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Tour de France : LeMond Is Ready for Final Six Stages

Associated Press

Surrounded by his family, Greg LeMond had a day off Monday to rest and enjoy the mountains before entering the final week as the leader of the Tour de France.

LeMond, who leads by 40 seconds, regained the leader’s yellow jersey Sunday. The race has four more mountain stages, a relatively flat leg and a final time trial next Sunday.

“If it came down to who is the best rider, I would have to say my chances are good,” LeMond said. “This last week is going to be difficult. But if I lose it, it won’t be a catastrophe.”

LeMond spent Monday in the Alps with his wife and parents.

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After winning the Tour de France in 1986, he missed the event the past two years because of various misfortunes. He had gunshot wounds in a hunting accident, an emergency appendectomy and leg and shin problems.

“Considering where I came from, this is a much more satisfying race because 1986 was a natural step and this is something I could never have asked for,” LeMond said. “This is like too good to be true.”

He took the lead of the 2,020-mile cycling race July 6, lost it July 11, then regained it with an impressive performance in Sunday’s mountain time trial to gain 47 seconds on his main rival, Laurent Fignon of France, the 1983 and 1984 champion.

Fignon complained that LeMond is not taking chances as the leader.

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“One thing is sure,” Fignon said. “I am not going to pace LeMond like I did in the Pyrenees.”

LeMond said: “I’ve run the race quite well. Probably not to his (Fignon’s) advantage and the way he wanted. But it is not for me to pace him. Anything goes in this race, and I’ll do whatever I can to win.”

LeMond and Fignon said the next two stages will be crucial.

“The two big stages come (today) and Wednesday,” Fignon said. “In those two stages, it will be decided. Whoever wears the yellow jersey on L’Alpe d’Huez will be the overall winner.”

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The stage to L’Alpe d’Huez on Wednesday is highlighted by three steep and difficult climbs, including one going to 8,660 feet.

Today’s 16th leg is 108 miles from Gap to Briancon.

“Tuesday’s stage is not so difficult as L’Alpe d’Huez,” LeMond said. “But it’s dangerous because you have the mountain and the descent to the finish.”

After a climb to 7,743 feet, the riders descend in the final 12 miles to 4,478 feet.

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