Jalabert turns pain into gain (Ow my leg
Patrick D. Walters
PWALTERS at delphi.com
Fri Jul 14 19:28:19 PDT 1995
11 14-JUL-1995 13:33 Cycling-Jalabert turns pain into gain
By Paul Radford
MENDE, France, July 14 (Reuter) - It took the pain of a horrific crash 12
months ago to turn Laurent Jalabert into a Tour de France and Bastille Day
The French rider, known purely as a sprinter until this season, ended last
year's Tour de France in hospital with severe facial injuries after a dreadful
crash near the finish line in Armentieres.
But it was that painful experience which made him the brilliant all-round
rider he is today, according to father Georges Jalabart, who watched his son
pull off a remarkable July 14 exploit by winning the 12th stage of this year's
Tour with a break of almost 200 kilometres.
"I think he has changed as a rider because of his fall last year,"
Jalabert senior said. "Because he learned to suffer in hospital, he learned to
suffer on a bike."
Jalabert, a new rider this year with a run of impressive victories,
including Paris-Nice, Milan-San Remo, the Criterium International, Fleche
Wallonne and Tour of Catalonia, does not disagree, admitting he trained harder
than ever after his fall.
"At the start of this season I felt the need to do something to erase the
bad memories of last year," he said.
Thanks to his hard work, Jalabert has become an accomplished time trialist
and climber who can stay close to the specialists when the going gets tough.
He has a new confidence as well. "I was lucky to win Paris-Nice but once
you've managed to secure a great victory, nothing sees impossible any more,"
"I knew it was a sort of suicide to attack 200 kms from the end but in 10
days the Tour will be over and if you let others break away there go the stage
"I had lost nine minutes since the start of the Tour so I told myself to
go for it. I thought that if I cracked then it was just too bad."
Friday's exploit, when he took five minutes 41 seconds off race leader
Miguel Indurain of Spain and moved up to third in the overall standings,
showed he is a French rider with the same sort of panache as the great Bernard
Hinault, five times a Tour winner.
"I'm miles behind Hinault in class but I am close to him in spirit," he
Jalabert readily conceded he was unlikely to win the Tour this year but
that does not mean there will not be further displays of his brand of French
"Logically, Indurain has to be the favourite to win the Tour," he said.
"But that's no reason to give him presents. I'll try to defend my third place
and my green jersey (as leader of the points classification).
"I started the Tour thinking that I had already had a wonderful season and
that anything I got out of it would be a bonus."
The bonus has already been paid. Jalabert wore the coveted yellow jersey
for two days in the first week of the race and is favourite to win the
prestigious green jersey for the second time.
His stage win was his second, following a victory in Brussels in 1992. But
this one on Bastille Day was special.
"Of course, it was the cherry on the cake," he said with a smile.
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