Cycling: Tour De France: Indurain oils wheels of business

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The Independent Online
The first of the many embraces Miguel Indurain enjoyed in Paris yesterday after he had won his second successive Tour de France was from his banker. Perhaps this was not surprising as the Spaniard had just claimed for his team the first prize of 2m francs ( pounds 213,000).

Mario Conde, head of the Banesto bank, appreciates a shrewd investment, and the exploits of Indurain and the Banesto-sponsored team over the last three weeks have given his concerns - sporting and financial - a wealth of global publicity in return for an annual investment of 600m pesetas ( pounds 3.4m).

He was on the Champs Elysees yesterday to greet Indurain as the Spaniard completed the formalities of the 21st and final stage from La Defense. Indurain's winning average speed of 39.504kph was the fastest of the 79 Tours de France - beating Pedro Delgado's 1988 effort - and he also became only the sixth man to complete the double of the Tours of France and Italy in the same year.

'It's not a plane; it's a rocket,' is how Laurent Fignon, another two-time Tour winner, summed up Indurain at speed. The Basque, however, is no firecracker.

He likes the quiet life of the country, and cannot wait to get back to Villava and help his father hoe the fields of vegetables. His winnings go into the bank and his only concession is his Mercedes. Otherwise his is a modest life, and Indurain does not fit too well into the pomp of the Champs Elysees ceremonies, which were yesterday punctuated by Spanish delirium, flag waving, and oles.

His home village, near Pamplona, was as tranquil yesterday as Indurain likes it. Four hundred villagers were in Paris with Indurain's parents, Isabel and Miguel Snr, and his three sisters. The rest of Villava were glued to their televisions, as indeed was much of Spain, where Indurain's Tour efforts have topped the ratings.

'I am a little tired,' Indurain said after 3,983 kilometres (2,474 miles) of racing through seven countries. 'I would rather the race had gone slower.'

However, it was Indurain's 52kph (32mph) average speed in Friday's time trial that clinched the Tour. 'He is quiet, disciplined and relaxed, but on the bike he is a monster,' Jean-Francois Bernard, his French team-mate, said.

Claudio Chiappucci, the cheery Italian who was second overall, admitted he was beaten by a very good rider, but insisted that he had had the moral victory. 'I was the only one who worried Indurain,' Chiappucci said. 'I waged war, and it was only because of the two time trials that he beat me.'

The cash returns of Chiappuci and his Carrera team-mates would no doubt have raised Conde's eyebrows. They headed the earnings list, boosted by Chiappucci's second victory in the mountains category, the best team award, and stage wins for Chiappucci, Guido Bontempi, and Stephen Roche.

Roche, from Dublin, achieved a treble with Carrera in 1987, winning the Tours of France and Italy, and the world road race championship. Until then, only the renowned Belgian Eddy Merckx had managed that feat previously. Indurain wants to be the third to the treble.

'He will not make so many personal appearances after the Tour so as to rest for the world championship (on 6 September),' Eusebio Unzue, the assistant team manager, said.

Apart from Olaf Ludwig sprinting to Germany's first win yesterday on the Champs Elysees - the first 125 riders all being credited with the same time - the day belonged to Spain.

The future, however, does not look so good for their professionals as three sponsors are on the verge of quitting.

The fear is that with the rest of European cycling losing backers it will offer Spanish investors the chance to snap up top foreign riders, thereby leaving the lesser home racers without a job.

Portsmouth wants to stage part of the Tour de France. Council officials have travelled to France for talks with the organisers. A city spokesman, John Bagnell, said: 'Nothing definite has been discussed but the organisers are very keen to move to Britain and we would be honoured to be the chosen venue.'

Final Tour details

TOUR DE FRANCE Stage 21 (141km, La Defense to Paris): 1 O Ludwig (Panasonic, Ger) 3hr 28min 37sec; 2 J P van Poppel (PDM, Neth); 3 J Museeuw (Lotto, Bel); 4 L Jalabert (ONCE, Fr); 5 S Lilholt (Tulip, Den); 6 F Andreu (Motorola, US); 7 A Peiper (Tulip, Aus); 8 G Fidanza (Gatorade, It); 9 E de Wilde (Telekom, Bel); 10 V Ekimov (Panasonic, CIS); 11 P Anderson (Motorola, Aus); 12 J Nijdam (Buckler, Neth); 13 M Ghirotto (Carrera, It); 14 P de Clercq (Buckler, Bel); 15 J Heppner (Telekom, Ger); 16 J van de Laer (Tulip, Bel); 17 H Maier (PDM, Aut); 18 P Roes (Lotto, Bel); 19 Y Ledanois (Castorama, Fr); 20 S Kelly (Festina, Irl) all same time. Selected: 27 G Bugno (Gatorade, It); 38 S Yates (Motorola, GB); 59 C Chiappucci (Carrera, It); 89 R Millar (TVM, GB); 94 S Roche (Carrera, Irl); 106 M Indurain (Banesto, Sp); 115 M Earley (PDM, Irl) all same time as stage winner.

Final overall standings: 1 Indurain 100hr 49min 30sec; 2 Chiappucci +4min 35sec; 3 Bugno +10:49; 4 A Hampsten (Motorola, US) +13:40; 5 P Lino (RMO, Fr) +14:37; 6 P Delgado (Banesto, Sp) +15:16; 7 E Breukink (PDM, Neth) +18:51; 8 G Perini (Carrera, It) 19:16; 9 Roche +20:23; 10 J Heppner (Telekom, Ger) +25:30; 11 F Vona (GB-MG, It) +25:43; 12 E Boyer (Z, Fr) +26:16; 13 G-J Theunisse (TVM, Neth) +27:07; 14 E Bouwmans (Panasonic, Neth) +28:35; 15 G Rue (Castorama, Fr) +28:48; 16 F Chioccioli (GB-MG, It) +30:31; 17 S Rooks (Buckler, Neth) +31:09; 18 Millar +31:19; 19 F Mauleon (CLA, Sp) +31:27; 20 A Gonzalez (CLA, Sp) +31:51. Selected: 43 Kelly +1hr 21min 37sec; 80 Earley +2:21:25; 83 Yates +2:24:44.

Points winner: Jalabert.

King of the Mountains: Chiappucci.

Best young rider: Bouwmans.

Best Team: Carrera.

Starters: 198. Finishers: 130.

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