50th Dauphine Libere, Cat 2.1

France, June 8-15, 1997

1996 Results

Stage 1
Stage 2
Stage 3
Stage 4
Stage 5
Stage 6
Stage 7 and Final GC


Nearly all big names will start in the 50th Dauphine Libere on June 8 in Grenoble. Nearly the whole top-5 of the Tour de France 1996 will start: Bjarne Riis, Richard Virenque, Laurend Dufaux and Peter Luttenberger, although there is a question mark over Riis. Only number 2, Jan Ullrich, is absent. Other starters: Alex Zulle, Abraham Olano, Tony Rominger, Chris Boardman and Pascal Richard.

Now it is clarified - The 1996 Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis of Denmark has pulled out of the Criterium du Dauphine cycling race, which starts in Grenoble on Sunday. Telekom team director Walter Godefroot informed the organisers of Riis' withdrawal on Thursday. German Udo Bolts and Austria's Georg Totschnig will lead the Telekom team for the race.

Now in its 49th year - like the Midi Libre - the Criterium du Dauphine Libere is now arguably the second hardest stage race in France after the Tour; indeed for many people it is a "mini Tour de France" with the great mountain stages but without the flat first week, and without the great pressure. The list of former winners is an illustrious one, including Bobet (1955), Anglade (1959), Anquetil (1963, 1965), Poulidor (1966, 1969), Ocana (1970, 1972, 1973), Merckx (1971), Thevenet (1975, 1976), Hinault (1977, 1979, 1981), Lemond (1983) and Mottet (1987, 1989, 1992). The last two years saw Miguel Indurain win in his build up for the Tour de France. Anquetil's victory in 1965, followed as it was within hours by a victorious ride in the 350 mile Bordeaux-Paris classic has long been considered one of the great feats in the sport. The record number of victories - three - is held jointly by Lauredi, Ocana, Hinault and Mottet. Amongst current riders, Laurent Dufaux has won the race twice. Two Britons feature amongst the winners; Brian Robinson in 1961 and Robert Millar in 1990; Chris Boardman was second in 1995 and 5th last year.

The Stages:

June 8:	Prologue - Grenoble, 5.1 km

June 9: Stage 1 - Grenoble - Villeurbanne, 164 km

Includes Col de la Placette, Cat 3, 687m after 15 km  
	 Col de la Crusille, Cat 4, 573m after 65 km  

June 10: Stage 2 - Champagne au Mont d'Or - Le Puy-en-Velay, 216 km

Includes Col des Brosses, Cat 3, 867m after 25km      
	 Col de Fix-St.-Genys, Cat 3, 1143m after 148km     
	 Col de Peyra Taillade, Cat 2, 1190m after 192km

June 11: Stage 3 - Le Puy-en-Velay - Beaumes de Venise, 208 km

Includes Col de St. Remeze, Cat 3, 411m after 130 km 

June 12: Stage 4 - Bedarrides - ITT, 45km

Includes A very gentle climb of 100m in the first 25 km; then all the
height is lost in the next 5km before a flat final 15 km.

June 13: Stage 5 - Cavaillon - Digne les Bains, 169km

Includes Cote du Bois de Rousset, Cat 4, 498m after 85 km
     	 Col de Corobin, Cat 2, 1230m after 155 km

June 14: Stage 6 - Digne les Bains - Briancon, 164km

Includes Col du Labouret, Cat 2, 1240m after 24 km
                Col de St. Jean - Mont Clair, Cat 4, 1360m after 50 km
                Col de Vars, Cat 1, 2109m after 115 km
                Col d'Izoard, Cat HC, 2360m after 166 km

The finish is in the Cite Vauban, which involves a climb of about 1km at 
10% or so with the last few yards on cobbles.

June 15: Stage 7 - Briancon - Chambery, 182 km

Includes Col du Lautaret, Cat 2, 2058m after 28 km
	 Col de Porte, Cat 1, 1326m after 135 km
	 Col du Cucheron, Cat 2, 1139km after 150 km 
	 Col du Granier, Cat 2, 1134m after 166 km

Total Distance: 1167 km

Principal riders:

Lotto-Mobistar: Madouas, Abdujaparov, Farazijn, Peers, 
                Verbrugghe, Fleischer, Salmon, Teteriuk.
Banesto: Olano, Arrieta, Beltran, Blanco, Garcia, Indurain, 
         Jiminez, Pena.
Cofidis: Gaumont, Nicolas Jalabert, Saugrain.
Festina: Virenque, Dufaux, Brochard, Hervi, Rous, Stephens.
La Frangaise des Jeux: Heulot, Rebellin, Peron, Vanzella.
Gan: Boardman, Moncassin, Poli, Vasseur, Sunderland.
ONCE: Zulle, Cuesta, Zarrabeitia, Garmendia, Sierra.
Telekom: Lombardi, Bolts, Henn, Heppner, Hundertmark, Aldag, 
         Lafis, Totschnig.
Rabobank: Luttenberger, Boogerd, Breukink, Dekker, Jonker, 
          Koerts, Luppes, Blaudzun.
Casino: Richard, Barthe, Chanteur, Massi.
Kelme: Garcia Camacho, Botero, Gonzalez, Hernandez.
US Postal: Ekimov, Baffi, Meinert, Hincapie, Jameson.
Big Mat Auber: Lino, Arroyo, Lance, Auger, Talmant.
Seine et Marne: Dojwa, Cueff, Lamour, Rault.
Swiss Post Team: Meier, Paradis, Chassot, Hotz.

