Breukink overcomes deficit, flat for 12-second Tour Du Pont win

May 20, 1991|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Sun Staff Correspondent

WILMINGTON, Del. -- He entered the final stage of the Tour Du Pont in second place and 50 seconds off the lead, but the Netherlands' Erik Breukink didn't have any huge concerns going into the final day's individual time trial -- his specialty.

"I have a lot of experience in the time trials," Breukink said. "The 50 seconds, I felt I could make up."

What Breukink, racing for Netherlands-based PDM, didn't anticipate on the cool, comfortable afternoon was a flat tire nearly halfway through the 16.1-mile course. But he had enough leg strength to win the final stage with a time of 34 minutes, 51.75 seconds and claim the 1991 Tour Du Pont title by 12 seconds.

"It's a nice victory in a race that's getting bigger each year," Breukink said. "It's not like the Tour de France, the Tour of Italy or the Tour of Spain. But after that, it's up there."

Breukink has not won the three events he mentioned, with his best finish a third place in last year's Tour de France. But in winning the 11-day, 1,119 mile Tour Du Pont with a final time of 48 hours, 56 minutes, 53 seconds, Breukink takes home a top prize of $50,000.

Atle Kvalsvoll, who had a 50-second lead entering the final stage, was fifth in the individual time trial, more than a minute behind Breukink. His second-place overall finish, 12 seconds behind Breukink's, was good enough for $25,000.

American Greg LeMond, Kvalsvoll's teammate on French-based Z, was second in yesterday's final stage, which began and ended in downtown Wilmington, and 12th overall.

Breukink said he "gave everything I had in my body," and when he crossed the finish line, he wasn't wearing the face of a winner, apparently thinking that the 20 seconds it had taken to change the flat tire at the eight-mile mark had cost him the race.

"There was a bad road, and I ran in the hole," Breukink said. "I just tried to get into the rhythm again. I didn't think I could overcome it -- I thought I would lose the race by a few seconds."

After his finish, Breukink was left waiting and hoping. Minutes later, after Kvalsvoll had crossed the line in 35 minutes, 53.02 seconds, Breukink was able to put on the yellow jersey -- and leave Kvalsvoll, who was second for the second straight year, disappointed.

"I'm very disappointed, especially for the team because we did a very good job," said Kvalsvoll, who was unaware of Breukink's flat tire. "I knew I was 30 seconds back at one point, and five kilometers later it was the same."

The American-based Coors Light riders won the team title, finishing 50 seconds ahead of Z. Team USA, an amateur contingent, finished eighth.

Although LeMond finished 12th, he was satisfied with his performance -- his previous best finish here was 27th in 1989.

"I was feeling very good this race, and I was shooting for the top five," LeMond said. "Actually, I did better than what I anticipated. But this is not my strong time of the year. I'll be ready for [the Tour de France]."

11th and final stage

1. Erik Breukink, Netherlands, PDM, 34 minutes, 51.75 seconds. 2. Greg LeMond, Wayzata, Minn., Z, 35:26.69 3. Rolf Aldag, Germany, Helvetia, 35:30.66 4. Stephen Swart, New Zealand, Coors Light, 35:35.49. 5. Atle Kvalsvoll, Norway, Z, 35:53.02. 6. Greg Oravetz, Huntington Beach, Calif., Coors Light, 35:53.55. 7. Steve Bauer, Canada, Motorola, 35:57.39. 8. Phil Anderson, Australia, Motorola, 36:02.36. 9. Bobby Julich, Glenwood Springs, Colo., U.S. national amateur team, 36:04.14. 10. Fabian Jeker, Switzerland, Helvetia, 36:06.48.

Final standings

1. Breukink, 48 hours, 56 minutes, 53 seconds. 2. Kvalsvoll, 12 seconds behind. 3. Aldag, 1:07 behind. 4. Alexi Grewal, Jamestown, Colo., Coors Light, 1:56. 5. Julich, 2:06. 6. Bauer, 2:09. 7. Ronan Pensec, France, Seur, 2:29. 8. Mike Engleman, Santa Cruz, Calif., Coors Light, 2:34. 9. Jeker, 3:02. 10. Vladislav Bobrik, Soviet Union, national amateur team, 3:55.

Other top 20 Americans

12. LeMond, 4:18 behind. 13. Scott Moninger, Wichita, Kan., Coors Light, 4:21. 15. Bart Bowen, Albuquerque, N.M., Subaru-Montgomery, 4:41. 17. Steve Larsen, Davis, Calif., U.S. national amateur team, 5:31. 19. Oravetz, 5:37.

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