Fedrigo wins stage as Nocentini keeps yellow

Pierrick Fedrigo celebrates after edging out Franco Pellizotti at the finish line on Sunday.
Frenchman Pierrick Fedrigo has won the ninth stage of the Tour de France from Saint-Gaudens to Tarbes, outsprinting Italian Franco Pellizotti after the pair had broken away from their fellow escapees as the race left the Pyrenees.

Bouygues Telecom rider Fedrigo, who also won a stage in the 2006 Tour, just got up on the line to deprive Pellizotti — who finished third overall in this year’s Giro d’Italia — of his first-ever Tour stage victory. Fedrigo completed the 160.5km leg in four hours, five minutes and 31 seconds. Spain’s Oscar Freire led home the 76-strong peloton, 34 seconds behind the winner. There was no change in the overall classification as Italian rider Rinaldo Nocentini kept his yellow jersey going into Monday’s rest day after finishing alongside all the main contenders for overall victory. Nocentini finished 24th to lie just six seconds ahead of 2007 winner Alberto Contador, with the Spaniard’s Astana team-mate, seven-times champion Lance Armstrong, another two seconds further back. Contador came home in 23rd while comeback king Armstrong was 43rd, with team-mates Levi Leipheimer 39th and Haimar Zubeldia 44th.

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The American Leipheimer is fourth overall, 39 seconds adrift of the leader. On the last day in the Pyrenees, Egoi Martinez of the Euskaltel-Euskadi team claimed the polka-dot jersey for the climbing classification after placing 60th. “For me it’s very special to have a jersey like this. To lead a classification of the Tour de France is important and to achieve this makes me very happy,” the Spaniard said. “I was second in the mountains prize after the stage yesterday so for the focus today was do what I could to gain a few more points. Everything went well and now we’ve got something to celebrate.

“I’m going to try very and keep the polka-dot jersey. It’s going to be hard to hold it all the way to Paris, but I’ll have from now until the Alps. That’s a real possibility because there aren’t very many big climbs in the next few stages. “It was three days of hard work to get the lead, now it’s my hope that I can hold onto it even though it wasn’t my original ambition to get this jersey. At the beginning of the Tour, the goal was a stage win but after the escape on the way to Arcalis I was in a good position. This jersey is important for the team so I’m pleased with the change of plans.”