Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) won his second stage of the 2014 Tour de France, after the break of the day was heart-breakingly caught just metres from the finish line.
Up until the final few seconds it looked as though Jack Bauer (Garmin-Sharp), one of the two riders in the day’s break, was going to win the stage, but with about 30 metres to go an onrushing peloton finally caught the distraught New Zealander.
Bauer ultimately finished 10th on the day, while his breakaway companion Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling), who Bauer had opened up his sprint against in the final few hundred metres, finished 16th.
Once the catch was finally made, Kristoff won quite comfortably ahead of Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling) in second and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) in third. Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) was also present in the run-in, but could only manage 11th.
Despite controlling the break for most of the day, the peloton endured a disorganised final 10 kilometres. No one team took control and there were several attacks from Omega Pharma-QuickStep, most notably Tony Martin. A series of roundabouts also played into the break’s hands, as the peloton were unable to gain the necessary momentum to comfortably make the catch.
Before the late drama, it had been a relatively uneventful day at the Tour. With no hills en route there were no opportunities for GC riders to attack, and the main difficulty faced by the peloton came in the form of the stormy weather.
At one point – going through the town of Cavaillion with roughly 60 kilometres to go – it looked as though crosswinds were going to come into play, as BMC moved to the front of the bunch and upped the pace. But no damage was done as the rest of the favourites were quick to mark the move, with Nibali’s acceleration up to BMC riders particularly impressive.
Ultimately, all the favourites finished safety in the bunch, and will enjoy a rest day tomorrow before heading to the Pyrenees on Tuesday.
Tour de France 2014, stage 15: Tallard—Nimes, 222km
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha in 4-56-43
2. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling
3. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale
4. Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol
5. Mark Renshaw (Aus) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
6. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar
7. Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Sharp
8. Romain Feillu (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement
9. Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreeEdge
10. Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin-Sharp all same time
21. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky at same time
70. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky at 0-16
122. Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-GreenEdge at 2-05
Overall classification after stage 15
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana in 66-49-37
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 4-37
3. Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r at 4-50
4. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 5-06
5. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team at 5-49
6. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r at 6-08
7. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin at 8-33
8. Leopold Konig (Cze) NetApp-Endura at 9-32
9. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin at 10-01
10. Pierre Rolland (Fra) Europcar at 10-48
15. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky at 16-19
18. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky at 20-18