Cycling / Tour de France: Millar denied by relentless leaders: Scot's brave challenge founders after Rominger attacks and takes Indurain with him

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The Independent Online
ROBERT MILLAR tried twice to recapture his Tour de France glory days yesterday and each time his charge for victory was snuffed out by the leaders as the final day in the Alps wreaked more havoc in the pack and helped Miguel Indurain to increase his lead.

The Scot took the high road to the Isola ski resort but Indurain's inevitable scrap with his challengers, Alvaro Mejia of Colombia, Tony Rominger of Switzerland and Zenon Jaskula of Poland, plus the resurgence of Claudio Chiappucci, brought Millar down to earth.

Millar broke away from the pack and then surged on alone after shaking off his escort, Indurain's team-mate Pedro Delgado, before he was hunted down by Chiappucci, who, after a day in the doldrums, was back to full power. The Italian may have made the comeback of the day - at one point he was three minutes behind Indurain's group - but Millar was remarkable for his effort. He made another charge for victory on the fourth and final climb over 17 kilometres of hairpins, almost sprinting clear in the last four kilometres only for the leaders to bring him to heel just before the red pennant that signifies the final kilometre.

Millar was almost a spectator as they swept past. First Jaskula and finally Rominger attacked: Indurain stuck with the Swiss and had to give his best in the final sprint. Thirteen seconds later Chiappucci took third and climbed from 16th place overnight to seventh. Indurain now holds a lead of 3min 23sec over Mejia.

Millar is still Britain's best performer on the Tour, finishing fourth in 1984, when he was also King of the Mountains. He last won a stage in 1989 and is seeking his fourth stage win this year. 'I will be trying again in the Pyrenees. I feel good enough for a win,' he said. 'I expected the leaders to be watching each other closely but instead they were fighting it out among themselves and I had no chance of winning.'

The day claimed some notable names as the Frenchman Laurent Fignon, twice a Tour winner, quit with knee trouble, and the top two in the battle for the green jersey, awarded for the most consistently placed rider, went out of the race.

Wilfried Nelissen, who was leading the Tour for three days, went of his own accord but Mario Cipollini, the green-jersey wearer, was eliminated with five others for failing to beat the deadline: they arrived more than 37 minutes after the winner. That put Djamolidine Abdoujaparov into the jersey he first won in 1991 and Rominger also assumed new colours when he deposed the Italian Davide Cassani as the King of the Mountains leader.

Two wins in two days plus a new jersey is not a bad 48 hours for a man who a week ago was well behind and almost out of contention.

TOUR DE FRANCE 11th stage (180km, 127.5 miles, Serre Chevalier to Isola 2000): 1 T Rominger (Swit, Clas) 5hr 41min 3sec; 2 M Indurain (Sp, Banesto) same time; 3 C Chiappucci (It, Carrera) +13sec; 4 Z Jaskula (Pol, GB-MG) +15; 5 A Mejia (Col, Motorola) same time; 6 B Riis (Den, Ariostea) +31; 7 R Millar (GB, TVM +1min 00sec; 8 O Rincon (Col, Amaya) +2:56; 9 A Hampsten (US, Motorola) +3:06; 10 R Conti (It, Ariostea) +3:22; 11 P Delgado (Sp, Banesto) +4:19; 12 J Unzaga (Sp, Clas) +4:34; 13 F Echave (Sp, Clas) +5:23; 14 A Rondon (Col, Gatorade) +5:33; 15 A Martin (Sp, Amaya) +6:39. Selected: 30 S Roche (Irl, Carrera) +12:51; 33 A Zulle (Swit, Once); 34 G Bugno (It, Gatorade) both s/t; 60 S Yates (GB, Motorola) +25:24.

Overall: 1 Indurain 46hr 39min 20sec; 2 Mejia +3min 23sec; 3 Jaskula +4:31; 4 Rominger +5:44; 5 Riis +10:26; 6 Hampsten +11:12; 7 Chiappucci +14:09; 8 E Breukink (Neth, Once) +14:54; 9 Delgado +15:32; 10 Rincon +21:17; 11 Martin +22:07; 12 Bugno +23:05; 13 Conti +23:21; 14 J-P Dojwa (Fr, Festina) +23:40; 15 Zulle +24:00. Selected: 19 S Roche (Irl) Carrera +25:50; 34 Millar +34:18; 65 Yates +56:53.

King of the Mountains: 1 Rominger 176pts; 2 Indurain 136; 3 Mejia 117.

(Photograph and Maps omitted)

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