Simon Yates claimed a second stage win in four days as he rode solo to Foix Prat d’Albis to remain the only breakaway member to fend off Thibaut Pinot and Mikel Landa who escaped from the group of the favourites. Julian Alaphilippe lost contact with defending champion Geraint Thomas but retained the yellow jersey that Pinot can also look for in the Alps after his second exploit in two days in the Pyrenees.
Photo credit: A.SO./Pauline BALLET
36 riders in the lead
164 took the start of stage 15 in Limoux. Daniel Oss (Bora-Hansgrohe), Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R-La Mondiale), Lukas Wisnowski (CCC) and Nicolas Roche (Sunweb) managed to clear at km 14 after several unsuccessful skirmishes. They got reeled in at km 23. At km 38, a nice breakaway of approximately twenty riders including Romain Bardet, Vincenzo Nibali, Simon Yates and Peter Sagan was formed but the very speed of the peloton quickly put an end to their initiative. A front group of 28 riders took shape at km 55 up to the col de Montségur: Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe), Romain Bardet and Tony Gallopin (AG2R-La Mondiale), Vincenzo Nibali, Damiano Caruso and Jan Tratnik (Bahrain-Merida), Rudy Molard and Sébastien Reichenbach (Groupama-FDJ), Nairo Quintana, Andrey Amador and Marc Soler (Movistar), Pello Bilbao, Omar Fraile and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Michael Woods (EF Education First), Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Simon Geschke (CCC), Julien Bernard, Giulio Ciccone and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates), Lennard Kämna and Nicolas Roche (Sunweb), Jesus Herrada (Cofidis), Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin), Romain Kreuziger (Dimension Data) and Guillaume Martin (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Amaël Moinard (Arkéa-Samsic). Woods passed first at col de Montségur ahead of Nibali and Bardet. Counter-attackers Matthias Frank (AG2R-La Mondiale), Michael Matthews (Sunweb), Romain Sicard (Total Direct Energie), Pierre-Luc Périchon and Anthony Perez (Cofidis), Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin), Maxime Bouet (Arkéa-Samsic) and Amund Groendahl Jansen (Jumbo-Visma) bridged the gap at km 70.
Bardet first at Port de Lers, Geschke first at Mur de Péguère
Matthews won the intermediate sprint at Tarascon-sur-Ariège (km 93.5). The 36-man leading group split a few times before tackling the ascent to Port de Lers. Bardet crested it in first position 5’15’’ before the yellow jersey group that swallowed Nibali and Mollema who didn’t hold the pace of the front group. Geschke rode away from the leading group 5.5km before the summit of Mur de Péguère. He stayed at the front until the top and was rejoined at the beginning of the downhill by Yates while a quartet of chasers was formed of Bardet, Quintana, Lutsenko and Reichenbach.
Photo credit: A.SO./Pauline BALLET
Yates resists to Pinot in final climb
Yates and Geschke extended their advantage over the Bardet-Quintana group to 1’40’’ with 10km to go, just before Mikel Landa (Movistar) came across by himself after having been helped by Soler and Amador. 8.8km before the end, Yates rode away solo. Landa passed Geschke to become the first chaser. Pinot attacked from the yellow jersey group 7km from the Prat d’Albis. The winner of the Tourmalet caught Landa 2km before the end while Alaphilippe couldn’t keep up with the speed of Geraint Thomas (Ineos) who had himself surrendered to Pinot before his team-mate Egan Bernal. Yates maintained an advantage of 33’’ over Pinot and Landa while Alaphilippe fought hard to limit the losses. Now fourth overall with a deficit of 1’50’’, Pinot is back in contention for the final victory.