Kristoff gets his second stage win at this year’s Tour de France. Photo by Graham Watson
Norwegian sprinting star Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) picked up his second stage win of this year’s Tour de France, blasting first across the finish at the end of stage 15’s thrilling 222km mostly flat ride from Tallard to Nimes. Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling) slotted second, with Peter Sagan (Cannondale) third.
The day’s break of consequence was a two-rider affair with Aussie Jack Bauer (Garmin-Sharp) and Iam Cycling’s Martin Elmiger escaping early in the stage and pushing the bunch to their absolute limit. With on-and-off rain and a rash of roundabouts on the run-in to the finish conspiring to slow the pace, the pair weren’t caught by the chasing peloton until just 10 meters from the line.
Bauer ended up 10th in the wash of sprinters. Afterward the Garmin rider was disconsolate, hanging his head, tears running down his face as a throng of photographers snapped photos of the dramatic agony-of-defeat moment.
In the GC chase, there was no change at the top with Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) finishing safely in the bunch to maintain his 4:37 lead over Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). Romain Bardet (Ag2R)is third at 4:50, with Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) and American Tejay van Garderen (BMC) rounding out the top five at 5:06 and 5:49.
Monday brings the Tour’s second rest day. Then the Tour marches into the Pyrenees for three tough stages. Up first on Tuesday, stage 16’s 237.5km ride from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon. Look for riders to spend upwards of six hours in the saddle during what’s the race’s longest stage.
After 150 kilometers of spinning on the flats, the bunch will face the cat. 2 Col de Portet-d’Aspet, cat. 3 Col des Ares, and finally the hors categorie Port de Bales, a 11.7km gut-punch with an average grade of 7.7%. From the summit it’s all downhill to the finish, so whoever crests the climb first should be able to stay away.
STAGE 15 RESULTS
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 15
Yellow Jersey: Vincenzo Nibali (ITA), Astana Pro Team
Green Jersey: Peter Sagan (SVK), Cannondale
Polka Dot Jersey: Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP), Team Katusha
White Jersey: Romain Bardet (FRA), Ag2r La Mondiale