Fedrigo claims another stage for France

Last week Bouygues Telecom celebrated team manager Jean-Rénè Bernaudeau's birthday with a stage win for Thomas Voeckler. Today it was party time again as Pierrick Fedrigo added to his tally of Tour de France stage victories with an emphatic performance that climaxed as he crossed the line ahead of day-long breakaway companion Franco Pellizotti.

Historic Tarbes was last used for a finish on Stage 13 of the 1951 Tour when Raphaël Géminiani won a four-man bunch sprint but was later disqualified, but Fedrigo encountered no such problem Sunday.

The ninth leg of the race marked Bouygues Telecom's second stage victory after Thomas Voeckler's Stage 5 triumph in Perpignan – quite a feat for a team in its final year of sponsorship – and was also Fedrigo's second Tour de France stage win. His first came on the fourteenth stage of the 2006 Grande Boucle, where, under similar circumstances, Fedrigo and Italian Salvatore Commesso barely held off the peloton on a journey from Montélimar to Gap.

"In the finale, I had the same feelings as in 2006. The race unfolded in the same way: a breakaway of many riders at first, then a finish with only two riders. Today, I was in front, and the strength that I saved on previous stages allowed me to win," said the 31-year-old, who hails from nearby Marmande and is nicknamed ‘le nez de Marmande' (The nose of Marmande) for his rather large beak.

His Italian foe played the finale well, biding his time in Fedrigo's draft before jumping ahead of the final bend, but the line was too far for Pellizotti to hold on.

"We wanted to win, so we gave everything to stay away," said Pellizotti. "I knew that he was stronger than me in the sprint, but I tried until the end."

Leaderboard at status quo – again

The inclusion of two historic Tour climbs en route did nothing for those eyeing the Paris podium, the climbs of the Col d'Aspin and Tourmalet were neutralised due to their distance from the finish. In fact, only 34 seconds separated the supposed mountain stage from turning into a bunch sprint. Rabobank's Oscar Freire led a 75-strong group home for third place.

Once again, the leader board remained at status quo, leaving Rinaldo Nocentini of AG2R La Mondiale to enjoy his rest day in yellow, with the Astana trio of Alberto Contador, Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer breathing down his neck.

"The next few days are good for me, and I have a great team with me to help out, so I hope to keep it as long as possible," said Nocentini. "It would be a dream to get to Verbier [Stage 15] in yellow."

It wasn't all good news for the French and French teams. In the race for the polka-dot jersey, Egoi Martínez of Euskaltel-Euskadi overtook Cofidis' Christophe Kern to don the maillot à pois. The Spaniard now leads the competition by a margin of 19 points. However, with the Alps still to come, it's a jersey very much up for grabs.

Armstrong improves

After having a dig early on and riding near the front – comfortably – on both the Aspin and Tourmalet, it appears Lance Armstrong is beginning to thrive at his first Tour de France in four years.

After so much debate revolving around team leadership at Astana, it's impossible to ignore the fact that this Kazakh-backed coterie has four riders in the top-six on the overall classification: Contador (six seconds behind Nocentini), Armstrong (at eight seconds), Leipheimer (at 39 seconds) and Andreas Klöden (at 54 seconds). Clearly, the Tour de France is Astana's to lose, and if they're to be beaten, the other teams must collaborate.

Though with the Pyrenees behind us, one has to wait until next Friday – Stage 13, a 200-km trek from Vittel to Colmar that traverses four categorised climbs – before we are presented with a parcours with the potential to evoke any real change to the overall classification. But even then, we will still be searching for the answer to the question: just who is Astana's main man?

Contador has repeatedly said that the road will decide. If that is so, then he must wait until the third and final week to assert his authority. However, it appears as if Armstrong is looking for any opportunity to gain time, and if gnarly crosswinds present themselves as they did in on Stage 3 to La Grande-Motte, expect him to be up there.

From Haute-Garonne to Hautes Pyrénées

With an early evening transfer to Limoges, Sunday's final Pyrenean stage, a relatively short at 160.5 kilometres, began at 12:25 p.m in Saint-Gaudens, and was expected to finish no later than 5:00 p.m.

The course featured the two classic Tour climbs, the Cat. 1 Col d'Aspin (km. 60.5, 12.3 km at 6.4 %) and the hors catégorie Col du Tourmalet (km. 90.2, 17.1-km at 7.4%), but their position on the parcours made it more of a stage for the breakaway specialist than the climber.