Prologue in Grenoble, 5 km:

  1. Chris Boardman (GB) Gan                  	5.50
  2. Alex Zulle (Swi) Once                   	0.03
  3. Vjatjeslav Ekimov (Rus) US Postal       	0.03
  4. Philippe Gaumont (Fra) Cofidis          	0.05
  5. Abraham Olano (Spa) Banesto             	0.06
  6. Jose-Vicente Garcia (Spa) Banesto       	0.06
  7. Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank              	0.07
  8. Adriano Baffi (Ita) US Postal           	0.08
  9. Laurent Brochard (Fra) Festina          	0.08
 10. Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank          	0.11

 11. Christophe Moreau (Fra)         		0.12
 12. Aitor Garmendia (Spa)          		s.t.
 13. Arturas Kasputis (Lit)          		0.13 
 14. Roland Meier (Swi)             		s.t.
 15. Francis Moreau (Fra)            		0.14 
 16. Bobby Julich (USA)              		0.15
 17. Herminio Diaz Zabala (Spa)     		s.t.
 18. Christophe Agnolutto (Fra)     		s.t.
 19. Peter Meinert (Den)            		s.t.
 20. Francisque Teyssier (Fra)       		0.16 
 29. Michael Blaudzun (Den)     		0.19
 31. Pascal Richard (Swi)       		s.t
 36. Michael Lafis (Swe)        		0.20
 37. Laurent Dufaux (Swi)       		0.21
 40. Neil Stephens (Aus)        		0.22
 58. Patrick Jonker (Aus)       		0.26
 65. Peter Luttenberger (Aut)   		0.28
 66. Richard Virenque (Fra)     
 70. Scott Sunderland (Aus)     		s.t.
 98. Gordon Fraser (Can)        		0.34
117. Joona Laukka (Fin)        			0.50 

Prologue Report

Chris Boardman, the world hour record holder, won the 5.1km prologue stage of the Criterium du Dauphine here on Sunday and declared that his season was starting now.

The 28-year-old Boardman, also the world pursuit champion, won in a time of 5 minutes 50.12 seconds beating the world time-trial champion Alex Zulle of Switzerland, returning after a six week absence, and Russian Viacheslav Ekimov by three seconds.

Boardman said that his season hadn't really got going yet because he was more interested in covering the mountain stages for this year's Tour de France, which starts on July 5.

"I have come here to do well in this race and today's course was ideal for me. Up till now I haven't really raced very much as I've been researching this year's mountain stages for the Tour and it appears that there are less than last year," Boardman said.

The biggest loser of the day was Frenchman Richard Virenque, three times King of the Mountains in the Tour de France, who lost 28 seconds.

British cyclist Chris Boardman, the world hour record holder, won the 5.1km prologue stage of the Criterium du Dauphine here on Sunday and declared that his season was starting now. The 28-year-old Boardman, also the world pursuit champion, won in a time of 5 minutes 50.12 seconds beating the world time-trial champion Alex Zulle of Switzerland, returning after a six week absence, and Russian Viacheslav Ekimov by three seconds. Boardman said that his season hadn't really got going yet because he was more interested in covering the mountain stages for this year's Tour de France, which starts on July 5.

"I have come here to do well in this race and today's course was ideal for me. Up till now I haven't really raced very much as I've been researching this year's mountain stages for the Tour and it appears that there are less than last year," Boardman said. The biggest loser of the day was Frenchman Richard Virenque, three times King of the Mountains in the Tour de France, who lost 28 seconds.

Stage 1, Grenoble-Villeurbanne, 167 kms:

 1. Dzhamolidin Abduzhaparov (Uzbekistan) Lotto   4.21.47
 2. Giovanni Lombardi (Italy) Telekom
 3. Frederic Moncassin (France) GAN
 4. Gordon Fraser (Canada) Mutuelle Seine et Marne
 5. Philippe Gaumont (France) Cofidis
 6. Nicolas Jalabert (France) Cofidis
 7. Stephane Barthe (France) Casino
 8. Adriano Baffi (Italy) US Postal
 9. Jans Koerts (Netherlands) Rabobank
10. Damien Nazon (France) Francaise des Jeux
11. Pascal Chanteur (Fra)            
12. Laurent Pillon (Fra)             
13. Thierry Gouvenou (Fra)           
14. Christophe Moreau (Fra)          
15. Prudencio Indurain (Spa)          
16. Gilles Talmant (Fra)             
17. Erik Dekker (Ned)                
18. Francois Simon (Fra)             
19. Michael Blaudzun (Den)         
20. Niki Aebersold (Swi)               
37. Chris Boardman (GB)                  
44. Scott Sunderland (Australia)      
51. Neil Stephens (Australia)         
53. Peter Meinert (Den)         
60. Abraham Olano (Spa)               
61. Dariusz Baranowski (Pol)    
76. Joona Laukka (Fin)          
89. Michel Lafis (Swe)          
101. Patrick Jonker (Australia)    			
106. Santiago Blanco (Spa)            
115. Hernan Buenahora (Colombia)   		all same time 

