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Tour de France

Tour de France stage 15: Jasper Philipsen holds off Wout van Aert to take victory

Jonas Vingegaard survives with race lead intact after crashing with 56k to go.

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Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) sprinted to victory in Carcassonne after holding off Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) to claim his first Tour de France victory on stage 15.

Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) escaped with his race lead intact after crashing with 56 kilometers to go.

With no teammates left, Philipsen had to ride wheels in the finish and started from a long way back as Trek-Segafredo wound up the sprint for Pederson. The Belgian muscled his way up the inside of the peloton around the final bend and then came around Pederson in the final 100m, taking almost a bike’s length of a gap by the line.

It was the first bunch sprint of this year’s Tour de France on French soil, though it was shy a few of the pure sprinters who were dispatched over the final classified climb with just over 40k to go. It was also the first win for Alpecin-Deceuninck in this year’s race.

For Philipsen, the victory will help put behind him the memory of stage 4 into Calais when he thought he had taken the win, only to discover that Van Aert had done so a few seconds earlier in a solo breakaway.

“It makes it super unbelievable. I know what losing is like in the Tour de France, I was close many times, but that it worked out today is incredible,” Philipsen said. “I felt that Wout was coming close, but I also knew the finish line from last year and we got boxed away a little bit before the final corner and I knew it was not far from the last corner from last year. I knew I had to make some positions and it was good that I could pass Mads.

“There are just too many things at the same time [emotionally], there’s been a massive search for this victory and we worked really hard for it. I’m just super proud we could finally finish it off after a tough Tour. We had to wait until stage 15 with the team but everyone still believed it was possible and I’m super happy.”

How it happened

The building heat of the past week would not abate for the final stage of week two of the Tour de France with temperatures expected to hit 104F (40C) by the finish in Carcassonne. With only two small rises, the fortunes seemed tilted in the favor of the sprinters but, as ever, there could be a chance for the break to stay if the right group formed.

A three-rider group went clear very quickly with Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Mikkel Honoré (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), and Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe). Several riders attempted to bridge across the gap, but none was able to.

With just three riders in the move, one of which had a sprinter behind, it already seemed highly unlikely that the breakaway would succeed. Their chances seemed to sink further when Van Aert sat up and dropped back to the peloton, leaving Honoré and Politt to do what they could.

Behind in the peloton, it was a relatively stress-free day as the sprinters’ teams managed the pace. Even with over 200 kilometers of racing, the bunch kept the break at relatively close quarters and only let the gap grow to about three minutes before pulling it back in.

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl had riders at both ends of the race with Michael Mørkøv racing the broom wagon after getting dropped by the peloton early on.

What had settled into a fairly straightforward day of racing lit up in dramatic style as the race approached the final climb of the day, the Côte des Cammazes, with just over 60 kilometers to go. The breakaway was almost brought to a halt when a protest blocked the road, in similar circumstances to the one that halted stage 10.

Unlike on stage 10, the race was not neutralized with police dragging the protestors off the road before the peloton arrived.

Jumbo-Visma lost Steven Kruijswijk to what looked like a collarbone fracture after he crashed in the middle of the bunch. As the team absorbed the news, which came after Primož Roglič abandoned before the stage, Vingegaard crashed along with Tiesj Benoot.

The yellow jersey made it back to the group but the pace in the peloton had ramped up dramatically as Trek-Segafredo and Alpecin-Fenix set a high pace as they tried to ditch the pure sprinters from the group. It worked a treat with Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal), and Dylan Groenewegen (BikeExchange-Jayco) being shelled out of the back.

Amidst the chaos, the day’s break was caught and two other riders —Benjamin Thomas (Cofidis) and Alexis Gougeard (B&B Hotels KTM) — went off the front.

With just over 40 kilometers remaining when it all shook out, it would be a drag race between the break, the leading peloton, and the group of sprinters. Thanks to a lot of work from BikeExchange-Jayco, including Saturday’s stage winner Michael Matthews, a large group of sprinters was able to make it back to the peloton.

The action settled down after that as the two leaders held a gap of just over 20 seconds on the peloton. With 10k to go, it had extended to almost 30 seconds but a surge from Ineos Grenadiers and Jumbo-Visma brought the gap down significantly.

Home rider Thomas was the last member of the two-man breakaway still standing after Gougeard went pop with just over four kilometers to go. Thomas was only delaying the inevitable and he was reeled in with 500 meters to go.

From there, it was for the sprinters and their teams to take over. Trek-Segafredo took control of the front of the peloton with the other sprinters scrapping behind for position. Despite the big effort from BikeExchange earlier on, Groenewegen was out of position going into the final corners.

Philipsen was also slightly out of position, but he used his experience of the finish from 2021 and chucked himself up the inside of the final bend to ensure he was in the right place when the line loomed into sight. Van Aert looked like he might be closing the gap, but he didn’t have the legs, while Pederson, who had started the sprint, faded to third.

Results will be available once stage has completed.

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