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Tour de France : LeMond Is Still the Overall Leader After Seventh Stage

Associated Press

Heading into the second week, Greg LeMond remains atop the Tour de France standings, but he doesn’t think he can stay there much longer.

“I don’t really think I will be able to hold on to the yellow jersey,” he said after the seventh stage Saturday. “It’s possible I’ll lose it in the next few days. Perhaps Monday in the first stage in the mountains. I’ll do my best. We’ll see.”

LeMond has a five-second advantage over Laurent Fignon of France, the 1983 and 1984 winner whom many regarded as the favorite before the Tour began on July 1 in Luxembourg.

At that time, few gave LeMond a chance. Although he won in 1986--to become the only American champion--he missed the last two Tours due to injuries and a hunting mishap.

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In April 1987, he accidentally was shot by his brother-in-law and sprayed with shotgun pellets. He recovered slowly, and the following year he had an emergency appendectomy and knee and shin problems.

So, when LeMond came in fourth in the prologue of the 23-day, 2,020-mile race, a lot of people cheered.

Then, last Thursday, he won the individual time trial to vault into the lead.

He stayed there over the past two days as he finished in the pack with most of the major rivals, while less dangerous racers took the sixth and seventh legs, the two longest of the Tour, both more than 160 miles.

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But LeMond admits he is tiring.

“I am very tired. With the long stages I had to wake up at 6:30, and I don’t get to sleep before midnight,” he said. “Then you have to ride for more than 150 miles, and following that, there are the reporters, the massages, everything.”

He has one benefit, though. “But I have one consolation . . . the yellow jersey,” he said.

Saturday’s race was won by Belgium’s Etienne de Wilde in 7 hours 21 minutes 45 seconds. LeMond finished 22nd.

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