Yates gambles, collects in Hagerstown AH TOUR DU PONT British racer sprints to win third stage

May 09, 1993|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Staff Writer

HAGERSTOWN -- Yesterday's third stage of the Tour Du Pont cycling event came down to one fairly simple decision for Britain's Sean Yates.

Midway through the final lap of the 115.6-mile stage, Yates, the 1992 British national champion and a member of the Motorola team, could either stay in the three-man pack with Americans Jim Copeland and Roy Knickman, or blast away and dare them to catch up.

Guess which one he chose?

"The other two guys looked a little tired, and I didn't want to tow them to the finish. It [the gamble] paid off," said Yates, 32, who won the stage with a time of 5 hours, 6 minutes and 46 seconds and moved into seventh place in the overall competition.

Jelle Nijdam of Holland and the WordPerfect team remains the overall leader going into today's fourth stage, a 111-mile ride from Pen Mar State Park, on the Maryland-Pennsylvania line, to Hershey, Pa.

The race, which began in Port Deposit, was decidedly slow across the northern Maryland landscape, so much so that racers fell at least 30 minutes behind schedule even before they came to the 1,700-foot hill at Catoctin State Park, the highest elevation of the Tour so far.

"[Yesterday's] race was such a cruise," said Knickman, of Boulder, Colo, who finished second ahead of Copeland. "You just sort of promenade along and wait to turn it on. A lot of the Europeans were so pleased with the good weather and the good roads that they didn't want to put the pedal to the metal."

The WordPerfect team, for instance, with Nijdam and pre-race favorite Raul Alcala, moved to the front to keep the pack slow and help their leaders.

As the racers made their descent toward town in the final 20 miles, the pace quickened and the lead changed hands a few times.

Finally, as the race moved toward the finish line, Yates, Knickman and Copeland ran out ahead of the group, each guessing when one of the others would make a move. The three leaders stayed even through the first two 5-kilometer laps through the downtown area, but Yates shot out midway into the third lap.

"I could tell in the last lap that Yates was saving just enough energy to attack," Copeland said. "It was a good move on his part because if he had brought me and Roy to the line, I could have caught him. He's not a great sprinter, but he can roll it like nobody else."

The Port Deposit-to-Hagerstown stage exacted the toughest physical toll to date, with three spills, though only two riders -- Jean-Pierre Heynderickx of Belgium, who suffered abrasions and bruise on his left arm, and Nate Reiss of Boulder, Colo., who sustained superficial abrasions on his right arm, required medical attention. Heynderickx's ability to continue the race won't be determined until today, but Reiss is expected to continue.

Copeland said: "When you've got 100 guys going at 40 miles-per-hour bearing down and coming around a turn, you're going to crash. You just hope you're in front of it."

Kevin Livingston, 19, of the United States national team, dropped out of the competition, however, after a fall during warm-ups before Friday's team time trial.

Livingston's bike developed problems and as his support crew tried to fix it while he was riding Livingston fell off, injuring his pelvis.

He was not seriously hurt, but did not participate in either the time trials or yesterday's stage.

Yesterday's results

Third stage

1, Sean Yates, Great Britain, Motorola, 5 hours, 6 minutes, 46 seconds. 2, Roy Knickman, Boulder, Colo., Coors Light, same time. 3, Jim Copeland, Winston-Salem, N.C., Chevrolet-L.A. Sheriffs, same time. 4, Wiebren Veenstra, Holland, Subaru-Montgomery, same time. 5, Uwe Preissler, German National Team, same time.

6, Abraham Olano, Spain, Clas-Cajastur, same time. 7, Tom Steels, Belgian National Team, same time. 8, Eric Vanderaerden, Belgium, WordPerfect, same time. 9, Roman Jordens, German National Team, same time. 10, Marc Patry, Belgium National Team, same time.

Overall standings

1, Jelle Nijdam, Holland, WordPerfect, 8:06:21. 2, Raul Alcala, Mexico, WordPerfect, :10 behind. 3, Eric Vanderaerden, Belgium WordPerfect, :26 behind. 4, Erik Dekker, Belgium, WordPerfect, :40 behind. 5, Davis Phinney, Boulder, Colo., Coors Light, :42 behind. 6, Sean Yates, Great Britain, Motorola, :44 behind. 7, Louis De Koning, Holland, WordPerfect, :45 behind. 8, Lance Armstrong, Plano, Texas, Motorola, :46 behind. 9, Malcolm Elliott, Great Britain, Chevrolet-L.A. Sheriffs, :49 behind. (tie), Stephen Swart, New Zealand, Coors Light, :49 behind.

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