From the archive: Mountain win for Robert Millar

SCOTLAND’S Robert Millar won the 11th stage of the Tour de France cycle race from Pau to Guzet Neige yesterday, but Frenchman Vincent Barteau remained overall leader.
Robert Millar wore the polka dot jersey on the podium in Paris. Picture: AFPRobert Millar wore the polka dot jersey on the podium in Paris. Picture: AFP
Robert Millar wore the polka dot jersey on the podium in Paris. Picture: AFP

Millar (25) from Glasgow, finished 41 seconds ahead of Colombian Luis Herrera, who chased him over the final stretch of the 15-km climb to the finish high in the Pyrenees.

Millar’s Tour debut last year brought success in the Pyrenees when he finished alone at Luchon after breaking away fast from his last rival.

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Yesterday he launched a sharp attack in the last four kilometres when Jean-Rene Bernaudeau of France and Gerard Veldscholten of the Netherlands could not respond. Instead they struggled on to be passed by the fast-moving Herrera.

Millar was ready for the Colombian. He said: “I was told he was moving up so I increased speed. It was no trouble because I felt I could have ridden even further without cracking.”

The Scot was among a group of eight leaders which broke up on another moutain climb, leaving Bernaudeau, Veldscholten and France’s Lucien Didier to battle it out over the final 44 kilometres. Didier was first to drop back, then Millar dealt with the remaining men.

Millar’s triumph lifted him nearly 30 places to seventh overall, 14 minutes 24 seconds behind Barteau, who was one rider the mountains failed to break. Behind fifth-placed Bernard Hinault, the Frenchman seeking his fifth Tour victory, is a rare array of four English-speakers headed by Australian Phil Anderson.

The tarred road surface was melting under the sun and made racing a risky business on the descents. Pierre Bazzo of France had to be carried from the bottom of a 12-metre drop. He broke an arm. He was one of eight retirements in the 226-km stage. Others included Jan Raas, the Dutchman who won at Bordeaux, and Colombian Edgar Corredor.

Today’s 12th stage takes the 150 remaining riders over 111km from Saint Girons to Blagnac, a day without mountains.

• The Scotsman, 10 July 1984

Fignon wins Tour but Scot is King of the Mountains

Laurent Fignon of France rode in glory up the Champs Elysees in Paris yesterday to claim his second victory in the Tour de France cycle race before a delirious throng of his home-town supporters.

After three weeks and almost 4,000km, he finished with the pack in yesterday’s 191km ride into the heart of Paris, but captured professional cycling’s most prestigious title by a gaping margin of more than 10 minutes.

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In second place overall was four times winner Bernard Hinault of France, who returned from injury to see his long reign ended by the bespectacled Parisian who had won in his absence last year.

World road race champion Greg Lemond of the United States was third, Scotland’s Robert Millar was fourth and Ireland’s Sean Kelly fifth. Kelly was edged out of first place in the points competition by Frank Hoste of Belgium.

The sprint victory in the final stage, after six breakneck laps of a Champs Elysees course, went to another Belgian, Erik Vanderaerden. He pipped Frenchman Pascal Jules to the line but the finish made no difference to the top placings as the leading riders were all in the pack right behind them.

Fignon (23) defied his family’s wishes by giving up a career in veterinary medicine. But his decision was fully justified when he won last year’s Tour at the first attempt, the youngest victor in 18 years.

This time he bided his time on the long runs down Western France and across the south of the country, before striking decisively on the switchback roads of the Alps to put an unbridgeable time-gap between himself and Hinault. He finished with five stage wins to his name, three in time trials and two in the Alps.

Glaswegian Millar was named King of the Mountains after finishing seventh in Saturday’s stage, the 51km time trial from Villie-Morgon to Villefranche-en-Beaujolais. His fourth place overall is the highest achieved by a Briton in the race’s history.

• The Scotsman, 23 July 1984