On the line the results are:
1. Jaan Kirsipuu
2. Michael Sandstodt
3. Ludo Dierckxsens
4. Stefano Casagranda
5. Christophe Edaleine.
16:54 McEwen Leads Home The Peloton
Robbie McEwen has led home the peloton about 30" behind the stage winner, Kirsipuu. The Estonian winner's strength on the line forced his back wheel to jump to the left just as he crossed the line, but it didn't hinder Sandstod who was right on his wheel for what looks like 3rd place.
16:53 Kirsipuu Takes The Win!
Jaan Kirispuu has come from behind Sandstod to take his third stage win in the Tour de France!
16:52 Sandstod Goes
The Danish champion has attacked just before the 1km to go banner, Kirsipuu is onto him and now they five are going to battle it out for the sprint.
16:51 Casagranda Goes
Casagranda has attacked the lead group. He is matched by Kirsipuu and Ludo and now the other two have rejoined them...
16:50 2km To Go...
The five leaders are now back together. They are within the final 2km and are still well clear of a disorganized peloton.
16:49 Kirsipuu The Sprinter of The Five Leaders
Jaan Kirsipuu has won two stages of the Tour before today - both of them in bunch finishes. He must be considered the favourite of the leading lot if they are able to stay ahead of the fast-chasing peloton, although you can never count Dierckxsens out... he's also won a stage of the Tour before.
16:47 On The Descent...
The leading five are now 5km from the finish. That means they are descending down to the streets of Rouen. Their advantage on the peloton is 1'00".
16:46 6km To Go
The leading five are holding onto an advantage. Their latest time check is 1'07". They are now 6km from the finish and they continue to work well together.
16:45 Euskaltel Waiting For Etxebarria & Laiseka
Two of the main Euskaltel riders - David Etxebarria and Roberto Laiseka - were involved in the fall which has put Pinotti out of the race. The Euskaltel team is now waiting for their two leaders.
16:44 Leaders Now 1'13" Ahead
The five escapees are 1'13" ahead of the peloton. They continue to work together since breaking away at the 110km mark.
16:43 Cuts & Abrasions On Pinotti's Face
One of the riders in the fall at the 179km mark, Marco Pinotti, is in an ambulance on his way to Rouen hospital. He has cuts to his face, but that's about all we know at this stage.
16:41 10km To Go
The leading riders are now less than 10km from the finish. They are continuing to work together well for the moment. We might see an attack come soon from someone like Dierckxsens who won't want to risk a sprint against Kirsipuu if they arrive in Rouen as a group. Right now they are 1'40" ahead of the peloton.
16:39 Pinotti In An Ambulance
Pinotti is being transported to hospital in an ambulance after his fall. There's not a lot of news on his injuries which were sustained at the 179km mark.
16:38 12km To Go
The group of Kirsipuu, Sandstod, Dierckxsens, Casagrande and Edaleine are now 12km from the finish. The latest announced advantage of this troop was 1'55".
16:37 Lead Now 1'55"
The leading five are 1'55" ahead of the peloton which is being led by the Credit Agricole team.
16:36 No News On Pinotti
We haven't had any news on the rider who appeared to be badly hurt in the fall at the 179km mark. He was receiving treatment from Dr Porte.
The others involved in the fall are now chasing to get back to the peloton.
16:34 Leading Margin Down To 2'00"
The leading five riders are now 2'00" ahead of the peloton.
16:33 Pinotti Not Moving...
Marco Pinotti of the Lampre team is still on the road. He is receiving treatment from the doctors now. Other riders involved were Laiseka and David Etxebarria.
16:32 Pinotti, Vogondy, Hunter...
Some of the riders involved are Botcharvo, Seigneur, Hunter, Pinoti.. the latter of whom looks in a bad way. He has not yet moved. It happened at the 179th kilometer mark.
There has been a fall in the peloton! There are a number of riders on the ground. We'll report with the names next...
16:30 Peloton Within Final 20km
As the peloton pass under the 20km to go banner, their deficit to the five leaders is 2'23".
