Wiggins retains Tour de France lead

16 July 2012 / 17:21

Britain's Bradley Wiggins has retained the leader's yellow jersey after stage 15 of the Tour de France to Pau.

Pierrick Fedrigo claimed France's fourth win of the Tour as the peloton opted for a day of respite. The success saw France draw level with Great Britain as the nation with the most wins in the 99th Tour.

But the top of the rankings were unchanged, with Wiggins retaining a lead of 2mins 5secs over Team Sky colleague Chris Froome in second place. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) remains third, 2:23 behind, with defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) fourth, 3:19 adrift.

Following an eventful race to date, including a 14th stage marred by sabotage, a six-man escape group contested the 158.5-kilometre route from Samatan and Fedrigo beat Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp) in a sprint finish. Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) was third.

The Tour resumes following Tuesday's second rest day with Wednesday's 197km 16th stage from Pau to Bagners-de-Luchon, which is the first of two big Pyrenean days which will go a long way to deciding if Team Sky's Wiggins can become the first British winner in Paris on Sunday.

The peloton rode in 11 minutes 50 seconds behind, with Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) winning the dash for the line on his 30th birthday. The general classification contenders were safely among them.

Five days of racing remain, but Wednesday and Thursday's Pyrenean stages and Saturday's penultimate day time-trial are set to determine the holder of the maillot jaune come the finale in Paris on Sunday.

Wiggins required a bike change early on as the peloton recovered from the sabotage attack, when tacks thrown in the road resulted in a litany of punctures.

The cyclist - nicknamed Le Gentleman after his response to that incident, when he neutralised the peloton - received a new bike, complete with yellow handlebars and yellow paint, and was paced back to the main bunch by three Team Sky colleagues.

World champion Mark Cavendish, who might have begun the day with victory in mind, was in the unusual position of leading the peloton under the 4km to go marker. His positioning was to help Wiggins stay out of trouble and the Manxman did not contest the sprint.