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Tour de France 2014: Stage 15


Welcome to live coverage of stage 15 of the Tour de France on Cyclingnews

Welcome to stage 15 of the Tour de France, the final stage before the rest day  and we're about 15 minutes away from the start in Tallard.

It's cooler, once again, at the start and grey clouds are filling the sky. A far cry from the blistering heat we had earlier in the week.

After a couple of days in the mountains we're back to the flat, with not a single classified climb today. Here is what the riders will face today.


It was another great day yesterday. Need to remind yourself of how things went, or fancy reliving it in pictures. Head here for our full stage report, results and gallery.

Rafal Majka distanced the rest to take victory for Tinkoff-Saxo. This is the top 10 for yesterday's stage:


1 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo 5:08:27
2 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:24
3 Jean-Christophe Péraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:26
4 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) 0:00:50
5 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
6 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:54
7 Frank Schleck (Lux) Trek Factory Racing 0:01:01
8 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling 0:01:07
9 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team Netapp-Endura 0:01:20
10 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:24

The peloton set off on this very short neutralised section. We should be racing properly in around five minutes.

We saw a lot of movement in the top 10 after yesterday's stage. Vincenzo Nibali's lead doesn't look like it's under threat just yet, but behind him things are getting awfully close. This is how things stand this morning.


1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 61:52:54
2 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:04:37
3 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:04:50
4 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) 0:05:06
5 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:05:49
6 Jean-Christophe Péraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:06:08
7 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling 0:08:33
8 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team Netapp-Endura 0:09:32
9 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling 0:10:01
10 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 0:10:48

Richie Porte said at start of stge 15 of @letour he hopes to recover nxt days, - reaching Paris his goal but hopes for opp in Pyrenees if ok

@rupertguinness Sun, 20th Jul 2014 11:11:15

220km remaining from 222km

The peloton is racing now and it's straight downhill. 171 of the original 198 riders that started in Leeds remain.

We've already got two riders on the attack, after less than 5km. We'll bring you names as soon as we have them.

The two men out front are Martin Elmiger (IAM) and Jack Bauer (Garmin). They have 20 seconds on the peloton at the moment.

212km remaining from 222km

The gap has stretched out to 55 seconds for the pair and it looks like we've got our break for the day. It's going to be a long day for just two riders.

After two tough days in the mountains, the peloton are likely to take things easy for much of today. However, it's highly unlikely that this pair will be able to hold the peloton off when the sprinters teams take charge.

So far three sprinters have won stages this year. Marcel Kittel is certainly king of the sprints once again and he will be looking to take his fourth win today, which would equal his tally from last year with a few more chances still available. The Giant-Shimano lead-out train has been outstanding so far, but they are not infallible.

André Grepiel is another of the sprinters to have taken victory this year.. The German powered to victory on stage 6 in Reims. Cyclingnews' Ellis Bacon spoke to his lead-out man Lars Bak this morning about their hunt for a second victory, you can read what he had to say here.

Alexander Kristoff is the other sprinter who has tasted the champagne on the podium. He denied Peter Sagan in Saint-Étienne on stage 12. Today's stage is unlikely to be tough enough for the Norwegian however, and he will struggle to add to his tally in Nimes.

Speaking of Peter Sagan, the Slovakian could be about to set a personal record in the points competition. Sagan has been leading the competition since stage 2 and looks unlikely to relent it before Paris, taking it for the third year running. In 2012, Sagan took the competition with a huge 421 points, 141 more than André Griepel. With a week still to race and several opportunities to add to that, Sagan already has 361 and is leading Bryan Coquard by 200. I wonder how many of those points he would give up for a victory though. The flat finish will make it difficult for Sagan to win here, but there's no doubt that he is determined.

192km remaining from 222km

The peloton are happy to let these two man build a massive advantage. The gap has expended all the way up to 7:25. Martin Elmiger is the top placed of the two escapees, the IAM Cycling rider is well down in the general classification at 1:53:12 down on Vincenzo Nibali.

Vincenzo Nibali has been dominant during this year's Tour de France. He's held the yellow jersey, apart from one day, ever since the second stage and has taken three stage victories already. It doesn't look like anyone will be able to topple him off his perch in the coming week. Nibali's dominance has obviously raised questions about the veracity of his performance, but the Italian has been forthcoming in his answers. He also responded to accusations that his victory might be a lesser one, because of the departure of his two biggest rivals Chris Froome and Alberto Contador. You can read what Nibali had to say after yesterday's stage right here.

