Belkin anticipated that while stage 15 on paper was a straight forward affair as the Tour de France can be, it was going to be much tougher in reality. The Tour's visits to France's southeast – and, particularly, to the Bouches-du-Rhône and Gard departments – typically sees the peloton buffeted by crosswinds but there were only of minor danger to the overall contenders today as Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) won the bunch sprint in Nîmes.
"We expected more wind in the finale, with 10km to go, the field was open, but the wind was gone," said Bauke Mollema of the stage which featured only small splits in the peloton with no major loses to the riders in the top-ten.
"Sep Vanmarcke and Maarten Wynants helped me a lot and kept me at the front. That saves energy. We were expecting echelons, but it's a pity there was not enough wind [to split the peloton]."
Mollema remains seventh overall ahead of the Tour's second rest day before the Pyrenees await in the third and decisive week of the race while teammate Laurens ten Dam is ninth.
"Now I will focus on the final week," Mollema said. "Yesterday was a disappointment, but I am still seventh, and we have two men in the top 10 on GC."
While BMC tried to force a split in the peloton with 60km left to race, Belkin with Lars Boom were ready to pounce only for the wind to die down when the race reached the wide-open fields late in the stage.
"We had Sports Director Frans Maassen riding in the front, and there was a lot of wind, but then it stopped," Boom said. "First, we had a storm with rain, and when we hit the fields, the wind stopped.
"We were at the front with some of our guys, including Bauke and Laurens, and it was our plan to push the pace and to make sure we were at the front. It was unfortunate that there was no wind, but now we have a rest day, and that's nice."
For sports director Merijn Zeeman, it was important for his GC riders to get though the day without losing any time as the team aims to have both Mollema and ten Dam in the top-ten when the race reaches Paris on Sunday.
"The rest day comes at a good time for the boys," said Zeeman. "It was not easy today. It was really fast, with the crazy weather, but everyone got through it OK."
"We have both Laurens and Bauke in the top-10. We want to keep them there, but it will be very hard in the Pyrénées. Tomorrow, we will make some hard training, because if you relax too much, it is very hard the next day."
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