GC after Stage 1

 1. Chris Boardman (Britain) GAN  	     4.27.37
 2. Alex Zuelle (Switzerland) ONCE     		0.03
 3. Viacheslav Yekimov (Russia) US Postal
 4. Philippe Gaumont (France) Cofidis    	s.t.
 5. Abraham Olano (Spain) Banesto             	0.06
 6. Jose Vicente Garcia (Spain) Banesto       	0.07
 7. Erik Dekker (Netherlands) Rabobank        	s.t.
 8. Adriano Baffi (Italy) US Postal           	0.08
 9. Laurent Brochard (France) Festina         	
10. Michael Boogerd (Netherlands) Rabobank  	0.11 
11. Christophe Moreau (Francia)         	0.12 
12. Aitor Garmendia (Spain)            		0.12 
13. Arturas Kasputis (Lituania)         	0.13 
14. Roland Meier (Swi)                		0.13 
15. Francis Moreau (Fra)            		0.14 
16. Francisque Teyssier (Fra)       		0.15 
17. Bobby Julich (EEUU)                 	0.15 
18. Herminio Diaz Zabala (Spa)       		0.15 
19. Christophe Agnolutto (Fra)      		0.15 
20. Peter Meinert (Den)           		0.15 
26. Dariusz Baranowski (Pol)			0.18
30. Michael Blaudzun (Den)           		0.19
36. Michel Lafis (Swe)               		0.20 
39. Neil Stephens (Australia)              	0.22 
56. Patrick Jonker (Australia)             	0.26 
65. Yamolidin Abdujaparov (Uzb)      		0.28 
66. Hernan Buenahora (Col)         		0.28 
109. Santiago Blanco (Spa)           		0.44 

Stage 1 Report

Uzbek Djamolidin Abdujaparov (Lotto) won on Monday the first stage of the Dauphine Libere raced between Grenoble & Villeurbanne. Great Britain's Chris Boardman (Gan), winner of yesterday's prologue kept the yellow jersey. Abdujaparov beat the peloton after a 167km flat stage. "Abdu" showed his audacity at a finish line with a lot of risks, which had a ninety degree turn at 200 meters from the finish line. "I need to race this type of race before the Tour de France", explained Abdujaparov. "Abdu" beat Italian Giovanni Lombardi in the sprint, who's team worked hard for him in the last meters. Boardman controlled the stage, which was only perturbed by a breakaway by Thierry Bourgignon.

Stage 2, Champagne-au-Mont-d'Or-Le Puy, 216 kms:

 1. Vyacheslav Ekimov (Russia) US Postal 	6.13.22 
 2. Pascal Chanteur (France) Casino 
 3. Richard Virenque (France) Festina 
 4. Laurent Dufaux (Switzerland) Festina 
 5. Laurent Brochard (France) Festina 
 6. Abraham Olano (Spain) Banesto 
 7. Fabrice Gougot (France) Casino 
 8. Davide Rebellin (Italy) Francaise des Jeux 
 9. Michael Boogerd (Netherlands) Rabobank 
10. Prudencio Indurain (Spain) Banesto          
11. Christophe Rinero (Fra)              
12. Pascal Herve (Fra)                   
13. Rodolfo Massi (Ita)                  
14. Udo Bolts (Ger)                      
15. Jose Luis Arrieta (Spa)              
16. Juan de Los Angeles (Spa)            
17. Rik Verbrugghe (Bel)                 
18. Andrei Teteriuk (Kzk)                
19. Miguel Arroyo (Mex)                  
20. Christophe Moreau (Fra)        		all at s.t.

GC after Stage 2

 1. Ekimov      			    10.35.02
 2. Alex Zuelle (Switzerland) ONCE  		0.10
 3. Olano                                   	0.13
 4. Brochard                                	0.15
 5. Boogerd                                 	0.18
 6. Christophe Moreau (France) Festina      	0.19
 7. Roland Meier (Switzerland) US Postal    	0.20
 8. Peter Meinert (Denmark) US Postal       	0.22
 9. Chanteur                                	0.24
10. Dariusz Baranowski (Poland) US Postal 	0.25 
11. Udo Bolts (Ger)                          	0.27
12. Rik Verbrugghe (Bel)                  	s.t.
13. Andrei Teteriuk (Kzk)                 	s.t.
14. Laurent Dufaux (Swi)                     	0.28
15. Mikel Zarrabeitia (Spa)                  	0.29
16. Davide Rebellin (Ita)                    	0.30
17. Fabrice Gougot (Fra)                     	0.31
18. Richard Virenque (Fra)                	s.t.
19. Benoit Salmon (Fra)                   	s.t.
20. Christophe Rinero (Fra)                  	0.32

Stage 2 Report

Russian Vyacheslav Ekimov won Tuesday's hilly second stage of the Dauphine Libere as race leader Chris Boardman of Britain plunged to 32nd place..

Boardman lost ground in the day's 216 km ride from Champagne-au-Mont-d'Or, struggling on the slopes of the Auvergne mountains. He finished more than 40 seconds adrift..

Ekimov outsprinted a group comprising the main challengers for outright favourites, Boardman apart. Frenchmen Pascal Chanteur and Richard Virenque came second and third respectively.

The Ruissian gained a 10 seconds advantage over second-placed Alex Zuelle of Switzerland with Spaniard Abraham Olano third, a further three seconds back.

Zuelle recovered from a spectacular crash one kilometre from the line. His ONCE team's doctor said the rider would undergo checks and might have a broken rib.

Wednesday's third stage is a relatively undemanding, 208 km ride to Beaumes de Venise, in the Vaucluse region. The race ends on Sunday in Chambery, in the French Alps.

Russian cyclist Viacheslav Ekimov won the second stage of the Criterium du Dauphine here on Tuesday and took the overall lead from Briton Chris Boardman. The 31-year-old Ekimov, a former world pursuit champion, won a sprint to the line with Boardman over 40 seconds behind after he lost touch on the final climb of the stage. Another of the race favourites, reigning world time-trial champion Alex Zulle of Switzerland, suffered possible broken ribs after falling in the final kilometre.

