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Tour de France : LeMond Retains Overall Lead, Faces Showdown With Hinault

July 24, 1986|United Press International

ST. ETIENNE, France — In another day of mountain racing, Spaniard Julian Gorospe won the 19th stage of the Tour de France cycle race Wednesday while American Greg LeMond retained the overall leader's yellow jersey.

Gorospe was ahead most of the 111.5-mile stage, covering the distance in 5 hours 6 minutes 10 seconds.

LeMond, the first American ever to lead the 83-year-old event, finished eighth in the pack, at 2:27 back. He retained a lead of 2:43 over five-time Tour champion Bernard Hinault of France, who finished in the same time as LeMond.

Switzerland's Urs Zimmermann remained third overall at 7:41 back, while American Andrew Hampsten stayed in fourth place, at 16:46 behind the leader.

Despite keeping the lead for a third straight day, LeMond continues to feel pressured by the intense rivalry between himself and his La Vie Claire teammate Hinault.

"I'm very nervous and the tension keeps mounting," the 25-year-old Californian said. "I hope the public will act normally from here to the end. I'm tired of watching out for Bernard Hinault."

The battle between the two stems from Hinault's promise, after winning his fifth Tour last year, to help LeMond in his bid to become the first American ever to win cycling's most prestigious race.

"The paradox is that this is a team race, and I have practically no teammates," LeMond said. "Last year, I was closer to Bernard than Bernard is to me this year, and there was never a question about who was going to win.

"This year, it's different. I like Bernard a lot, but I don't understand why there's a problem."

Today's 36-mile individual time trial should prove to be the turning point in the battle between LeMond and Hinault.

Team loyalties play little role in time trials, and Hinault has made it clear that if LeMond beats him in the stage, he will abandon his quest for victory and concentrate on helping LeMond.

"It's my last chance tomorrow," Hinault said.

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