PLATEAU DE BEILLE, France — For the third straight day in the Pyrenees, Tyler Farrar of Wenatchee rode toward the back of the pack while overall contenders and one-day wonders maneuvered at the front Saturday in the waning uphill miles with unheralded Jelle Vanendert of Belgium prevailing in stage 14 of the Tour de France.
Vanendert (Omega-Pharma Lotto) left the lead group with about 4 1/2 miles left and alone completed the 104.7-mile stage from Saint-Gaudens that featured six categorized climbs in the race’s final day in the Pyrenees in 5 hours, 13 minutes and 25 seconds.
Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo), who has a stage win and third place in his third Tour de France, finished 149th in a group of 35 riders, 26:46 behind the stage winner. Farrar is 158th overall in the 170-rider field, trailing surprising race leader Thomas Voeckler of France by
Sammy Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) of Spain, who was victorious in stage 12m was second, trailing by 21 seconds. Andy Schleck (Leopard-Trek) of Luxembourg, the race runner-up the past two years, placed third, 46 seconds behind.
Voeckler (Movistar), considered a good but not great climber, kept the race leader’s jersey for the sixth day after placing seventh in the stage. He holds a 1:49 margin over Frank Schleck (Leopard-Trek) of Luxembourg. Cadel Evans (BMC) of Australia, twice a race runner-up, is third, trailing by 2:06 with seven stages remaining.
Vanendert began the stage in 32rd position trailing by nearly 13 minutes and wasn’t a threat to the overall race lead. After he attacked the lead group on the final climb, a a nearly 10-mile beyond category to the national park and most popular Nordic ski area in the Pyrenees. Vanendert lifted both hands off the handlebars with more than 100 yards left and cruised slowly across the line in celebration.
Tom Danielson (Garmin-Cervelo) of Boulder, Colo., riding in the event for the first time, finished 13th, trailing by 1:59. He improved one place to ninth overall as the leading American and trailing Voeckler by 5:46.
Only two sprinters’ stages remain in the 98th Tour de France edition, including Sunday’s 15th stage. It will take the field 119.9 miles from Limoux to Montpellier with approximately the final 28 miles paralleling the Mediterranean Sea.
The stage has a category 4 (the least severe) about 50 miles into the stage, which should be of little concern. The rest of the route will be completely flat, with the field facing potentially strong winds.
Tean will protect their respective sprinters and with hopes of moving them into position for what is predicted as another pack finish.