Lech Piasecki of Poland is the overall leader after the first two days of the Tour de France bicycle race, but Stephen Roche of Ireland has positioned himself well for the 26-day race.
Roche, thanks to a brilliant prologue Wednesday and team time trial on Thursday by his Italian-based Carrera team, ended the West Berlin leg in third place overall with a wide lead over the riders that are expected to provide his toughest competition in the 26-day race.
The 23 nine-man teams had a day off yesterday to travel to Karlsruhe, West Germany, for today's third stage to Stuttgart. The race reaches France Sunday after the short fourth and fifth stages.
Piasecki, the 1985 Peace race winner and world amateur road race champion who moved to the Italian Del Tongo team last year, is a helper for team leader Giuseppe Saronni and not expected to remain among the leaders once the racers reaches the high mountains in France.
Roche is a different story. He is cycling's hottest rider after winning the Tour of Italy, the Tour of Romandy in Switzerland, and coming within a blown tire of winning Paris-Nice this year.
He leads Frenchman Jean-Francois Bernard, the Toshiba leader, by 38 seconds and Britain's Robert Millar, an excellent climber with the Panasonic team, by 40 seconds.