16:29 Lead Drops To 2'35"
The peloton is closing in on the five leaders. They are now 2'35" behind the group of Kirsipuu, Sandstod, Dierckxsens, Casagrande and Edaleine.
The five man break formed with 110km to go and they reached a maximum time gain of 4'50".
16:28 Verbrugghe Back With Dr Porte
One of the Lotto riders who had been working at the front of the peloton, Rik Verbrugghe, has dropped back to consult the race doctor, Gerard Porte. He is now on his way back to the peloton and it's not clear just what his problem is.
16:27 Bodrogi Also In The Mix Up Front
Joining the FDJeux.com, Lotto and CA riders at the front of the stage is a lone Mapei rider, Lazlo Bodrogi. Of the two sprint finishes, Mapei has claimed one win - thanks to the efforts of the world champion, Oscar Freire in stage two.
16:25 A Descent Near The Finish...
The end of today's stage features a descent with 5km to race. The drop down to the centre of Rouen comes starts with 5km to go and drops from 170m above sea-level down to 70m above sea-level at the with 3.5km to go. The finishing straight is 450 meters long.
16:21 3'00" Lead Now
The group up front have 25km to race. They are currently 3'00" ahead of the peloton which is being led by the Lotto, FDJeux.com and Credit Agricole teams.
16:19 Five Stage Leaders From Five Countries
The break at the front of the stage has representatives from five teams and five nations. They are: Jaan Kirsipuu (Estonia) AG2R; Christophe Edaleine (France) Jean Delatour; Michael Sandstod (Denmark) CSC; Ludo Dierckxsens (Belgium) Lampre and Stefano Casagranda (Italy) Alessio.
16:16 30km To Go
The leading five riders - Kirsipuu, Sandstod, Dierckxsens, Casagrande and Edaleine - are now 30km from the finish. They have an advantage of 3'10" on the peloton.
16:14 Six National Champions Now In The Race
The Tour started with seven national road race champions in the peloton. But the retirement of Tom Steels earlier today means there are now just six... one of them, Kirsipuu (of Estonia) is involved in the five-man break which is now 3'10" ahead of the peloton (at the 162km mark).
16:12 No Telekom Riders Up Front
There are no Telekom riders at the front of the peloton's chase. This is the first time they have neglected to chase a break when a sprint finish seemed possible. Their quick, Zabel, is in the green jersey despite not having won a stage...yet.
16:10 35km To Go...
The five leaders are now 4'05" ahead of the peloton with about 35km still to race today.
16:06 A Good Mix Of Teams Lead Peloton
There are now several teams working at the front of the peloton to try and pull back the five escapees. There are riders from Lotto, Credit Agricole and FDJeux.com - the main sprinters of each of these teams are all Australians, Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady and Baden Cooke respectively.
16:02 40km To Go
The leaders are 4'15" ahead of the peloton with 40km still to race.
15:59 Peloton At Forges-les-Eaux
As the peloton passed the site of the first sprint, their deficit to the group of Kirsipuu, Sandstod, Dierckxsens, Casagrande and Edaleine was 4'15".
15:56 Results of Forges-les-Eaux Sprint
At the 3rd sprint, the results are:
1. Michael Sandstod (CSC) 6pts/p"
2. Stefano Casagranda (Alessio) 4pts/4"
3. Jaan Kirsipuu (AG2R) 2pts/2"
15:55 Forges-les-Eaux Sprint Due Soon
The escapees are now approaching the 3rd intermediate sprint of the day...
15:52 New Virtual Leader
There have been three main escapes today. Each has yielded a virtual leader. At first it was Ekimov, then Landis... and now that the five escapees have pushed their margin to 4'50", we once again have a new virtual leader: Christophe Edaleine who began the day in 111th, 4'47" behind Gonzalez de Galdeano.
15:51 Lotto Moving To Front of Peloton
The Lotto team have decided that this stage - which looks ideal for the sprinters if you study the flat profile - that it's time to try and pull back the five riders up front. They have come to the front of the peloton in the hope of launching Robbie McEwen to another sprint win.
