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Overall leader Gino Bartali of Italy, the eventual winner, relaxes at the end of the Strasbourg-to-Metz stage of the 1948 Tour de France.
Overall leader Gino Bartali of Italy, the eventual winner, relaxes at the end of the Strasbourg-to-Metz stage of the 1948 Tour de France. (Henry Compton/Stars and Stripes)
Overall leader Gino Bartali of Italy, the eventual winner, relaxes at the end of the Strasbourg-to-Metz stage of the 1948 Tour de France.
Overall leader Gino Bartali of Italy, the eventual winner, relaxes at the end of the Strasbourg-to-Metz stage of the 1948 Tour de France. (Henry Compton/Stars and Stripes)
(Henry Compton/Stars and Stripes)
Italy's Giovanni Corrieri, trailed by Bernard Gauthier of France, crosses the line as the winner of the Strasbourg-to-Metz stage of the 1948 Tour de France.
Italy's Giovanni Corrieri, trailed by Bernard Gauthier of France, crosses the line as the winner of the Strasbourg-to-Metz stage of the 1948 Tour de France. (Henry Compton/Stars and Stripes)
(Henry Compton/Stars and Stripes)
(Henry Compton/Stars and Stripes)
(Henry Compton/Stars and Stripes)

METZ, France, July 24 — The Tour de France regained an international flavoring as the 45 odd cyclists remaining in the grind, started the 249-kilometer (156 mile) roll from Metz to Liege, Belgium.

With 18 laps down and three to go, the Tour was anything but an all-French spectacle. Gino Bartali, Italian cycling ace, was still wearing the yellow jersey, symbol of all-leadership in the race. Close behind him was the darling of French racing fans, Guy Lapebie, followed by Brik Schotte, of Belgium, Louis Bobet, of France, and Jean Kirchen, of Luxembourg.

Winner of the Strasbourg to Metz lap was Italy's Giovanni Corrieri, trailed by Bernard Gauthier, of France, and Edouard Klabinsky, a Pole with the international team.

"The giants of the route" left Metz evenly paced, where familiarity with the terrain favored the Belgian team. The route lay over fairly level country, passing through Luxembourg, and then cutting into Belgium.

The Tour's blistering pace had already eliminated two-thirds of the 120 cyclists who left Paris June 30.

The remaining cyclists, those who survived the tough mountain grinds through the Alps, are the hard core pushing to be first across the finish line in Paris.

To wrest the yellow sweater, and first place, from veteran Italian cyclist Bartali, the riders are expected to forget strategy that marked the first stages of the race. it will be all-out sprinting, with the riders using every last bit of leg energy as the final Paris laps near. The reward — 600,000 francs and a Parisian welcome.

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