Indurain Wins 5th Tour in Row

PARIS -- Miguel Indurain of Spain completed an historic fifth consecutive Tour de France triumph, taking his place as the greatest champion in the most demanding event in sport.


Djamolidine Abdoujaparov of Uzbekistan won the 20th and last stage in the traditional mass-sprint finish on the Champs Elys?es but the honors were for Indurain's unique feat, one which has few equals in modern sport. The Spaniard joined three other riders, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault, with five Tour wins but he became the first to take his victories in successive years.


Abdoujaparov's win in the 155-kilometer final stage from Sainte Genevieve des Bois was recompense for the Central Asian sprinter who had tried desperately but failed to win a single stage earlier in this year's Tour.


The Uzbek, who fell spectacularly in the 1991 sprint on the Champs Elys?es and broke his collar bone after hitting an advertising hoarding, won the final stage in Paris two years ago, as well. It was his eighth stage victory in all.


But it was Indurain who totally dominated the three-week race over 3,635 kilometers to finish 4 minutes, 35 seconds ahead of Swiss Alex Z--lle, who was second, with Dane Bjarne Riis claiming the third place on the podium.


The tall, elegant Banesto rider, who turned 31 during the Tour, became the second-oldest man to win the race in the last 35 years. Dutchman Joop Zoe-temelk was 33 when he won in 1980.


His winning margin was slightly smaller than in the past two years because Indurain came under more intensive pressure from Z--lle's ONCE team than in previous Tours.


His two time-trial victories at Seraing and the Lac de Vassiviere took his tally to 12 stage wins in the Tour, the last 10 achieved in races against the clock.


Curiously, his two other stage victories, both in the Pyrenees, were the only ones achieved in the years before he took the title.


Five different riders have now enjoyed the honor of finishing second to Indurain on the Tour -- Italians Gianni Bugno and Claudio Chiappucci, Swiss Tony Rominger, Latvian Piotr Ugrumov and now Z--lle.


Despite having no riders in the top three for the sixth successive year, home nation France enjoyed a double celebration with Laurent Jalabert and Richard Virenque capturing prestigious titles.


Jalabert, who finished fourth overall, won the green jersey as points winner, a title he also won in 1992, and Virenque took the King of the Mountains trophy for a second year.