15:49 Lead Up To 4'40"
The five-man break are now 4'40" ahead of the peloton which is still being led by the ONCE team.
15:47 Leading Five In Gaillebontaine
The five leaders are now in the town of Gaillebontaine at the 143km mark. The 3rd intermediate sprint of the day is at the town of Forges-les-Eaux (a place where Mario Cipollini won a stage in 1997) is due at the 150.5km mark.
15:41 Average Speed For 3rd Hour
After a rapid start (48.7kph for the first hour), the pace has dropped slightly. The average speed for the 3rd hour is 43.5kph. The average for the first three hours is 46.0kph.
15:36 Kirsipuu To Turn 33 Next Week
One of the riders up front into today's stage, Jaan Kirsipuu, will celebrate his 33rd birthday on the day of the 10th stage. He is already in the Tour's record books with two stage victories - as well as the fact that he was the only rider other than Lance Armstrong to wear the yellow jersey in the 1999 Tour.
15:33 Lead Jumps To 4'12"
The leading five riders are 4'12" ahead of the peloton with 62km to race before the finish in Rouen.
15:32 Oldest Man In Race In Today's Break
Ludo Dierckxsens, who Sean Kelly picked before the start of the stage to be today's winner, is currently involved in the biggest escape of the day. The former stage winner is also the oldest rider in the Tour de France this year. He was born on 14 October, 1964.
15:29 Lead Up to 3'30"
The break of Kirsipuu, Sandstod, Dierckxsens, Casagrande and Edaleine is now 3'30" ahead of the peloton. The best-placed rider of the group up front is the French Jean Delatour rider, Edaleine, who began the stage in 111th place, 4'47" behind Gonzalez de Galdeano.
15:27 The 10 Most Recent Winners In Rouen
The last 10 riders to have won a stage on the streets of Rouen are:
1997: Boardman (prologue)
1977: Den Hertog
15:26 19th Tour Stage Finish In Rouen Today
Rouen has hosted a stage finish of the Tour de France on 18 previous occassions. The last winner in the site of today's finish was Chris Boardman who won the prologue of the 1997 race.
15:22 Kirsipuu's Group Now 3'10" Ahead
The five-man break is now 3'10" ahead of the peloton which continues to be led by the ONCE team.
15:21 Kirsipuu Looking To Repeat Last Year's Effort...
One of the riders in the lead group, Jaan Kirsipuu, won the stage which followed the team time trial last year. The rider who is in the colors of the Estonian champion, beat Damien Nazon and Jan Svorada in stage six in 2001 which finished in Strasbourg.
15:19 Lead Still Over Two Minutes
The break of Kirsipuu, Sandstod, Dierckxsens, Casagrande and Edaleine is now 2'07" ahead of the peloton. They escaped at the 110km mark when the Estonian champion, Kirsipuu began the move.
15:18 Freire's Team Manager Catches
There was a bit of action in the Mapei team's hotel last night when a thief attempted to steal the wallet and mobile phone from Oscar Freire. The culprit visited the world champion's room and was in the lobby when the manager of the team, Serge Parsani, caught him.
15:16 ONCE Back In Pink Today
The ONCE team raced the 4th stage (team time trial) in their traditional yellow colors. Today they are back in the pink colors that they normally ride the Tour de France in.
Well, not all of them again back in pink: Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano is in the special yellow jersey of race leader, while Isidro Nozal is in the white jersey of best young rider.
15:13 Lead Up To 2'05"
As the peloton pass the site of the 2nd sprint, they are 2'05" behind the five leaders.
15:11 Two National Champions In Break
Michael Sandstod and Jaan Kirsipuu are two of the five riders in the break. Both are wearing their national colors as champions of their respective countries, Denmark and Estonia.
15:09 Lead Up to 1'30"
The group of Kirsipuu, Sandstod, Dierckxsens, Casagrande and Edaleine are now 1'30" ahead of the peloton which continues to be led by the entire ONCE team - including the yellow jersey and the white jersey.
