Classique des Alpes - France - 1.2

ONCE Dominate In Classique des Alpes

ONCE took two of the top three places in today's (June 1) 6th Classique des Alpes climbers' special (Cat 1.2) over 189km in the French Alps. Laurent Jalabert was first of three breakaways, with Luc Leblanc (Team Polti) second and Jalabert's team-mate Inigo Cuesta third. Richard Virenque (Festina) finished fourth at 50 seconds.

Miguel Indurain (Banesto) was more than a minute down in eighth place. Many of the top riders not taking part in the Giro d'Italia continue their struggle tomorrow in the first stage of the eight-day Dauphine Libere.

Aix-les-Bains, France (Cat. 1.2) - 189km

 1. Laurent Jalabert (Fra) Once         	       5.09.45
 2. Luc Leblanc (Fra) Team Polti         		+ 0.01
 3. Inigo Cuesta (Spa) Once              		+ 0.02
 4. Richard Virenque (Fra) Festina       		+ 0.55
 5. Patrick Jonker (Aus) Once            		+ 1.08
 6. Bjarne Riis (Den) Telekom              
 7. Fernando Escartin (Spa) Kelme-Artiach  		  s.t.
 8. Miguel Indurain (Spa) Banesto        		+ 1.11
 9. Jens Heppner (Ger, Telekom)  			+ 2.29
10. Bo Hamburger (Den, TVM)
11. Cedric Vasseur (Fr, GAN)
12. Mirko Celestino (It, Team Polti)   			all s.t.
13. Cyril Saugrain (Fr, Aubervilliers 93-Peugeot)  	+ 6.00
14. Laurent Dufaux (Swi, Festina)    			   s.t.
15. Pascal Chanteur (Fr, Petit Casino-C'est votre equipe+ 6.10
16 Laurent Pillon (Fr, La Mutuelle de Seine-et-Marne)  	   s.t.
17. Stephane Heulot (Fr, GAN)  				+ 9.11
18. Francisque Teyssier (Fr, Aubervillier 93-Peugeot)
19. Francois Simon (Fr, GAN)
20. Mariano Rojas (Sp, ONCE)
21. Santiago Blanco (Sp, Banesto)
22. Alex Zulle (Swi, ONCE)    				all s.t.
23. Udo Bolts (Ger, Telekom)  				+14.49
24. Pumar (Ven, Brescialat)
25. Thierry Laurent (Fr, Agrigel-La Creuse-Fenioux)
26. Gilles Bouvard (Fr, Collstrop)   			all s.t.

(142 starters, 45 classified)

Coupe de France positions after this race (12th)

 1. Stephane Heulot (GAN) 				123 (+3)
 2. Laurent Jalabert (ONCE) 				116 (+50)
 3. Laurent Desbiens (GAN) 				100 
 4. Philippe Gaumont (GAN) 				 95
 5. Jacky Durand (Agrigel-La Creuse-Fenioux) 		 78
 6. Nicolas Jalabert (La Mutuelle de Seine-et-Marne) 	 77
 7.Gilles  Talmant (Aubervilliers 93-Peugeot) 		 63
 8. Thierry Marie (Fr, Agrigel-La Creuse-Fenioux) 	 62
 9. Francis Moreau (GAN) 				 61
10. Christophe Capelle (ForceSud) 			 57

Next Coupe de France scoring race: GP Ouest-France at Plouay
(September 1)


There was nothing over 1,500m in the Classique des Alpes, but more than enough to set up the first Jalabert vs Indurain test of the year -- km16 Col des Egaux (cat 2), km45 Col de la Cluze (cat 2), km65 Cote de Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse (cat 2), km68.5 col de Cucheron (cat 1), km86.5 col du Granier (cat 1), km125 col du Frene (cat 1), km156 col de Plainpalais (cat 1), km 163.5 col du Revard (cat 2) and then a descent into Aix-les-Bains to finish at 189km.

Miguel Indurain was a victim of the ONCE team at its most efficient. "It's a team victory," said Laurent Jalabert. "The work of my team put me in the position to win, and if I attacked it was to finish this work in a way that paid tribute to my team-mates, though I attacked rather a long way from the finish. The attack was at the summit of the Plainpalais with the long false falts of the Revard still to come before the descent to the finish.

Before the Plainpalais, it had been Alex Zulle who had put Banesto on the defensive. For more than 100km the Banesto team were forced to roll behind Zulle during the course of which an early attack by Agrigel's Thierry Laurent and Forcesud's Thierry Bourguignon was brought back. Notable in Banesto's tenacious trailing of Zulle was the 21-year-old Santiago Blanco.

When Blanco and Zulle fell out of the picture, Indurain was left isolated with three other ONCE watching over him -- Laurent Jalabert, Patrick Jonker and Inigo Cuesta. After Jalabert attacked at the top of the Plainpalais, Leblanc was the first to go after him on the descent, policed by Cuesta, catching him before the summit of the Revard. Jalabert went off alone again in the descent but was caught by Leblanc again before the finish, where Jalabert had to sprint.

For want of more information, let's say that Indurain conceded to better team tactics. Banesto team manager Eusebio Unzue claims -- or is this gamesmanship? -- that when he drove the team car up to Indurain after Jalabert's attack, he told him: "Let him go, it isn't important" saying later that he didn't want Indurain taking unnecessary risks on the descent....