PAU – Pierrick Fedrigo won stage 15 of the Tour de France as Bradley Wiggins retained the yellow jersey today.
Fedrigo, who also won in Pau in 2010, was part of a six-man escape that was allowed to stay clear entering Pau.
Christian Vande Velde and Fedrigo burst clear with five kilometres left and the Frenchman was too quick in the sprint.
Wiggins and the peloton finished almost 12 minutes back but the Briton kept his overall lead of two minutes and five seconds over team-mate Chris Froome.
The largely flat and short 158km stage, which began in Samatan, was expected to end in a bunch sprint but, after several failed early breakaways, a bunch were allowed to build a commanding advantage with 90km to go.
Along with Fedrigo of the FDJ team and Garmin’s Vande Velde, Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis) raced ahead and Nicki Sorensen (Saxo Bank) bridged the gap to join them.
At one stage it appeared that teams with strong sprinters, like Team Sky’s Mark Cavendish or Lotto’s Andre Greipel, would chase them down but instead the gap continued to grow and it was left to the escapees to fight it out for the stage win.
Meanwhile yesterday the 14th stage was hit by saboteurs who threw tacks onto the road and left 30 riders suffering punctures.
Wiggins was praised by organisers for “fair play” after halting competitive racing following the incident on the final climb.
Wiggins slowed the pace to allow defending champion Cadel Evans to return to the group.
He said: “I thought it was the honourable thing to do.”Spain’s Luis-Leon Sanchez, who was involved in a breakaway, won the stage.
However, the day’s drama was unfolding back at the summit of the Mur de Peguere, a Pyreneean mountain which was making its debut as a climb in the Tour.
Race official Jean-Francois Pescheux confirmed: “The nails were mainly thrown on the ground around 200m from the summit.”
It was obviously done on purpose. We have the tacks but we don’t know who spread them. They are imbeciles,” he said.
Tomorrow is a rest day. (BBC)††