Soft pedaling brings best time WordPerfect team rides to top 4 spots TOUR DU PONT


WILMINGTON, Del. -- There's clearly a lot of cycling left in this year's Tour DuPont event, but a clear pattern is starting to emerge.

Though the overall victory in the 11-day event will go to an individual, it seems that, after two stages, that person may well come from the fledgling WordPerfect team.

In its first year of sponsorship, the Utah-based computer software manufacturer already has assembled a team that has the top four individual riders and five in the top six.

The seven-member team, led by individual overall leader Jelle Nijdam and pre-race favorite Raul Alcala, won overwhelmingly in last night's second stage in a 15.4-mile team time trial.

WordPerfect's time of 28 minutes, 0.14 seconds was more than 23 seconds ahead of Coors Light, which finished second, and 34 seconds better than third-place finisher Motorola.

Alcala said: "We had a high tempo. On the way back, there was a head wind, but we didn't lose so much time. We had a lot of motivation to win this stage. We pushed so hard."

Nijdam leads Alcala, the pre-race favorite and 1990 winner, by 10 seconds going into today's third stage -- a 115-mile ride from Port Deposit to Hagerstown.

Besides Nijdam and Alcala, WordPerfect's Eric Vanderaerden and Erik Dekker hold down third and fourth place, and teammate Louis De Koning is sixth.

American Davis Phinney of the Coors Light team is the only non-WordPerfect rider in the top five. Lance Armstrong of Motorola is the next highest American competitor, in seventh.

Nijdam finished fourth behind fellow Dutchman Wiebren Veenstra in yesterday's early race, the first stage of the Tour.

Veenstra rode to victory in the 57.6-mile contest in 2 hours, 25 minutes, 38 seconds.

Veenstra's victory came largely on the efforts of his Suburu-Montgomery teammate, Nate Reiss, who cleared a path at the head of the pack, allowing Veenstra to sweep to the win, just ahead of Davis Phinney.

"This race is really insignificant, because the contest is going to be decided in the mountains, but [yesterday's] race is for sprinters like Wiebren to steal a little of the glory," said Reiss, of Boulder, Colo.

The pack, which had been fairly solid from Dover, the launch point,began to thin in Delaware City, about 20 miles from the finish line at Rodney Square in downtown Wilmington. With about 200 meters left, the racers made the turn up a hill onto King Street, the decisive point in the race. Ron Keifel, Phinney's Coors Light teammate, followed team strategy by pushing the pace, and he moved to the lead late in the contest to clear space for Phinney, with Veenstra and Reiss on their heels.

But Keifel made his move too soon, and both he and Phinney tired about 75 meters from the finish.

First stage

1, Wiebren Veenstra, Subaru-Montgomery, 2 hours, 25 minutes, 38 seconds. 2, Davis Phinney, Coors Light, same time. 3, Nate Reiss, Subaru-Montgomery, same time. 4, Jelle Nijdam, WordPerfect, 2:25:40. 5, Malcolm Elliott, L.A. Sheriffs, same time. 6, Eric Vanderaerden, WordPerfect, same time. 7, a-Marc Patry, Belgium National Team, amateur, same time. 8, a-Uwe Preissler, German National Team, same time. 9, a-John McKinley, U.S. Cycling, same time. 10, a-Alexy Byakov, Russian National Team, same time.

Second stage (Team time trail)

1. WordPerfect, 28 minutes and .147 seconds. 2. Coors Light, 28:23.415. 3. Motorola, 28:34.721. 4. Chevrolet/L.A. Sheriffs, 28:36.625. 5. Russia National Team, 28:48.012. 6. Subaru-Montgomery, 28:55.768. 7. Festina-Lotus, 28:55.832. 8. Australian National Team, 29:06.008. 9. German National Team, 29:07.885. 10. Collstrop, 29:23.346.

Overall standings (After 2 stages)

1. Jelle Nijdam, WordPerfect, 2 hours, 59 minutes, 35 seconds. 2. Raul Alcala, WordPerfect, 10 seconds behind. 3. Eric Vanderaerden, WordPerfect, 26 seconds behind. 4. Erik Dekker, WordPerfect, 40 seconds behind. 5. Davis Phinney, Coors Light, 42 seconds behind. 6. Louis De Koning, WordPerfect, 45 seconds behind. 7. Lance Armstrong, Motorola, 46 seconds behind. 8 (tie), Malcolm Elliott, Chevrolet-L.A. Sheriffs, Stephen Swart, Coors Light, 49 seconds behind. 10. Ron Keifel, Coors Light, 52 seconds behind.

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