Tour de France : France's Simon Stages Big Finish, Overtakes Spaniard in 18th Stage

United Press International

Frenchman Regis Simon waited until the tough part was over before he turned the heat on Spaniard Alvaro Pino and won the afternoon leg of Wednesday's 18th stage of the Tour de France bicycle race.

The 52-mile course started with a rigorous climb up to the peak of Col d'Aubisque, with Colombian Reynel Montoya in the lead.

But Pino took command on the way down and through the rolling Pyrenees foothills that led to Pau. It was not until the final sprint that Simon caught up and passed the Spaniard, both finishing in 2 hours 22 minutes 55 seconds.

Sean Kelly of Ireland was third, arriving 1:07 behind the leaders. Dutchman Adrie Van der Poel came in fourth, followed by Simon's La Redoute teammate, Steven Roche of Ireland.

Roche won the morning leg, climbing the same Col d'Aubisque 1:03 ahead of the pack. Roche nibbled some time off Frenchman Bernard Hinault's overall lead in the morning, but Hinault, a four-time champion, finished comfortably in the pack in the afternoon and retained the leader's yellow jersey for the 11th day in a row.

Hinault leads second-place Greg LeMond of the United States by 2:13, and Roche is 3:33 behind in third.

Simon started the day 116th in the overall standings.

Four days remain in the 72nd Tour de France, which started in Brittany three weeks ago and has wound its way clockwise around the country. The race ends Sunday in Paris.

Today, the Tour pushes northward into the wine country, with a 126-mile ride to Bordeaux.

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