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Pierreck Fedrigo climbs to a tough stage 9 Tour de France

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TARBES, France -- Lance Armstrong stayed in third place at the Tour de France on Sunday after the last day of riding in the Pyrenees.

Pierrick Fedrigo of France sped past a lone rival in a breakaway to win the mountainous ninth stage. Rinaldo Nocentini of Italy held the yellow jersey for a third straight day. He is followed in the overall standings by Astana teammates Alberto Contador and Armstrong.

"It's pure happiness," Fedrigo said after pulling ahead of Italy's Franco Pellizotti following the final turn in Tarbes. "I knew I needed to go all out, and that's what I did."

Nocentini is six seconds ahead of Contador, the 2007 champion. Armstrong, the seven-time champion, is eight seconds behind.

Levi Leipheimer of the United States follows Armstrong in the standings, 39 seconds behind Nocentini, giving Astana the second, third and fourth spots.

Among other favorites, Christian Vande Velde of the U.S. is eighth, 1:24 behind; Andy Schleck of Luxembourg is 1:49 back in ninth; defending Tour champion Carlos Sastre of Spain is 2:52 back in 16th; and Cadel Evans of Australia is 3:07 back in 18th place.

The day's 100-mile stage was from Saint-Gaudens to Tarbes. It took riders up two tough climbs, including the Tourmalet pass, and through the Roman Catholic shrine town of Lourdes.

Fedrigo, a 30-year-old rider who won a Tour stage in 2006, and Pellizotti finished in 4 hours, 5 minutes, 31 seconds. The pack was 34 seconds behind.

The peloton got off to a quick start in the flats before the Aspin and Tourmalet passes. After 15 miles, Armstrong bolted ahead in a bid to catch breakaway riders though the Texan was quickly caught by the pack.

Pellizotti and Fedrigo had surged in front with a bunch of breakaway riders before the 12-mile mark, and kept the lead for most of the stage. They crossed the Tourmalet Pass more than five minutes ahead of the peloton. They held on despite 42 miles remaining between the peak and the finish.

The main contenders were happy to let them go -- Pellizotti was 15:23 off the race lead and Fedrigo 40:17 behind overall as the stage began.

The three-week Tour has its first rest day Monday and ends July 26 in Paris.

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