Zulle, 29, one of the favourites for next month's Tour de France, remounted and finished the stage covered in blood and will undergo precautionary x-rays overnight. "Zulle could have broken his ribs, but he is more disappointed and angry than anything else," race doctor Gerard Porte said. Boardman, the reigning world pursuit champion, made up a minute on the leaders, after being 1 minute and 40 seconds adrift, with the help of several of his teammates but he still lost ground on several of his major rivals, including 1996 world road race champion Abraham Olano of Spain.

Swiss rider ONCE Alex Zulle fell today on the last kilometer of the second stage at the Dauphine Libere and suffered big contusions in the ribs, according to a medical report. "Zulle has injuries that seem worst than they are. But he could have fractured ribs", said Dr. Gerard Porte, who examined the rider at the finish line. ONCE's medical team will put Zuelle through a complete X-Ray examination to see how bad the injuries are. Zulle, who at no time fainted, was able to reach the finish, after the fall that happened in the front group where he was.

Stage 3, Le Puy-Beaumes-De-Venise, 208 kms:

  1. Dzhamolidin Abduzhaparov (Uzbekistan) Lotto	5.28.08 
  2. Giovanni Lombardi (Italy) Telekom 
  3. Damien Nazon (France) Francaise des Jeux 
  4. Philippe Gaumont (France) Cofidis 
  5. Adriano Baffi (Italy) US Postal 
  6. Gordon Fraser (Canada) Mutuelle de Seine-et-Marne 
  7. Nicolas Jalabert (France) Cofidis  
  8. Laurent Brochard (France) Festina 
  9. Jans Koerts (Netherlands) Rabobank 
 10. Francois Simon (Fra)             
 11. Gilles Talmant (Fra)            
 12. Pascal Chanteur (Fra)           
 13. Rolf Aldag (Ger)                
 14. Claude Lamour (Fra)              
 15. Erik Dekker (Ned)                
 16. Prudencio Indurain (Spa)          
 17. Christophe Moreau (Fra)          
 18. Cedric Vasseur (Fra)             
 19. Laurent Pillon (Fra)             

 31. Abraham Olano (Spa)                
 33. Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus)          
 36. Chris Boardman (GB)              
 55. Neil Stephens (Australia) Festina              
 63. Peter Meinert (Den)               
 89. Michel Lafis (Swe)                
 99. Michael Blaudzun (Den)            
100. Hernan Buenahora (Colombia)       
102. Patrick Jonker (Australia) Rabobank             
103. Joona Laukka (Fin)      		     all s.t.          
113. Scott Sunderland (Australia) Gan  		0.25

GC after Stage 3

 1. Viacheslav Ekimov (Rus) US Postal       16:03:08
 2. Alex Zuelle (Switzerland) ONCE           	0.12
 3. Abraham Olano (Spain) Banesto            	0.15
 4. Laurent Brochard (Fra)  			0.17
 5. Michael Boogerd (Netherlands) Rabobank)  	0.20
 6. Christophe Moreau (France) Festina)      	0.20
 7. Roland Meier (Switzerland) US Postal     	0.22
 8. Peter Meinert (Denmark) US Postal)       	0.24
 9. Pascal Chanteur (France) Casino          	0.26
10. Dariusz Baranowski (Poland) US Postal 	0.27 
11. Udo Bolts (Ger) Telekom            		0.29 
12. Rik Verbrugghe (Bel)            		0.29 
13. Andrei Teteriuk (Kaz)        		0.29 
14. Laurent Dufaux (Swi)              		0.30 
15. Mikel Zarrabeitia (Spa)          		0.31 
16. Davide Rebellin (Ita)            		0.32 
17. Fabrice Gougot (Fra)            		0.33 
18. Richard Virenque (Fra)          		0.33 
19. Benoit Salmon (Fra)             		0.33 
20. Christophe Rinero (Fra)         		0.34 
25. Neil Stephens (Australia) Festina       	0.41 
26. Patrick Jonker (Australia) Rabobank     	0.42 
32. Chris Boardman (GB) Gav             	0.49 
36. Joona Laukka (Fin)                		0.59 
43. Michael Blaudzun (Den)          		1:08 
44. Michel Lafis (Swe)              		1:09 
82. Scott Sunderland (Australia) Gan         	6:43 
107. Djamolidine Abdoujaparov (Uzb) 	       14:50

Stage 3 Report

Uzbekistan's Djamolidine Abdujaparov won a hard-fought sprint to take the third-stage honours in the Criterium du Dauphine on Wednesday, his second win of the event. Russia's Viatcheslav Ekimov retained the leader's yellow jersey following the 208km stage from Le Puy-en-Velay to Beaumes-de-Venise in which Abdujaparov just held off Italy's Giovanni Lombardi and Frenchman Damien Nazon at the line. In the overall standings, Ekimov has a 12-second lead over Alex Zulle of Switzerland.

Uzbek Dzhamolidin Abduzhaparov won an eventful mass sprint to record his second stage win in the Dauphine Libere cycle race on Wednesday.

Abduzhaparov, who had claimed Monday's first stage to Villeurbanne, was the fastest again after the day's 208-km ride from Le Puy, beating Italian Giovanni Lombardi and Frenchman Damien Nazon.

After the finish, Frenchman Frederic Moncassin was expelled from the race after punching German Rolf Aldag, whom he accused of illegally blocking him.

