Sunday, July 16, 7:10 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. ET
Stage 15 should make for great television, both because of the fantastic racing and the exceptional landscapes that highlight this charming part of France. From the racing perspective, it will be a complicated stage, with many sections above 1,000 meters. Riders will be very ready for the second rest day, which takes place in Le Puy-en-Velay.
Stage 15: Mollema saves Trek-Segafredo's Tour
With Trek-Segafredo’s Alberto Contador out of the GC picture, Bauke Mollema earned redemption for his team with a win in stage 15 Sunday in Le Puy-en-Velay. The Dutchman attacked just after the 189.5km stage’s penultimate climb. He soloed to victory, with a group of four breathing down his neck for the final 30 kilometers.
“I’m so happy to finally win a stage in the Tour de France,” said Mollema. “I just can’t believe it. This is what I’ve worked for so hard for the last few years. I’ve been closer and closer a few times.”
Italian Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) was best of the rest, taking second only moments later. Lotto-Soudal’s Tony Gallopin finished third on the day.
Stage 15, top 10
1. Bauke Mollema (NED/TRE) 4hrs 41min 47sec
2. Diego Ulissi (ITA/EAU) at 0:19.
3. Tony Gallopin (FRA/LOT) 0:19.
4. Primoz Roglic (SLO/LNL) 0:19.
5. Warren Barguil (FRA/SUN) 0:23.
6. Nicolas Roche (IRL/BMC) 1:00.
7. Lilian Calmejane (FRA/DEN) 1:04.
8. Jan Bakelants (BEL/ALM) 1:04.
9. Thibaut Pinot (FRA/FDJ) 1:04.
10. Serge Pauwels (BEL/DDT) 1:04.
1. Chris Froome (GBR/Sky) in 64hrs 40min 21sec,
2. Fabio Aru (ITA/AST) at 0:18.
3. Romain Bardet (FRA/ALM) 0:23.
4. Rigoberto Uran (COL/CAN) 0:29.
5. Daniel Martin (IRL/QST) 1:12.
6. Mikel Landa (ESP/SKY) 1:17.
7. Simon Yates (GBR/ORI) 2:02.
8. Louis Meintjes (RSA/EAU) 5:09.
9. Alberto Contador (ESP/TRE) 5:37.
10. Damiano Caruso (ITA/BMC) 6:05.
Chris Froome (Sky) kept his overall lead. The GC race wasn’t entirely sedate, however. Quick-Step’s Dan Martin attacked over the day’s final categorized climb. He joined a group of three others and moved up to fifth overall after earning a few hard-fought seconds.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Froome. He suffered a mechanical early in the stage. Romain Bardet’s Ag2r La Mondiale team sensed opportunity and whipped up the pace. Sky kept calm and shepherded its leader back to the front of the race.
“These are things that happen during the race,” Froome said. “I had a problem with my rear derailleur. My teammate, Kwiatkowski, stopped, and gave me his wheel because the team car was far back. I went the maximum to get back to the front.”
The fight for the early breakaway was equally urgent. Team Sunweb eagerly pursued two separate goals: the green points jersey for Michael Matthews and the polka-dot climbers jersey for Warren Barguil. Both riders made the move and made the most of the opportunity. Matthews won the intermediate sprint to inch closer to Quick-Step’s Marcel Kittel in that classification. Barguil picked up more points on the climbs.
Mollema did not initially make the breakaway. He put his Trek-Segafredo team on the front into the day’s first climb, a category 1 trip up Montée de Naves d’Aubrac, and he bridged a 90-second gap.
Sensing he was on a good day, Mollema moved just after the day’s second Cat. 1 climb, Col de Peyra Taillade.
LottoNL-Jumbo’s Primoz Roglic and Barguil gave chase over the top of the 8.3km climb. Ulissi and Gallopin soon joined the chase, but they were not organized enough to bridge the 20-second gap to the Dutchman.
In the GC group, Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) attacked on the final categorized climb, Côte de Saint-Vidal. Sky’s Mikel Landa controlled the pace and caught the move.
Then, Martin counter-attacked. The Irishman caught the bunch unawares and joined three men who had been dropped from the early break: Simon Geschke (Sunweb), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), and Robert Kiserlovski (Katusha-Alpecin). The four cooperated, and by the finish, Martin gained 14 seconds in the overall.
The peloton will enjoy one final rest day Monday before it heads to the Alps for two mountain stages and then the Marseille time trial Saturday.