MONT VENTOUX, FRANCE, JULY 19 -- Frenchman Jean-Francois Bernard, charging up this steep mountain in southern France, won a 22.5-mile time trial by nearly two minutes today to take the overall lead in the Tour de France cycling classic.
Bernard finished 1 minute 39 seconds ahead of Luis Herrera of Colombia and 1:51 in front of Spaniard Pedro Delgado, in third place. Fabio Parra of France was fourth, 2:04 off the pace, and Stephen Roche of Ireland fifth, 2:19 behind.
The stage demanded climbing skill and speed. The first 9 1/2 miles on the flat preceded a 13-mile climb, rising 3,500 feet to the summit of Mont Ventoux.
Bernard rode the flat section very fast and maintained a steady rhythm on the climb to overhaul the rest of the field.
Charles Mottet of France had to surrender his yellow jersey as the overall leader after finishing a distant ninth, 3:58 back. Overall, Bernard leads Roche by 2:34, Mottet by 2:47 and Delgado by 3:56.
The Tour enters the Alps Monday on a 115-mile route from Valreas to Villard-de-Lans.
In the women's Tour, Maria Canins of Italy won the ninth-stage time trial and regained the yellow jersey by a margin of just two seconds.
She covered the 15-mile course from Correncon to Saint-Nizier 22 seconds ahead of Jeannie Longo of France, who had replaced Canins as the overall leader on the fifth stage. Canins was timed in 32:29.