THIERRY MARIE, winner of last Saturday’s prologue in Lyon, will ride through his beloved Normandy today resplendent in the Tour de France leader’s yellow jersey.
Marie, his eyes as blue as cornflowers, his hair as golden as corn (this is a local newspaper’s description, by the way) struck for home yesterday some 15 miles outside Arras and rode alone and unaided to Le Havre, a further 145 miles, to win the stage and recapture the maillot jaune.
It was a formidable effort by a man who specializes in being the fastest against the clock over distances of less than 10 kilometers. He has won three Tour de France prologues in the past six years, his only other stage win being at Chalon-sur-Saone in 1988.
The cobbled square in Arras was thronged with excited, animated French and Belgians yesterday morning. They deeply love their cycling in the north and if there was disappointment over the loss of Rolf Sorensen the mood was quickly dispelled.
Another long, hot day was in prospect and few paid much notice when Marie first broke. Then two minutes became three, nine became ten, and finally, his lead had stretched to more than 20 minutes. Marie was lost, as was nearly everybody else when a sea-fret drifted in from the Channel.