Final kilometres in Nîmes #TDF

@Laura_Meseguer Sun, 20th Jul 2014 11:48:30

184km remaining from 222km

The Astana team are being given a bit of a rest today and it is Lotto-Belisol and Giant-Shimano are doing the work on the front of the peloton. They don't want to let these two escapees get too far away and their work has cut the gap down by around 20 seconds to 8:30.

Ji Cheng and Lars Bak are doing the work on the front at the moment. We already spoke about Bak earlier today, but what of Cheng? He is the first Chinese rider to ride the Tour de France and his tireless work on the front of the peloton has earned him the nickname the 'breakaway killer'. Cyclingnews' Stephen Farrand spoke to him earlier this week about making history. You can read the full article here.

We mentioned Nibali missing two of his biggest rivals at this years race. Alberto Contador left the race on Monday when he crashed heavily and broke his tibia. He spoke to Spanish TV yesterday after his teammate Rafal Majka took victory about the crash that took him out. You can read what he had to say here.

The wind is picking up out there and today, with gusts of up to 20mph. We're expecting a straightforward bunch sprint, but the wind could change things. The riders will have to be on their toes through out the stage to make sure they don't miss out if the bunch does split.

Large numbers of Norwegian fans out in Nimes anticipating a Kristoff win. And why not? (Apart from Kittel being very quick)

@nedboulting Sun, 20th Jul 2014 12:08:55

174km remaining from 222km

The riders have completed the first hour of racing at an average speed of 45.3kph. That's likely to slow a little bit with some small climbs coming up.

After peaking at around 8:50 the work of Lotto and Giant has brought the leaders' advantage down to 8:10.

This year is the 17th time that Nimes has featured as a stage finish at the Tour de France. The first time was on stage 5 of the 1905 edition when Louis Trousselier beat Maurice Decaup in a two man sprint. There were a few more riders in the bunch when Mark Cavendish took victory on the last visit in 2009.

At 35, Martin Elmiger is the elder of the two escapees. He's making his return to Grand Tour racing for the first time in four years. Elmiger's last Grand Tour was the 2010 Tour de France. He is the reigning Swiss road racing champion, the fourth time that he has won that accolade. His biggest victory was the overall classification at the Tour Down Under in 2007.

The second of the escapees, Jack Bauer is in his third season as a professional after he made a late jump up to the top level. The 29-year-old is riding his second Tour de France. After Garmin-Sharp lost their leader Andrew Talansky, the door has been opened for the others to go for stage victories.

There were no DNSs today, with the 171 riders that finished yesterday making it to the start line today. However, we had two DNFs on yesterday's stage to Risoul. Rafa Valls (Lampre-Merida) climbed off yesterday due to illness, while Giant-Shimano's Dries Devenyns crashed out. The Belgian was taken straight to hospital where he was diagnosed with concussion, a collapsed lung and a fractured shoulder blade.


"“On the Izoard descent, there was a little rock on the road in a curve. I couldn’t see it, and hit it with my front wheel which made me crash,” Devenyns said in a team press release.

161km remaining from 222km

Katusha have also made their way to the front, with the gap so big still - at 7:30 - the sprinters' teams seem happy to share the workload for now.

155km remaining from 222km

The gap to the two escapees continues to be cut down quickly. Could we see then caught before the intermediate sprint at 46km to go? Surely that would be too early. The gap stands at 6 minutes.

It was tough going on the Col d’Izoard yesterday but Scott captured a great #TDF gallery here:

@TeamSky Sun, 20th Jul 2014 12:48:10

Weather forecast still shows crosswind and rain. This stage should be fun - to watch. #TDF

@mrconde Sun, 20th Jul 2014 12:57:12

As the break continues to be reeled in by the peloton, why not catch up on all of our Tour de France videos here and remember to subscribe so you can be the first to watch them.

And why not let us know what you think of the 2014 Tour de France so far and who your picks are for victory and we will post some of them here. Send us a tweet at @Cyclingnewsfeed or @SadhbhOS

138km remaining from 222km

The peloton has eased up a little and the gap has gone back up to 5:32 and it seems like the sprinters' teams are happy with this gap.

Yesterday saw the first real tete a tete between French future stars Romain Bardet and Thibault Pinot. Bardet is currently leading the fight, but with only 16 seconds separating them it could still go either way. Here is what they both had to say after yesterday's stage.

As the wind continues to build up the pace has come down for the second hour. The average speed for the second hour was 38.1kph and over the first two hours was 42.4kph.

