Pierrick Fedrigo powers to victory at the end of stage 15 to Pau. Picture: EPA
The latest home win came at the expense of Christian Vande Velde, who was kept at bay by Fedrigo in the sprint.
The day got off to an aggressive start with no less than half a dozen breakaway attempts during the first half of the 158.5km stage from Samatan to Pau.
Those riders hoping to coast through before a rest day today were sorely disappointed as Team Sky's attempts to control the peloton were ignored. The British team spent much of the early part of the stage complaining about the speed and voracity of the attacks. The frenetic pace did eventually ease off as a six-man breakaway comprising Fedrigo (FDJ-BigMat), Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp), Nicki Sorensen (Saxo Bank- Tinkoff Bank), Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis) built a maximum lead of almost 12 minutes.
Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) was the first of the main bunch over the line in the intermediate sprint, collecting another nine points towards his tally in the green jersey competition. With a commanding lead over nearest rival Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol), he will surely now find himself winner of the points classification when they reach Paris.
After the frantic start, the general classification contenders seemed happy to sit up and cruise into Pau with all the impetus of club riders on a leisurely Sunday cycle. The main bunch rolled over the line more than 11 minutes after the breakaway group, Mark Cavendish using the opportunity to stretch his legs and lead his Sky team-mates home at the front of the peloton. Cavendish didn't contest as Greipel, Sagan and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) duked it out in a lacklustre sprint for seventh, eighth and ninth places respectively.
Yesterday's stage means the general classification standings remain unchanged with Wiggins in yellow, 2min 05sec ahead of team-mate Chris Froome, with Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) 2min 23sec behind in third and Cadel Evans (BMC) in fourth.
Today is the final rest day before the push through the Pyrenees begins tomorrow. Sky will try to defend Wiggins' position as the race reaches the home stretch.
The fearsome hors categorie Pyrenees duo of Col d'Aubisque and Col du Tourmalet await on the gruelling 197km stage 16 from Pau to Bagneres de Luchon. Nibali and Evans will view the brutal climbs, not least the tricky summit finish into Peyragudes on stage 17, as their last opportunity to snatch victory from Wiggins.
Six more riders abandoned yesterday: Vincent Jerome and Giovanni Bernaudeau (Europcar), Kenny van Hummel (Vacansoleil-DCM), Brett Lancaster (Orica-GreenEdge), Yauheni Hutarovich (FDJ-BigMat) and Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep).
Brian Holm, Omega Pharma-QuickStep's directeur sportif, said Chavanel was experiencing breathing difficulties, although it is expected the French rider will be fit for the Olympics.
Norway's Thor Hushovd will not be so lucky. He has said he will miss the Olympics after failing to fully recover from a virus. The 2010 world champion withdrew from the Tour due to illness and had made the Olympic road race his top priority, but has now decided to give up his spot in the Norway team after failing to recover his fitness. He will be replaced by Vegard Stake Laengen.
Belgian's Tom Boonen, having also skipped the Tour de France to concentrate on the Olympic race, is now doubtful to compete, having abandoned the Tour of Poland after fracturing a rib in a crash on the first stage.
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