Cycling: Italian pomp set for Portsmouth: Fondriest steeled for start of Kellogg's Tour of Britain

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The Independent Online
IT HAS been quite a year so far for Maurizio Fondriest, and the Kellogg's Tour of Britain, which starts today in Portsmouth, can offer the Italian a new road to success.

His victory in the Milan to San Remo race, the opening classic of the road-racing season, coincided with the birth of his daughter, Maria- Vittoria. Since then Fondriest has been on a high, collecting 18 victories and some notable placings.

He extended his points lead in the World Cup series in San Sebastian on Saturday, and comes to Portsmouth keen to improve on his third overall placing in the 1990 Kellogg's Tour.

The 1988 world champion has not been out of the first eight in the five cup races he has contested. Besides those he has won the Tirreno- Adriatico and GP Midi Libre stage races, and the British tour has, in seven years, earned similar stature to those events.

The 569 miles that lie between Portsmouth and Friday's finale in Liverpool offer many challenges, mainly from the other 13 teams, but also from terrain which is particularly leg-bending on the last two days.

Besides Peak District and Pennine climbs, Fondriest has to face compatriots-cum-adversaries in Max Sciandri, last year's winner, and Moreno Argentin, a former world champion.

On paper it looks an all-Italian scrap, but there are several who could tear up such possibilities, namely Jesper Skibby, who gave Denmark a Tour de France victory, Piotre Ugrumov, the Latvian who came second on the Tour of Italy, and Hendrik Redant, the Belgian who was third overall in 1992.

British hopes rest with Chris Lillywhite who, having won the open Tour of Britain (the Milk Race), would enjoy a double by succeeding in the professional version.

Yesterday Redant beat Lillywhite in the Kellogg's Grand Prix, a curtain- raiser to the Tour, held on a circuit of Portsmouth's streets.

TOUR OF BRITAIN (route details):

Today: Portsmouth to Bath, 105.3 miles.

Tomorrow: Cardiff to Swansea, 117.4 miles.

Wed: Newport to Coventry, 123.5 miles.

Thurs: Birmingham to Manchester, 113.3 miles.

Fri: Bradford to Liverpool, 109.4 miles.

(Map omitted)