The Tour de France isn't the only racing on today. The women have been competing in the final stage of the Thuringen Rhundfahrt, which today has been won by Elke Gebhardt with Lizzie Armitstead finishing second. Evelyn Stevens has taken the overall classification.

Horrific weather in Nîmes now. Windy, lightening overhead...

@friebos Sun, 20th Jul 2014 13:26:01

There has been a serious amount of raining during the Tour de France this year and the news that it could pour down at the finish won't go down well in the peloton. Thankfully the finish is made up of some wide straight roads, so hopefully everyone can make it through in one piece.

And reports coming through that it has finally started to rain at the finish line.

André Greipel may be the most worried out of the sprinters. During stage 3 into London, the German got nervous in the rain and was extra cautious going around the corners. He was unable to contest the sprint because he was so far back when they hit the finishing stretch. Marcel Kittel won on that day.

When it comes to the sprint, we can't count out Bryan Coquard. The Frenchman has been relatively consistent in the sprints and could cause an upset if he gets it right in Nimes. Coquard is sitting in second in the points classification, although he would need Sagan to abandon the race if he wanted to take the jersey from the Slovakian.

@Cyclingnewsfeed Nibali for the overall, no one challenging him. Most exciting tour for years, even the flatter stages have been animated.

@Cyclesanremo Sun, 20th Jul 2014 13:33:29

116km remaining from 222km

The leaders are almost at the halfway point in today's stage. There is a very small ascent and then it's almost all downhill or totally flat from there on out. The two leaders have a gap of 6:26 on the peloton.

It's not just the rain that has picked up at the finish, but the wind is gusting. Barriers have been knocked over and umbrellas turned inside out. We've been taking about the difficulties on a bunch sprint in the rain, but it may not even come to that. If the wind stays as it is, we may see some huge splits in the bunch. It could be the opportunity for a brave, plucky rider to sneak a surprise victory.

If there are splits in the bunch today than stage hunters such as team Sky could throw a spanner into the works . Without their leader Chris Froome and Richie Porte not in the form to challenge in the GC, the British team have had to go to plan C. They went on the attack yesterday and here is what Geraint Thomas has to say afterwards.

A puncture for John Gadret. The peloton aren't going too fast so making it back shouldn't be a problem.

The peloton are now zipping along in single file down this small descent. Ji Cheng is sitting on the back, after doing his work on the front.

Adrien Petit looks like he's having a couple of issues. He suffers a puncture at high speed and has some problems as he tries to slow down. As he pulls over, Gadret flies past. He is still making his way back to the bunch.

Nimes has been a regular feature in the Tour de France since 1905, but it could be making it's first appearance at the Vuelta a Espana in 2017. Earlier this season, it was reported that the French city would play host to the start of the Spanish Grand Tour.

Another flat and this time it's Jean Christophe Peraud and he is now being brought back by two of his teammates. Peraud had a very good day in the mountains yesterday, finishing third behind Majka and Nibali. He is one of two AG2R riders in the top 10 and you can read what he said after the stage.

93km remaining from 222km

The GC teams have now taken over at the front, Astana and Movistar are both present. Lars Bak of Lotto is the only member of a sprinter's team visible at the front. He's also got Jurgen Van Den Broeck to look after.

The rain has stopped briefly at the finish, fingers crossed it can stay that way and that to roads dry off during the remaining 90km.

The work on the front is being shared by a large number of teams. Some ominous clouds still overhead, but it looks like it is clearing up a little. Still 81km to run for the riders.

Richie Porte suffered hard once again yesterday. The Australian was dropped almost immediately at the foot of the final climb on yesterday's stage. Cyclingnews spoke to Porte this morning who admitted that he was suffering with illness. You can read what he said here.

Finally the peloton look like they've decided to get their act together and close this gap down a bit. Giant and Lotto are forcing things ont he front on this descent and the advantage begins ticking down slowly. The intermediate sprint is not too far away.

Race splitting in the crosswind, riders being dropped

@inrng Sun, 20th Jul 2014 14:35:45

It looks like the wind is having an impact, as some riders begin losing touch with the peloton. Will there be any GC riders who lose out if this comes down to echelons?

Last year, Mark Cavendish comapred echelons forming to falling through ice. Leave it s second to long and you've gone through and it's almost impossible to make it back. All the GC riders will want to be near the front to make sure that they don't miss out.

68km remaining from 222km

King of the mountains leader Joaquim Rodriguez has been dropped off the back of the peloton and Richie Porte has also been spat out the back.