The stage brought no major changes to the overall standings with Russia's Vyacheslav Yekimov retaining the lead, 12 seconds ahead of Swiss Alex Zuelle with Spaniard Abraham Olano a further three seconds back in third.

Thursday's fourth stage is a 45-km individual time trial around Bedarrides, in the Vaucluse region. The race ends on Sunday in Chambery, in the French Alps.

Late Stage 3 News

Frederic Moncassin was angry about the sprint of Rolf Aldag, so he had a fight with him after the finish. Because it happened before the presentation of the winner Abdoesjaparov the jury was allowed to punish him. Moncassin was thrown out of the Dauphine Libere while Aldag has put the matter into the hands of the police.

On Thursday the individual time-trial will be the last day for several riders. One of them is Alex Zulle. He will leave the Dauphine Libere after the time-trial because he will work on the preparation of the Tour de France.

Rudy Pevenage, team leader of Telekom, had a phonecall from Bjarne Riis. Riis is training in the Alps for the Tour de France. He is not too enthusiastic about the route, especially the approach to Courchevel, which involves a very tough final climb of 20 kilometers. And this is just a day before a heavy stage to Morzine with several cols.

Riis is glad that he cancelled from the Dauphine Libere. The coming weekend is much too heavy. He better can use his energy in July.

Stage 4, ITT in Bidarrides, 45 km:

  1. Vjatjeslav Ekimov (Rus) US Postal     53.02 (50.901 km/h)
  2. Abraham Olano (Spa) Banesto          + 0.33
  3. Roland Meier (Sch) Post Swiss        + 1.26
  4. Udo Bolts (Ger) Telekom              + 1.27
  5. Chris Boardman (Gbr) Gan             + 2.00
  6. Pascal Lance (Fra) Big Mat           + 2.00
  7. Gilles Maigan (Fra) Mutuelle         + 2.10
  8. Arturas Kasputis (Lit) Casino        + 2.10
  9. Jose Vicente Garcma (Spa) Banesto    + 2.19
 10. Christophe Moreau (Fra) Lotus        + 2.31
 15. Alex Zulle (Swi) Once                + 2.46

 17. Mikel Zarrabeitia (Spa) ONCE		2:53
 19. Alberto Leanizbarrutia (Spa) ONCE    	2:56

Overall after Stage 4:

  1. Vjatjeslav Ekimov (Rus) US Postal  16.56.10
  2. Abraham Olano (Spa) Banesto          + 0.49
  3. Roland Meier (Sch) Post Swiss        + 1.49
  4. Udo Bvlts (Ger) Telekom              + 1.57
  5. Chris Boardman (Gbr) Gan             + 2.49
  6. Christophe Moreau (Fra) Festina      + 2.51
  7. Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank       + 2.57
  8. Alex Zulle (Sch) Once                + 2.59
  9. Dariusz Baranowski (Pol) US Postal   + 3.07
 10. Arturas Kasputis (Lit) Casino        + 3.10

 12. Mikel Zarrabeitia (Spa)              + 3:24
 18. Miguel Angel Pena (Spa)   		  + 3:57 

Stage 4 Report

Viacheslav Ekimov of Russia took a big step towards winning the Dauphine Libere with victory in the fourth stage 45-km time trial on Thursday as Briton Chris Boardman struggled with stomach and gear problems.

Only Spaniard Abraham Olano, second in the time trial some 34 seconds behind Ekimov and now 49 seconds behind the Russian overall, is still within realistic striking distance.

Third-placed Swiss Roland Meier, on the other hand, is another minute adrift of Yekimov, who must now fend off the challenge of Olano on the Alpine ascents before the race ends in Chambery on Sunday.

``The big mountains ahead do not frighten me too much,'' Yekimov said. ``I remember that in '94, when I finished 18th in the Tour de France, I managed to keep up with the strong men most of the time.''

Time trial specialist Boardman, who led after Monday's first stage following his victory in the prologue in Grenoble on Sunday, was troubled by an upset stomach and a gear problem and finished in fifth place, 66 seconds behind Yekimov.

``It's the first time I've had this kind of (gear) problem and twice in the same time trial is too much,'' Boardman said. ``On top of that, I felt like throwing up.''

Switzerland's Alex Zuelle, hurt in a fall on Tuesday, and Richard Virenque of France fell well behind with disappointing performances in the time trial.

Zuelle is now more than three minutes behind, while Virenque, third in the last Tour de France, dropped five minutes and languishes in 35th place overall.

``I'm not managing to find the right rhythm, but the Tour de France is in four weeks' time and the high mountains in seven. I have time,'' Virenque said.

Russian Viatcheslav Ekimov (US Postal) made his lead stronger by winning the fourth stage of the Dauphine Libere, a 45km time trial, with Spaniard Abraham Olano (Banesto) finishing 2nd at 34 seconds. The Spanish cyclists had set this stage as a test to prove his form for the Tour de France. "I knew that Ekimov was going well, but I never thought that he could ride a time trial like he had. I could have pushed a little more when I was shown the differences, but I preferred not to do it. Anyway the main objective has been met", said the Banesto rider. Olano now occupies the 2nd place in the overall at 49 seconds from the Russian, while Swiss Roland Meier (DPO), who was third in the stage, is also third in the overall at 1:49 from Ekimov. Jose Vicente Garcia (Banesto), who finish sixth in the Prologue, again showed his good form as a time trialists, when he finished ninth at 2:19. Swiss Alex Zulle, who announced that he won't finish the race, even more now after his crash on Tuesday, finished 15th, at 2:46 from Ekimov.

