Heavy rains and unseasonably cold weather provided an added difficulty into the first week of racing. When the race went into the Alps, five-time defending champion Miguel Indurain was one of the first to falter. Struggling up the climb to the finish at Les Arcs, the Spaniard lost time to challengers like Evgeni Berzin, Bjarne Riis, and Richard Virenque. When Indurain failed to win the time trial to Val d'Isère it became clear that he was not at his best. Coming to the front was Danish rider Bjarne Riis. Third in 1995, Riis was clearly the best climber in the race as well as a solid time trialer. And after winning stages to Sestrières and Hautacam, he held a firm grip on the yellow jersey, easily becaming the first Danish Tour winner.
Although his teammate Bjarne Riis grabbed Tour glory, Germany's Jan Ullrich had his share of headlines too. The 22-year-old rider entered his first Tour as a last minute replacement on the Telekom team. But he turned out to be Riis' best ally. He did a lion's share of the teamwork and confirmed his second-place overall performance by winning the final time trial in St. Emilion, 56 seconds ahead of Indurain. Clearly a star had been born.
Riis wins the Tour on his seventh try, after having finished in the top five twice (1993-1995). Because of snow, the grand Alpine stage, Val dIsère - Sestrières (189.5 km) is reduced to 46 km. Start from Monetier. The "Iseran" and the "Galibier" are not climbed.
Abdoujaparov wins his ninth Tour stage in Tulle, but it's the first time he does so by breaking away on his own.
Last rider: Masdupuy (129th) at 3h4952.
Miguel Indurain's defeat (11th, at 1414) after five consecutive victories and the first Tour victory for a Dane.
Eight towns host the Tour for the first time.
Middle East Peace Treaty is signed; death of Italian film great Marcello Mastroianni.