61km remaining from 222km

The upping in pace has had a huge impact on the advantage of the escapees. It has come down to 3:07 and the peloton don't look like they're going to let up any time soon.

Sagan looks like he may have had a touch of wheels with Ten Dam. The Cannondale rider was moving over to the right of the road and had a little wobble, but it looks like he's ok.

It is BMC controlling things at the front now. They want to protect Tejay van Garderen, but could Van Avermaet try something if the wind whips up again?

AG2R has also been pretty visible on the front of the group, they too have an option for today in Samuel Dumoulin. The French team are wearing yellow helmets as the leader of the team competition.

57km remaining from 222km

A replay shows Nibali flying up the right-hand side of the peloton to make sure that he is right behind the BMC team. He doesn't want to be too far back if things go down. The gap to the 2 leaders is now at 2:00.

55km remaining from 222km

Paolini has a mechanical problem, he has to wait some time for the team car to get to him and even longer for a new bike from the car. He is back on and Kristoff will be hoping that the Italian can make it back quickly.

The pack has bunched back together and the pace has slowed a little bit. They must be wary of catching this pair too early. If they do catch them too early it would only be creating more work for the sprinters' teams.

The two leaders are approaching the intermediate sprint and we can now see the rain falling on the riders.

47km remaining from 222km

The official race website reports that the riders are currently being faced with a three-quarter head wind, which will make things that much more difficult for the breakaway. Back in the peloton, the riders have spread across the road. They're saving their reserves for the closing kilometres.

Fans of @Letour #TDF

@TrekFactory Sun, 20th Jul 2014 15:08:20

There is no contest for the sprint between the two escapees. Elmiger riders through, with Bauer in his wheel.

Coquard goes for the intermediate sprint and takes the one point available. He might be nowhere near Sagan but securing his second place means that he's first in line to take the jersey if Sagan comes a cropper.

The rain is really coming down hard now and the roads will be very slick for the finish. The worry is now the numerous roundabouts in the run-up to the finish line. We saw it at the Giro d'Italia where wet roads and roundabouts caused a huge crash in the first week.

Some of the dropped riders are just passing through the intermediate sprint. The group included Rodríguez and Voeckler, who got caught out when BMC and AG2R put the hammer down.

#TDF - Wet and slippery. Rain pouring down. Again difficult conditions. 44 kilometre to Nimes.

@TeamBelkin Sun, 20th Jul 2014 15:14:38

It seems like the wind has died down at the finish, which will be news to some riders' ears, and it's likely to come down to a bunch sprint.

Jack Bauer is having to move out of the slip stream of Elmiger as the rain water kicks up off his back wheel and into Bauer's face. Their gap now stands at 1:36.

38km remaining from 222km

Rodríguez is now three minutes behind the main bunch. He is not going for the GC this year, so this won't be too much of a worry for him. The Spaniard will be looking to save his energy for another attack in the mountains.

As we close in on Nimes, remember that you can watch all of our Tour de France videos and more right here and don't forget to subscribe.

32km remaining from 222km

The yo-yo affect continues with the breakaway group. The gap has gone back up to two minutes, as the rain stops falling.

Astana are now in control on the front of the peloton as they try to keep Vincenzo Nibali out of trouble. With the roads now wet with the rain, the chances of a crash has increased and the front is the best place for the Italian.

Yet another puncture for John Gadret, who will have to waste more energy getting back to the bunch for the second time.

Who are your picks for victory today? Will it be Marcel Kittel again or can someone out power him? Let us know on @Cyclingnewsfeed or @SadhbhOS

24km remaining from 222km

So we thought that the rain had come to a stop, but no. It's hammering it down even harder than before. Both of the leaders have to take a roundabout at an almost pedestrian pace. This could be very dangerous for the sprinters at the finish if this continues.

Conditions like this could help someone like Pater Sagan who is known for his bike handling skills, however, Marcel Kittel is pretty handy when it comes to handling too.

@Cyclingnewsfeed Depends - who is the strongest swimmer?

@dnj1980 Sun, 20th Jul 2014 15:37:22

22km remaining from 222km

The storm clouds have really descended and it's very dark out there. Michal Kwiatkowski has decided to give it a go with the break only 1:16 up the road.

Kwiatkowski is only 14 seconds ahead of the peloton and it seems like a strange time for the Polish rider to be having a go. Surely it would be better to leave it for the final 10 or 5 kilometres. 

