Cycling / Tour de France: Boardman sees lead slip away: Museeuw takes over the yellow jersey as Briton loses more than a minute during team time trial

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CHRIS BOARDMAN'S reign as the leader of the Tour de France ended after a battle royal in the team time trial yesterday. As the Tour enters England for the next two days, the yellow jersey will be worn by the Belgian, Johan Museeuw, whose GB-MG squad covered yesterday's 66.5km course from Calais to the entrance of the Channel Tunnel in 1hr 20min 31sec.

Britain's Olympic champion, who had led for three days, is now 54sec behind Museeuw in the overall standings. Boardman's team finished eighth in the stage.

The 1min 17sec Boardman lost to Museeuw yawned as wide as the mouth of the Tunnel. Only four of his eight GAN teammates made it to the finish with Boardman, who was the power behind the team.

'I am very disappointed to lose my yellow jersey, but I turned myself inside out,' he said. 'I gave 100 per cent. No one could have asked for more.

'A lot of what happened had to do with the amount of work we did defending the jersey on Monday, and towards the end those little hills were a real problem. I was doing long turns as pace-maker just to give my team as much rest as possible. I wanted to keep them together.'

Greg LeMond, who knows well the agonies of keeping the Tour leader's colours, and the Frenchmen Christophe Capelle, Didier Rous and Eddy Seigneur stayed the course. Had one slipped back through fatigue in those final kilometres the team would have faced a bigger defeat because the time of the fifth is the one that counts.

Communication became a problem as the team broke up. 'With the crowds massing on the hills, it was difficult to let each other know what was happening,' Boardman said. 'The man on the front of the team did not know what damage he was doing to those at the rear.'

Boardman discounted the moment his handlebars loosened early in the ride. 'It was not that much of a problem,' he said. Boardman had to repair the handlebars on the move and threw away the spanner, almost in disgust. 'Some mistakes were made and I will make sure that they are not made again,' he added cryptically.

Miguel Indurain is still tucked into second place, now 10sec from the lead. The Spaniard, seeking his fourth successive Tour victory, is certain to show his hand in the next race against the clock in five days' time at Bergerac.

Boardman, too, could reclaim some lost ground before the Tour enters the Pyrenees, but for the moment he should bask in the acclaim he deserves, and is sure to receive, as the pack head from Dover Castle to Brighton.

Museeuw is normally a candidate for the green jersey of consistent finisher, but has yet to keep those colours. His chances will fade as the Tour starts to climb the Pyrenees.

'This time I am not trying for the green jersey, because Abdoujaparov is too strong,' he said. 'Last year I wore the yellow jersey for three days. Perhaps I can keep it for longer this time.'

TOUR DE FRANCE Third stage (Calais to Channel Tunnel team time trial, 66.5km): 1 GB-MG (It) 1hr 20min 31sec; 2 Motorola (US) +6sec;, 3 Banesto (Sp) +18; 4 Castorama (Fr) +27; 5 Mapei Clas (It) +42; 6 Gewiss Ballan (It) +58; 7 Lampre (It) +1min 15sec; 8 GAN (Fr) +1:17; 9 Polti (It) +1:23; 10 WordPerfect (Neth) +1:55; 11 Carrera (It) +1:56; 12 ONCE (Sp) +2:02; 13 Festina (And) +2:25; 14 Telekom (Ger) +2:26; 15 TVM (Neth) +2:55; 16 ZG Mobili (It) +3:19; 17 Lotto (Bel) +3:24; 18 Novemail (Fr) +3:31; 19 Mercatone Uno (It) +4:41; 20 Kelme (Sp) +4:44.

Overall: 1 J Museeuw (Bel) GB-MG 12hr 20min 39sec; 2 M Indurain (Sp) Banesto +10sec; 3 R Sorensen (Den) GB-MG +19, 4 F Vanzella (It) GB-MG +22, 5 L Armstrong (US) Motorola, s/t; 6 S Bauer (Can) Motorola +27; 7 A de las Cuevas (Fr) Castorama +28; 8 T Marie (Fr) Castorama +33; 9 S Yates (GB) Motorola +34; 10 T Rominger (Swit) Mapei Clas +38; 11 F Andreu (US) Motorola +39; 12 T Davy (Fr) Castorama, s/t; 13 J-F Bernard (Fr) Banesto +40, 14 M Mauri (Sp) Banesto +41; 15 F Vona (It) GB-MG +47; 16 M Dernies (Bel) Motorola +48; 17 M Alonso (Sp) Banesto +49; 18 P Anderson (Aus) Motorola +50; 19 L Desbiens (Fr) Castorama +53; 20 C Boardman (GB) GAN +54. Selected: 40 G LeMond (US) GAN +1min 35sec; 46 G Bugno (It) Polti +1:54; 50 C Chiappucci (It) Carrera +2:06.

(Photograph and map omitted)