...Continued from page 1

Each edition of Le Parisian has the day's work sites on its back page and although it is very large scale, it is still helpful. Be sure to get a copy before getting behind the wheel. Le Parisian also says it has been the worst July in memory for traffic jams.

The Bike Cops are Back in Town

In 1984, 5,000 Paris coppers on bikes, who were called 'Hirondelles' - swallows - ended their tours of Paris and its suburbs.

Starting Monday they are back, although in less force. Two units are destined to patrol the Bois de Vincennes and the Bois de Boulogne, and a third motorized unit will patrol the city's 50 kms of bike lanes - to be extended to 100 kms by year's end.

The two parks' teams will mainly assure security on Wednesdays, weekends and on holidays. The motorized units will work Sundays, especially around the regular citizens' operations called, 'Paris-Piétons-Vélos.'

At first the city teams will have 'cyclomoteurs,' but these will be replaced with faster scooters. There will be two teams with motorcycles, presumably in order to catch some of Paris' speedier cyclists.

Le Parisien says that 170 cyclists per hour have been counted on the boulevard Saint-Germain during the rush-hours. A poll taken by the Mairie de Paris on 24. April revealed that a lot of rush-hour cyclists are commuters.

Some taxi drivers do not like the new bike lanes, but a cycling association spokesman said bicycles are not the cause of traffic congestion in the city. The Mairie is steadily repeating that the new lanes are coming - these things can happen overnight in August, when nobody is looking.

Visitors are showing more interest in seeing the capital from behind handlebars, and some bike rental outfits have found that there is a market for guided tours - which Le Parisien even Parisians take, because they can go places they wouldn't normally see.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned the team-up between the city, the RATP and the SNCF, to offer bike rentals to their passengers - within Paris and throughout the Ile-de-France.

Today's Le Parisien runs this photo, but tomorrow the order will be reversed when they stand on the winner's podium.

The company operating in partnership on this is 'Paris-Vélo' and they can be found at the gares: Est, Austerlitz and Montparnasse. The firm 'Mountain Bike' operates from the SNCF stations in Versailles.

'Paris Vélo C'est Sympa!' is another firm which specializes as much in guided tours as straight rentals. Their shop can be found at 37. boulevard Bourdon, Paris 4. This runs along the canal-like port Paris-Arsenal and the closest métro is Bastille. For info, tel.: 01 48 87 60 01.

Sports News Makes a One-Time Comeback

Paris:- Update: Sunday, 27. July, 1997:- Today's overall winner of this year's Tour de France is Jan Ullrich, of the Telekom team. He crossed the finish line about 17:40 today.

The last day's route of the 21-day event started at noon at Disneyland Paris, east of Paris in the Seine-et-Marne department. The 150-km route wound north before settling in to following the Marne towards Paris, which it entered at the Porte de Bercy.

The racers charged along the right-bank quais, did a loop around the Bastille and then headed straight up the rue de Rivoli to Concorde. At Concorde, they leaned left then right, into the Champs-Elysées, then barreled straight up it to just short of the Etoile. Here they did a 180 degree turn and raced off down the Champs to Concorde, slipped right then left into the quai des Tuileries.

They took a sharp left into the avenue du Général Lemonnier - which is approximately where the Château des Tuileries used to be - followed by another left, back to heading west on the rue de Rivoli. The leaders and the following pack - le peloton - did this loop 10 times, and TV's France 3 cameras caught much of the dizzying action.

The two things that stand out with this edition of the Tour de France are Jan Ullrich's overall win, a first for a German; and his age: 23 years and seven months. Only two other winners have been younger; Felice Gimondi in 1965 and Laurent Fignon in 1983.

Although Jan Ullrich came first, he did so with the popular Frenchman, Richard Virenque - who is brilliant at crossing finishing At the finish line lines with a winner's style - on his heels. In effect, the two duelled throughout the Tour.

The first rider to cross the line in today's 150 km and final sprint, is neither of the overall winners, but a winner on the Champs-Elysées.

Their sponsors - Deutsche Telekom for Ullrich and Festina watches for Virenque - certainly got their money's worth with either one or the other in the TV spotlight nightly - when they weren't both in it together.

Gazillions of Germans became immediate Tour de France fans, with hordes of them crossing the Rhine as the Tour swept through Colmar and Alsace. At one point, I heard many went out and got equipped with satellite reception in order to watch the race - as Jan Ullrich originally came from Rostock on the Baltic - too far away to get good Tour TV coverage.

That's it for this year. Another Tour de France has passed through 3,942 km of countryside and the month of July. An event where admission is as free as the emotions generated, sustained over three weeks by a great deal of hype and an even greater deal of raw courage by the contestants.

Thanks guys. You did it again!


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