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>>
News and features>>
All the riders (start list, list of abandons)>>
Day by day summary>>
Route & stages>>
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About the Tour>>