Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Fedrigo spoils Armstrongs last horrah as he snatches victory in Pau

The big breakaway spirit continued today as BBT rider Pierrick Fedrigo took a stage victory ahead of his rivals in the nine man breakaway that included Tour stallwarts Lance Armstrong (Radio Shack) and Christophe Moreau (Caisse d'Epargne). Finishing 6 minutes and 45 seconds ahead of the peloton, he raced hard after a lone attack from Carlos Barredo (Quick Step) came to nought as he was caught at the 128km. In the end it came to a sprint finish despite the absence of the now familar sprint specialists.

Armstrong himself had launched a "last horrah" of sorts hoping to deal a coup de grace on the stage that saw the riders climb Tour favourites the Col de Peyresourde, Col de Aubisque, Col de Aspin and the Col du Tourmalet. Attacking at the point where Eddie Mercx made the same solo bid for stage glory in 1969, Armstrong had hoped to take the victory as a last chance to feel the euphoria of a stage win on the Tour. In five days he will ride along the streets of Paris for one final time in this his final Tour. With this heroic attempt leaving him wanting in the sunset of his Tour career, journalists will now be penning his epitaph with a wry sense of irony for a man left behind in the GC while all around the doping allegations swarm.

Despite his aggresive start, by the time he hit the final 15km, the Texan rider was visibly tired. Making one last charge like the soldiers of the light brigade in Tennyson's epic poem, the riders plunged into their own metaphorical jaws of death, the riders going after Barrredo as he made his final dig. Their destiny unknown but sure to immortalise any rider, they hunted him down ending the stage in one final sprint. In the end, Armstrong just didnt have the legs as he had ridden "on the rivet" for much of the afternoon.

Finishing just behind team mate Chris Horner in 6th position, he was finally outraced and perhaps out witted by the Frenchman Fedrigo; the third Frenchman to be victorious in the Pyrenees. Climbing well, Thor Hushovd (CTT) finished ahead of Maillot Vert and closest rival Petacchi (LAM) who, it had been anounced during the stage, was being investigated by Italian authorities for alleged doping. The points earned were enough to see the Thunderous Norweigan take the jersey.

Meanwhile it was a relaxed day for Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador who had repaired their relationship during the day following yesterday's "Chaingate" controversy. Contador had earlier apologised to his Luxembourg rival who sat just 8 seconds behind the Spaniard. In 1989 LeMond lost out to rival Finon who won the Tour by 8 seconds. Today Finon was awarded a special Combatative award for his efforts and achievements during his Tour career. During interviews, Schleck asked fans not to boo his rival as he accepted the Maillot Jaune on the podium. Fans had expressed yesterday their disapproval at the manner in which Contador had arrived in yellow.

Tomorrow the peloton will enjoy a much needed rest day in Pau. On Thursday the riders will once more ascend the Tourmalet for a stage that ends at the summit of the magnificent Col.

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