MILLAU, FRANCE, JULY 15 -- Defending champion Greg LeMond played a wait-and-see game today before finishing fifth in the 14th stage of the Tour de France, which was good enough to whittle 13 seconds off Claudio Chiappucci's overall lead.
"Everybody was very, very nervous," said LeMond, in third place overall, 2 minutes 21 seconds behind. "We all waited for the final hill."
Marino Lejarreta of Spain won the stage in 5 hours 12 minutes 3 seconds, but LeMond watched his two main rivals -- Spain's Pedro Delgado and Eric Breukink of the Netherlands -- for most of the 127.5-mile leg from Le Puy en Velay to a hill outside Millau. Breukink is second overall, 1:49 behind Chiappucci.
The final climb of about three miles was rated a first category in terms of steepness and difficulty. On another hot day in central France, riders failed on several attacks and breakaways. The race came down to the final hill outside Millau. LeMond, Delgado, Breukink and Chiappucci headed the top group. Lejarreta broke away with 2 1/2 miles to go and won by 24 seconds over Spain's Miguel Indurain. Italy's Gianni Bugno was third, a second behind Indurain.
"In the last climb we watched each other. Breukink fell behind but he was back very quickly," LeMond said. "I think that Delgado and Breukink are the ones to watch. Chiappucci is not a major contender."
Delgado stayed fifth but moved within 4:26 of the lead, two seconds behind France's Ronan Pensec.
Monday's 101-mile stage from Millau to Revel will be relatively calm. Tuesday will pose a greater challenge; the 134-mile leg from Blagnac to Luz Ardiden is the second-most difficult stage, with three major climbs over the last 36 miles.
"I prefer it to be tough," LeMond said. "When I have a weak day, I usually don't manage to lose time. I am counting on Luz Ardiden making the difference."
FOURTEENTH STAGE 127.5 miles from Le Puy en Velay to Millau
1, Marino Lejarreta, ONCE, Spain, 5 hours 12 minutes 3 seconds; 2, Miguel Indurain, Banesto, Spain, 24 seconds behind; 3, Gianni Bugno, Chateau d'Ax, Italy, 25; 4, Raul Alcala, PDM, Mexico, 33; 5, Greg LeMond, Z, Wayzata, Minn., 34; 6, Eric Breukink, PDM, Netherlands, same time; 7, Pedro Delgado, Banesto, Spain, same time; 8, Claude Criquielion, Lotto, Belgium, same time; 9, William Palacio, Ryalcao, Colombia, same time; 10, Gilles Delion, Helvetia, France, same time; 11, Fabio Parra, Kelme, Colombia, same time; 12, Roberto Conti, Ariostea, Italy, 42; 13, Claudio Chiappucci, Carrera, Italy, 47; 14, Fabrice Philpot, Castorama, France, same time; 15, Miguel Martinez Torres, ONCE, Spain, same time.
21, Andy Hampsten, 7-Eleven, Boulder, Colo., 1:25; 106, Andy Bishop, 7-Eleven, Tucson, 5:53; 117, Bob Roll, 7-Eleven, Santa Fe, N.M., 6:51; 118, Ron Kiefel, 7-Eleven, Boulder, Colo., 7:06; 119, Davis Phinney, 7-Eleven, Boulder, Colo., 7:06; 147, Norman Alvis, 7-Eleven, Sacramento, Calif., 9:53.
1, Chiappucci, 58 hours 2 minutes 3 seconds; 2, Breukink, 1:49; 3, LeMond, 2:21; 4, Ronan Pensec, Z, France, 4:25; 5, Delgado, 4:26; 6, Bugno, 6:03; 7, Lejarreta, 7:36; 8, Alcala, 8:48; 9, Criquielion, 9:26; 10, Hampsten, 9:43; 11, Eduardo Chozas, ONCE, Spain, 10:31; 12, Parra, 12:14; 13, Pello Ruiz Cabestany, ONCE, Spain, 12:56; 14, Philpot, 13:55; 15, Palacio, 15:19.
64, Lauritzen, 54:33; 76, Kiefel, 1.01:09; 131, Roll, 1.26:56; 132, Bishop, 1.27:03; 146, Alvis, 1.39:42; 158, Phinney, 2.01:12.