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The sprinters pass Jack Bauer at the finish
Kristoff spoils the party in Nîmes
With one kilometre left of stage 15 into Nîmes, it appeared the two-man break of Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling) and Jack Bauer (Garmin-Sharp) would hold off the fast finishing peloton and challenge each other for the Tour de France stage win.
The on-rushing peloton caught the day's two escapees within mere meters of the finish line, as Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) snatched the stage victory from Bauer and Elmiger although Heinrich Haussler's (IAM Cycling) second place was a consolation prize for the Swiss Pro-Continental team.
"Not much more was needed," said Haussler after banging his handlebars in frustration at missing out on the win. "To win a sprint at this level requires a little boost of luck too. Today, everything went perfectly in preparing the sprint, especially in the final with Reto Hollenstein and Roger Kluge.
"I felt good and found myself in an ideal position. I have not lost first, but rather won second place, and we still have some time before Paris."
Elmiger's presence in the breakaway and aggressive riding was enough to secure his second most combative prize of the Tour having also collected the prize after stage 7.
"It was a great stage for all of IAM Cycling," said Elmiger who finished in 16th place. "Heino finished a magnificent second place. As for my day, I had hoped that we would have a few more riders to help power this escape. That didn't happen, but I am not disappointed because I actually did not have the best legs today. In the finale, my opponent and I were playing a little poker."
Despite the late catch by the peloton, Elmiger was not disheartened by his efforts and will again look to claim a maiden Tour win for himself and the team before the Tour concludes in Paris on Sunday.
"Being caught by the pack is not so bad when you are convinced you have given everything," he said. "As I have already said three times this Tour after breaks have failed, one of these days the wheels will turn in my favour."