Men's Professional Road Race Report

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.

Lap 1 (lap time = 27.15)

A crash in the first kilometres: France's Laurent Madouas is one of the most seriously affected and restarts after about a minute. Team-mate Lylian Lebreton, also in the crash, waits for him. Also involved are Swiss riders Jaermann, Putini and Richard and the champion of Colombia Rico who waits the longest for a new bike.

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.

Lap 2 (29.14)

The fast pace eases a little and Richard rejoins the peloton where Indurain and Chiappucci are chatting at the back; then Madouas also overcomes the delay caused by the crash. Bugno gets back on as well.

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.

Lap 3 (26.48)

Laurent Roux (France) is the first to succeed in making a break, on the flat stretch at the beginning of the lap. He has 2.30 on the peloton at the end of the lap, which turns out to be the fastest of the race at 39.6kph. 18 abandons have already been recorded, including Lebreton and Thibout.

Lap 4 (28.03)

Roux increases his lead, which reaches 3.58 on the climb and 3.37 at the end of the lap, where the Spanish team starts to impose a little "tempo". Virenque is halted by mechanical problems, but soon gets back with the bunch. Bugno abandons.

Lap 5 (28.47)

The Colombian, Lozano, attempts to counter-attack in pursuit of Roux but the Spaniards maintain a fast pace and he is soon brought back. Roux maintains his lead, which is at 4.06 at the end of the lap. The race is one-third completed.

Lap 6 (29.15)

Virenque punctures at the base of the climb, but is paced back by Robin. Roux holds his lead, now 3.47.

Lap 7 (30.12)

The slowest lap of the race so far marks the beginning of the end for Roux, his lead being brought down to 2.27.

Lap 8 (30.44)

The mid-point of the race is fatal for Madouas, who is dropped on the climb; Brochard suffers the same fate. At the front, Roux is also in difficulty, while on the front of the peloton the Colombians are forcing the pace (although Nelson Rodriguez is going backwards). Virenque remains vigilant at the front of the peloton. Indurain awaits events tranquilly at the back of the peloton along with Pantani. A light rain begins. At the line, with 124km to go, Roux's lead has fallen to 1.11.

Lap 9 (29.19)

Roux is in great difficulty on the climb, after six laps alone, 112km. He's soon caught by the peloton at the head of which the Colombians and Italians are most active

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."

Lap 10 (28.10)

The race takes off with Chiappucci's attack, who loses his team-mate Faresin at the foot of the climb. Il Diablo is doing most of the work, helped a bit by Chepe Gonzalez; Mauleon plays the proper team role, doing no work. In the peloton, the Spaniards, above all the young Santiago Blanco, react to the attack -- this leads to a general explosion of the peloton. On the descent the peloton catches Chiappucci, Chepe Gonzalez and Mauleon, but a new attack propels Ochoa (Colombia) and Konychev (Russia) into the lead -- and into a gathering thunderstorm.

Lap 11 (29.14)

The storm is raging on the higher parts of the circuit making the descent perilous. On the way down Chiappucci runs out of road on a bend and loses about two minutes. With four laps to the finish, Ochoa and Konychev have 56 seconds on a peloton which is now down to 14 riders, with Virenque the only French representative.

Lap 12 (29.14)

Indurain punctures and falls back into a second group. But he makes the junction just at the moment when Pantani attacks, overwhelms Konychev and Ochoa and goes off alone. Indurain himself takes charge of the pursuit, helping the depleted peloton to recapture Pantani before the top of the climb. Puttini (Switzerland) and Escartin (Spain) build a slim lead on the descent -- at the line they are 5 seconds ahead of a group of 15 (Indurain, Jimenez, Olano, Virenque. Richard, Gianetti, Sorensen, Konychev, Colombians Rincon, Ochoa and Gonzalez, Pantani, Lanfranchi, Pellicioli and Casagrande). Chiappucci trails in far behind, his shorts torn in the crash and abandons with Frenchman Herve.

Lap 13 (28.40)

The Italians pile on the pressure, with Pellicioli and Lanfranch doing the bulk of the work, but Puttini and Escartin hold out, with a 26-second lead at the end of the lap.

Lap 14 (28.26)

Escartin and Puttini are caught on the climb where Gianetti attacks, controlled by Jimenez. Pantani pulls them back. Indurain punctures again, and only gets back tot he group at the bottom of the descent. There are now nine riders together in the lead: Indurain, JImenez, Olano, Pantani, Richard, Gianetti, Virenque, Rincon and Konychev. Just before the end of the lap Indurain essays an attack, unsuccessfully but it allows Olano to go off on a counter-attack.

"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."

Lap 15 (27.02)

With Olano away, Indurain and above all Jimenez do everything they can to block any counter-attack. Olano opens the gap. But the admirable effort of Pantani on the climb with only Indurain and Gianetti able to hold his wheel gets the gap down to 15 seconds as the descent begins.

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."

Abraham Olano -- Palmaires

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

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