Q & A: Not always mellow in yellow

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Q. Apart from Greg LeMond beating Laurent Fignon in 1989, are there any other instances of a rider losing the Yellow Jersey on the last stage of the Tour de France?

A. The Tour de France has been lost and won on the last stage on three occasions: 1947, 1968 and 1989.

In 1947 the Breton Jean Robic, three minutes down after the penultimate stage, attacked 85 miles from Paris while the race leader, Pierre Brambilla, of Italy, was enjoying a mobile picnic. Aided by French National Team riders Robic gained 13 minutes on the run in to Paris and won the Tour by 3min 58sec ahead of the French national Fachleitner and 10min 07sec ahead of Brambilla.

In 1968 six riders were covered by only 1min 56sec at the start of the last stage, a 34-mile time-trial. Jan Janssen, of the Netherlands, lying third, overcame a deficit of 16sec behind the Belgian race leader Herman Van Springel, to beat him by 54sec.

Robic and Janssen are the only riders to have won the Tour without having previously worn the Yellow Jersey. LeMond had already led the 1989 race twice before defeating Fignon on the Champs-Elysees. - Ramn Minovi, Moseley

Q. We are all well aware of what has happened to 'Big Jack', but what of his former Leeds United team-mates who also became successful managers. Bremner, Giles, Hunter, Madeley, Gray and Clarke were all very highly rated but where are they now?

A: John Giles followed many former international players and managers into television. He has been Irish television's main football commentator during the last two World Cups as well as commentating on Premiership football games for RTE Television. He also writes for the Irish press. - Macdara Ferris, Dublin

Q. When I was very young, my favourite athlete was the sprinter McDonald Bailey. I know he took part in the Olympic Games for Britain, and I have a feeling that he won a bronze medal in about 1952, could you please put my mind at rest?

A. McDonald Bailey won a bronze medal in the 100m at Helsinki in 1952. Between 1946 and 1953 he held the record for the number of titles in the 100 and 200m as well as two relay titles - a total of 14. In 1951 in August in Belgrade he equalled the world 100m record of 10.2. After retiring from athletics he signed for Warrington rugby league club as a winger, but did not finish the season as injuries forced him to retire. - Mr Simpson, Oldham

Q. With the advances made in the timing mechanisms used in athletics, are there still any track world records that were timed by hand? If so, what are the distances and the names of the people responsible? If not, what was the last hand-timed world record to be broken using the latest technology?

A: 1977 saw the International Amateur Athletic Federation delete from official schedules all hand-timed records for events up to and including the 400 metres. The stipulation that these races must be electronically timed if they are to be considered for record purposes still applies today.

Indeed, even the middle- and long- distance events tend to be electronically timed these days, with their records noted to the nearest hundredth of a second. Yet the lists I have (up-to-date as of the end of July 1993) do record the following achievements where such accuracy is not resorted to: 20,000m Arturo Barrios, France, 30 March 1991 56min 55.6sec; 25,000m Toshihuko Seko, Christchurch, New Zealand, 22 March 1991 1hr 13min 55.8sec; 30,000m Toshihuko Seko, Christchurch, New Zealand, 22 March 1991 1:29:18.8; 1,000m women's Tatyana Providokhina, Podlosk, USSR, 20 August 1978 2:30.6.

It is of course possible that electronic timing was used for such races, especially the ones in New Zealand and France that were of such a length as not to demand a more exact measurement. Providokhina's run however was over a distance where one might expect timing to the nearest hundredth of a second. Even then, the 1,000m is only a rarely run event, not appearing on the Olympic programme. - Tim Mickleburgh, Grimsby, Lincs


Q: What are the rules governing who can be a substitute fielder in a Test match, and what are the circumstances in which they can be used? - Brian Hobbs, West Croydon

Q. Would 400m runners run the 400m faster if it was run in a straight line rather than round a circuit? - Sam Elliott, Sprotborough, Yorks

Q: Which football league or FA Carling Premiership clubs have instituted major changes in their first-choice kit and colours since their foundation? Leeds United and Coventry City are two I have been advised which have done this. - Chris Cookson, Northwich, Cheshire

Q: Are left-handed batsmen inherently elegant or is it merely an illusion prompted by their relative exoticism? - Adrian Brodkin, London N2

Q: Why do England use young, inexperienced players as 12th men in Test matches? Surely it would be of benefit to keep at least one top-class player on the sidelines to step in and field during the increasing number of periods a player has to leave the arena. The England football team would never call on the services of a YTS player for an international at Wembley. - Gladys Protheroe, Stoke Mandeville

If you know the answers to any of these questions, or have a sporting question of your own you would like answered, write to:

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