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  Ullrich Keeps Lead at Tour de France

By Salvatore Zanca
Associated Press
Saturday, July 25, 1998; 3:33 p.m. EDT

CARPENTRAS, France — The Tour de France went into third week Sunday reeling from a drug scandal with defending champion Jan Ullrich in the lead and the Alps looming ahead.

Italian Daniele Nardello won the 13th stage, but the drug investigation remained topic No. 1.

Saturday morning, before the start of the day's stage, French cyclist Laurent Jalabert met with Daniel Baal, the vice-president of the International Cycling Union to discuss the way the drug situation was being handled.

On Friday, Jalabert said riders were upset that cycling had taken a backseat to the investigation that has plagued the Tour since before its start two weeks ago in Ireland. He led a protest that delayed the start of Friday's stage two hours.

"The riders were the ones hit by the criticisms. So the racers want to change things. The sporting power has just to listen to us,'' said Jalabert.

Baal said there will be a major meeting in the off-season between riders, the UCI, cycling federations and doctors.

"There is a determined effort by the UCI to solve the problems,'' Baal said. "But we cannot do it now in the middle of this.''

Baal said that a number of drug issues will be discussed, including the research into establishing a "health control card'' which will show the normal levels of various substances within the body of a cyclist.

Almost incidental to the off-road activities was the stage racing.

Nardello won Saturday in a sprint finish over a small group of riders who broke away from the pack. They built up a five-minute lead at one point in the 122-mile leg from Frontigan-la-Peyrade to Carpentras.

Nardello previously won a stage in the Tour of Italy and was second in the Italian championship.

He edged Vicente Garcia-Acosta of Spain by about two inches.

Italian Andrea Tafi was third, followed by Frenchman Stephane Heulot and American Marty Jemison, all within a bike length of Nardello.

Jemison said he could have come closer.

"I got bumped a couple of times in the sprint,'' he said.

"I've been waiting a long time to have a good day on the Tour. I often do the work for others. Today was my day.''

With temperatures above 95 degrees, the leading cyclists seemed to be conserving their energy for the Alps looming ahead.

Ullrich was in the main group Saturday and held on to his lead of 71 seconds over American Bobby Julich.

Julich is waiting for the mountains.

"I prefer to wait for the Alps and try something'' Julich said. "My team seems solid in the mountains and I can count on them to try to move up.''

Jalabert and Italy's Marco Pantani were 3:01 behind.

Sunday's stage is from Valreas to Grenoble, 116 miles and is the last day before the Alps.

Jalabert said that the riders agreed not to answer any more questions concerning the doping scandal.

Since then, three officials of the Festina team were charged and jailed because of admitted drug use by some team members, and the team was kicked out of the race.

The Dutch team TVM also was being investigated. The team's director and doctor were ordered jailed over the weekend. They were expected to be brought to Reims for more questions about drugs that police said were found in the car of one of its officials in March.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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