More from Stage 4

"Progress, progress. I'm better than at Bicicleta Vasca". Abraham Olano (Banesto) didn't win yesterday at the Dauphine Libere, but that wasn't his objective. So he finished happy even when he gave up 33 seconds to Russian Viatcheslav Ekimov (US Postal), who's ahead of him in the overall by 48 seconds. "Nice, nice", said Jose Miguel Echavarri, Banesto's director, to Olano still sweating on the bike. "Ekimov has been outstanding and when one is outstanding there's nothing to do. Even considering that I did a good time trial". Only the Russian and Olano went over 50 km/hr.

It was a flat route -"eight to ten dangerous curves, the rest cranking zones", explains Unzue-. Under a slight relief from the heat by a slight breeze, Olano happily pushed a 54/11 (almost five revolutions per pedal), while Ekimov rolled with a 55/12, a rider with a lot of track experience. Ekimov's victory was not a surprise. "Don't laugh, he could win the Tour", said Johnny Weltz, his usually careful director. Their participation at the Tour, depended a lot on their performance at the Dauphine, so a month ago, Ekimov stopped competing, to prepare specifically for this race. For him it is an objective, for Olano, a means. That's the difference.

Stage 5, Cavaillon - Digne-les-Bains, 169 km:

  1. Jens Heppner (Ger) Telekom          4.06.17
  2. Javier Pascual (Spa) Kelme           + 0.50
  3. Christophe Moreau (Fra) Festina      + 1.14
  4. Cedric Vasseur (Fra) Gan
  5. Eric Dekker (Ned) Rabobank
  6. Christian Henn (Ger) Telekom
  7. Gerard Rue (Fra) Gan
  8. Francois Simon (Fra) Gan
  9. Vjatjeslav Ekimov (Rus) US Postal
 10. Abraham Olano (Spa) Banesto      
 11. Herminio Diaz Zabala (Spa) Once
 12. Pascal Chanteur (Fra) Casino
 13. Udo Bolts (Ger) Telekom
 14. Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank
 15. Davide Rebellin (Ita) FDJ           all s.t.


  1. Vjatjeslav Ekimov (Rus) US Postal   21.03.41
  2. Abraham Olano (Spa) Banesto           + 0.49
  3. Roland Meier (Sch) Post Swiss         + 1.49 
  4. Udo Bolts (Ger) Telekom               + 1.57
  5. Christophe Moreau (Fra) Festina       + 2.51
  6. Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank        + 2.57
  7. Dariusz Baranowski (Pol) US Postal    + 3.07
  8. Christophe Rinero (Fra) Cofidis       + 3.17
  9. Mikel Zarrabeitia (Spa) Once          + 3.24
 10. Jean-Cyril Robin (Fra) US Postal      + 3.25
 11. Davide Rebellin (Ita) FDJ             + 3.26
 12. Francois Simon (Fra) Gan              + 3.49
 13. Laurent Dufaux (Sch) Festina          + 3.53
 14. Miguel Angel Pena (Spa) Banesto       + 3.57
 15. Andrei Teteriuk (Kaz) Lotto           + 3.58
 16. Eric Dekker (Ned) Rabobank            + 4.05
 17. Stephane Heulot (Fra) Gan             + 4.09
 18. Chris Boardman (Gbr) Gan              + 4.10
 20. Gerard Rue (Fra) Gan                  + 4.48

Stage 5 Report

Vyacheslav Ekimov of Russia retained the overall lead in the Dauphine Libere race in Friday's fifth stage as Swiss Alex Zuelle, who hurt his arm in a bad fall on Tuesday, pulled out.

Jens Heppner of Germany won stage, 50 seconds clear of Spaniard Javier Pascual at the end of a 208-km ride in a semi mountainous stage between Cavaillon and Digne with the peloton a further 24 seconds behind. Zuelle withdrew in mid-stage.

Yekimov, among the top 10 in the stage, kept the overall lead 49 seconds ahead of Abraham Olano before a penultimate day of tough climbs at Vars and Izoard on the way to Briancon on Saturday when the Spaniard will have no option but to attack.

German Jens Heppner (Telekom) won the fifth stage of the Dauphine Libere, between Cavaillon & Digne-les-Bains, over 169km, when he finished by himself, while Russian Viatcheslav Ekimov maintains the overall. Spaniard Javier Pascual accompanied Heppner during almost the whole escape, but on the last climb, the col de Corobin, he couldn't keep up with the German's rhythm, who beat him by 50 seconds. The riders faced today a "middle mountain" stage, on the eve of the "Queen Stage", which will include the climbs of de Vars & de Izoard, two classic Tour de France climbs. Olano, was in the company of five of his teammates and didn't have any problems with the climbs of today -Cote de Bos de Rousse, a category 4 and the climb de Corobin, a category 2- and at all times stayed very close to Ekimov.

Jens Heppner, one of the unsung heroes of the Telekom team, claimed the limelight here on Friday as he won the fifth stage of the Criterium du Dauphine -- Vjatjeslav Ekimov of Russia kept the overall leader's yellow jersey.

Heppner made his move 20km from the finish as he opened up a 50-second lead over Spain's Javier Pascual on the Corobin climb. Prior to then the two riders had vied for the lead after escaping the pack, which finally came in more than a minute off the pace.

"It's nice as I don't often have the chance to win even a stage as the team leaders rely on me to do the donkey work," the 32-year-old Heppner said.

The German's joy was in stark contrast to that of French star Richard Virenque, winner of the King of the Mountains jersey in the last three Tour de France's, who is 36th overall almost seven minutes behind Ekimov.

