More Stage 14 Reports


Abdu wins

Djamolodine Abdujaparov of Uzbekistan, the 'Tashkent Express', won the 186.5km 14th stage of the Tour de France from Besse to Tulle on Sunday -- stunning four fellow breakaway riders.

Abdujaparov, winning his ninth Tour stage, beat home Mirco Gualdi of Italy, who was second, and Frenchman Laurent Madouas, who finished third.

Bjarne Riis of Denmark, who had earlier led a 60km breakaway group, retained the yellow jersey, finishing in the peloton over four minutes behind Abdujaparov.

Riis was delighted with the day, having provoked panic among five-time winner Miguel Indurain and his Banesto team. "I suddenly realised that Indurain and Tony Rominger were in the back of the peloton and that if we could sustain an attack then they would be under pressure," Riis said.

"However, we were not able to break them today as Abraham Olano didn't want to make the pace because of Rominger being behind and Yevgeny Berzin for some reason didn't want to either. I'm happy anyway because I controlled the leaders," Riis added.

Olano, the reigning World road race champion, said that he still felt that Rominger was the strong man of their Mapei team, despite three falls and his right knee and thigh giving him trouble.

"I only went with the first breakaway because if I hadn't they would have had a larger gap. I still think Tony can win it and he will probably make his move on Hautacam on Tuesday," Olano said.

Indurain sounded a defiant note when he was asked whether he had lost the Tour. "Of course not. I was upset by the cold and rain but now I have recharged my batteries and I will choose my time to attack. The other riders ahead of me are bound to crack and when I think they have then I will pounce," Indurain said.

Abdujaparov, three times a green jersey winner for most points in the Tour, sped away from his four fellow escapees 2km from the finish on a climb -- surprisingly as he is primarily renowned for his sprinting abilities. "I realised that I would not win in a sprint finish with them as it was on a climb, so I decided to attack before they could get organised," Abdujaparov explained.

Denmark's Bo Hamburger had been joined 60km from the finish by Abdujaparov, Madouas, Gualdi and two other Frenchmen -- Laurent Rous and Thierry Bourguignon -- who was later dropped, after Hamburger had been on a 40km lone breakaway from the village of Aubazines.

Hamburger, the group's nearest challenger to Riis, settled in behind his five companions and waited to make his break 3km from the line on the steep climb to Tulle.

He must have been stunned to see Abdujaparov first get onto his wheel and then sweep past him swiftly.

Earlier in the stage, a Riis breakaway on the first climb of the day up to De La Croix-Morand, left a slumbering Indurain trailing in the peloton.

Riis was joined by most of his major rivals, including Olano, Berzin, the former yellow jersey wearer, and, as usual, his two faithful teammates Udo Bolts and Jan Ullrich.

The group built up a 60-second gap on Indurain's group and the five-time winner was not helped when his brother Prudencio caused a massive spill on top of De La Croix-Morand. But allied with two other Spanish teams, Kelme and ONCE, they gradually regained the ground on the Riis group.

This may cause some concern to Riis as it appears that the other Spanish teams are going to work for another Indurain win -- a record sixth in a row.

Manolo Saiz, the boss of ONCE, was quoted as saying on Saturday that Indurain could expect some outside help. "Why shouldn't we help Miguel?" Saiz said.

Tour de France organisers had earlier received renewed threats of violence from an anonymous Basque organisation.

Egin, an independent Basque publication, published an anonymous statement threatening the security of the cyclists and the Tour de France caravan when it races in the Basque countryside on Wednesday and Thursday.

The statement said that action would be taken as there were several companies supporting the Tour who were anti-Basque.

Several Spanish and French companies have had their offices bombed in recent weeks, including the Renault showroom in Pamplona, where the 17th stage finishes on Wednesday.

The statement said: "Once the cyclists are in Basque country their security cannot be guaranteed."

Indurain, though, dismissed the threats.

"They won't come to anything. When we rolled into San Sebastian four years ago there were threats but nothing happened. Anyway negotiations are underway so I doubt they will take any action," Indurain said.

ETA, the Basque terrorist organisation, sent a letter to the organisers in June threatening to bomb the Tour if they did not use a Basque announcer for the Pamplona stage. The organisers agreed to the demand.

Abdoujaparov metamorphosis

At the summit of the Puy Pinšon, the powerful sprinter Djamolidine Abdoujaparov changed his style and became a climber. At the end of a solitary break-away he has won this 14th stage.

The sprinter left behind his fellow riders- Gualdi, Madouas, Rous and Hamburger at 3km from the finish line to succeed the most impressive win in his carrier. Just as yesterday todays stage was off to a quick start with Indurain and Rominger once again surprised at the first climb where as Riis, Olano, Berzin, Ullrich, Virenque and Leblanc were over the Col de la Croix Indurain and Morand lagged behind and their men would have to work for them.

The Banestos would have to assure a 38 km chase which would leave them diminished as they were distracted while Riis was at ease in the lead.The Dane seemed stronger and stronger and more confident then ever.

Within the pack several attacks took place. The Dane Hamburger was the most persistant, Madouas, Rous, Abdoujaparov, Gualdi and Bourguignon (who could not follow the pace) caught up with Hamburger at 55km from Tulle.

Success would be for one of them even with attacks by Madouas and Hamburger Abdoujaparov took off.

The position of theTour favorites is unchanged. Tomorrow will be a transition stage before attacking the Pyrenean stages.

Tuesday will be the first Pyrenean stage with the climb of Hautacam.