Saturday July 15, 1989
Jelle Nijdam of the Netherlands became the only rider to score two stage wins in this year’s Tour de France when he rode into Gap with a two second lead over the bunch. It was a carbon-copy repeat of the Superconfex rider’s win on stage four at Wasquehal, when he fled the field with a powerful attack just before the final kilometre and used his pursuiting skills to stay away by three seconds.
The Dutchman couldn’t believe his luck, as the hills were not suited to his 12½ stone pursuiter’s physique. “When I looked at the profile this morning,” he said afterwards, “I didn’t expect to be in the hunt for the win. If anyone had said so, I wouldn’t have believed them for a moment. I had no morale, I’ve come out of the Pyrenees very tired. Today I had the bonk, so I ate very quickly at the end of the stage, and only began to feel good in the last few kilometres. When I came up on the break I had no idea that Maassen was with them. When Poisson attacked I countered and went past him at once.”
If Nijdam was all smiles at the end of the 238 kilometres from Marseille, spare a thought for the three heroes of the day, Jerome Simon (Z-Peugeot), Toshiba’s Marc Madiot and Luis Herrera of the Café de Colombia team, caught and passed by Nijdam in the final mile of the stage after being in the lead for nearly 70 miles.
This hilly stage across the South of France took the riders from the Mediterranean into the foothills of the Alps, reaching nearly 5,000 feet at the second-category Col du Labouret. With a host of other climbs in the six and a half hours to tire the legs before the Alpine time trial the next day, this became a day of truce for the stars, with those out of the hunt for the yellow jersey having a final chance to shine before the favourites take centre stage in the Alps.
After 130 kilometres where the only action came in the sprints for the Catch and hill primes, Herrera, Madiot and Simon made their move on the Côte de Chateauredon. All three had points to prove after failing to show in the Pyrenees, with Herrera under fire from the Colombian press for his lack of form, and Madiot’s Toshiba team so far making no impression on the race due to the absence of leader Jean-Francois Bernard.
With the bunch relaxing in the hot sun, the trio pulled quickly away, gaining over two minutes in just five miles before any sign came of a reaction from behind. As they began to climb the second-category Col du Labouret only one man was interested in chasing, Laudelino Cubino of Spain’s BH team, who was still 2-12 behind at the top of the col, with the bunch 5-40 behind the three.
A foretaste of what awaited the riders in the next week came as they rode along the ridge to the third category Col de St Jean, highest point of the day at just over 5,000 feet, where the three had increased their lead to 6-10, with Cubino closing to one minute as they began the 45-kilometre descent to Gap, with victory surely a certainty for one of them.
The peloton had other ideas however, performing its familiar task of sweeping up breakaways to open the way for the sprinters, with the Paternina team pulling them back to let their Mathieu Hermans repeat his win at Montpellier. The break weren’t doing themselves any favours either, with attacks from both Madiot and Simon breaking the rhythm just when it had to be kept high,
As the trio entered the streets of Gap Cubino had been caught and the bunch were within a minute. The lead kept coming down, to just 35 seconds with five kilometres to go. It was beginning to look like touch and go, with the champion of Holland Frans Maassen (Superconfex) chasing just ahead of the long string of riders, ignoring Pascal Poisson of Toshiba sitting happily in his slipstream.
Poisson enjoyed his free ride to the front, contributing nothing because of his teammate Madiot’s presence in the break up ahead, and he waited for Maassen to pull him up to the three with just two kilometres to go before making his bid for glory. Into the last kilometre, and suddenly Nijdam appeared just as Poisson was looking forward to his second stage win in the Tour.
The final few hundred metres to the finish line took on the appearance of a multiple pursuit match: Poisson against Nijdam – both former trackmen – and Madiot, Herrera and Simon against the bunch. The tall Dutchman came out a clear winner, holding off Poisson by two seconds, with the bunch led by Eddy Planckaert swallowing up the break and nearly getting the Frenchman on the line.
1. Jelle Nijdam (Ned) Superconfex 6-27-55
2. Pascal Poisson (Fra) Toshiba at 2secs
3. Eddy Planckaert (Bel) ADR
4. Giovanni Fidanza (Ita) Chateau d’Ax
5. Sean Kelly (Ire) PDM all at st
1. Laurent Fignon (Fra) Super-U 66-39-08
2. Greg LeMond (USA) ADR at 7secs
3. Charly Mottet (Fra) RMO at 57secs
4. Pedro Delgado (Spa) Reynolds at 2-53
5. Andy Hampsten 7-Eleven at 5-18
1. Gert-Jan Theunisse (Ned) PDM 179pts
2. Robert Millar (GB) Z-Peugeot 155pts
3. Pedro Delgado (Spa) Reynolds 116pts
1. Sean Kelly (Ire) PDM 213pts
2. Etienne De Wilde (Bel) Histor-Sigma 174pts
3. Giovanni Fidanza (Ita) Chateau d’Ax 124pts
1. Sean Kelly (Ire) PDM 91pts
2. Valerio Tebaldi (Ita) Chateau d’Ax 65pts
3, Dominique Arnaud (Fra) Reynolds 35pts