Pierrick FEDRIGO (FRA)Â©Â A.S.O.
There were three main phases of the ninth stage of the 2009 Tour de France: establishing the escape at a frantic pace in the first hour, climbing two famous âcolsâ for another change in the mountains classification, and holding off the chasing peloton for the two strongest fugitives. Pierrick Fedrigo and Franco Pellizotti found themselves on their own after an acceleration by the Italian 10km before the summit of the Tourmalet pass and the two worked well together all the way to the finish in Tarbes. Pellizotti is a climbing specialist and Fedrigo an opportunist who can sprintâŠ and thatâs what showed in the final rush to the line when the Bbox Bougyues Telecom rider timed his race to the line to perfection to take the victory.
The Progress Report
The Tour exits the Pyrenees but not before taking in one of the mythical climbs; the imposing 2,115m high Col du Toumalet which was at the 90km mark of the 160.5km stage from St-Gaudens to Tarbes in the foothills of the mountain range. The official start of the ninth stage was at 12.33pm. There were 172 riders at the sign on. Before the âhors categoryâ ascent, the peloton had to climb the cat-one col dâApsin with the summit at the 60.5km mark. The three intermediate sprints were in Sarrancolin (41.5km), Lau-Balagnas (125.5km) and Lourdes (139km).
4 Riders Establish Escape: Armstrong Gets Animated
The attacks began immediately at the start of the stage. By the third kilometer 12 men had a slight lead on the peloton, they were: Haussler (CTT), Voigt (SAX), Pate (GRM), Riblon (ALM), Vaugrenard (FDJ), Auge (COF), Duque (COF), Righi (LAM), Fedrigo (BBO), Devolder (QSI), Fothen (MRM) and Geschke (SKS). Then Liquigas chased until Pellizotti was able to cross the gap to the leaders. After that Astana and Euskaltel took control of the peloton, appearing keen to reel in the escapees. Voigt caused a split in the lead group at the 22km mark and only Pellizotti, Duque and Fedrigo could follow and they were 15â ahead of the main bunch. Armstrong (AST) accelerated out of the peloton and Nocentini (ALM) was right on his wheel and this effectively quelled the attacks early in the stage. Nine of the original escape group were caught at 25km. The average speed for the first hour was 48.4km/h.
The four escapees arrived at the foot of the first climb 5â05â ahead of the peloton that was controlled by the AG2R team. Ten Dam (RAB), Martinez and Txurruka (EUS), van den Broeck (SIL), Goubert (ALM) and Paulinho (AST) attacked the peloton early on the col dâAspin. Up front, Duque was dropped with 4km to climb. The counter-attacking group was joined by Karpets (KAT), Garate (RAB) and Moncoutie (COF). Pellizotti led over the summit. His trio was 1â50â ahead of Duque, 2â45â ahead of the counter-attacking group of eight and 3â30â ahead of the peloton.
Col du Tourmalet
Pellizotti attacked with 10km to climb. Voigt didnât follow move. Duque, in the meantime went back to the peloton. Bouet (AGR) attacked with about 10km to climb and with 7km to climb, the group of eight â Van Den Broeck, Paulinho, Martinez, Txurruka, Voeckler, Ten Dam, Garate and Moncoutie â was at 3â15â, Bouet at 3â35â and the peloton was at 4â35â. AG2R had five riders at the front of the peloton from mid-way up the Aspin to La Mongie (at 85.5km). The two leaders were 2â40â ahead of Garate and six other counter-attackers at the top; Txurruka was 10th over the top, at 3â05â; Voigt 11th at 4â00â, Bouet 12th at 4â47â and the peloton at 5â05â.
Ten Dam crashed early on the descent and would (eventually) concede his place in the escape. He was caught by the peloton 60km from the finish.
The peloton caught the seven counter-attackers 40km from the finish when the advantage of Pellizotti and Fedrigo was 3â40â.
Chase Fails To Catch Two Leaders
Caisse dâEpargne did the most work at the front of the peloton after the descent of the Tourmalet. Fedrigo led Pellizotti over the line at the second intermediate sprint and the peloton was behind by 3â00â. Rabobank joined the Spanish team at the head of the peloton and Columbia also gathered near the head of the peloton. In Lourdes, Fedrigo collected first-place points for the intermediate sprint. The peloton was 2â30â behind. Caisse dâEpargne and Rabobank dominated the chase. With 10km to go, the advantage of the leaders was 1â15â; 7km to go â 50â. Andy Schleck punctured with 4.8km to go in the stage but was able to return to the peloton before the finish thanks to the assistance of Voigt.
Fedrigo Earns Another French Stage Victory
The two escapees shared the pace for almost the entire stage. They were part of the attacks that started in the first 10km and were able to hold off the peloton by 34â. Fedrigo came to the front with about 2.5km to go and remained their until Pellizotti attacked him about 350m from the finish line. The Italian led around the final turn but the Frenchman powered past him in the final 100m to take his second stage victory in the Tour de France (after winning in Gap in 2006).