15:06 Escape Allowed To Gain Time
The current break (of five riders) is the first to be allowed a reasonable leading margin. The ONCE team had chased down the other escapes of the day because of the threat of riders like Ekimov and Landis to the overall lead. The current break has no one who poses a threat to the Gonzalez de Galdeano's overall lead.
15:03 Lead Up To 1'00"
The leading five riders are 1'00" ahead of the peloton which is being led by the ONCE-Eroski team.
15:02 No Threat To Overall Lead Up Front
The best-placed of the five riders on the attack is Christophe Edaleine who started the day in 111th place (4'47" behind Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano). They are now 31" ahead of the peloton.
15:01 Lead Up To 28"
The five leaders are now 28" clear of the peloton. The riders involved are: Kirsipuu (AG2R), Sandstod (CSC-Tiscali), Dierckxsens (Lampre), Casagrande (Alessio) and Edaleine (Jean Delatour).
15:00 Five Riders Ahead
There are now five riders at the front of the stage. They are Kirsipuu, Sandstod, Dierckxsens, Casagrande and Edaleine. They have a break of 15".
14:58 All Together Again
The small break has been caught by the peloton. The bunch is now strung out in a long line with 90km to go. Now Jaan Kirsipuu is attempting to establish a new break. The Estonian champion is now joined by four other riders at the front of the stage.
14:56 Jalabert's Group Just 60 Meters Ahead
The break of Jalabert is only just ahead of the peloton. There are about 15 riders involved, but the peloton has them within sight.
14:55 Jalabert In Lead Group
There is a small echelon at the front of the pack. One of the riders involved is Laurent Jalabert.
14:54 Virenque Hurt In Small Fall
There was a fall in the peloton 20km before the feedzone. Virenque was one of the riders involved, he's okay, but has consulted the doctor because of pain on his right knee. Gerard Porte, the race's doctor, has said that the Domo leader is okay and he's now back in the peloton.
14:52 Bessy Attacks
There has been a new acceleration, this time from Credit Agricole's Fred Bessy. He is joined by a collection of about 20 riders... they have a lead of about 50 meters.
14:50 Dekker Has A Go...
Erik Dekker has done what he loves: tried an attack. He hasn't yet escaped the peloton... he appears to have recovered a little from the falls he suffered early in this year's race.
14:48 Virenque Waiting For Dr Porte
At the back of the pack are two Domo riders. One, Virenque, is consulting the race's doctor, Gerard Porte. The other is waiting for the team leader who has problems with his left thigh.
14:45 Things Have Finally Settled Down...
After the feed, the frantic pace of early today has settled. For the time being the peloton is still all together.
14:42 The Average Speed For 2nd Hour
The average speed for the second hour of racing is 45.9kph. The average for the first two hours is 47.3kph.
14:41 Finally Time For A Toilet Stop...
After the feed a number of riders are opting to relieve themselves on the side of the road - something which often happens early in a stage, but because of the fast start, there's been no time for a toilet stop until now.
14:39 Peloton All Together In Feedzone
The riders are now past the feedzone. The array of attacks - some successful, most not - have been quelled by the rapid pace of the stage. We're just about at the end of the 2nd hour of racing, so it'll be interesting to find out what the average speed is of this rapid stage...
14:37 Steels Abandons!
The winner of 12 Tour de France stages, the current Belgian champion Tom Steels, has become the first rider to abandon this year's race.
14:36 On Course For A Record Average Speed
The stage is being raced with the assitance of a strong tailwind. That has already resulted in an average speed of 48.7kph in the first hour. If this speed continues, we might see a new record average speed for a road stage of the Tour. The previous fastest road stage was in 1999 when Mario Cipollini won the stage to Blois with an average speed of 50.355kph.
14:32 All Together Again
The peloton has caught the 17-man break. There are now just 100km to race. Okay, that's still a fair way, but the peloton has already covered 95km in less than two hours of racing today!
