Six-Rider Breakaway Goes Down to the Wire, Frenchman Fedrigo Gets the Win
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GAP, France – Pierrick Fedrigo (Bouygues Telecom) of France outsprinted Salvatore Commesso (Lampre) of Italy on Sunday to claim the Tour de France’s 14th stage, while Oscar Pereiro (Caisse Espargne) of Spain retained the leader’s jersey for the second day.
Fedrigo emerged from a six-rider breakaway group and then outrode his better-known rival in the final 200 meters of the final transitional stage between the Pyrenees and the Alps. He completed the 112.2-mile course in 4 hours, 14 minutes, and 23 seconds.
Commesso was second in the same time, with Christian Vande Velde (CSC) of Lemont, Illinois, third, three seconds back.
Vande Velde joined Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) and Floyd Landis (Phonak), who finished second and third in Stage 10, and George Hincapie (Discovery), who placed second in the prologue, as American riders who’ve reached stage podiums. Hincapie also held the race lead for one day after Stage 1.
Pereiro, who finished 27th in the same group with his main rivals, seven seconds back, holds a 1:29 margin over Landis and a 1:37 cushion over Cyril Dessel (AG2R) of France.
Leipheimer, the only other American in the top-20 overall, remains 15th, trailing by 7:08.
With six stages remaining, the field is now down to 156 after the abandonment of four riders in Stage 14.
Two of the departing riders crashed after about 87 miles when they were involved in a six-rider break that included the eventual leading duo.
The crash occurred when Rik Verbrugghe (Cofidis) of Belgium and David Canada (Saunier-Duval) lost control of their bikes on a slightly sloping downhill right-hand turn. Matthias Kessler (T-Mobile) of Germany crashed into Canada and all three fell over road barriers.
Kessler returned to the race; Verbrugghe suffered a suspected right leg fracture, while Canada fractured his right collarbone.
Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas) of Sweden and Mirko Celestino (Milram) of Italy also abandoned during the stage.
The race’s second and final rest day is scheduled Monday, with the race resuming Tuesday with the first of three consecutive mountain stages in the Alps, starting with the legendary switchbacks of the L’Alpe d’Huez.