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Riis on eve of winning 1st Tour

Denmark's Bjarne Riis protected his lead in the Tour de France on Saturday, and headed for Paris just about assured he will win the cycling classic.

Runner-up Jan Ullrich of Germany won the 40-mile individual time trial on the race's next-to-last day and threw a brief scare into Riis, but it was nothing more than that.

Ullrich nearly moved into the overall lead when he finished the 20th stage of the 21-stage race 2 minutes, 18 seconds ahead of Riis.

But Riis, who started the day nearly four minutes ahead of Ullrich, finished fourth in the time trial, and held a lead of 1:41 when the day was over.

Ullrich covered the flat course through France's Bordeaux wine country from Bordeaux city to Saint-Emilion in 1:15.31 _ 56 seconds faster than second-place finisher Miguel Indurain of Spain.

Indurain, who failed in his bid to become the first six-time winner of the Tour, held the lead in Saturday's stage until Ullrich crossed.

NBA: The Seattle Sonics re-signed free-agent guard Hersey Hawkins to a five-year guaranteed contract. Terms were not disclosed.

Before the signing, the Sonics were said to be offering Hawkins about $3-million a year. Hawkins was seeking closer to $5.5-million a year. Seattle also is pursuing free-agent center Jim McIlvaine. The 7-foot-1 McIlvaine is near agreement on a seven-year deal with the Sonics estimated to be worth between $30-million and $35-million. In the Doral Arrowwood Summer League, Brent Scott scored 27 points and grabbed 15 rebounds as Philadelphia beat Toronto 96-92. Sean Green scored on a tip-in at the buzzer to give the Orlando Magic a 101-99 victory over the Boston Celtics. Fred Hoiberg signed a two-year contract with the Indiana Pacers reportedly worth $247,500 next season and $297,000 the next season.

HORSE RACING: My Flag, the odds-on favorite in the field of seven 3-year-old fillies, gave trainer Shug McGaughey his first Coaching Club American Oaks win with a 4\-length victory in the 79th running of the $250,000 event at Belmont Park. The Brazilian-bred Sandpit will try to make it two sweeps in as many years by winning the Caesars Palace Turf Championship today at Hollywood Park. Sandpit won both Caesars events, at Atlantic City and Hollywood Park, in 1995, and won the first leg of the two-race series again last month in New Jersey.

TENNIS: Amy Frazier battled gusting winds and struggled past top-seeded Anke Huber 7-5, 6-7 (7-3), 6-4 to advance to the final of the A&P Tennis Classic at Mahwahm, N.J. She will meet Maggie Maleeva, who defeated unseeded Jane Chi 6-2, 6-2 in just 65 minutes. At the Palermo Grand Prix semifinals in Sicily, Sabine Hack easily defeated Silvia Farina 6-0, 6-1 and Barbara Schett downed Jana Kandarr 6-1, 3-6, 6-2. The two top seeds, Thomas Muster and Yevgeny Kafelnikov won semifinal-round matches to advance to today's final of the the $1-million Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart, Germany. In the semifinals of the Legg Mason Classic at Washington, fourth-seeded Wayne Ferreira defeated Renzo Furlan 6-3, 6-7 (11-13), 6-3 and faces second-seeded Michael Chang, a 6-3, 6-4 winner over Kenneth Carlsen, today.

SOCCER: The Tampa Bay Cyclones won their fourth straight, shutting out the Orlando Lions 2-0 in a USISL game in Tampa. The Cyclones (11-8) received second-half goals from Luis Murillo and Doney Cardona to secure the win. Denny McCaughey earned the shutout in goal for the Cyclones with five saves.

_ Compiled from Times wires.