106 on the start list, 98 starters. (DNS: Den Bakker, Bouwmans, Knaven, Van den Meulenhof, Vermey (Netherlands); Vansevenant (Belgium); Baldinger (Germany); Meinert (Denmark). Start at 9.05 am by the president of Colombia, Ernesto Samper. 15 laps of 17.7km = 265.5 kms.
In the first climb the first to be dropped are the Durch riders Eyk and Boogerd, the South African Ryder, the Japanese Imanaka, the Frenchmen Laurent and Thibout, another Japanese Yamada, the Englishman Lillywhite and the American Julich. Bugno is also in difficulty and is dropped (as at Benidorm in 1992, when he had his second victory!). He is 50 seconds down when he crosses the line at the end of lap 1.
Gonzalez-Arrieta (Spain), Nino (Colombia) and Brochard (France) make an attempt at the first attack on the way back to the finish line but they are soon pulled back.
Roux's assigned role was to look after Virenque after the middle part of the race. Why did he make an early break? "The first climb threw me into a panic and I didn't want to end up asphyxiated," said the Castorama rider, who as yet has no contract for 1996. "So I preferred to ride on my own at the front at my own pace. I know that I am going to be reproached for this, but I'm willing to take the responsibility. When I saw who was still in the peloton when it caught me, I was certain that I would never have been with them at this stage of the race [if I hadn't broken away.]"
The French presence is now reduced: Virenque is accompanied only by Herve and Rue. The peloton is now down to about 50 riders but the selection is getting more and more severe. Near the bottom of the descent, Chiappucci initiates a small break, taking with him his team-mate Faresin, Chepe Gonzalez (Colombia) and Mauleon (Spain). At the end of the lap, the four, with the Italians doing most of the work, have a lead of 26 seconds. Laurent Madouas pulls out at the end of the lap.
"The crash [on Lap 1] was provoked by the speed with which the race set off," Madouas said. "Everybody wanted to be well placed at the beginning of the first climb. I found myself wedged between two other guys. After the crash [Madouas had various injuries, including some damage to his head] I couldn't climb easily with the peloton, it was only in the descents that I could recover. Eventually things got worse and worse. I even thought I was going to pass out I was suffering so much."
"Miguel had just come back after his puncture," said Olano. "Then he attacked. Konychev, then Richard put in an effort and bridged to him and I attacked. I felt very strong. I owe a great deal to Miguel."
On the climb says Olano: "As soon as I took the left turn that leads onto the false flats I began to cramp up. Soon there was lots of tingling which announced the cramp. I didn't panic, I just climbed at my own pace. I said to myself: 'if you concede 15 seconds to them in the climb it's won' [??? only 15 seconds maybe?]. It's about what happened. Once I launched myself into the descent, I rapidly recuperated."
At the 1km to go banner, Olano punctures, but his tubular holds out to the line. 35 seconds later Indurain outsprints Pantani and Gianetti. "I kept my cool [after the puncture]," said Olano. "I couldn't see them near me. I could certainly have fallen, but I handled my bike well. I tried not to think too much of what was at stake."
Born: 22 January 1970 at Anceta, Spain Height: 1.82m; Weight 72kg Olano specialised in the track at first, being a triple junior Spanish champion (sprint, kilometre and team pursuit). Professional -- 1992 Teams: Festina (1992), Clas (1993), Mapei Clas (1994), Mapei GB (1995) World Road Race Champion, 1995 Champion of Spain, road and time trial, 1994 Tour of Asturias and one time trial stage, 1994 Clasica d'Alcobendas, 1994 GP Villafranca de Ordizia, 1992 Three time trial stages in Vuelta a Espana, 1995 Prologue time trial Tour of Catalonia, 1994 2nd, Worlds time trial, 1995 (5th in 1994) 2nd, Vuelta a Espana, 1995 3rd, Tour of Valencia, 1995 4th, Paris--Nice, 1995 5th, Semana Catalana, 1995 14th in UCI classification
More GAN Signings Ronan Pensec (ex-Le Groupement), Philippe Gaumont (ex-Castorama) and Stephane Heulot (ex-Festina) have signed for GAN. One further place needs to be filled to bring the team to 18 riders, and Roger Legeay was expected to have made this signing last weekend. _________________________________________________________________ Beer is Good for You -- And That's Official Friday, Miguel Indurain didn't like the look of the pasta the chef had prepared. "You know what I really fancy?" he said. "A ham sandwich and a beer." Indurain munched a couple of sandwiches and sank two beers. To those who were astonished by this, so near race day, there was a learned response from J Sabino Padilla, the Banesto team doctor. "Beer?" he said. "Why, it's the only drink that contains vitamin B6 and B12, and what's more, it aids the elimination of toxins."