Cycling: Berzin's lead melts away in snow

It was a bizarre day of ups and downs in the Tour de France yesterday. First it snowed, then the 189 kilometres into Italy was reduced to 46. The day ended with Bjarne Riis in the yellow jersey and Yevgeny Berzin, the overnight leader, in second place.

The giant Dane rode into the ski resort of Sestriere alone and triumphant after escaping midway through the race on the Col de Montgenevre to wipe out Berzin's advantage of 35 seconds. Berzin lost ground on the long drag to Sestriere and finished 1min 23sec behind.

Riis, third in last year's race, now leads by 40 seconds. His victory was about the only clear-cut event of a day that Jean-Marie Leblanc and his fellow organisers would like to forget.

The original start at Val d'Isere was cancelled before breakfast after overnight reports of snow and strong winds on the highest climb of this Tour, the 2,770 metre Col d'Iseran.

Then, with everything in place to start the race from Lanslebourg at noon, 45km into the original route, similar conditions were reported on the 2,640 metres Col du Galibier. The stage was further reduced, and rescheduled to start at 3pm from Monetier-les-Bains.

The riders rode most of the route in team cars and were led over the Iseran by a snowplough. "I was frustrated by the changes because I had a plan to attack, but when I saw what it was like I realised that we could not have raced on those mountains," Riis said.

Leblanc has handled emergencies in the past, but this was the first occasion that the weather had caused mayhem for him. It was, after all, July. "It was a shame for the climbers," Leblanc said. "But what we had to do was commonsense, and for the safety of the riders."

On the road to the Col du Galibier there was total confusion. A long line of traffic drove up the mountain. Advised that the road was closed, they drove down again until the message reached them that it was open.

On the slopes, frozen spectators gave the thumbs down to the passing vehicles and shouted insults. On the Iseran pass things got nastier as spectators, who had spent a freezing night in their camper vans, threw nails on the road.

The Tour has suffered vicious weather since it started 10 days ago but Miguel Indurain has remained calm even in his weekend of setbacks.

"Riis is dangerous and has a good team. I intend to attack but always intelligently," he said, knowing that he still has 12 days to claw back just over four minutes.

His team director, Eusebio Unzue, was equally positive. "Miguel is recuperating and with the weather due to improve he should find his true form," he said. "There were signs in this stage, because in the final kilometre he recovered 20 seconds."

Indurain particularly wants to make a triumphal entrance into his home town of Pamplona in nine days' time. This will be the biggest test of his impressive reign and could be the revival of a Tour mummified by his stifling talents.

TOUR DE FRANCE Ninth stage (46km, 28.6 miles, Monetier-les-Bains to Sestriere): 1 B Riis (Den) Deutsche Telekom 1hr 10min 44sec; 2 L Leblanc (Fr) Polti +24sec; 3 R Virenque (Fr) Festina +26; 4 T Rominger (Swit) Mapei +28; 5 M Indurain (Sp) Banesto s/t; 6 U Bolts (Ger) Deutsche Telekom +41; 7 F Escartin (Sp) Kelme +42; 8 J Ullrich (Ger) Deutsche Telekom +44; 9 P Luttenberger (Aut) Carrera +46; 10 A Olano (Sp) Mapei +54; 11 L Piepoli (It) Refin; 12 G Guerini (It) Polti both s/t; 13 J Bruyneel (Bel) Rabobank +1min 2sec; 14 Y Berzin (Rus) Gewiss +1:23; 15 M Fernandez Gines (Sp) Mapei +1:30; 16 L Dufaux (Swit) Festina +1:38; 17 M Fincato (It) Roslotto +1:45; 18 P Ugrumov (Lat) Roslotto s/t; 19 O Camenzind (Swit) Panaria +2:07; 20 C Boardman (GB) GAN s/t. GB: 125 M Sciandri Motorola +11:27.

Overall standings: 1 Riis 42hr 51min 13sec; 2 Berzin +40sec; 3 Rominger +53; 4 Olano +56; 5 Ullrich +1min 38sec; 6 Luttenberger +2:38; 7 Virenque +3:39; 8 Indurain +4:38; 9 Escartin +4:49; 10 Dufaux +5:03; 11 Ugrumov +5:27; 12 Leblanc +7:08; 13 A Zulle (Swit) ONCE +8:27; 14 Bolts +8:43; 15 A Garmendia (Sp) ONCE +9:07; 16 Piepoli +10:04; 17 B Hamburger (Den) TVM +10:32; 18 Bruyneel +10:48; 19 F Gines +11:04; 20 V Ekimov (Rus) Rabobank +11:52. GB: 37 Boardman +32:08; 90 Sciandri +57:39.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little