Cycling: Tour de France: Four riders to follow

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The Independent Online
MIGUEL INDURAIN

(Spain)

Team: Banesto. Age: 28.

Best performances: 1992: 1st Giro D'Italia. 1991: 1st Tour de France.

A QUIET man of the country but dynamic on a bike when the going gets tough. Three weeks after winning the Giro d'Italia he is seeking a rare double with a second consecutive victory in the Tour.

It is a possibility as it appears his efforts in Italy have left no after-effects. He has the talent for time-trialling and mountain-racing, and a remarkable coolness.

'I am more afraid of what might happen than he is,' his manager, Jose-Miguel Echavarri, said.

Indurain was the first Spaniard to win the Giro and then to reach the No. 1 spot in the world rankings. To complete the double would also be another first for Spain. This is his eighth Tour.

GIANNI BUGNO

(Italy)

Team: Gatorade. Age: 28.

Best performances: 1991: 1st World Road-race Championship. 1990: 1st Giro d'Italia.

SECOND to Indurain last year, Bugno has not fired a warning shot so far this season but he has set his sights on the Tour de France in preference to the Giro.

He changed his racing programme, and missed the Giro in order to arrive at San Sebastian 'in the best condition possible'.

Undeterred by Indurain's Italian triumph, he said it was easier for a non- Italian to win as they were not subjected to the fervent pressure from the fans that home-based riders experienced.

It is 27 years since Felice Gimondi won the Tour de France, and Bugno's credentials offer Italy's best hope. He is making his fifth Tour appearance.

CLAUDIO CHIAPPUCCI

(Italy)

Team: Carrera. Age: 29.

Best performances: 1992: 2nd Giro d'Italia. 1991: 2nd Giro; 3rd Tour de France.

CHIAPPUCCI wore the yellow jersey for eight days in 1990, and last year took the polka dot vest as the best climber on the Tour.

His record shows a consistency for being a runner-up, possibly because he lacks the edge of his main rivals in the time trials, which is vital if a rider wants to be No 1.

Chiappucci has been called 'Il Bandito', and has styled himself as the Bionic Man, because of his aggressive racing. 'He was always attacking my lead in the Giro, even on descents,' Indurain said, by way of a compliment to one of his great rivals.

This is Chiappucci's fourth Tour.

GREG LeMOND

(US)

Team: Z. Age: 32.

Best performances: 1990, 1989, 1986: 1st Tour de France. 1989, 1983: lst World Road-race Championship.

DESPITE his relative decline last year, LeMond will again be in contention as winning the Tour for a fourth time is the final ambition of an illustrious career.

The American has used the lessons he learned in adversity in 1991, when he finished seventh, as the foundation for his preparations this time.

LeMond knows how to fight back. He won the Tour in 1986, and spent the next year touring operating theatres after a near-fatal shooting accident.

Two years on, he not only won the Tour again, but also became the world road-race champion for a second time. On his seventh Tour, LeMond has the experience to realise his goal.

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