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When Jens says it's tough - it's tough
Jul 17th, 12. Today's results may make it look like Stage 15 was a boring stage when a break stayed away - but when Jens Voigt calls it a whole other level of pain it's time to listen.
"I just realised today that beyond pain there is a whole new universe of more pain...." Voigt tweeted after the race.
It was FDJ's Pedrigo Fedrigo who took the glory in Pau today, just as he did back in 2010. This year he was in the six rider breakaway that was finally allowed freedom from the peloton after a 90 minute battle at the start of the 158.5km stage from Samatan.
With him were Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis), Christian Vande Velde (Garmin Sharp Barracuda), Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma Quickstep) and Nicki Sorensen (SaxoBank Tinkoff Bank).
From the halfway mark, it was obvious the winner in Pau would be one of these six escapees who worked well together all the way to the final 10.5km.
That's when there was a brief bout of attacking action that ultimately put Fedrigo in the lead along with Vande Velde. Fedrigo started the final sprint and stayed in front all the way to the line to take his second victory in Pau and his fourth stage success in the Tour de France.
Although the course only had three low category climbs, the parcours hardly had a flat kilometre in it - it was one of those energy zapping days for all in the peloton.
"It was one of the days that you look at on the profile and think it's a nice easy cruise into the race day. But it was anything but. The roads were rough and up and down over 2,000 metres of climbing." said Best Young Rider Tejay Van Garderen (BMC).
As soon as the stage began, the attacks started and they kept on going for the first hour - which averaged 46.1km/h. Five of the day's breakaway riders got clear after 62km and Sorenson joined them after 82km by which time the break had a gap of 6m35s.
After the feedzone (90km), Lotto-Belisol put two men at the front of the bunch to try and reel the break in with the intention of setting up Andre Greipel for his fourth 2012 Tour victory - but they found little help in the peloton against the strong break group.
"The breakaway was just too strong today," Greipel said outside the Lotto Belosol team bus after the race. "I think we just have to try again, we cannot expect any help."
The German, with three stage wins this Tour, said he has already reached his Tour goals.
The break's gap had extended out to 7m45s with 55km to go when Lotto Belisol gave up their chase. The ceasefire allowed the gap to keep extending.
The first attack from the lead group came from Sorensen with 10.5km to go but he was quickly chased down by the five other escapees.
He tried another surge with 8.5km to go but that only prompted Fedrigo into action and into the lead of the stage. He was successfully chased down by Vande Velde and this pair would co-operate for the final stanza of the stage, even swapping turns in the second to last kilometre when they had an advantage of 15sec.
Fedrigo asked for a turn, Vande Velde obliged... then, a little after the 'flamme rouge' Fedrigo went to the front. He launched his sprint with the American right on his wheel but was never challenged and he claimed his fourth stage win at the Tour de France, his second in Pau (the first being in 2010). Fedrigo's other stage wins at the Tour were in Gap (2006) and Tarbes (2009).
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