17km remaining from 222km

As Kwiatkowski goes off the front, the French national champion Arnaud Démare is sent off the back and he won't be contesting the sprint today. Démare has been suffering with stomach problems, which have probably had a big impact on his energy levels.

The weather can't decide what it wants to do. The rain has stopped but there is a lot of standing water that is unlikely to be gone in the next 30 minutes. The two escapees keep plugging away but their advantage is down to 1:05.

15km remaining from 222km

Kwiatkowski is back in the bunch now, which will please Matteo Trentin. The Italian will be looking to try and add a second stage victory in Nimes.

Lars Bak controlling the front of the peloton. The Danish rider has his elbows on the handlebars as he sits at the pointy end of the Lotto-Belisol train. He's brought the gap down to a minute.

Weather in Nimes improved. Sun is out, roads still slippery. Banners on barriers have been removed to reduce risks

@Sky_Gernot Sun, 20th Jul 2014 15:51:07

We're into the final 10 km and all the sprinters' teams are trying to move up to the front. The leaders are only 47 seconds up the road and this is about to get very lively.

Wonder why Lotto is killing themselves like this. If Greipel wants to beat Kittel he has to weaken Giant. Not exactly happening now... #TDF

@mrconde Sun, 20th Jul 2014 15:53:57

Adam Hansen has made a small gap to the peloton as they go through the first of the many roundabouts in this finale.

7km remaining from 222km

This roundabouts could actually help the two leaders, especially with the wet roads. The peloton are going to be much more cautious and the gap has stalled around 43 seconds. Could we see an upset?

5km remaining from 222km

It's still Lotto at the front of proceedings, with Greipel sitting around fifth rider back. They could run out of men to lead the German out if they continue like this. Giant are pretty quiet at the moment.

Elmiger has been awarded the most aggressive rider award for the day, he will be wearing the red dossard tomorrow.

4km remaining from 222km

An attack from Tony Martin

Jurgen Roelandts follows Martin and they have a very small gap.

4km remaining from 222km

Martin and Roelandt have been caught. There is still 30 seconds to the leaders.

Another attack from QuickStep this time it's Bakelants

3km remaining from 222km

QuickStep seem determined to make the other teams woks hard and as Bakelants is caught Martin goes again.

QuickStep are unlikely to come out victorious in a sprint, so their tactic is to rip things up beforehand. 1.8 to go and the leaders still have 20 seconds.

Giant-Shimano now leading the chase of these two leaders. It's going to be incredibly close. 1km to go

Martin is chasing hard, but with 1km to go the gap is still 14 seconds

The pack can see the two leaders ahead of them with 600 metres to go

Martin has been caught

Elmiger leads the sprint

Kristoff takes Bauer on the line for victory

Bauer slipped around Elmiger and looked like he might take it, but the Kiwi just ran out of power and Kristoff takes his second win

Good news for IAM as Haussler finishes second, with Sagan having to settle for third.

Kittel was the big favourite for today, but Giant were nowhere to be seen in the sprint.

Bauer is in tears on the finish line and gets a pat on the back from his teammate Ben King. Bauer thought that he had that one, but he ended up finishing in 10th after the sprinters swarmed past him.

Here's the top five for that finish:

1. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha)
2. Heinrich Haussler (IAM)
3. Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
4. André Greipel (Lotto)
5. Mark Renshaw (OPQS)

Thankfullly, despite the wet roads, everyone looks like they've stayed on their bikes.

It's the final rest day tomorrow and that is the last chance for the sprinters until next Friday. Tomorrow it is the turn of the GC contenders. There was no change in the top 10, but here is how it looks after that stage


1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 66:49:37
2 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:04:37
3 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:04:50
4 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) 0:05:06
5 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:05:49
6 Jean-Christophe Péraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:06:08
7 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling 0:08:33
8 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team Netapp-Endura 0:09:32
9 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling 0:10:01
10 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 0:10:48

And a final look at the top 10 for today. Bauer's position shows just how close yet so far a victory can be.


1 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha 4:56:43
2 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling
3 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale
4 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol
5 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
6 Bryan Coquard (Fra) Team Europcar
7 Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin - Sharp
8 Romain Feillu (Fra) Bretagne - Seche Environnement
9 Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica Greenedge
10 Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin - Sharp

That is all from us today. You will be able to find the full report, gallery and results right here. As we said, it is the rest day tomorrow but don't forget to tune into Cyclingnews to get all the latest from the rest day press conferences.

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