FEDRIGO WINS STAGE 14
Pierrick Fedrigo (Bouygues Telecom) outsprinted Salvatore Commesso (Lampre) in Gap on Sunday after the two held off the chasing peloton in the final kilometres of the 180.5km stage.
Christian Vandervelde (CSC) finished third at three seconds and Christophe Moreau (Ag2r) won the bunch sprint for fourth place at seven seconds.
Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne) finished safely in the bunch and so kept the overall race lead as the Tour riders looked forward to the second rest day of the race on Monday.
The success was Fedrigo's first ever Tour de France stage win and was also the first ever Tour de France stage win for the Bouygues Telecom team.
"This was a win we’d been missing in the team," he said.
“In the final kilometres I didn’t look back because I knew I had to keep going and concentrate on the finish. When Commesso started the sprint at 150m to go I gave it everything to get past him and I managed to be more aggressive than he was. I want to dedicate it to my wife and my baby daughter, I know they were watching me.”
Fedrigo was part of the decisive six-rider break that formed after 36km, with David Canada (Saunier Duval), Rik Verbrugghe (Cofidis), Mario Aerts (Davitamon) and Matthias Kessler (T-Mobile) also in the move.
They worked well together but then Canada, Verbrugghe and Kessler crashed out on the melting road surface, going over a road barrier and into a ditch 36km from the finish. Kessler got back on his bike and finished the stage but Canada and Verbrugghe were both taken to hospital. Canada has a broken right collarbone and Verbrugghe broke his right thigh.
Aerts was dropped on the final climb of the stage but Commesso and Fedrigo worked hard together, with the Frenchman just that little bit stronger in the sprint to the line.
Magnus Backstedt (Liquigas) retired after 80km of the stage to Gap. The adopted Welshman woke up with a cold after suffering in the Pyrenees and struggled to stay with the peloton during the long haul across Provence. He eventually quit after 80km, knowing that the lack of training and racing due to his injuries in the spring had finally caught up with him.
Down but not out, Backstedt promised he would bounce back and be ready for the Hamburg one-day race, the Tour of Denmark and then the Vuelta.
After Monday's rest day in Gap the Tour heads into the heart of the Alps with the 15th stage from Gap to the summit of L'Alpe d'Huez. The stage also includes the legendary Col d'Izoard and the Col du Lauteret.
1 Salvatore Commesso (Ita) Lampre-Fondital 180.5km in 4.14.23
2 Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
3 Christian Vandevelde (USA) Team CSC 0.03
4 Christophe Moreau (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance 0.07
5 Georg Totschnig (Aut) Gerolsteiner
6 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Liquigas
7 Christian Moreni (Ita) Cofidis
8 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel
9 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto
10 Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) Crédit Agricole
Overall standings after stage 14
1 Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears 64.05.04
2 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak 1.29
3 Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance 1.37
4 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 2.30
5 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 2.46
6 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 3.21
7 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile 3.58
8 Michael Rogers (Aus) T-Mobile 4.51
9 Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa) Agritubel 5.02
10 Christophe Moreau (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance 5.13