack, by Dekker and Schnider at the 4th kilometer, but they didn't get much of an advantage (and weren't even given a time check). The first climb is due at the 22nd kilometer.
11H33 - Vaughters Abandons The rider who was stung by a bee on the rest day, Jonathan Vaughters, has abandoned the Tour de France. This is his 3rd Tour, but he is yet to finish one. He was a victim of the infamous fall on the Passage de Gois in 1999 and fell on one of the early climbs in last year's Tour.
11H29 - Pena Punctures The peloton is all back together after Dekker's early attack. The US Postal rider from Colombia, Victor Huge Pena, has punctured, but he has a new wheels and is now back in the peloton.
11H26 - Dekker & Schnider Attack At the 4th kilometer two riders attacked the peloton. The riders involved in the first escape of stage 15 were Erik Dekker (Rabobank) and Daniel Schnider (La Francaise des Jeux).
11H25 - O'Grady Leads The Green Jersey Classification The 15th stage passes within one kilometer of the French residence of Stuart O'Grady. The rider who is from the Australian city of Adelaide spends the racing season living near the town of Muret (which is at the 156km mark of today's stage). O'Grady is the current leader of the green jersey competition. He is 13 points ahead of Erik Zabel.
11H22 - Two Intermediate Sprints Today As well as the four low-ranked climbs, the 15th stage also includes two intermediate sprints which offer points for the green jersey competition. The sprints are at Rabastens-de-Bigorre (44.5km) and at Saint-Leon (180.5km).
11H19 - The Climbs Today... There are four climbs in the first 71.5km of the 15th stage. The first categorized rise is the cat-3 Cote de la Tricherie (at 22km). Then come three cat-4 climbs, they are: the Cote de Lamayou (27km), the Cote du Puntous (50.5km) and the Cote de Bidalon (71.5km).
11H16 - Racing! The official start of the 15th stage was at 11.17am. There were 152 riders at the start, with no riders retiring during the rest day on Monday.
11H15 - Riders Almost At Site Of Official Start The riders have begun rolling in the 15th stage. They are now on the approach of the official start and racing is expected to start in a matter of minutes...
11H03 - Mild Conditions For 15th Stage At the start in Pau, the weather was a mild 21 degrees Celsius (in the air) and 24 degrees (at road level). The stage will start in slightly overcast conditions, but the forecast is for dry weather throughout the stage.
10H57 - Longest Stage: 232.5km The 232.5km 15th stage features four low-ranked climbs - one cat-3 and three cat-4 - in the first 71.5km. There are also two intermediate sprints on today's rolling course. The sprints are in the towns of Rabastens-de-Bigorre (at 44.5km) and Saint Leon (at 180.5km).
10H55 - Stage 15 Due To Start At 11.00am The longest stage of the 2001 Tour de France, from Paul to Lavaur, is due to start at 11.00am. There is a 7.7km neutral zone before the start proper. Riders are expected to reach the official start on the outskirts of Pau at about 11.15am.