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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chunnel Is Next For Tour

CALAIS, France -- Belgium's Johan Museeuw took over the lead in the Tour de France on Tuesday after the team time trial, while Miguel Indurain took a slight advantage in the battle of the favorites. Museeuw took over first overall from Britain's Chris Boardman, who had held it since the prologue. Boardman's GAN team was more than a minute behind Museeuw's GB-MG team in the standings. Museeuw took the individual lead by 10 seconds over Indurain. Third was Denmark's Rolf Sorensen, another member of GB-MG. American Lance Armstrong took over fourth, 22 seconds behind as his Motorola team was second in the team race, six seconds back of the winners. Monday's third stage was the team time trial from Calais to the Eurotunnel, 66 kilometers (41 miles). Originally it was to coincide with the opening of the Eurotunnel to traffic. Although the tunnel was inaugurated as scheduled in May, passenger traffic is not expected until October at the earliest because of technical problems. Late tonight, the cyclists and support crew will take trains through the tunnel to be ready in the morning for the next stage, which goes 205 kilometers from Dover to Brighton. And so, England prepares to host the world's most prestigious cycling event for the first time in 20 years. Roads will be closed, a fact that does not thrill all the local populace; there will be no trains, thanks to a national signalmen's strike; the last time it came over, it was a near-fiasco. But don't tell the Tour de France organizers. Southern England is gearing itself for a two-day extravaganza and this time fans are confident justice will be done to the world's greatest cycling race. Not since the D-day landings 50 years ago will so much man and machinery have been transported across the English Channel. Thanks to the Channel Tunnel, two stages of the Tour can be readily held in Britain, bringing the continental circus to some of England's most green and pleasant lands, through the southern counties of Kent, Sussex and Hampshire. Transplanting the Tour with its 189 riders and 3,500-strong camp followers of mechanics, officials and media is a massive logistical challenge. Riders with bikes and backup will travel by special train through the tunnel on Tuesday night ready for the start of the fourth stage at Dover on Wednesday morning. A 205-kilometer loop will take the Tour to Brighton, to be followed on Thursday by a 182-kilometer trip based on Portsmouth. Twenty years ago, when the Tour dropped by, it proved a desultory affair with riders racing up and down a by-pass in southwest England near Plymouth -- as riveting as a Sampras-Ivanisevic tennis final. The peloton -- all the riders, to the uninitiated -- might flash past in a few seconds, but the Tour de France is an all-day publicity dream. "I'm not sure what the Tour coming to Britain will do for the sport in this country, but if people turn up expecting just to see a bike race, they'll be in for a surprise," says 1992 Barcelona Olympic pursuit champion Boardman, who is making his debut in the event. "It'll be like having the Olympics in town for a week." The last time the tour came to Britain, in 1974 to mark the opening of the Plymouth-Roscoff ferry, it was a scaled-down version with none of the attendant advertising caravan. But television has made the sport more widely popular, so this week will be different. Around one million spectators are expected to watch the Tour roll by on roads closed by an Act of Parliament for the first time in their history. French, Italian and Spanish fans regularly chalk the names of their favorites across the routes to lend support. Whether the English adopt the habit remains to be seen. (AP, Reuters)