And after an aggressive beginning that saw Lance Armstrong of Astana in an early escape that was never going to get away, a quartet went clear 25 clicks into the stage – Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank), Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas), Leonardo Duque (Cofidis) and Pierrick Fedrigo (BBox Bouygues Telecom) the men in the move.

The foursome worked in unison on the Aspin where Pellizotti crested first, signalling exactly 100km to go.

It was a different story behind them: Cofidis' Leonardo Duque was in hot pursuit, 55 seconds behind, followed by a chase group of 10, 2:57 back on the lead four and comprising the following names: Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank), Sergio Paulinho (Astana), Jurgen Van den Broeck (Silence-Lotto), Stéphane Goubert (Ag2r La Mondiale), Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Juan Manuel Gárate (Rabobank), David Moncoutié (Cofidis), Vladimir Efimkin (AG2R La Mondiale), and Thomas Voeckler (Bbox Bouygues Telecom).

3:29 behind the Pellizotti group was the groupe maillot jaune. At this stage they were unconcerned given Efimkin, the best-placed rider on GC in 15th overall, was 2:45 down on Nocentini at the start of the day and most likely drained after the previous day's efforts, where he narrowly missed out on victory in Saint-Girons, won by Caisse d'Epargne's Luis Leon Sanchez.

The Tourmalet, a 17.1km beast that only grows steeper as it lengthens, took its expected toll. Voigt and Duque were dropped from the lead group to leave Pellizotti and Fedrigo first over its 2,115-metre summit, 3:01 ahead of a chase group of nine, the names being: Van den Broeck – now the best-placed rider on GC – Voigt, Ten Dam, Paulinho, Martínez – who, by the day's end, would lead the mountains classification – Txurruka, Gárate, Moncoutié and Voeckler. Duque continued in no man's land, and 5:03 in arrears was the groupe maillot jaune.

On the 70km, mostly downhill run to the line, Pellizzotti and Fedrigo worked hard to maintain their three-minute lead. That was in contrast to the chase group behind them that were rounded up by the yellow jersey group 40km from Tarbes, a town in bloom located at the foot of the Pyrenees.

The Caisse d'Epargne-driven peloton was also intent on catching the lead pair, but having worked so hard all day, Pellizotti and Fedrigo weren't prepared to concede to the chase, and in the end, the fast-finishing Frenchman was too quick for the Italian climber.

"We spoke in the last kilometres," Fedrigo said, "and encouraged each other to give it everything to stay away. We believed in our chances, and remained calm. That was the key to our success."

Well, success for one, at least. Pellizotti got his consolation prize with the award for most aggressive rider on the day.

