Fedrigo wins 14th stage of Tour de France
GAP, France -- Frenchman Pierrick Fedrigo won stage 14 of the Tour de France on Sunday, while Spain's Oscar Pereiro kept the overall lead.
Fedrigo, of the Bouygues Telecom team, beat Italy's Salvatore Commesso at the line after they broke away from the main pack. Pereiro and American Floyd Landis, who is second overall, both finished in a group together, 7 seconds behind the winner.
"In the final stretch, I never looked back and let Commesso do the work," the 2005 French national champion said of his first stage win in four Tours. "It worked and I stayed concentrated on the finish line. For me, it is pure happiness."
Pereiro's lead over Landis remained at 1 minute and 29 seconds, with Frenchman Cyril Dessel third, 1:37 behind.
The 112-mile course ran from Montelimar to Gap, in the foothills of the Alps, and the riders cycled under a scorching sun that melted some of the pavement they were racing on. The hilly stage, which featured two moderately hard hill climbs and two slightly easier ones, was marked by a spectacular crash involving David Canada and Rik Verbrugghe, which sent both to the hospital.
Verbrugghe broke his left leg and had a bad cut on his left arm, while Canada broke his right collarbone, the Tour's medical service said.
Fedrigo and Commesso were part of a group that broke away about 20 miles into the stage. The group was joined later by Canada, a Spaniard with Saunier Duval, and Verbrugghe, a Belgian rider for Cofidis. Together, the six riders built up a lead of 5:40. Because the escape riders were not high in the overall standings, the pack did not immediately give chase.
Then, about 25 miles from the finish, Verbrugghe and Canada lost control of their bikes on a right-hand turn. German rider Matthias Kessler plowed into Canada and cartwheeled over a safety barrier on the side of the road. Kessler remounted and eventually finished the stage.
The crash left Fedrigo, Commesso, and Belgian rider Mario Aerts in the breakaway group.
Commesso and Fedrigo shook off Aerts with about 7 miles to go and managed to hold off the main pack, which nearly caught them in the final mile.
Fedrigo outsprinted Commesso in the last 200 yards for the victory.
Fedrigo's stage win was the first at this Tour for the Bouygues team. Fedrigo, whose grandparents were Italian, is the third French rider to win a stage this year.
Team CSC rider Christian Vandevelde was third, 3 seconds behind Fedrigo and Commesso, who rides with Lampre and finished in the same time.
Monday is the three-week race's second and last rest day before the Alps, which start Tuesday. Those mountains and the final time trial on Saturday are expected to decide the outcome of the race.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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