"I have never been as out of form as this in June and it is imperative that I rediscover it. I am not depressed but I know that it will take me more than a day to get back into top shape," Virenque said.

The 28-year-old Virenque finished more than a minute behind the peloton along with Englishman Chris Boardman, the early overall leader.

Boardman, who lost teammate Frederic Moncassin two days ago when he was expelled from the race for headbutting Rolf Aldag, faces a tough day in the mountains on Saturday whereas for Virenque it presents the perfect opportunity to cycle back into form as they limber up for the Tour de France which begins on July 5


Swiss cyclist, Alex Zulle, from Team ONCE, abandoned today the Dauphine Libere during the fifth stage, which was raced between Cavaillon & Digne-les bains. Zulle made the decision to get off the bike when he reached Greoux-les-bains, at 88km from the finish. The Swiss, who suffered a fall on Tuesday, had already programmed that he wasn't going to finish the Dauphine Libere. The next race in his race program is the Tour of Switzerland, which begins next Tuesday.

Stage 6, Digne-les-Bains - Briangon, 187 km:

  1. Abraham Olano (Spa) Banesto          5.07.27
  2. Udo Bolts (Ger) Telekom               + 0.01
  3. Jean-Cyril Robin (Fra) US Postal      + 0.05
  4. Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank        + 0.09
  5. Manuel Beltran (Spa) Banesto          + 0.57
  6. Miguel Angel Pena (Spa) Banesto       + 1.00
  7. Santiago Blanco (Spa) Banesto         + 1.37
  8. Mikel Zarrabeitia (Spa) Once          + 1.41
  9. Christophe Rinero (Fra) Cofidis       + 2.20
 10. Francois Simon (Fra) Gan              + 2.21
 11. Rodolfo Massi (Ita) Casino            + 2.24
 12. Andrea Peron (Ita) FDJ                + 2.25
 13. Christophe Moreau (Fra) Festina       + 2.32
 14. Miguel Arroyo (Mex) Big Mat-Auber     + 2.50
 15. Andrei Teteriuk (Kaz) Lotto           + 2.52
 16. Vjatjeslav Ekimov (Rus) US Postal     + 4.10
 17. Christian Henn (Ger) Telekom          + 4.10
 18. Dariusz Baranowski (Pol) US Postal    + 4.10
 19. Pascal Chanteur (Fra) Casino          + 4.19
 20. Laurent Madouas (Fra) Lotto           + 4.23


  1. Abraham Olano (Spa) Banesto        26.11.57
  2. Udo Bolts (Ger) Telekom              + 1.09
  3. Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank       + 2.17
  4. Jean-Cyril Robin (Fra) US Postal     + 2.51
  5. Vjatjeslav Ekimov (Rus) US Postal    + 3.21
  6. Miguel Angel Pena (Spa) Banesto      + 4.08
  7. Mikel Zarrabeitia (Spa) Once         + 4.16
  8. Christophe Moreau (Fra) Festina      + 4.34
  9. Christophe Rinero (Fra) Cofidis      + 4.48
 10. Manuel Beltran (Spa) Banesto         + 4.53
 16. Santiago Blanco (Spa) Banesto        + 8.19
 19. Miguel Arroyo (Mex) Big Mat-Auber    + 9.45

Stage 6 Report

Abraham Olano took overall leadership in the Dauphine Libere from Russian Vjatjeslav Ekimov when he won the sixth stage on Saturday.

Olano took the 187 km leg from Digne-les-Bains ahead of German Udo Bolts, with Frenchman Jean-Cyril Robin third.

Ekimov, who had taken first place from Briton Chris Boardman on Tuesday's second stage, lost ground on the tough climb at Izoard and finished four minutes nine seconds behind Olano.

Switzerland's Olympic road race champion Pascal Richard, who in mid-March suffered a bad accident while training, was a non-starter.

Sunday's seventh and final stage to Chambery is punctuated by four climbs.

Chris Boardman has pulled out of the Criterium du Dauphine here on Saturday, complaining of an intestinal ailment.

Boardman, who had been 18th overall before the start of today's sixth stage, stopped half-way through the 187 kilometer long stage.

A team spokesman said Boardman had been suffering for several days and despite treatment was unable to continue.

Boardman's withdrawal was a bitter blow for his Gan team. His teammate Frederic Moncassin was expelled two days ago for head-butting Rolf Aldag.

Spaniard Abraham Olano, who's preparing for the assault at the Tour de France, won today the first high mountain stage of the Dauphine Libere, emulating the tactics of Miguel Indurain. Olano, patiently dealt with the numerous attacks by his most dangerous rival, German Udo Bolts & did the final attack on the dangerous descent of the col D'Izoard. Indurain once did the same thing with Laurent Jalabert. Bolts, who will be one of the main domestiques for Bjarne Riis, launched several attacks on Olano, who was at all times surrounded by his teammates.

Under a persistent rain, Banesto marked the rhythm. Once Russian Viatcheslav Ekimov, who was the leader until today, started to give up time on the first climbs of the col D'Izoard, Bolts started to attack and was able to reach the top with a 20 seconds advantage over his chasers. He was neutralized on the descent, but the German cyclist continued his attacks, until he decided to give up when he saw that he couldn't get ride of Olano, who at the finish beat him by one second. Riders like Richard Virenque or Laurent Dufaux, great climbers, were unable to bear the stages rhythm. Virenque lost 6:46 & Dufaux more than half an hour. Thirteen cyclists abandoined during this stage.

