More Stage 10 Reporting

Roger watching the tour on TV

SUNSHINE! 20 degrees in Gap.

At the first sprint at Chiusa (29km) Erik Zabel (Telekom) , in pursuit of Frederic Moncassin's (GAN) green jersey, beats Moncassin into second place with Emmanuel Magnien (Festina) third.

On the ascent of the 1st cat Col de Montgenevre (whose summit is at 95km) Laurent Jalabert (ONCE) abandons, looking so sad. (Press reports suggest he's been suffering from gastro-enteritis and fever for several days.) Later on the same climb Johan Bruyneel (Rabobank) also abandons.

Before the summit there's a break of three away: mountains leader Richard Virenque (Festina), Piotr Ugrumov (Roslotto) and Jan Ullrich (Telekom). Their lead is 1.30 at the top.

We next pick up the race with 15km to go and Rolf Sorensen is away and heading towards the sharp 3rd Cat final climb of the day before the 10km descent into Gap --- the Col de la Sentinelle. Sorensen has built 55 seconds on the peloton, with Alberto Elli (MG) and Marco Fincato (Roslotto) in between 20 seconds behind Sorensen.

Near the foot of the climb the field closes down Fincato and Elli, and Christian Henn (Telekom) lifts the pace to discourage any more breaks. As they hit the climb he swings off the front letting more Telekom mass at the front but with Richard Virenque also in sight. Sorensen is going strongly on the climb. The Telekom are not chasing hard on this narrow steep climb they just seem to want to discourage a break that's dangerous to Riis at this stage. They barely react when Massimiliano Lelli (Saeco) breaks clear with Laurent Brochard (Festina) soon haring after him. Brochard goes to the front and pulls Lelli strongly up the climb.

At the next time check Sorensen has 56 secs onthe peloton and 47 on the chasers. Brochard sees the bunch closing and decides he has to go alone, tearing off in a big gear. With 1km to the summit Sorensen has 17 secs on Brochard and 25 on the bunch.

At the summit, right on the 10km to go mark, Brochard has been caught and Virenque goes over second.

Down the hill a Festina (Laurent Dufaux?) tries for a break, but it's soon Telekom ranged on the front, including Bjarne Riis -- and the next time is 12 secs. Some time before 5km to go on a very technical descent, with Sorensen taking bends using all the road and with his knee stuck out, Bruno Cenghialta (Gewiss) gets away from the peloton.

Cenghialta chases Sorensen into town getting within sight of him but never quite catching him. With 2km to go Sorensen is still going hard but with only 8 secs on Cenghialta and 10 secs on the field. Cenghialta is swept up before the 1km banner and we see Alex Zulle pulling slightly clear of the bunch. At 1km Sorensen still has 5 secs, but at around 300m it all comes together, with a last vain attempt by Sorensen's team-mate Viatcheslav Ekimov to make a late break.

At the line it's Telekom's Erik Zabel, with Djamolidin Abdoujaparov (Refin) second and Andrea Ferrigato (Roslotto) third. Zabel's done enough today to capture another jersey for Telekom.

Zabel in green! Riis in yellow!

And Sorensen will surely get the prize for combativity today....

Tour Attrition Rate

I know we are now past  Stage 10, but these figures are still

Number of Riders Abandoning or Being Eliminated in First Six Stages

1996 36
1995 15
1994 8
1993 6
1992 6
1991 3
1990 7
1989 7
1988 5
1987 8
1986 19*

*12 eliminated in the team time trial stage

And that big Pyrenean stage is still to come. What odds on 90
finishing in Paris? 151 and counting down....

Bjarne Riis's Telekom in control

Yellow jersey Bjarne Riis's Telekom team controlled today's stage from beginning to end, with teammate Erik Zabel winning in the final sprint and becoming the Tour's new best sprinter in the process.

Because of this domination of the Telekom team, the stage's few breakaways didn't succeed and there were no major changes in the overall standings.

There were no changes in the climbers standings either, Richard Virenque easily clearing the Col de Montgenevre in front of Ugrumov and the Telekom's Ullrich, then finishing behind Rolf Sorensen (Rabobank) in the Col de la Sentinelle climb.

Zabel put his name atop the sprinters standings by beating Frederic Moncassin in the Chiusa-de-San-Michele (km 29) and Embrun (km 155) sprints and finishing strongly in front of Abdoujaparov and Ferrigato.

Tony Rominger and Abraham Olano's Mapei teammates, as well as Evgeni's Gewiss riders, tried to stay active up front, but Riis's teammates were in control, maybe wasting too much energy.

Udo Bolts was efficient again, and Jan Ullrich served Riis's purpose by countering Madouas with Virenque and Ugrumov and not taking over from them in a breakaway that was caught up 138 kilometers into the stage. Day after day, 22-year-old Ullrich affirms himself as the Tour's discovery.

At Savines-le-lac (km 166), a group of 15 riders had tried to go clear, but soon there were only seven of them left. Since they couldn't reach an agreement and the Telekom riders were working hard up front, Sorensen was left alone. He built a 55-second gap but was rejoined in the stage's last kilometer.

Earlier, at km 64, the pack, lead by the Telekom team, had put an end to two-time French national champion Jacky Durand's 21-km breakaway. In the meantime, World Championship leader Laurent Jalabert was withdrawing from fever and stomach ache.