Cycling / Tour de France: Sad end for LeMond: Briton takes yellow jersey in Tour de France as a former winner pulls out

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GREG LEMOND, frustrated at his lack of condition, retired during yesterday's sixth stage of the Tour de France. The 33-year-old American, who won the Tour three times, quit after 180 kilometres of the 270km ride from Cherbourg.

LeMond, 33, has struggled for three seasons with health problems. Last year he cut short his season in June. He had limited success in 1992, pulling out of the Tour at l'Alpe d'Huez. In this year's two English stages he lost nearly eight minutes to drop to 145th place overall.

'My legs are dead and yesterday I had no energy,' he said before leaving Cherbourg. 'I am paying the price for the last two days of hard racing. I don't want to ride in last place. I cannot say that it is totally over for me, but it is over for this Tour.

'The secret in the Tour is to be good from start to finish. You are not allowed any bad days and I have had two in the first week.'

LeMond said the 1987 hunting accident in which he was unintentionally shot could be responsible for his current poor form. Some 25 pellets of buckshot were surgically removed from his liver, lung and small intestine.

'There is something in me that has been holding me back for a couple of years,' he said. 'I have never really investigated my gunshot wound. There is still a lot of lead shot in me. Maybe that is doing something.'

(Photographs and maps omitted)