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Cipollini wants life to be in rose

July 7, 1997

FORGES-LES-EAUX, France (AP) - Mario Cipollini likes yellow, but thinks he looks better in rose.

Cipollini took over first in the Tour de France on Sunday and gained the leader’s yellow jersey.

As an Italian, however, he appreciated more wearing the rose-colored jersey emblematic of being the leader of the Tour of Italy.

Cipollini won three of the first four stages on the Tour of Italy this year, bring his total up to 20, and was in the lead for a few days.

``For an Italian, the rose jersey is very important. For me, the rose jersey is a jersey of the heart,″ Cipollini said.

In the Tour of France’s first stage, Cipollini used his normal powerful spring at the end to win the first stage from Rouen to Forges-Les-Eaux, 119.3 miles. That gained him 20 bonus seconds. He also gained eight more seconds along the route in two intermediate sprints.

Entering the day 18 seconds behind, he gained 28 seconds on the pack and moved into the lead by 10 seconds over Chris Boardman, who led entering the day.

Cipollini is like a locomotive when he is at full speed. He has now won five Tour de France stages and even had the yellow jersey for a few days in 1993.

Despite his success on the flat, he is among the first to drop out when the Tour hits the mountains. In four previous Tours, he has dropped out each time.

He was just 18 seconds behind in the short time trial on Saturday, a very good result for the Italian, who is not at his best for a sustained effort.

Boardman won the prologue on Saturday.

The first weekend was barely over, and it might be the end for last year’s winner.

Bjarne Riis, last year’s winner, was held up in a fall and dropped a minute to the leaders.

A group fall with about 6 miles left broke the pack into three separate groups, hindering some of the favorites, including Riis. The Dane ended up in the second pack, about 58 seconds behind Cipollini.

That put Riis, more than a minute behind teammate Jan Ullrich already. Ullrich was second to Riis overall last year and was regarded by many as Riis’ chief threat.

Ullrich was third overall, 12 seconds behind and perhaps the biggest winner on the day, standing well ahead of Riis.

Team strategy for the Telekom team, who both Riis and Ullrich ride for, could be changing. Riis was the team leader and his teammates _ including Ullrich _ were expected to work for him to keep Riis near the top.

Swiss veteran Tony Rominger was fourth overall, 15 seconds behind, and Abrhama Olano of Spain fifth, 20 seconds back.

Alex Zuelle of Switzerland was another loser in time due to the fall.. He is almost two minutes behind already, finishing in the third pack.

The first week of the Tour is marked by flat stages, allowing the sprinters to dominate by picking up bonus seconds in fast finishes.

The real racing begins when the Tour hits the Pyrenees on July 14.

Today’s second stage is from St.Valery-en-Caux on the northern coast of France to Vire, a distance of 162.8 miles.

When the cyclists cross the finish line on the Champs Elysees in Paris, they will have completed 21 stages and about 2,455 miles.

The race began without a solid favorite. Miguel Indurain, who captured the race five consecutive times between 1991 and 1995, announced his retirement on Jan. 2, saying he had dedicated enough time to professional cycling.

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