Oscar Freire (Rabobank) finally won a stage in the 2008 Tour de France in Digne-les-Bains after Mark Cavendish (Columbia) was dropped on the short climb near the finish.

Freire rode a perfect finale. He stayed well covered and then after Romain Feillu (Agritubel) and Erik Zabel (Milram) went far too early, he emerged and accelerated at the right time to win.

Leonardo Duque (Cofidis) was second and Zabel was third. Thanks to his win Freire increased his lead in the points competition. He now has a total of 219 points. Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) is second with 172 and Zabel is third with 169 but Freire looks set to wear the green jersey all the way to Paris.

Cadel Evans (Silence) finished safely in the bunch and so kept the yellow jersey before the start of the Alps with the finish in Italy at Prato Nevoso. Andy Schleck (CSC) and Bernhard Kohl (Gerolsteiner) tried to sneak away over the top of the last climb but Evans was quick on to them in what was perhaps a taste of what will happen during Sunday?s key stage from Embrun to Prato Nevoso.

Yet again the stage was characterised by two hours of fast racing at over 48km/h until the right breakaway went clear. 21 riders including Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) had a go but this was quickly chased down by Silence.

Eventually Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d’Epargne), Sandy Casar (Francaise des Jeux) and Bram Tankink (Rabobank) went clear but the Liquigas and Milram teams gradually pulled them back to try and set up Zabel and Pozzato.

Paolo Tiralongo (Lampre) was the first to attack on the Cote l?Orme climb and lined out the bunch. Others had a go and the high speed caused Cavendish and other sprinters to be dropped. Team Columbia switched to plan B at this point, riding for Gerald Ciolek. The blue Columbia jersey hit the front on the flat but went too early and Ciolek was forced to look after himself in the final kilometre and finished out of the top 20.

All the overall contenders had another quiet day in the peloton but on Sunday things will be very different as the final battle for the yellow begins.

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: STAGE 14 RESULTS

1 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank194.5km in 4hrs 13min 08secs


2 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis

3 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram

4 Julian Dean (NZl) Team Garmin

5 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Quick Step

6 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre

7 Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel

8 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom

9 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Quick Step

10 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole

British

18 Christopher Froome (GBr) Barloworld

82 David Millar (GBr) Team Garmin both same time

108 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia at 3mins 27secs.

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 14

1. Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto


2. Frank Schleck (Lux) CSC-Saxo Bank at 1sec

3. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin at 38secs

4. Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner at 46secs

5. Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank at 57secs

6. Carlos Sastre (Spa) CSC-Saxo Bank at 1m 28secs

7. Kim Kirchen (Lux) Columbia at 1m 56secs

8. Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) Ag2r at 2m 32secs

9. Mikel Astarloza (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 3m 51secs

10. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas at 4m 18secs

British

46. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Chipotle at 35m 22secs

92. Chris Froome (GB) Barloworld at 1h 16m 21secs

140. Mark Cavendish (GB) Columbia at 1h 55m 31secs.

KING OF THE MOUNTAINS

1. Sebastian Lang (Ger) Gerolsteiner

YOUNG RIDER CLASSIFICATION

1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas

POINTS COMPETITION

1. Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank.



TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: STAGE REPORTS

Stage 13: Cavendish takes fourth win

Stage 12: Cavendish makes it three

Stage 11: Arvesen wins

Stage 10: Evans takes yellow jersey by one second

Stage nine: Ricco wins in the Pyrenees

Stage eight: Cavendish wins again in Toulouse

Stage seven: Sanchez takes action-packed stage

Stage six: Ricco storms to win

Stage five: Cavendish takes first Tour win

Stage four: Schumacher wins TT and takes race lead

Stage three: Dumoulin wins stage from break

Stage two: Hushovd wins chaotic sprint

Stage one: Valverde wins

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: NEWS

Ricco speaks on Italian television

Cavendish joins the all-time greats

Saunier Duval sack Ricco and Piepoli

Tour bosses say fight against doping continues

Ricco denies doping at the Tour

Saunier Duval pull out of Tour

Tour’s top ten changes

Ricco positive for EPO at Tour

Analysis: Tour de France rest day summary

Cavendish battles through Pyrenees

Evans suffers but takes yellow jersey [stage 10]

Analysis: Hautacam shakes up 2008 Tour

Ricco silences critics with solo attack in Pyrenees [stage nine]

Cavendish talks about his second stage win [stage eight]

Beltran heads home but doubts remain about other Tour riders

David Millar: the dope controls are working

Manuel Beltran tests positive for EPO at the Tour

Comment: How the Tour rediscovered its spirit

Doping back in Tour de France headlines

Millar: close but no cigar in Super-Besse [stage six]

Super-Besse shows form of main contenders [stage six]

Millar to go for yellow [stage six]

Team Columbia’s reaction to Cavendish’s win [stage five]

Cavendish talks about his Tour stage win

Tour comment: Why Evans should be happy [stage four]

Millar: Still aiming for Tour yellow jersey [stage 4]

Who is Romain Feillu?

Cavendish disappointed with stage two result

Millar too close to Tour yellow jersey

Stage 2 preview: A sprint finish for Cavendish?

Millar happy after gains precious seconds in Plumelec

Valverde delighted with opening Tour stage win

Comment: Is Valverde’s win a good thing for the Tour?

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: PHOTOS

Stage 12

Stage 11

Stage 11

Stage 10

Stage nine

Stage eight

Stage seven

Stage six

Stage five

Stage four

Stage three

Stage two

Stage one

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: BLOGS

Life at the Tour part three

Life at the Tour part two

Life at the Tour part one

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: GUIDE

Tour de France 2008 homepage>>

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