Freire (RAB) led home the peloton and Contador and Nocentini finished 23rd and 24th, respectively. The AG2R rider will wear the yellow jersey again when the Tour resumes after the first rest day.
The third French stage winner this year, Pierrick Fedrigo admits that it was a difficult stage but he worked well with Franco Pellizotti and arrived at the finish in Tarbes with enough of an advantage on the peloton to be able to contest the sprint in a considered way.
âMy only emotion right now is happiness. We had a tough day, starting the stage at a really fast pace, establishing a break of eight or nine ridersâŠ then there were four, then three, then just two of us. At the end I found myself with Pellizotti and the finish was similar to the how I got my victory in Gap in 2006 when I had to sprint head-to-head with (Salvatore) Commesso.
âSpotted the last turn and tried not to look around. I wanted to take the final corner in the lead but failed but ultimately it ended on a high note because I came around him and into the wind in the last 200 meters.
âA second stage victory (in the Tour) is of course something that the whole team will savor and appreciate especially as last yearâs race wasnât a great one for us. But now we have 15 days to get back into the battle and look for a third victory.â
The rider who finished third in the Giro dâItalia this May, insisted on being part of the escape group on the stage over the col du Tourmalet. Franco Pellizotti began collecting climbing points on the final day in the Pyrenees and is already ranked third in the mountains classification. He missed out on a stage win, after being beaten by a cunning Pierrick Fedrigo but the Italian believes he has more to offer yetâŠ
âI tried to anticipate the fight that Fedrigo would provide after coming out of the final turn because I know that heâs faster than me in the sprint. I tried but it didnât go exactly according to plan. But I havenât finished yetâŠ I will try again!
âI knew it would be hard to stay away but we always thought it was possible. It was difficult because we could see that the peloton was going faster and faster in the finale but I believed in the move right until the end thatâs why we worked so well together.
âMy objective was to win a stage of the Tour de France but my other goal was to get the polka-dot jersey. And while the Ventoux is appealing, but before we get there we have a lot of stages. It would be great to win this important stage but we take it day after day and weâll see how I am on the last Saturday.â
The best young rider in the Tour since the third stage is Tony Martin of the Columbia-HTC team. The German has been able to increase his lead over a changing cast of rivals in the first week. Now the mission for him is a little bit of rest before the defense of the white jersey continuesâŠ
âThe whole day was really hard. The weather added to the difficulty because it is really hot! The tactic was simple: to stay with the best riders from the general classification and thatâs what happened so itâs perfect for me. Iâm looking forward to the rest day. I hope I can sleep and stay in my bed a lotâŠ that would be perfect.
âMy goal was to keep the white jersey until the first rest day. Iâve done that and I think it gives me a lot of motivation for the next stages. My team did really well. The other guys support me where they could and they help me a lot and give me a lot of support so itâs good to reward them for their work.â
On the last day in the Pyrenees, the Euskaltel-Euskadi team has earned the prize many believed its riders were capable of: the polka-dot jersey. Originally, Egoi Martinez was hoping to win a stage but now that heâs in the lead of the climbing classification heâs going to enjoy the new challenge: to maintain it all the way to Paris.
âFor me itâs 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. 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 weâve got something to celebrate.
âIâm going to try very and keep the polka-dot jersey. Itâs going to be hard to hold it all the way to Paris but Iâll have from now until the Alps. Thatâs a real possibility because there arenât very many big climbs in the next few stages.
âIt was three days of hard work to get the lead, now itâs my hope that I can hold onto it even though it wasnât 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 Iâm pleased with the change of plans.â
The Bbox Bouygues Telecom team has earned its second stage victory in the 2009 Tour. The top 10 in the ninth stage is:
1. Pierrick Fedrigo (FRA) BBO - 160.5km in 4h05’31" (39.223km/h)
2. Franco Pellizotti (ITA) LIQ at same time
3. Oscar Freire (ESP) RAB at 34"
4. Sergeuei Ivanov (RUS) KAT at 34"
5. Peter Velits (SVK) MRM at 34"
6. Jose Joaquim Rojas (ESP) GCE at 34"
7. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) SIL at 34"
8. Geoffroy Lequatre (FRA) AGR at 34"
9. Alessandro Ballan (ITA) LAM at 34"
10. Nicolas Roche (IRL) ALM at 34"
Fedrigo took the lead with 2,500m to go and remained ahead of Pellizotti until the Italian attacked with 350m to go. Pellizotti led out of the final turn (with 240m to go) but Fedrigo muscled his way into the lead in the final 50 meters to take the second victory for his team in this year’s Tour.
Freire has led the peloton home about 35" behind Fedrigo.
Fedrigo has won his second Tour de France stage. He sprinted past Pellizotti in the final 50m after the Italian attacked him with 350m to go.
Fedrigo still leads the stage. Pellizotti has not done a turn for over a kilometer. One of these riders is going to win the stage in Tarbes. They have been at the front of the stage for over 150km.