Millar handles heat, takes stage

Field's only Briton thrives with temperatures in 90s

Armstrong retains lead

Tour De France

July 21, 2002|By Bonnie DeSimone | Bonnie DeSimone,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

BEZIERS, France -- David Millar is the only British rider in the 2002 Tour de France, but he's not a flag-waver.

"I'm not very nationalistic," he said. "I've lived in a lot of different places, so I'm pretty cosmopolitan. I'm just happy to ride with fellow professionals."

Millar races for the French team Cofidis. His parents are Scottish and he spent most of his youth in Hong Kong, where his father was a pilot. If there is any remnant of the chilly, misty moors in his blood, he seems to have overcome it.

The 25-year-old showed he is at home in hot weather yesterday, winning a scorching 13th stage. Millar finessed the final sprint after taking part in a merry breakaway that started almost from the beginning of the 106.2-mile stage.

"I was just having such good fun out there; it was like a game of chess," Millar said of his first Tour leg victory. "My legs were unbelievable. It was one of those incredible days that happen once or twice a year. At 60 kilometers, I was already thinking about how I was going to win the stage."

The weather has been sunny and increasingly warm as the Tour has moved south. Yesterday's temperatures soared into the 90s.

When Millar and a handful of other riders, including the apparently indefatigable Laurent Jalabert, took off less than three miles into the stage, the peloton was content to let them go and coast in nearly 10 minutes behind, saving up for today's difficult climb of Mount Ventoux.

Lance Armstrong retained his 2-minute, 28-second lead on Joseba Beloki in the overall standings. The only change in the top 10 was Jalabert's move into ninth, 8:57 off the lead.

Bonnie DeSimone is a reporter for the Chicago Tribune.

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