14:31 Merckx Also In Break
Race radio has reported that there are 17 riders at the front of the stage. They named these riders, but Axel Merckx is also in the mix... we await confirmation, although the escape appears as though it's about to be swallowed up by the peloton.
14:28 Lead Back To 20"
No escape has been allowed much of a time gain so far today. The latest check on the leading group of 17, has them 20" ahead of the peloton. Cofidis are doing the work at the front of the pack.
14:27 Lead Stays At 25"
The 17 riders at the front of the stage have maintained their advantage of 25". The rider present who is a threat to Igor's overall lead is Floyd Landis who started the day in 11th place, 32" behind the ONCE rider.
14:26 Bertogliati Back In Bunch
The former overall leader, Rubens Bertogliati, is about to rejoin the back of the peloton after problems with his front wheel.
14:24 Problems For Bertogliati
There was a small crash in the peloton. No riders seemed to be badly affected, but it has resulted in the flat front tyre for the winner of stage one, Rubens Bertogliati.
14:23 17 Ahead By 25"
The group of Landis is now 25" ahead of the peloton. The riders involved are: Landis, Julich, Pradera, Gomez, Zaballa, Piziks, Hushovd, O'Grady, Casper, Cooke, De Groot, Kroon, Bodrogi, Hunter, Garcia-Acosta, Casagrande and Cortinovis.
14:22 Quincampoix, Not Quinquempoix
It was reported earlier that Jacques Anquetil's grave was in Quinquempoix (at the 77km mark of today's stage). It is, in fact, in Quincampoix (at the 180.5km mark). Similar names, but different places... sorry.
14:20 Strong Tailwind Now Blowing
The stage is being raced at an incredibly fast pace (48.7kph in the first hour). There is a strong tailwind helping the riders race through to Rouen - but the speed is also intense because of the number of escape attempts.
14:19 Puncture For Zabel
At the back of the peloton is the green jersey, Zabel. He punctured recently and is now being nursed to the front of the pack by several Telekom team-mates.
14:18 Cofidis Lead Peloton
Landis has worked his way into the virtual lead. His group is now 35" ahead of the peloton which is being led by the Cofidis team.
14:17 Landis Best Overall Of 17-Man Break
Of the 17 riders at the front of the stage, Floyd Landis (of the US Postal team) is the best-placed. He began the stage in 11th place, 32" behind the lead of Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano.
14:15 Lead Group Of 17 Are 125" Clear
The group of Landis, Julich, Pradera, Gomez, Zaballa, Piziks, Hushovd, O'Grady, Casper, Cooke, De Groot, Kroon, Bodrogi, Hunter, Garcia-Acosta, Casagrande, Cortinovis are now 25" ahead of the peloton.
14:14 Results of Brunviller-la-Motte Sprint...
The results of the first intermediate sprint are as follows:
1. Baden Cooke (Aus) FDJ 6pts/6"
2. Karsten Kroon (Neth) Rabobank 4pts/4"
3. Stefano Casagrande (It) Alessio 2pts/2"
14:12 17 Riders On The Attack
The stage is being raced at a rapid pace. There is a group of 17 riders now at the front of the stage. They include: Landis, Julich, Prader, Gomez, Zaballa, Hushovd, O'Grady, Piziks, Casper, Cooke, De Groot, Bodrogi, Hunter and Casagrande. They attacked at the 73km mark. A sprint is due at the 74km mark.
14:04 Escape Over
The attack by Martinez (which was policed by Igor's team-mate, Pradera) has been caught by the peloton. As soon as each attack is caught, other riders try their luck. For now, however, the peloton is still all together.
14:03 Two Riders Attempt An Attack
Miguel Martinez and Mike Pradera are at the front of the stage, but the peloton has reacted swiftly.
14:02 Anquetil's Grave In Quinquempoix
Jacques Anquetil died in 1987 of cancer. His grave is in the town of Quinquempoix.
14:00 Anquetil's Childhood Home On Today's Itinerary
The city which hosts today's stage finish, Rouen, was the place where the first five-time winner of the Tour was born. Jacques Anquetil won the Tour in 1957, '61, '62, '63 and '64. He grew up in the town of Quinquempoix which is a part of today's stage (at the 77km mark).
