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INDURAIN’S PACK HELPS HIM STAY 1ST

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Members of a cycling squad are expected to put their Tour de France winnings into a team pool for all to share. This ranges from sprint bonuses to a $340,000 first prize for an overall victory. Thus the members of the Banesto team earn part of leader Miguel Indurain's winnings as he rides toward a possible third consecutive victory.

Indurain held the leader's yellow jersey as the Tour took an off day today before it begins three stages in the Pyrenees. He has a lead of 3 minutes, 23 seconds over Alvaro Mejia of Colombia, 4:31 over Zenon Jaskula of Poland and 5:44 over Tony Rominger of Switzerland.Throughout the Tour, Indurain's teammates have been around him, protecting, providing a draft, pacing him back to the pack when he falters. In Monday's 15th stage, over nine climbs from Perpignan to Andorra, the Banesto team earned its share.

For most of the race it formed a protective cushion around Indurain and did the pacing for the whole pack. The other top riders hung around waiting like vultures to attack. The chance never came because Indurain never ran out of helpful teammates.

After the majority of the Banesto team faded late in the race, Gerard Rue was still leading Indurain. "Miguel prefers a high tempo and continuous pace. My role was to accompany him as far as possible," Rue said.

Entering the final six-mile climb, Rue finally tired and left Indurain alone. Tony Rominger and Alvaro Mejia, were ready to make their move. Then team member Pedro Delgado came up suddenly, taking over pacemaking chores. "All the team worked in a great way," said Rue, who ended up more than eight minutes behind.

Rominger spent most of the day near Indurain, waiting for his chance to attack, but he lacked the resources and only made one final burst to move to second as Indurain let up.

Oliviero Rincon of Colombia Rincon finally broke away from a small group that had taken over the lead. He won by less than two minutes as Indurain's group of favorites accelerated in the final climb and picked off all the other front-runners except Rincon.