Bauke Mollema won his first Tour de France stage victory in Le Puy-en-Velay with a well-timed attack on a descent after spending the day in the breakaway group.
Mollema attacked a large group of 28 riders on the descent to of the Cat 1 Col de Peyra-Taillade and managed to hold off a chasing group of 4 riders who included Diego Ulissi (UAE) and Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal).
The day’s break went right from the start but with the Cat1 Montee de naves d’Aubrac beginning after just 19km into the stage the majority of the non-climbers in the break soon dropped back when they gradient increased. This left KOM jersey Warren Barguil (Sunweb), Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data) and Damiano Caruso (BMC) at the front of the race leading the climb with remnants of the 10 man group scattered down the climb leading back to the peloton.
Barguil took the points at the top of the climb to increase his KOM lead and on the descent Tsgabu Grmay (Bahrain-Merida) and Dylan Van Baarle (Cannondale-Drapac) were able to get back in touch with the three leaders after being dropped on the climb. In betwix the peloton and the leaders was a group of 23 riders which consisted of: Jan Bakelants (AG2R), Alessandro De Marchi, Amael Moinard, and Nicolas Roche (BMC), Daniel Navarro and Luis Mate (Cofidis), Lilian Calmejane and Romain Sicard (Direct Energie), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Pierre-Luc Perichon and Romain Hardy (Fortuneo-Oscaro), Maurits Lammertink, Robert Kiserlovski and Tony Martin (Katusha), Thomas De Gendt, Tiesj Benoot and Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal), Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo), Michael Matthews and Simon Geschke (Sunweb), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Diego Ulissi and Kristijan Durasek (UAE).
Barguil took the points at the top of the Cat 3 Cote de Vieurals and the plateau gave chance for the 23 riders chasing to reach the five leaders who’s advantage over the peloton had gone out to 4’20”, with Team Sky more than happy to let the large group go as it contained no GC threats for Chris Froome.
The intermediate sprint at Saint-Alban-Sur-Limagnole was won without contest by Michael Matthews to reduce his deficit to Kittel to 79 points in the points classification but then it was business as usual as the lead was allowed to go over 6′ to the peloton.
Katusha’s Tony Martin attacked the break with around 64km to go which caused a reaction from the break as they realised the threat he posed to the stage and after some organisation, they were able to bring the former World TT Champion back to the breakaway group despite taking more than 1’30” onto the climb of the Cat1 Col de Peyra Taillade.
There was panic for Chris Froome as he suffered a mechanical issue just as AG2R started to increase the pace at the front of the peloton. Froome’s back wheel was broken and with the team car a long way back he had to take Kwiatkowski’s wheel and rely on the help of Sergio Henao and Mikel Nieve to pace him back up, with Mikel Landa also dropping back from the peloton to help the yellow jersey chase the peloton.
Out front Martin had been caught and passed by an attack from Barguil who took Pauwels with him but the Frenchman was easily able to stay away to take the full points at the top of the climb, pausing at the top to wait for more riders to begin the descent.
Froome was able to get back in touch with the peloton with Landa’s help but once Bardet realised his chance was vanishing he attacked with Rigoberto Uran, but Froome was equal to the challenge and bridged over to the pair with Fabio Aru, Simon Yates, Alberto Contador and Dan Martin.
Mollema attacked the leaders on the descent of the Taillade with the gap back to the yellow jersey group 6’31” with just 30km to go, creating a rare opportunity for a breakaway win. Mollema was able to get a lead on the descent and as he headed into the final climb on the Cat4 Cote de Saint-Vidal he had 38″ seconds on the chasing Barguil group. With the short nature of the climb Roglic saw a chance to bridge over to Mollema and he attacked the break, taking Barguil with him as Barguil hoovered up more mountain points.
Diego Ulissi and Tony Gallopin also attacked over the summit and joined Barguil and Roglic on the descent in pursuit of Mollema, who now had just 20″ with 10km to go. The Dutchman was able to keep his margin around the same as the chasing group failed to get organised enough to pursue him properly, allowing his to take the stage.
In the GC group behind Simon Yates attacked on the Saint-Vidal but was swiftly brought to heel as Dan Martin countered with more success, using the remnants of the breakaway to maintain his advantage and finish in a group 12″ ahead of the yellow jersey to move above Landa in the GC.
Tour de France 2017 Stage 15: Laissac-Severac l’Eglise>Le Puy-en-Velay 189.5km
|Position||Name (Team – Nationality)||Time|
|1||Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo – Ned)||4:41:47″|
|2||Diego Ulissi (UAE – Ita)||+19″|
|3||Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal – Fra)||s.t.|
|4||Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo – Slv)||s.t.|
|5||Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb – Fra)||+23″|
|6||Nicholas Roche (BMC – Ire)||+1’00”|
|7||Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie – Fra)||+1’04”|
|8||Jan Bakelants (AG2R – Bel)||s.t.|
|9||Thibaut Pinot (FDJ – Fra)||s.t.|
|10||Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data – Bel)||s.t.|
|Position||Name (Team – Nationality)||Time|
|1||Chris Froome (Team Sky – GBr)||64:40:21″|
|2||Fabio Aru (Astana – Ita)||+18″|
|3||Romain Bardet (AG2R – Fra)||+23″|
|4||Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac – Col)||+29″|
|5||Dan Martin (Quick-Step – Ire)||+1’12”|
|6||Mikel Landa (Team Sky – Spa)||+1’17”|
|7||Simon Yates (Orica-Scott – GBr)||+2’02”|
|8||Louis Meintjes (UAE – RSA)||+5’09”|
|9||Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafred0 – Spa)||+5’37”|
|10||Damiano Caruso (BMC – Ita)||+6’05″|