PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM
It's been a good year for French stage wins, with Fedrigo taking the host nation's third of the 2006 Tour. After the Verbrugghe-Kessler-Canada crash, Fedrigo was left in the lead with Mario Aerts and Salvatorre Commesso. But the shy Frenchman was first able to see off Aerts on the final climb - normally the better climber of the three - and then Commesso - on paper the fastest sprinter - in the final sprint. It may have come two days after Bastille Day, but Fedrigo didn't care what date it was.
Procycling apologises for going on about the buffets, but today's at the press centre in Gap was really quite exquisite. Tasty ham, ratatouille cooked to perfection, juicy steaks... There was plenty of space in the press room, too (these things are important), and the wireless internet worked faultlessly. And apples laid out at each place have also helped stave off the onset of scurvy among the press for another few days. Superb.
Crash victims Kessler, Verbrugghe and
"It reminded me of Joseba Beloki's crash in 2003," stage winner Fedrigo said of the crash which took down his breakaway companions Rik Verbrugghe, David Canada and Matthias Kessler 40km from the end. "That was on a stage to Gap, too," the Frenchman pointed out. "The road was bad because of the heat, and Verbrugghe went down in front of me. Luckily, I missed him, but it then meant there were just three of us, so it made it harder to stay away from the bunch. I hope they're OK, though." Not really: Kessler was able to remount, but the spectacular crash left Verbrugghe with a broken femur, and
So near, but yet so far, Commesso was left in floods of tears after missing out to stage winner Fedrigo in the sprint to the line. Most people's money would have been on 'The Sleeveless Wonder' (he likes to hitch up his sleeves to get a better tan.), but the stocky Italian was left with his head in his hands for some time before he could speak after crossing the line. To help stem the tears, Commesso was at least awarded the day's 'prix de la combativit' as the day's most aggressive rider. He also won a free week at a farm near Gap, courtesy of the mayor of the town and the 'grand master' of Pommes des Alpes (the area around Gap is well known for its apples), for being the first to the top of the Col de la Sentinelle - the last climb of the day. Not such a bad day after all, then.