Tour de France: Roscioli takes long and shining road to victory

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The Independent Online
IT WAS Miguel Indurain's 29th birthday yesterday, and he benevolently threw some crumbs from his Tour de France banquet, permitting another birthday boy, Fabio Roscioli, to ride alone into Marseilles for the first victory of a six-year-old professional career.

The triumph came gift-wrapped, with the Italian finishing 7min 14sec clear of his compatriot, Massimo Ghirotto. There are not many around in this Tour who can claim that they finished more than 20 minutes ahead of Indurain. But Roscioli was no threat to the Basque, having started the day 1hr 19min 17sec behind Indurain. He finished it still 58min 42sec adrift of the leader.

The front-runners took a day off after their Alpine escapades, but Tony Rominger crashed as the race headed into the Mediterranean port. The Swiss, the first to a stage double in 17 years, was quickly back on his bike to finish in Indurain's half of the split pack.

Roscioli, who will be 28 tomorrow, rode away from his leading group of 24, which included his Carrera team- mate, Stephen Roche, 182 kilometres from the finish. Under the hot Provencal sun, he took on a course that may not have been as tough as the past two days but was the longest of the Tour.

His solo ride not break any records, but for Roscioli it was the chance he had missed before. In 1990 in the Tour of Flanders he was clear for 200km before he was hauled back. On that occasion victory went to another Italian, Moreno Argentin.

Roscioli went over the Col de l'Ange with his biggest lead over his pursuers, who arrived 17 minutes later. The Frenchman Richard Virenque was closely shadowed by Roscioli's friend and Tour room- mate, Claudio Chiappucci.

By the final climb, the Espigoulier, Roscioli had less than nine minutes over Laurent Jalabert and Massimo Ghirotto, but once on the coast road the man of the Adriatic was confident. He zipped up his jersey and slipped on his sunglasses to prepare for his biggest moment on the Boulevard Georges Pompidou. There he crossed himself and kissed his hands before saluting the heavens after nearly seven and a half hours in the saddle, most of them with only the squeaky music of the cicada for accompaniment.

The rest of the Tour came home in bits. Ghirotto outsprinted Vladimir Poulnikov for second place, but the Ukrainian made the biggest profit of the day, climbing to eighth overall from 20th. That was the only change at the top of the standings.

It may have been a long day alone for Roscioli, but the Frenchman Albert Bourlon spent a Tour record 253km in solitude in his ride from Carcassonne to Luchon in 1947, when he won by 16 minutes.

TOUR DE FRANCE 12th stage (287km, 178 miles, Isola to Marseilles): 1 F Roscioli (It, Carrera) 7hr 29min 44sec; 2 M Ghirotto (It, ZG Mobili) + 7min 14sec; 3 V Poulnikov (Ukraine, Carrera) same time; 4 V Tebaldi (It, Gatorade) +7:17 5 D Abdoujaparov (Uzbekistan, Lampre) +7:34; 6 L Jalabert (Fr, Once) s/t 7 F Ballerini (It, GB MG) +7:36; 8 O Ludwig (Ger, Telekom) +8:25; 9 A Tafi (It, Carrera) s/t; 10 R Virenque (Fr, Festina) +16:58; 11 F Moncassin (Fr, WordPerfect) +18:07; 12 F Pineau (Fr, Chazal); 13 L Madouas (Fr, Castorama) both s/t; 14 J Svorada (Slovakia, Lampre) +20:35; 15 J Museeuw (Bel, GB MG) s/t. Selected: 19 C Chiappucci (It, Carrera); 25 S Roche (Ire, Carrera); 33 M Indurain (Sp, Banesto); 35 R Millar (GB, TVM); 44 T Rominger (Swit, Clas); 56 A Zulle (Swit, Once) all s/t; 63 S Yates (GB, Motorola) 21:02; 94 G Bugno (It, Gatorade) s/t.

Overall: 1 Indurain 54hr 29min 39sec; 2 A Mejia (Col, Motorola) +3min 23sec; 3 Z Jaskula (Pol, GB MG) +4:31; 4 Rominger +5:44; 5 B Riis (Den, Ariostea) +10:26; 6 A Hampsten (US, Motorola) +11:12; 7 Chiappucci +14:09; 8 Poulnikov +14:21; 9 E Breukink (Neth, Once) +14:54; 10 P Delgado (Sp, Banesto) +15:32; 11 O Rincon (Col, Amaya) +21:17; 12 A Martin (Sp, Amaya) +22:07; 13 Bugno +23:05; 14 J-P Dojwa (Fr, Festina) +23:40; 15 R Conti (It, Ariostea) +23:48. Selected: 16 Zulle +24:00; 20 Roche +25:50; 33 Millar +34:18; 68 Yates +57:20.