Pierrick Fédrigo won stage 15 into Pau by outwitting his five breakaway companions to take his fourth TdF win. The last time the Tour was here in Pau was in 2010, and the stage was also won by Fédrigo in a breakaway. In fact, all three other Tour de France stages he’s won have been in very similar situations: In a later stage of the Tour when the GC settles down he gets in a small breakaway, he uses up his fellow escapees to perfection, and he succeeds in a small sprint. Today when he came across the finish, he hardly looked surprised.
On stage 16 in 2010 (Bagnères-de-Luchon to Pau, 199.5km) he won in a 9 man breakaway including Lance Armstrong in a small bunch kick.
On stage 9 in 2009 (Saint-Gaudens – Tarbes, 160.5 km) he won in a similar manner as today. A four man breakaway narrowed down to two which he won over Pellizotti in a one-on-one kick to the finish
On stage 14 in 2006 (Montélimar – Gap 230 km) five riders broke away including Fédrigo. Three of the escapees crashed on a descent and two had to abandon. Fedrigo and Salvatore Commesso were the only ones to barely stay away and managed to keep ahead of the chasing peloton by 3 seconds. Fredrigo easily outsprints Commesso.
In today’s stage a very familiar scenario played out for Pierrick Fédrigo. A six man breakaway manages to stick and a couple of attacks with approximately 8km to go prompted Fédrigo to counter and Vande Velde went with him. The two cooperated until the finish which Vande Velde had no chance in winning against Fédrigo’s strong sprint.
In breakaway finishes such as these, every single rider is thinking to himself about how he can play to his own strengths and how he’s going to get rid of the others. Out of the six in the lead group, Devenyns was the only one who hasn’t won a Tour stage. They’re all increadibly good riders.
“Always attack as late as you can, but before the others do.” – Tim Krabbe, The Rider
This is exactly what Fédrigo did. The first attack from the lead group came from Sorensen with 10km to go but he was quickly chased down by the five other escapees. Another surge at 8.5km remaining prompted Fedrigo to take his opportunity to counter attack and he took Vande Velde with him. Perfect situation for Fédrigo. Vande Velde is the slowest sprinter in the bunch but one of the best time trialists to help Fédrigo to the finish. If it had been, Dumoulin, the best sprinter in the break, we might have seen Fédrigo sit up and wait for another opportunity.
The two riders cooperated all the way to the finish and Vande Velde didn’t even appear to contest the sprint. Once again, Fédrigo wins another Tour stage in a small breakaway. He couldn’t have played it any better.
Bicycle racing is a sport of patience. Racing is licking your opponent’s place clean before starting on your own.” – Gerrie Knetemann by Tim Krabbe, The Rider
It’s a rest day tomorrow and I can’t express how much I’m looking forward to it. A rest day doesn’t necessarily mean a day of R&R when you’re chasing the Tour. It means laundry, a sleep-in, a decent meal, and hopefully even a short bike ride. On second though, I’ll ditch everything except for the bike ride…
Stage 15 Photos