13:58 Trio Attempt To Escape
Hinault, Loda and Simon have attacked the peloton. There has been a reaction from the peloton, and their attempt didn't last long.
13:55 Boardman The Last Winner in Rouen
The last time the Tour visited the site of today's finish was in 1997. Back then, Rouen hosted the 'Grande Depart'. The winner of the prologue was Britain's Chris Boardman.
13:54 Third Stage Start In Soissons
The town which hosted today's stage start, Soissans, has done the same on two previous occassions (in 1983 and 1996).
13:46 All Together Again
The ONCE chase has caught the seven man break. The peloton is back together, but there are signs of other riders wanting to get an escape group established... a few riders have attempted attacks, none of which have yet been successful.
13:44 10" Lead Now
The lead of the 7-man break is now down to 10". The ONCE team have led the peloton's chase, clearly indicating that they are intent on defending Igor's overall lead.
13:42 Lead Shrinking Fast
The leading seven riders are now just 15" ahead of the peloton. ONCE have obviously decided to defend Igor's overall lead in the Tour de France.
13:41 Lead Down To 25"
The lead of the 7-man break is now back to 25" thanks to a chase by the ONCE and Telekom teams at the front of the peloton. The race is now at the 50km mark.
13:40 Fast Start!
The first hour was raced at an average speed of 48.7kph!
13:37 Ekimov The Virtual Leader...
The 7-man break is now 35" ahead of the peloton. That's the margin Viatcheslav Ekimov began the stage behind the overall leader, Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano.
13:35 30" Lead At 44km Mark
After escaping at the 30km mark, Ekimov's group is 30" ahead of the peloton. The race is now at the 44km mark.
13:34 Ekimov Best-Placed of Break
Of the seven riders on the attack, the Olympic time trial champion, Ekimov, is the best-placed. He began the day in 14th place, just 35" behind the overall lead of Gonzalez de Galdeano.
13:32 Seven Still Just 20" Clear
The ONCE team appear to be intent on keeping the seven stage leaders in check. The group which contains Viatcheslav Ekimov (USP), Jakob Piil (CSC), Jimmy Casper (FDJ), Rik Verbrugghe (LOT), Unai Etxebarria (EUS), Massimo Apollonio (TAC) and Marco Serpellini (LAM) are still just 20" ahead of the peloton which is led by ONCE.
13:25 Two ONCE Riders Lead Peloton
The seven attackers are still 20" ahead. Their break is being marked by two ONCE riders who are at the front of the peloton.
13:23 Lead Now Up To 20"
The leading seven riders are still ahead. Their latest lead is 20". They are: Viatcheslav Ekimov (USP), Jakob Piil (CSC), Jimmy Casper (FDJ), Rik Verbrugghe (LOT), Unai Etxebarria (EUS), Massimo Apollonio (TAC) and Marco Serpellini (LAM).
13:20 Seven Riders 10" Clear
Ekimov, Piil, Casper, Verbrugghe, Serpellini, Unai Etxebarria and Apollonio are now at the front fo the stage. They attacked at the 30th kilometer mark and are the first group to yield a time check. They are currently 15" ahead of the peloton.
13:14 Hinault Tries An Attack
Sebastien Hinault is the latest rider to attempt an escape. His move didn't last for even a minute before he was caught by the peloton.
13:13 All Together Still
Despite several attacks, no rider has been able to escape the grip of the peloton. For the moment all the riders in the race (a full contingent of 189) are still in one group.
13:10 Sean Kelly's Forecast...
At the site of today's finish in Rouen, Sean Kelly, the legendary sprinter who won the Tour's green jersey classification on four occassions, has suggested that today's stage will be won with by an escape group. His favorite for the stage? Ludo Dierckxsens of the Lampre team. "If he goes, he'll be strong enough to stay away," said the Irishman who is now commentating for Eurosport.
