Mountain man Massi wins 10th stage
Ullrich reclaims yellow jersey; America's Julich 2nd
Posted: Tuesday July 21, 1998 03:31 PM
LUCHON, France (CNN/SI) -- Rodolfo Massi of Italy won the 196.5 kilometer (122 mile) 10th stage of the Tour de France on Tuesday in a time of five hours, 49 minutes and 40 seconds.
Massi rode the final 20 kilometers of the first stage through the Pyrenees from Pau to Luchon on his own, to finish more than 30 seconds ahead of his compatriot Marco Pantani, the winner of the Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy).
Michael Boogerd of the Netherlands was third.
As he did in 1997, Jan Ullrich of Germany the tour's defending champion made his move in the Pyrenees as he charged up the final mountain in the stage to finish eighth, 59 seconds behind Massi. This was enough for Ullrich to reclaim the overall leaders yellow jersey and his lead may prove difficult for his rivals to overcome as he leads second-place Bobby Julich of the United States by a minute 18 seconds and Bo Hamburger of Denmark trails Ullrich by two minutes and 17 seconds.
Ullrich made his move at the start of the final climb up the Peyresourde, 1569 meters (5,133 feet). He ate up the gap on riders that had built up a margin of more than five minutes during the day over the first three climbs.
"Today was a difficult day with the changing weather and the attack of Pantani," Ullrich sid. "But I'm not afraid of the mountains because I am very happy with my physical condition."
Earlier in the year there were questions about his shape when it appeared he was 10 kilograms (22 pounds) overweight.
However, as Ullrich donned the yellow jersey again, he looked in perfect condition.
He led the charge impressively, looking straight ahead, not worrying about the others who wanted to let him do the pace setting.
It didn't matter. He swallowed up the early riders that had led throughout the day.
Massi was the only survivor of the early group. Pantani made a break away from Ullrich's group but Ullrich always kept Pantani's advantage under a minute, cutting it to about 20 seconds at the end.
Laurent Desbiens of France, who had the lead for two days, ended up 16th on the day, more than 26 minutes behind Ullrich. He dropped to 61st overall.
Julich stayed with the Ullrich group at the end and was rewarded with a second place in the overall standings.
"I felt great," Julich said. "I'm in a really good position. I had a good time trial [third] and I've had a good first stage in the mountains [fourth]."
After two days of scorching heat, the Tour de France had a relatively cool day.
A light drizzle greeted the riders in the morning as they left Pau at the beginning of the 10th stage from Pau to Luchon, 196 kilometers (123 miles).
Dense fog greeted the riders heading up the peak of Aubisque. There were a number of falls, including a former leader, Stuart O' Grady of Australia.
In other stage news, Francesco Casagrande of Italy fell twice while descending the Col De L'Aubisque. Casagrande apparently injured his right leg after the second fall and retired from the race after he was taken away in an ambulance.
Casagrande was also Julich's teammate on the French Cofidis team.
"It's too bad. Now it's all on my shoulders," Julich said referring to the team leadership. "I would have preferred to share the burden."
After Casagrande's fall, the riders were more prudent on the second major climb of the day, up the famed Tourmalet, more than 2,100 meters (6,867 feet) high.
The riders went through two more peaks of about 1,500 meters (4,900 feet) to finish the day.
Wednesday's 11th stage is more of the same with five climbs including the finish up 1,750 meters (5,720 feet).
There is an off day Thursday before the route continues slowly across southern France before reaching the Alps on Monday July 27.
As the race entered the mountains, the winner of the top climber award for the last four years is missing from the race.
Richard Virenque and the rest of the Festina team were kicked out of the race last Friday night in the aftermath of the doping scandal that has plagued the Tour from the start.
Festina's director Bruno Roussel admitted a practice of supplying illegal drugs with medical supervision to improve performances which prompted Tour officials to exclude the the top-ranked Festina team the rest of the way.
Roussel, team doctor Eric Ryckaert and team masseur Willy Voet were still under police custody and are expected to have their first confrontation in court on July 24.
Before that the rest of the Festina team may be summoned by police in Lille. Originally the investigation would have waited until the Tour was over before hearing the riders.
Massi's stage win did not help much as was over five minutes behind Ullrich at the start of the 10th stage.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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