Stage 13 Notes

* Uchakov and Armstrong were part of a group of four that built up a lead of more than 15 minutes over the peloton. The four-man break left the peloton with more than 125 miles to go in the 152-mile stage. Uchakov and Armstrong broke away from Bruno Cenghialta (Italy) and Hernan Buenahora (Colombia) about five miles from the finish. Outschakov managed to outsprint Armstrong for the stage win.

* It was the first Tour stage win for 27-year-old Uchakov.

* He turned professional in 1993 and has previously won stages in the Vuelta and the Giro.

* Said Uchakov: "My team manager told me I should believe in myself and that I could be a great champion and beat the best riders. I had that in my mind at the end because I felt at first that Armstrong was faster than me. Then I thought that I had won a sprint in the Giro and that I could do it again."

* "It was like a dream, I would never have imagined it," said a stunned Uchakov.

* "He was faster," Armstrong said. "I was surprised, he was faster."

* Indurain celebrates his 31st birthday as the Tour heads into the Pyrenees tomorrow.

* Indurain said he feels he could still have a bad day and lose despite his comforting lead.

* But he also said the ONCE team of his main challengers Zuelle and Jalabert might regret expending the energy they used trying to break him down over the past week. (Sounds ominous. --M.T.)

* "I heard Zuelle has a knee injury and he was behind for a while at the start today," Indurain said. "If he has problems in the Pyrenees, he will suffer. Jalabert may be the biggest threat."

** Sean Yates: The "Consummate Professional" Abandons **

* British veteran Sean Yates abandoned The Tour for the last time today. The 35-year-old "Domestique Extraordinaire" from Sussex abandoned with tendonitis in his left leg only 12 miles into the 13th stage.

* "If I was 25, I would have had more fight in me, but it would not have affected my decision today," said Yates. "The tendonitis was severe. I just think I am too old to do this type of thing. Even if I had continued, I would just have been another passenger in the bus. I wasn't doing anything apart from trying to get to Paris. It was pretty pointless. I could not have asked for more," he said. "It's kind of sad to say goodbye, but I had to some day. With the Tour being the biggest race in the world, just to participate is special. It means you have made it in the sport. It was a job, but I loved it."

* Yates has ridden in 12 Tours de France.

* Yates is only one of only three British riders to wear the Yellow Jersey.

* His abandonment today was only the third time he has failed to complete the Tour. He abandoned after illness in 1987 and a crash in 1991.

* In 1988 he won the ITT at Wasquehal with an average speed of 30.80 miles-per-hour, at the time a Tour record.

Race Report from Peter Mc Nairney

After yesterday's long stage the riders faced another, even longer, ride today - the distance from Mende to the stage finish at Revel was some 245km.

Once again a group formed early in the day, and once again Miguel Indurain was prepared to let them go. There was none of the tour top ten in the leading bunch this time and so it wasn't surprising that Banesto took it easy and rode their own pace. The 4 riders at the front: Armstrong (Motorola), Cenghialta (Gewiss), Outschakov (Polti), and Buenahora (Kelme). Of these four Buenahora was the best in G.C some 32 minutes behind Indurain. The front bunch had therefore a lot of class in it and it wasn't surprising to see the gap to the field grow and grow.

At one point they were 17'50" in front of the field, but this was down to under 14 minutes 40km before the finish. The finish itself was 8km after a mild climb, and it was clear that Buenahora would have to attack on the climb if he was going to win.

And attack he did. However it was clear to everyone that he'd have to do this and the others countered without any troubles. After that it was Outschakov's turn and this time only Armstrong could follow, Cenghialta and Buenahora fell back. Armstrong tried to slip away from the Russian several times but Outschakov was far too watchfull. Indeed, the Polti rider seemed to spend more time watching Armstrong and looking behind himself than he did looking forwards.

They changed in the lead on the descent and up to the last kilometer. After the red flag they rode through several corners before lining up on the long finishing straight. Outschkaov tried to surprise Armstrong on the last corner with what looked like a long sprint. However Armstrong was tight on his wheel and he didn't continue. Instead he switched to the left side of the rode and started 'tip toeing' towards the line - much as a sprinter might lead out on the track. All the time he was looking to his right to check on Armstrong. The American waited and waited, but Outschakov wouldn't give him the advantage of surprise. Finally Armstrong jumped, some 200m from the line. Outschakov reacted immediatly and wound up for all he was worth. He moved out into the middle of the road, but Armstrong couldn't come off the wheel of the accelerating Russian, let alone pass him. On the line Outschakov won his first TdF stage comfortably.

This was a good effort from Outschakov, who also won a stage in the Giro this year. There he fooled Pascal Richard, the stronger rider then, with an attack 900m from the finish. Today he rode the sprint with a lot of skill and was rewarded for his efforts. He has now won a stage in all three major tours.

Behind the first two Buenahora surprised most observers by beating Cenghialta to the line, some 58" later. Another group followed 12 1/2 minutes further back. Milesi (Brescialat), and Perona (Lampre) had slipped away from the field before the climb and Andreu (Motorola) had gone along to keep an eye on things. With his team captain out front Andreu didn't do one meter of work for the others, but was fair at the finish and left the sprint to them. Perona took 5th and Milesi 6th.

A few others came in before the field finally showed up on the finish straight, and by the time Abduschaparov beat the others home the clock showed 19'14" - a huge deficit. This casualness now promoted Bueanahora up to 9th position in the overall standings - a great reward for a rider that is always trying his luck.

Once again Indurain saved his Banesto team for another day. That day may well be tomorrow. With climbs 66km, 32km, 23km, 8km before the finish and a climb to the finish itself, the stage will provide plenty of opportunities for attacks. Indurain will certainly have his hands full tomorrow, and most likely they'll be full of problems provided by Once riders. It'll be an interesting stage.