x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Fedrigo takes the 15th stage of the Tour de France

Comes out on top after breakaway as Bradley Wiggins retains the yellow jersey.

Pierrick Fedrigo celebrates winning the 15th stage of the Tour de France.
Pierrick Fedrigo celebrates winning the 15th stage of the Tour de France.

PAU, France // The Tour de France riders were enjoying a well-earned rest day today after Pierrick Fedrigo of France won yesterday's 15th stage by leading a two-man final breakaway, while Bradley Wiggins kept the overall lead as he kept with his rivals in the main pack far behind.

The 158.5-kilometre route from Samatan to Pau had a mostly flat layout, but teams with strong sprinters did not try to chase down the breakaway riders.

Fedrigo, of the FDJ-BigMat team, collected his fourth Tour stage victory by leaving a group of six riders with about 6.5kms left, with only the Garmin-Sharp rider Christian Vande Velde of the United States able to stay close.

Vande Velde made a brief burst to try to outsprint Fedrigo in the last 200 metres, but his rival accelerated to the line to become the fourth French rider to win a stage this Tour.

"It's incredible ... the stars need to be aligned," said Fedrigo, whose last Tour stage win was also in Pau two years ago. "There are days when things go like that."

For Fedrigo, the victory came as a relief after he missed most of the 2011 season with Lyme disease.

"The last time I won was here. I suffered much more last year by not riding the Tour than by riding it this year," said the 33-year-old Frenchman, winner of three stages in 2006, 2009 and 2010.

"The first was important because it was the first. The second was special because it was in Tarbes, my hometown. The third, two years ago, was super special because it was the biggest Pyrenees stage, with all the mythical climbs,"

Wiggins finished 11 minutes, 50 seconds behind Fedrigo in the main pack. The Team Sky leader is looking to become Britain's first winner of cycling's showcase race

Overall, Wiggins leads second-place teammate Christopher Froome by 2 minutes 5 seconds. Vincenzo Nibali of Italy is third, 2:23 behind, while the defending champion Cadel Evans remains fourth, 3:19 back.

Wiggins said he and other riders were looking forward to today's rest day. "A lot of people are tired now - mentally more than physically," he told French TV. "It was hard today nonetheless, it was quite hot. And the road was hilly."

The rest day comes before two punishing days in the Pyrenees that, along with a final time trial in the next-to-last stage, are likely to determine the winner of the race, which ends on July 22 in Paris.

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