Stage 8 News

Stage 8 Report from Peter Mc Nairney

Miguel Indurain was the hot favorite for the first time trial of the tour this year, and despite the 30km pursuit race again the field yesterday, proved to be the best on the day again. His advantage at the finish was less than it has been in previous years but he distanced all riders but one by at least a minute. The one rider to challenge him was not Rominger, neither was it Berzin or Zuelle, rather the Dane Bjarne Riis. Riis started slower than Indurain but rode most of the race faster than the Spaniard. Only in the last 5km did Riis tire somewhat and Indurain was able to win the stage by 12".

There were other noticable performances and disapointments. Surprisingly strong rides were shown by Thibout, a revalation in the tour so far, and Jalabert. Berzin, however, faded towards the end and Zuelle never really came into the race.

The long distance, high temperatures (34 degrees C - 93 degrees F), and an uphill final kilometer made the second part of the race critical. Those who started too fast payed for it towards the end of the race.

Tony Rominger played down his strengths before the stage and commented on how the stage was suited to Indurain. He said that if he lost less than two minutes then he'd be happy. He managed to keep the gap at about 1 minute, but must be cursing the lost time from yesterday. He's now 2'30" down on Indurain in G.C. and despite his confidence in the mountains it'll be hard, as always, to crack a defensive Indurain.

Given the form of Riis at the moment, Gewiss will have to decide who to ride for in the mountains. Berzin didn't look good yesterday or today, whereas Riis dominated the team. Indurains lead after this first time trial is not as big as it has been, this may open the door for other teams to attack him in the mountain stages later in the week. 2 1/2 minutes is a lot to make good on a Miguel Indurain, but it certainly can be done. We have some interesting racing before us.

Time Split Information

Time 1 @ 13km

1. Indurain 15'54" 2. Berzin +22" 3. Rominger 31" 4. Bruyneel 40" 5. Riis 58" 6. Jalabert 59" Time 2 @ 22km

1. Indurain 27'47" 2. Riis +27" 3. Berzin 28" 4. Rominger 38" 5. Mauri 1'13" 6. Bruyneel 1'18" 7. Zuelle 1'27" 8. Jalabert 1'34" Time 3 @ 38km

1. Indurain 45'23" 2. Riis +15" 3. Rominger 37" 4. Berzin 57" Time 4 @ 5km before the finish

1. Riis 58'49" 2. Indurain 5" 3. Rominger 56" 4. Berzin 1'21"

More News

* Indurain's average speed: 54 kms @ 50.409 kph 33.5 miles @ 31.324 mph

* "My goal was to build a gap between myself and my principal rivals and I think I haven't done too badly in that respect in the last two days," said Indurain.

"I also wanted to gain time on the best climbers such as (Frenchman) Richard Virenque and (Italian) Marco Pantani and I succeeded there too," he added.

"The Tour is still an open challenge," Indurain said. "Two tough weeks remain. Now I await the climbers."

* Indurain unexpectedly must now keep a close eye on Riis, currently second at 23 seconds in arrears. "I knew he would be very strong. He did something remarkable today and I will certainly keep an eye on him," said Indurain.

* Riss, a respectable climber, took fifth place in the Tour in 1993.

* Riis was surprised by his own achievement. "I knew I was capable of doing something special but perhaps not that special," he said. "I didn't know I was that close. I missed the guts to finish it off."