Cycling / Tour of Britain: Redoubtable Redant's rediscovery

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The Independent Online
HENDRIK REDANT is the new topic of the Kellogg's Tour of Britain. The Belgian winner of the opening stage yesterday in Dundee edged himself into conversations that had previously centred on the return of a refreshed Greg LeMond - and momentarily around the stitched skull of Stephen Roche.

The streets of the City of Discovery provided the stage on which Redant rediscovered himself after a season of dejection. He lost 'two important months' because of tendinitis, then made it worse by contesting the Paris to Roubaix race which is notorious for its cobbled stretches. 'It was a great mistake,' Redant said.

He may be short on success this year, but not on perseverance. He has completed the Tour de France, albeit nearly three and a half hours slower than the winner. Recently, he led a race for 160 kilometres only to be caught 10km from the finish.

Undeterred, he was busy again yesterday. It took two attempts but the Flandrian was patient, and today wears the leader's jersey for the leg from Edinburgh to Gateshead. He is eight seconds clear of Olaf Ludwig, the German leader of the World Cup series. Ludwig won the final stage of the Tour de France, and yesterday led home the chase.

Redant's first attempt with Britain's Dave Mann ended after 27km. So when his next partner, Chris Lillywhite, faltered four laps from home, Redant left him to the closing pack, and raced on for his third win of the year by four seconds.

His winner's time deduction strengthened his grip on the jersey to eight seconds. Now the discussion around Redant is whether he and his Lotto team can defend his lead. 'It was easy to block any threats because there were so many corners on the circuit,' Johan Museeuw, his team-mate and the Belgian champion, said.

Today's 214km of open road is a different matter, but Redant is confident. 'I will do everything to hold the jersey,' he said. 'I think my team is strong enough. Although I am not a climber, I recall that Michel Dernies won this race, and he is not a climber.'

The next four days will tell, but other greater ambitions must wait. LeMond, a jaded retirement from the Tour de France, has made the world road race title his September target. The Kellogg's race will sharpen his racing edge. Yesterday he was 61st, buried in the main pack.

Any talk of Roche winning, or even competing in, this Tour were ended when he crashed in Saturday's San Sebastian Classic, requiring six stitches in a wound in his scalp.

Results, Sport in Short, page 29

(Map omitted)

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