Indurain is the Shit!
Patrick D. Walters
PWALTERS at delphi.com
Mon Jul 10 23:50:22 PDT 1995
18 10-JUL-1995 06:38 Cycling-Indurain on a peak as Tour enters mountains
By Paul Radford
LE GRAND BORNAND, France, July 10 (Reuter) - The Tour de France moves into
the mountains on Tuesday with only the faintest of signs that there is anyone
capable of knocking Miguel Indurain off his pinnacle.
The sturdy Spaniard, seeking an historic fifth consecutive victory,
stamped his mark on the race in Belgium at the weekend, taking the leader's
yellow jersey he may well be destined to keep until the race ends in Paris on
If precedent means anything, the other riders may as well abandon all hope
right now. In each of his past four triumphs, Indurain has taken the yellow
jersey at least a week before the end and has never surrendered it.
Anything can happen in a race as varied, as demanding and as prone to
surprises as the Tour but Indurain's strength is that he manages to make sure
they do not happen to him.
So is the Tour already over or are the Spaniard's rivals reduced to hoping
he falls off his bike or victim to a stomach upset?
Fortunately for those who want to see some suspense maintained, there are
a couple of straws to clutch at.
The first is the astonishing performance of Dane Bjarne Riis who finished
just 12 seconds behind Indurain in Sunday's individual time trial and is only
23 seconds down overall.
"He's on incredible form," Indurain observed. "I'm going to have to watch
him closely in the mountains."
Riis proved he has the mettle to stay with the best in the climbs when he
finished fifth overall in the Tour two years ago and he can look to his
powerful Italian Gewiss Ballan team to give him the close support he needs.
The second cause for optimism may just be a straw in the wind. Indurain's
surprise attack in Saturday's seventh stage which gave him and Belgian Johan
Bruyneel 50 seconds on the main pack could be a sign of nervousness, according
to some observers.
Indurain caught all his rivals by surprise on a stage when everyone
expected him to be conserving his strength for Sunday's time trial.
It has been suggested he may be worried that he will find it harder than
ever to carry his heavy frame through the Alps and Pyrenees and that he felt
he needed a bigger time advantage over the likes of Swiss Tony Rominger and
Russian Yevgeny Berzin.
But his Banesto team mates deny this scenario, using the more
straightforward argument that the attack, unusual for a rider who opts for
defensive racing tactics, was a sign of his strength and confidence.
French rider Thomas Davy said: "The attack wasn't planned. He saw that
Rominger and Berzin weren't with him and he told us later that he just wanted
to see who would follow him."
The mountain specialists have two big Alpine stages on Tuesday and
Wednesday to try to put pressure on Indurain but the Spaniard has already put
most of them out of contention for overall victory.
Italy's Claudio Chiappucci, Marco Pantani and Gianni Bugno and Frenchman
Richard Virenque are all at least eight minutes behind overall.
Apart from Riis, only Berzin, who is two minutes 20 seconds down and
Rominger, a further 12 seconds back, can nurse any realistic hope of catching
But they may have to take four or five minutes off him in the climbs as
Indurain has the comfort of looking forward to another time trial in the 19th
and penultimate stage on July 22.
Nevertheless, the Alps are certain to shake up the pack more than a
little. Tuesday's ninth stage takes the race 160 km from Le Grand Bornand to
the mountain-top ski resort of La Plagne and that is followed on Wednesday by
the toughest day of this year's race with three daunting mountain passes
before the gruelling climb to l'Alpe d'Huez.
If Indurain is still in yellow on Wednesday night, there will be no
stampede to place bets on any of his opponents mounting the top step of the
victory podium in Paris.
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