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First Edition Cycling News for July 17, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones and Shane Stokes

Stage 14 wrap-up

Fedrigo triumphs in close finish in Gap

Pierrick Fedrigo (Bouygues)
Photo ©: AFP
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2005 French champion Pierrick Fedrigo (Bouygues Telecom) has won the 14th stage of the Tour in Gap, outsprinting a surprised Salvatore Commesso (Lampre-Fondital) in a two man finish. The pair finished just ahead of a small bunch containing all the GC favourites, with Christian Vandevelde (CSC) taking third.

The two leaders were the survivors of an earlier break of six, which started to form after 34 km in the 181 km stage. The full break consisted of Fedrigo, Commesso, Matthias Kessler (T-Mobile), Mario Aerts (Davitamon-Lotto), David Canada (Saunier Duval) and Rik Verbrugghe (Cofidis). They never got more than 5'45 as Caisse d'Epargne, the team of maillot jaune Oscar Pereiro set a strong tempo, before Quick.Step, Liquigas and Milram chased in the final 50 km. The break lost Kessler, Verbrugghe and Canada when they crashed on a corner with 40 km to go, with the latter two riders withdrawing from the race. Canada broke his collarbone, while Verbrugghe fractured his thigh.

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On the final climb with 15 km to go, Commesso and Fedrigo dropped Aerts, and managed to stay ahead of the chasing peloton by a handful of seconds at the finish in Gap. Commesso led out, but Fedrigo was too strong and came around him to take a big win.

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An interview with Pierrick Fedrigo

No world cup revenge, but a beautiful victory

Pierrick Fedrigo took Bouygues Telecom's first Tour de France stage win today in Gap. The 2005 French champion outsprinted former Italian champion Salvatore Commesso in a classic two-man duel, with the peloton hot on their heels. But Fedrigo was definitely not thinking about the France-Italy world cup final when he crossed the line, as Brecht Decaluwé reports.

Pierrick Fedrigo (Bouygues)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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Q: Winning a stage in the Tour de France must bring on lots of emotions. Not only for you but also for the team, as this is the team's first victory in this Tour de France.

PF: Of course this is a great moment for me. The team will be happy as well, of course. Our goal was to win a stage in this Tour de France, as we don't have a GC rider in the team. That's why we're trying to get into the breakaway groups, with the success of today as a result.

Q: This stage looked like it was designed just for Pierrick Fedrigo, did you realize before the start that you could win today?

PF: At the start, I didn't think that I could win the stage. The first hour is always very hard, also today it was a very fast start. I could get away in one of the counterattacks and fortunately for us, we could make it to the finish.

Click here for the full interview

Self punishment for Toto

By Jean-François Quénet in Gap

Salvatore Commesso (Lampre)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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Salvatore 'Toto' Commesso should be an experienced rider since he's in his 9th season as a professional cyclist and his name was already in the hall of fame of the Tour de France stage winners. Riding for Saeco back in 2000, he beat Alexandre Vinokourov in a two-man sprint in Freiburg. He didn't accept any compromise with the German team Telekom on German soil.

Getting old, now 31, he's not as clever as he used to be. He sprinted in Gap against Pierrick Fedrigo in an enormous gear, then when he crossed the line, he hammered his handlebars. "This wasn't because of Fedrigo, he said. It was just because of myself. I haven't won any race for two years."

The Neapolitan might have problems with numbers because his last win actually happened four years ago! It was the Trofeo Matteotti in 2002. Since these years when he was under the spotlight, he has become a domestique. "Everyday I work for the others," he said while fuming. "And for once when it is my day, I'm only able to lose. What should I do to win? Kill my opponents maybe..."

His team-mate Alessandro Ballan was just as disappointed after Lampre's third second place at this year's Tour de France (with Daniele Bennati in a bunch sprint behind Robbie McEwen in St-Quentin and himself behind Yaroslav Popovych in Carcassonne). "We'll try again in the Alps," Ballan commented. (Damiano) Cunego, (Tadej) Valjavec and (Patxi) Vila are up for it, but it will be necessary to arrive alone."

Verbrugghe's season finished

Rik Verbrugghe (Cofidis)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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Rik Verbrugghe will have to rest for a full six months after breaking his femur in a bad crash during today's 14th stage to Gap. The break was a complex one, and Verbrugghe had to undergo an operation on Sunday evening in Gap. He will be transferred to another hospital in a few days.

Verbrugghe, who won a stage in the Giro this year, only last week signed a contract with Cofidis until 2008. "His accident changes nothing," said team manager Eric Boyer, who said that the team would honour the deal.

Tough day for Saunier Duval Prodir team

The 14th stage of the race promised much at one point, but ended up being something of a black day for the Saunier Duval Prodir team. David Cañada worked hard to get into an important six-man break and looked good to chase a stage win, but was one of three riders to crash heavily 40 kilometres from the end.

David Canada (Saunier Duval)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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The fall came when the riders went around a 90 degree right turn, with melting tar and an uneven road surface causing Cañada, Rik Verbrugghe (Cofidis) and Matthias Kessler (T-Mobile) to come down. Kessler and Verbrugghe both went over the safety barrier and while the German was relatively unhurt and able to continue, the Belgian suffered bad cuts and broke his right femur.

Cañada was also badly hurt, hitting the road and breaking his collarbone. The Tour de Catalunya winner was therefore forced to abandon the race, going from a potential stage-winning situation to the ambulance in a matter of minutes.

Team-mate David de la Fuente tried to defend his mountains jersey on the final climb, the second category Col de la Sentinelle. However he blew up and was dropped. Although chief mountains rival Michael Rasmussen was fifth at the top, De La Fuente had enough in hand to retain the jersey by seven points and so will get to wear the famous polka-dot jersey onto l’Alpe d’Huez on Tuesday.

Like De La Fuente, double Giro champion Gilberto Simoni and David Millar both lost time. Simoni has a sore throat, thought to have been caused by the dramatic drop of temperature after the stages due to hotel air conditioning. David Millar is also suffering from the same symptoms.

In all, it was a tough day for the team. However they will have time to remotivate themselves on Monday’s rest day and aim to come out fighting again on Tuesday.

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