Chris Froome (Sky) became the first Briton to win the Tour de France’s Mont Ventoux stage and added 1-40 minutes to his overall lead today.
Froome, after a 242.5km stage from Givors, leads the overall on Dutchman Bauke Mollema (Belkin) by 4-14 minutes. Spain’s Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) sits in third at 4-25 minutes.
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He worked off Sky’s strength, following Richie Porte’s wheel until the final seven kilometres of the 20.8km climb. He attacked Contador with high revs at 7.2 kilometres out and distanced his final rival, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) at 1.3 kilometres remaining.
After 5 hours, 45 minutes, Froome crossed the line at 1912 metres, punched the air with his right fist and strengthened his yellow jersey lead with his third Tour stage win. Quintana maintained second and placed 29 second behind.
Contador and team-mate Roman Kreuziger finished at 1-40 minutes behind. Mollema crossed at 1-46 minutes back.
“It doesn’t get better than this, this climb means so much to this race, especially the 100th edition,” said Froome. “I didn’t see myself winning this stage really, I thought Quintana was going to win.”
An escape of nine dominated the day with points leader, Peter Sagan (Cannondale). Sagan gained the maximum points in the sprint at Malaucène, kilometre 208, where the group had a 3-19-minute lead.
Sagan holds the green jersey with a healthy lead. After the 20 points gained today, he leads with around 100 points.
Always one for a laugh, Sagan pulled a one-handed wheelie while the group approached him on Mont Ventoux. Just before his capture, he saluted the camera with his left hand.
Movistar led for most of the day, until the lead-up to Mont Ventoux. Sky hit the front with Kanstantsin Siutsou, David López, Ian Stannard and Geraint Thomas with 28.5 kilometre to race, or around eight kilometres to the foot of Ventoux.
One by one, they pulled, rotated through and drifted back. Thomas went first, then Stannard and Lopez and finally Siutsou. Their work shelled pre-race favourites Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) were dropped too.
Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), 2011 overall winner, lost pace at 11 kilometres under Peter Kennaugh’s watch.
Quintana shot away from the group with 13 kilometres to race. The Colombian caught the last escapee, Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), and earlier attacker Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel).
His moved served as an eventual launch-pad for Froome. After Porte demolished the lead group to only Froome, Contador and Roman Kreuziger, Froome attacked.
Froome joined Quintana at 6.8 kilometres out and later, rode off into history.
Tour de France 2013, stage 15: Givors to Mont Ventoux, 242.5km
1. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky in 5-48-45
2. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 29 secs
3. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 1-23
4. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at same time
5. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Saxo-Tinkoff at 1-40
6. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff at 1-40
7. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 1-43
8. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin at 1-46
9. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin at 1-53
10. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r at 2-08
Overall classification after stage 15
1. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky in 61-11-43
2. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin at 4-14
3. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff at 4-25
4. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Saxo-Tinkoff at 4-28
5. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin at 4-54
6. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 5-47
7. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 6-22
8. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 7-11
9. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r at 7-47
10. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 7-58
Richie Porte leads Chris Froome
Chris Froome checks on Alberto Contador
Laurens Ten Dam and Bauke Mollema
Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana
Mikel Nieve and Joaquim Rodriguez
Greg LeMond congratulates Chris Froome