"The great offensive is prepared for tomorrow, the last stage. We knew that we had to control Bolts and we did it. I didn't expect the win on this stage, but after I saw how I was going, I looked for the win", said Olano. "I knew that I was in good form, I already showed it at the time trial, although Ekimov beat me, who was in a great state of grace. To compare me with Indurain? I'm only on the way. I have a lot to cover", he said.

Stage 7, Briangon-Chambery, 182 km:

  1. Andrei Teteriuk (Kaz) Lotto         4.36.09
  2. Davide Rebellin (Ita) FDJ            + 0.43
  3. Francois Simon (Fra) Gan
  4. Jean-Cyril Robin (Fra) US Postal
  5. Udo Bolts (Ger) Telekom            all s.t.
  6. Christophe Moreau (Fra) Festina      + 1.35
  7. Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank         s.t.
  8. Georg Totschnig (Aut) Telekom        + 1.37
  9. Richard Virenque (Fra) Festina       + 1.39
 10. Abraham Olano (Spa) Banesto          + 2.05
 11. Laurent Dufaux (Sch) Festina         + 2.09
 12. Vjatjeslav Ekimov (Rus) US Postal    + 3.34
 13. Pascal Chanteur (Fra) Casino         + 4.02
 14. Andrea Peron (Ita) FDJ
 15. Mikel Zarrabeitia (Spa) Once
 16. Patrick Jonker (Aus) Rabobank       all s.t.
 17. Gilles Maignan (Fra) Mutuelle         + 6.46
 18. Christophe Rinero (Fra) Cofidis         s.t.
 19. Javier Pascual (Spa) Kelme            + 6.47
 20. Frederic Bessy (Fra) Casino             s.t.

Final overall:

  1. Udo Bolts (Ger), Telekom,           30.49.58
  2. Abraham Olano (Spa) Banesto           + 0.13
  3. Jean-Cyril Robin (Fra) US Postal      + 1.42
  4. Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank        + 2.00
  5. Andrei Teteriuk (Kaz) Lotto           + 4.09
  6. Francois Simon (Fra) Gan              + 4.12
  7. Christophe Moreau (Fra) Festina       + 4.17
  8. Vjatjeslav Ekimov (Rus) US Postal     + 5.03
  9. Mikel Zarrabeitia (Spa) Once          + 6.26
 10. Manuel Beltran (Spa) Banesto          + 7.58
 11. Christophe Rinero (Fra) Cofidis       + 9.42
 12. Davide Rebellin (Ita) FDJ            + 10.44
 13. Pascal Chanteur (Fra) Casino         + 10.49
 14. Andrea Peron (Ita) FDJ               + 10.59
 15. Dariusz Baranowski (Pol) US Postal   + 11.23
 16. Georg Totschnig (Aut) Telekom        + 11.32
 17. Richard Virenque (Fra) Festina       + 12.35
 18. Santiago Blanco (Spa) Banesto        + 13.19
 19. Christian Henn (Ger) Telekom         + 14.54
 20. Gerard Rue (Fra) Gan                 + 15.40

Final Reports

Udo Bolts of Germany stole the Dauphine Libere cycling race from under the nose of Abraham Olano, who was poised to give Spain their third success in a row on Sunday.

As Olano, looking to follow up Miguel Indurain's 1995 and 1996 victories, suffered from a string of problems in the last hour, Bolts made up a deficit of one minute and nine seconds to beat the overnight leader into second place by 12 seconds.

"This was unexpected for me,'' the 31-year-old German of the Telekom team said at the finish line.

But his team manager Rudy Pevenage was quick to point out that Tour de France title holder Bjarne Riis was still the team leader.

"Riis is the number one, Jan Ullrich is the first reserve and I'm going to work for them,'' Pevenage said referring to the Tour de France next month.

Andrei Teteriuk of Kazakhstan won the mountainous seventh and final stage over 182 kms from Briancon to Chambery. Italy's Davide Rebellin was second and Frenchman Francois Simon third. Bolts finished fifth and Olano 10th.

Bolts, who also won the best climber title, attacked Olano on the Col de Porte climb two-thirds of the way into the race. On the descent, Olano and France's Richard Virenque fell but were soon on their bicycles again.

Then Olano had a puncture 30 kms from the finish and had to change bikes, only to discover a pedal problem. By then Bolts had bettered the Spaniard's overall time.

In the final downhill sprint into Chambery, Olano recovered several seconds but not enough to regain the lead.

Bolts, German champion in 1990 and 1995 and winner of the San Sebastian classic last year, will be taking part in his sixth Tour de France in July.

German Udo Bolts, from Team Telekom, has won the 49th edition of the Dauphine Libere, with a 13 second advantage over Abraham Olano (Banesto), who was the leader at the start of the stage and suffered a spectacular crash, luckily without major consequences. The last stage between Briancon & Chambery, over 182km, had Andrei Teteriuk, from Team Lotto, as winner who came to the finish line alone with almost a minute of advantage over the first group where the favorites were riding, excepting Olano. It became a more decisive stage than expected, since from the first kilometers, Olano's rivals made it a common cause to make it hard. At the beginning, Olano and his teammates controlled the situation, but at the climb of Porte, German Bolts, got into an escape which resulted to be a good one, plus Olano was involved in a crash which caused him to lose a lot of seconds and the victory. The stage turned out to be pretty tough as revealed by the numerous abandonments which were registered, amongst them Miguel Angel Pena, Inigo Cuesta, Javier Mauleon & Aitor Garmendia.