For images of stage nine click here

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Full Results
1Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom4:05:31
2Franco Pellizotti (Ita) LiquigasRow 1 - Cell 2
3Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank0:00:34
4Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team KatushaRow 3 - Cell 2
5Peter Velits (Svk) Team MilramRow 4 - Cell 2
6Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d'EpargneRow 5 - Cell 2
7Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Silence - LottoRow 6 - Cell 2
8Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) AgritubelRow 7 - Cell 2
9Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre - NGCRow 8 - Cell 2
10Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La MondialeRow 9 - Cell 2
11Jérémy Roy (Fra) Française des JeuxRow 10 - Cell 2
12Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française des JeuxRow 11 - Cell 2
13Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick StepRow 12 - Cell 2
14Sébastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en LigneRow 13 - Cell 2
15Brice Feillu (Fra) AgritubelRow 14 - Cell 2
16George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia - HTCRow 15 - Cell 2
17Andreas Klöden (Ger) AstanaRow 16 - Cell 2
18Pierre Rolland (Fra) BBOX Bouygues TelecomRow 17 - Cell 2
19Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) LiquigasRow 18 - Cell 2
20Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 19 - Cell 2
21Maxime Monfort (Bel) Team Columbia - HTCRow 20 - Cell 2
22Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia - HTCRow 21 - Cell 2
23Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) AstanaRow 22 - Cell 2
24Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La MondialeRow 23 - Cell 2
25Christian Knees (Ger) Team MilramRow 24 - Cell 2
26Denis Menchov (Rus) RabobankRow 25 - Cell 2
27Thomas Voeckler (Fra) BBOX Bouygues TelecomRow 26 - Cell 2
28Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence - LottoRow 27 - Cell 2
29Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Team MilramRow 28 - Cell 2
30Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin - SlipstreamRow 29 - Cell 2
31Hayden Roulston (NZl) Cervelo Test TeamRow 30 - Cell 2
32Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - SlipstreamRow 31 - Cell 2
33Jens Voigt (Ger) Team Saxo BankRow 32 - Cell 2
34Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo BankRow 33 - Cell 2
35Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La MondialeRow 34 - Cell 2
36Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo BankRow 35 - Cell 2
37Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team KatushaRow 36 - Cell 2
38Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) Team KatushaRow 37 - Cell 2
39Levi Leipheimer (USA) AstanaRow 38 - Cell 2
40Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d'EpargneRow 39 - Cell 2
41Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin - SlipstreamRow 40 - Cell 2
42Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Cervelo Test TeamRow 41 - Cell 2
43Lance Armstrong (USA) AstanaRow 42 - Cell 2
44Haimar Zubeldia Aguirre (Spa) AstanaRow 43 - Cell 2
45Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Columbia - HTCRow 44 - Cell 2
46Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) AstanaRow 45 - Cell 2
47Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia - HTCRow 46 - Cell 2
48Roman Kreuziger (Cze) LiquigasRow 47 - Cell 2
49Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Silence - LottoRow 48 - Cell 2
50Nicki Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo BankRow 49 - Cell 2
51Rigoberto Uran (Col) Caisse d'EpargneRow 50 - Cell 2
52Bingen Fernandez Bustinza (Spa) Cofidis, Le Credit en LigneRow 51 - Cell 2
53Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des JeuxRow 52 - Cell 2
54José Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa) Cervelo Test TeamRow 53 - Cell 2
55Chris Anker Sørensen (Den) Team Saxo BankRow 54 - Cell 2
56Volodymir Gustov (Ukr) Cervelo Test TeamRow 55 - Cell 2
57Frederik Willems (Bel) LiquigasRow 56 - Cell 2
58Amets Txurruka (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 57 - Cell 2
59Maxime Bouet (Fra) AgritubelRow 58 - Cell 2
60Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 59 - Cell 2
61Stéphane Goubert (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 60 - Cell 2
62Gustav Erik Larsson (Swe) Team Saxo BankRow 61 - Cell 2
63Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spa) Quick StepRow 62 - Cell 2
64Matthew Lloyd (Aus) Silence - LottoRow 63 - Cell 2
65David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en LigneRow 64 - Cell 2
66Laurent Lefevre (Fra) BBOX Bouygues TelecomRow 65 - Cell 2
67David Millar (GBr) Garmin - SlipstreamRow 66 - Cell 2
68Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) AstanaRow 67 - Cell 2
69Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 68 - Cell 2
70Luis Pasamontes Rodriguez (Spa) Caisse d'EpargneRow 69 - Cell 2
71Yury Trofimov (Rus) BBOX Bouygues TelecomRow 70 - Cell 2
72Juan Manuel Garate Cepa (Spa) RabobankRow 71 - Cell 2
73Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) AgritubelRow 72 - Cell 2
74José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Caisse d'EpargneRow 73 - Cell 2
75David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caisse d'EpargneRow 74 - Cell 2
76Amaël Moinard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en LigneRow 75 - Cell 2
77Laurens ten Dam (Ned) RabobankRow 76 - Cell 2
78Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank0:01:19
79Rui Alberto Faria da Costa (Por) Caisse d'Epargne0:01:32
80Charles Wegelius (GBr) Silence - Lotto0:02:08
81Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Garmin - Slipstream0:15:15
82Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Silence - LottoRow 81 - Cell 2
83Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Lampre - NGCRow 82 - Cell 2
84Joan Horrach Rippoll (Spa) Team KatushaRow 83 - Cell 2
85Juan Jose Oroz Ugalde (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 84 - Cell 2
86Christophe Kern (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne0:18:48
87Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) LiquigasRow 86 - Cell 2
88Sebastian Lang (Ger) Silence - LottoRow 87 - Cell 2
89Joost Posthuma (Ned) RabobankRow 88 - Cell 2
90Christophe Moreau (Fra) AgritubelRow 89 - Cell 2
91Arnaud Coyot (Fra) Caisse d'EpargneRow 90 - Cell 2
92Marcin Sapa (Pol) Lampre - NGCRow 91 - Cell 2
93Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Skil-ShimanoRow 92 - Cell 2
94Stef Clement (Ned) RabobankRow 93 - Cell 2
95Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team KatushaRow 94 - Cell 2
96Brian Vandborg (Den) LiquigasRow 95 - Cell 2
97Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team Saxo BankRow 96 - Cell 2
98Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Silence - LottoRow 97 - Cell 2
99Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo BankRow 98 - Cell 2
100Aleksandr Kuschynski (Blr) LiquigasRow 99 - Cell 2
101Grégory Rast (Swi) AstanaRow 100 - Cell 2
102Nikolai Troussov (Rus) Team KatushaRow 101 - Cell 2
103Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 102 - Cell 2
104Thierry Huppond (Fra) Skil-ShimanoRow 103 - Cell 2
105José Luis Arrieta Lujambio (Spa) AG2R La MondialeRow 104 - Cell 2
106Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 105 - Cell 2
107Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 106 - Cell 2
108Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team Saxo BankRow 107 - Cell 2
109David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - SlipstreamRow 108 - Cell 2
110Sylvain Calzati (Fra) AgritubelRow 109 - Cell 2
111Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit en LigneRow 110 - Cell 2
112Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) Française des JeuxRow 111 - Cell 2
113Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 112 - Cell 2
114David Loosli (Swi) Lampre - NGCRow 113 - Cell 2
115Julian Dean (NZl) Garmin - SlipstreamRow 114 - Cell 2
116Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) RabobankRow 115 - Cell 2
117Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre - NGCRow 116 - Cell 2
118Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team MilramRow 117 - Cell 2
119Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 118 - Cell 2
120Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick StepRow 119 - Cell 2
121Iñigo Cuesta Lopez De Castro (Spa) Cervelo Test TeamRow 120 - Cell 2
122Rémi Pauriol (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en LigneRow 121 - Cell 2
123Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) BBOX Bouygues TelecomRow 122 - Cell 2
124Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Team Milram0:24:57
125Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 124 - Cell 2
126Stéphane Auge (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en LigneRow 125 - Cell 2
127Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Quick StepRow 126 - Cell 2
128Romain Feillu (Fra) AgritubelRow 127 - Cell 2
129Andreas Klier (Ger) Cervelo Test TeamRow 128 - Cell 2
130Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Française des JeuxRow 129 - Cell 2
131Peter Wrolich (Aut) Team MilramRow 130 - Cell 2
132Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team MilramRow 131 - Cell 2
133Marco Bandiera (Ita) Lampre - NGCRow 132 - Cell 2
134Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia - HTCRow 133 - Cell 2
135Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Columbia - HTCRow 134 - Cell 2
136Niki Terpstra (Ned) Team MilramRow 135 - Cell 2
137Bert Grabsch (Ger) Team Columbia - HTCRow 136 - Cell 2
138Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test TeamRow 137 - Cell 2
139Alan Perez Lezaun (Spa) Euskaltel - EuskadiRow 138 - Cell 2
140Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Skil-ShimanoRow 139 - Cell 2
141Sébastien Rosseler (Bel) Quick StepRow 140 - Cell 2
142Mickael Delage (Fra) Silence - LottoRow 141 - Cell 2
143Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Skil-ShimanoRow 142 - Cell 2
144Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick StepRow 143 - Cell 2
145Fabio Sabatini (Ita) LiquigasRow 144 - Cell 2
146Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Team KatushaRow 145 - Cell 2
147Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo Test TeamRow 146 - Cell 2
148Brett Lancaster (Aus) Cervelo Test TeamRow 147 - Cell 2
149Steven de Jongh (Ned) Quick StepRow 148 - Cell 2
150Koen de Kort (Ned) Skil-ShimanoRow 149 - Cell 2
151Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Lampre - NGCRow 150 - Cell 2
152Daniele Bennati (Ita) LiquigasRow 151 - Cell 2
153Simon Spilak (Slo) Lampre - NGCRow 152 - Cell 2
154Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - SlipstreamRow 153 - Cell 2
155Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick StepRow 154 - Cell 2
156William Bonnet (Fra) BBOX Bouygues TelecomRow 155 - Cell 2
157Anthony Geslin (Fra) Française des Jeux