TARBES, France - Italian Rinaldo Nocentini retained the Tour de France yellow jersey yesterday as Frenchman Pierrick Fedrigo won the race's ninth stage held over 160,5km from Saint Gaudens to Tarbes.
Fedrigo, who rides for the Bbox Bouygues team, handed the hosts their third stage victory from this year's race after outsprinting breakaway companion Franco Pellizotti at the finish line.
It was Fedrigo's second stage win on the world's biggest bike race, having claimed his maiden win in 2006. He admitted he had been wise enough to study the technical finish to that stage.
"Thankfully I had a look at the stage finish so I knew there was a bend not far from the finish. Once he attacked I made sure I jumped on his wheel, especially as there was a bit of a headwind," he said.
The main peloton containing all the race favourites came over the finish line 34seconds later, having failed to close the gap to the leading pair on the 70,1km descent leading from the summit of the Col du Tourmalet to Tarbes. Seven-time champion Lance Armstrong, Contador's Astana team mate, is still in third place overall.
Fedrigo is the third French rider to triumph so far after team mate Thomas Voeckler in Perpignan on the fifth stage and Agritubel's Brice Feillu on the mountainous seventh stage to Arcalis.
However, Fedrigo admitted he had to fight off the threat of the chasing peloton before having to deal with Pellizotti. - AFP