The Tour de France moved to the mountains Monday, and the favorites moved closer to the top.
On Bastille Day, a French racer, Laurent Brochard, won the first mountain stage of the race that had been dominated by sprinters the first week on relatively flat terrain.
Cedric Vasseur of France stayed in the overall lead, with Germany’s Jan Ullrich in second, 13 seconds behind. Ullrich finished second last year.
Ullrich’s teammate for Telekom, Bjarne Riis, won last year. He moved to within 1 minute, 43 seconds of the lead and was in fourth, but lost 27 seconds to Ullrich.
Brochard, Riis, Ullrich, Richard Virenque, Marc Pantini were part of a small group that was ahead most of the day during the 113.1-mile stage.
Brochard went off in the final 1.8 miles to win by 14 seconds over Virenque, Pantini and Ullrich, in that order. Riis was 41 seconds back. But if Riis drops back farther, that could allow Ullrich to go off on his own and open an advantage on the field.
Ullrich was able to stay with the frequent attacks that Virenque tried.
“Either Ullrich or me, we’ll soon see,” Riis said.
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