BORDEAUX, FRANCE, JULY 19 -- Davis Phinney of Boulder, Colo., and the 7-Eleven team should have fond memories of this city, the fifth largest in France, where Phinney won a stage of the 1987 Tour de France. But he was not happy today, staggering across the finish line on his bike, muttering, "I'm so dehydrated."
Italian Gianni Bugno proved last week he could pedal well in the mountains, and today he added a skill to his resume -- sprinting. But his victory, the second time he has won a stage on the Tour, did not alter the standings much, except to move Bugno up by a few seconds. Another Italian, Claudio Chiappucci, is still the overall leader and American Greg LeMond is still five seconds back.
Today's race was the slowest so far. After more than a week in the mountains, the riders seemed to have no desire to push themselves, especially on wide-open roads with no shade and 95-degree heat.
"We've been drinking the whole day," said Dag-Otto Lauritzen of the 7-Eleven team as he slumped against the team car and guzzled water and soft drinks.
And Lauritzen said he had an additional problem, an intestinal ailment.
"At least the pack didn't go fast; this was the slowest day," he said. "Just the last 60K was fast."
The racers cruised out of Pau and headed north on a 202-kilometer ride into the wine country of Bordeaux. The few rolling hills at the beginning disappeared after the first 40 kilometers and the roads became totally flat.
It was not until the final hour of the 5-hour 41-minute ride that 19 racers moved out. With 10 kilometers to go, Bugno, Eric Breukink and Robert Gusmeroli had a 30-second lead over the rest, and the trio sprinted over the line, Bugno crossing one second in front of Breukink and three seconds ahead of Gusmeroli.
Winning the race is by no means the goal of all 198 racers who started the Tour de France almost three weeks ago. Of those, 157 remain. Some of the casualties were the victims of accidents, hurting themselves too severely to go on. Others couldn't meet the Tour's basic standards, one of which requires finishing each stage in a minimum time.
Phinney has had to abandon the Tour two of the three previous times he has raced in it, and he is trying hard to finish this time. He did not ride last year because of an operation on his left knee, so when this year's race approached the Alps, he was, to say the least, apprehensive.
Phinney originally was scheduled to ride two spring races in Europe with his 7-Eleven team, but instead stayed home in Boulder to train and go to Lamaze classes with his wife, Connie Carpenter.
In fact, he almost held himself out of the Tour because she was due to give birth last week. Instead, Taylor Phinney arrived early, so his dad packed his bags for France two days before the Tour began.
"Mostly, it was an opportunity for me to help the team for the first 10 days and help to get the yellow jersey," he said. He did just that as teammate Steve Bauer wore the jersey for the first 10 legs.
Over 18 stages, leader Chiappucci's total time is 79 hours 23 minutes. Phinney is 2 hours 43 minutes behind, in 153rd place. But now that the Alps and Pyrenees are behind, he is confident he can make it to Paris.
EIGHTEENTH STAGE 125.5-Mile Leg From Pau to Bordeaux
1, Gianni Bugno, Chateau d'Ax, Italy, 5 hours 41 minutes 33 seconds; 2, Eric Breukink, PDM, Netherlands, 1 second behind; 3, Roberto Gusmeroli, Chateau d'Ax, Italy, 3; 4, Giovanni Fidanza, Chateau d'Ax, Italy, 19; 5, Adriano Baffi, Ariostea, Italy, 19; 6, Johan Museeux, Lotto, Belgium, 19; 7, Djamoldine Abdoujaparov, Alfa-Lum, Soviet Union, 19; 8, Olaf Ludwig, Panasonic, East Germany, 19; 9, Adrie Van der Poel, Weinmann, Netherlands, 19; 10, Martin Schalkers, TVM, Netherlands, 19; 11, Soren Lilholt, Histor, Denmark, 19; 12, Jan Schur, Chateau d'Ax, East Germany, 19; 13, Phil Anderson, TVM, Australia, 19; 14, Jean-Claude Colotti, RMNO, France, 19; 15, Jose Rodriguez, Seur, Spain, 19. Americans
32, Greg LeMond, Z, Wayzata, Minn., 19; 37, Andy Bishop, 7-Eleven, Tucson, Ariz., 19; 75, Ron Kiefel, 7-Eleven, Boulder, Colo., 19; 102, Andy Hampsten, 7-Eleven, Boulder, Colo., 19; 103, Norman Alvis, 7-Eleven, Sacramento, Calif., 19; 129, Davis Phinney, 7-Eleven, Boulder, Colo., 19; 137, Bob Roll, 7-Eleven, Santa Fe, N.M., 19. Overall Standings
1, Claudio Chiappucci, Carrera, Italy, 79 hours 23 minutes 38 seconds; 2, Greg LeMond, Z, Wayzata, Minn., 5 seconds behind; 3, Eric Breukink, PDM, Netherlands, 3:31; 4, Pedro Delgado, Banesto, Spain, 3:42; 5, Marino Lejarreta, ONCE, Spain, 5:29; 6, Gianni Bugno, Chateau d'Ax, Italy, 7:29; 7, Eduardo Chozas, ONCE, Spain, 7:49; 8, Claude Criquielion, Lotto, Belgium, 8:40; 9, Andrew Hampsten, 7-Eleven, Boulder, Colo., 9:34; 10, Fabio Parra, Kelme, Colombia, 11:30; 11, Raul Alcala, PDM, Mexico, 11:48; 12, Miguel Indurain, Banesto, Spain, 13:09; 13, Fabrice Philpot, Castorama, France, 13:33; 14, Gilles Delion, Helvetia, France, 14:58; 15, Pelio Ruiz-Cabestany, Spain, 16:24. Other Americans
84, Kiefel, 1:33:52; 121, Bishop, 1:58:48; 122, Yates, 1:59:44; 127, Roll, 2:04:19; 144, Alvis, 2:22:21; 153, Phinney, 2:43:31.