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INSEPARABLE LEADERS: CHIAPPUCCI MAINTAINS MARGIN OVER LEMOND

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Sizzling heat made for sluggish racing Friday, allowing Italian Claudio Chiappucci to retain his five-second lead over American Greg LeMond in the 77th Tour de France,

The two finished together again in the 19th stage from Castillon la Bataille to Limoges, with Chiappucci retaining his slim lead and setting up a weekend showdown between the unknown Italian and the two-time winner.Guido Bontempi of Italy won the 113-mile stage in a breakaway in five hours, 16 minutes, four seconds. The principal pack finished six minutes later, with LeMond and Chiappucci virtually glued to one another.

The pace of the pack was lethargic for the second straight day, partly due to the 100-degree heat that caused road asphalt to soften. Also, the top riders were saving their energy for Saturday's 28-mile time trial, which should determine the winner.

Bontempi, who succeeded in a solo breakaway in the final 20 miles, finished the stage in an average speed of 21.5 mph. The rest were considerably slower.

Because of the difficulty a top rider has in breaking free from the pack in a flat stage, both LeMond and Chiappucci were content to ride at a less-than-spectacular pace, leaving the race to be won in the time trial around Lac de Vassiviere, near Limoges.

LeMond's day was far from uneventful, however. He suffered his second flat tire in three days, but quickly recovered to get back in the pack.

The American two-time winner also injured a finger on his left hand trying to disloge something from one of his brakes. Despite some bleeding, LeMond said he would not be hampered.

"It's not good if I'm overconfident," LeMond said. "I'm not afraid, but I have to be careful."

LeMond is given an edge in the time trial, where he generally excels. In a similar situation last year, LeMond beat Frenchman Laurent Fignon by 58 seconds in a time trial from Versailles to Paris on the Tour's final day to win the race by eight seconds.

But the little-known Chiappucci has been remarkably resilient. He has made a 10-minute margin from a first-stage breakaway hold up, and has kept close to LeMond in the mountains and the time trials.

In the 38-mile time trial July 7 from Vittel to Epinal, Chiappucci lost 38 seconds to LeMond. And in the 21-mile time trial from Fontaine to Villard de Lans in the Alps, the Italian conceded just eight seconds.

"I'm feeling good," Chiappucci said. "I'm recovering well each night. I think my chances of keeping the yellow jersey are about 50 percent. I'll have a big advantage of starting last, so I'll be informed on the differences between LeMond's time and my own. In any case, I have nothing to lose."

LeMond has maintained that Chiappucci owes the yellow jersey to his 10-minute lead acquired early. In such breakaways, the top riders and the field often let breakaway riders build a lead if they are not seen as a threat in the overall standings.

LeMond has also criticized Chiappucci's effort to accelerate the pack when he suffered a flat tire Wednesday in the Pyrenees, and the two began a battle of wo rds.

But the American said after Friday's stage, "The war is over, now it's time to race."