Having lost time to his overall rivals on stage 14 of the Tour de France into Rodez, Alberto Contador and Trek-Segafredo bounced back on stage 15. Bauke Mollema enjoyed his first career Tour stage win and Contador improved his overall position from to ninth, 5:37 minutes down on Chris Froome (Team Sky) in yellow.
Mollema's stage win alleviates some of the pressure on Trek-Segafredo who came into the Tour with high ambitions for Contador. The 2007 and 2009 champion though has suffered several falls during the race but showed glimpses of his best during his Bastille Day raid.
"It is very important because the team we have here is an incredible group. We have a very good atmosphere, and for us, this Tour de France is not the best Tour de France. Especially with the different crashes," Contador told the Danish television station TV2 at the team bus after the stage.
"Also yesterday we lost Fabio Felline, and for us, this victory is very important because also day by day, I feel better and I think we have a very good week in front of us with the Alps. With this victory for Bauke, it gives more joy to the team and we can enjoy the rest day. It will be a good night."
Contador finished stage 15 into Le Puy-en-Velay, 6:25 minutes down on Mollema in the yellow jersey group. He trails eighth place Louis Meintjes by 22 seconds but is over three minutes down on seventh placed Simon Yates (Orica-Scott). With two testing days to come in the Alps and the important penultimate day Marseille time trial, Contador excepts the podium is a long way off but he will continue the fight all the way to Paris.
"The differences in the general are very great, there have been some days that I have lost a lot," he said according to Marca. "I have done everything in my hand not to lose it and in that sense, it is very far. But in the peloton, I have seen riders who are fatiguing and although there are only two mountain stages, they are the ones that can hurt."
Fourth in the 2013 Tour de France, Contador was forced to abandon the 2014 and 2016 editions of the French Grand Tour. He finished in fifth place in 2015 but is now looking likely to record his worse GC result since his 31st place on debut at the 2005 Tour.
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