13:06 Plenty Of Escape Attempts: None Successful... Yet
Again there is movement at the front of the peloton. It's obvious that a number of teams have attacking intentions for today's flat stage, but for the moment none of them have been able to instigate a break of enough significance to warrent a time check.
13:02 Tour Now In Oise Region
The peloton is all together at the 16km mark. The Tour has moved from the Aisne region to the Oise region - the second of three 'departments' which today's stage will visit. The finish is in the Seine-Maritime region.
12:59 All Together Again
The escape attempts have all been rendered void. The peloton is now at the 15km mark and there are no riders on the attack.
12:58 Five Leaders Now
Jacob Piil and Nicola Loda have caught the three riders who attacked at the 12km mark.
12:56 Trio Being Chased Down
The Rabobank team is leading the peloton's pursuit of the escaped trio.
12:55 Three Attackers
Sandy Casar and Emmanuel Magnien have attacked at the 10km mark. They have been caught by a counter-attack by Stefano Casagrande.
12:52 Attack Again At 9km Mark
There has been another attack at the front of the bunch. This time we have no names of the riders involved, but we can tell you that it's at the 9km mark.
12:51 Durand Tries... Again!
The perpetual attacker, Jacky Durand, has attempted to break free of the peloton... yet again. He was joined by eight others, but the escape amounted to nothing and the peloton is now all back together.
12:48 Six Riders Tried An Attack
Six riders attempted to escape the peloton in the fourth kilometer. One of the riders involved was Leon van Bon of the Domo-Farm Frites team. The break was shortlived and the peloton is currently all together.
12:47 36 Blood Tests Taken This Morning: All Clear...
The UCI's anti-doping commission visited the Cofidis, ONCE-Eroski, Fassa Bortolo and iBanesto.com teams this morning (between 7.35am and 8.20am) and collected blood from 36 riders. All riders involved are clear to race today's stage, with no abnormalities found during analysis.
12:44 No Early Attacks...
Unlike the third stage - which saw riders on the attack in the first kilometer - the fifth stage has begun without a great deal of aggression. The peloton is all together for the moment.
12:43 No Climbs Today
The route from Soissons to Rouen is one of just two road race stages (ie. not time trials) of this year's race which features no climbs. The other stage without any points for the polka-dot jersey classification is the final one into Paris.
12:42 Three Intermediate Sprints In Stage Five
There are three intermediate sprints in the 5th stage, they will be contested in the following towns: Brunvillers-la-Motte (at the 74km mark), Grandvillers (117km) and Forges-les-Eaux (150.5km). Each of these sprints offer points for the sprint classification and time bonuses of 6", 4" and 2" for the first three riders across the line.
The flag has fallen to signal the start of the fifth stage at 12.39pm. There are still 189 riders in the race.
12:37 The Leader's Jerseys
With the riders currently in the neutral zone, it's a good time to remind you of the leaders of the Tour's four jersey classifications.
The Yellow Jersey - Overall Classification: Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (Spain) ONCE-Eroski.
The Green Jersey - Sprint Classification: Erik Zabel (Germany) Telekom.
The Polka-Dot Jersey - Best Climber: Christophe Mengin (France) FDJeux.com.
The White Jersey - Best Young Rider: Isidro Nozal (Spain) ONCE-Eroski.
12:33 Weather Conditions For Stage Five
At the start of the 5th stage, the temperature was warm. According to the weather bureau, it was 24 degrees Celsius (in the air), and 34 degrees at road level. There is a light breeze blowing from the south (at 10-15kph).
12:30 Riders Ready To Roll
All the riders are at the start line of the 'Depart Fictif' for the 195km stage from Soissons to Rouen. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano is ready to race his first Tour stage in the leader's jersey after his ONCE team's success in the team time trial of stage four.
12:24 Welcome To Stage Five!
The 195km fifth stage of the Tour de France is due to begin at 12.30pm. There is a 3.8km neutral zone which will take the peloton to the outskirts of Soisons before the flag is drops to signal the official start of the stage to Rouen.