Fedrigo outsprints Armstrong

Sports Network

, Last Updated: 1:19 PM ET

PAU, France -- Pierrick Fedrigo of France won a sprint to the finish that included Lance Armstrong and captured Stage 16 of the Tour de France, while Spain's Alberto Contador remained the overall leader of cycling's premier event.

Armstrong, the seven-time champion in his final Tour de France, was trying for one last stage victory in the grueling Pyrenees that featured four torturous climbs. He was among the leaders or part of the close chase group for most of the 199.5 kilometers from Bagneres-de-Luchon to Pau and made a bid for the line in the last kilometer with eight other riders.

Fedrigo, though, broke free and crossed the line first in a time of five hours, 31 minutes and 43 seconds for his third career stage win. Armstrong finished sixth in the group of eight that wound up with the same time as the stage winner.

"It's been awhile since I sprinted," said Armstrong. "Just not quick enough."

Armstrong was part of an early breakaway, but Spain's Carlos Barredo escaped from the lead group with about 44 kilometers left and held an advantage of about 20-30 seconds heading into the closing stretch. However, the group of eight riders in the chase finally caught him with a kilometer left, setting up the final sprint.

Barredo finished ninth, 28 seconds behind the lead group.

Contador and Luxembourg's Andy Schleck finished in the peloton, each 6:45 behind the stage winner. Contador, who took the overall lead on Monday in somewhat controversial fashion, still has an overall lead of eight seconds with four days of racing remaining.

Schleck held the overall lead entering Monday's stage, but the chain popped off his bike on the final climb and Contador raced past him. The defending champ finished 39 seconds ahead of Schleck, who was not happy that a mechanical malfunction cost him the yellow jersey and said Contador may have breached race etiquette by not waiting.

Contador said he didn't realize that Schleck had bike issues when he raced past him, but offered an apology before Tuesday's stage began.

"Last night I posted a video because this situation does not please me," Contador stated after Tuesday's stage. "Today I talked with Andy because I wanted to make things clear. We have always had good relations and I do not want them to be damaged by what happened yesterday. We have explained ourselves and I think our relationship can become as good as it was before."

Schleck, for his part, said it was time to move on.

"He came to me today and personally apologized and I appreciate that a lot," said Schleck. "He knows that he did a mistake yesterday; he shouldn't have done that, he knows it and, for me, that's enough now. This case is closed and people should stop with it and move on. Nobody deserves to be chastised endlessly."

The two raced closely together Tuesday and crossed the finish line right next to one another -- Schleck 21st and Contador 22nd.

After a rest day on Wednesday, the two will battle Thursday in the final mountain stage -- a 174-kilometer trek back up the Pyrenees from Pau to the Col du Tourmalet.

"I just want to win this Tour -- that's my goal -- and I know there's only one chance left and that's the Tourmalet [on Thursday]," Schleck noted. "I think I can do it. I hope I can do it."

A plain ride on Friday is then followed by a time trial Saturday before the traditional finish along the Champs Elysees in Paris on Sunday.


Photos