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Tour de France 2017: Stage 15

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Hello and welcome to live coverage from stage 15 of the Tour de France.


  

Hello and welcome to our live coverage from stage 15 of the Tour de France. We're in Laissac-Sévérac l'Église and today's stage takes on the Massif Central with a 189.5km stage to  Le Puy-en-Velay. It's a day for the break but also a genuine day for the GC contenders. 

The start town of Laissac-Sévérac l’Église (two villages which merged last year) already has a link to cycling, having hosted the UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships last year. A race - the Roc Laissaglais - is held there every year too, part of the UCI Marathon Series. Jean-Christophe Péraud, second in the 2014 Tour (and with worse memories of yesterday’s stage in Rodez in which he crashed badly in 2015), won that race five times in his mountain-biking days.

But a test of a different nature will await the peloton today, with a lot of climbing on the menu and a good portion of this jaunt through the Massif Central spent above 1,000 metres’ altitude. However, this isn’t, at first glance, one for the flyweight climbers.

We're about 45 mins from the roll out and riders are busily signing on and greeting fans. A few have taken in the sights at the start village but on a day like today, with the first climb coming so early, most riders aren't relaxed. The rollers will be out this morning as the bunch try and warm up for what is likely to be a fast start. 

Will Alberto Contador attack today? It's a long old stage but he's got form for such a play and he attacked two days ago to create the decisive break. He's into the top ten on GC but a long way off a high position. If he goes in the break it's going to have to be a pretty special move and you can probably expect UAE to chase him down - as they did two days ago.

Here's where things stand coming into today's stage. Froome is back in yellow after Aru's gift yesterday but there are still four riders within a minute of the top step:

Barguil will almost certainly try and get in the move today as well as he looked to pick up points on the first two early climbs and then perhaps go for another stage win. Sunweb have had two great days with back-to-back wins. Here's how things stand in the KOM competition. 

Roll out is another 15 minutes away with a shorter neutralized zone than yesterday. That was endless. So there's still plenty of time to read Jeremy Whittle's excellent piece on the handling and forgiveness of former dopers within cycling

Some talk of Matthews being a contender for today. Not impossible given his current form but if the GC riders really go full throttle on the final two climbs then we could see the bunch completely thinned out. Today is a stage for the likes of Bardet and possibly Aru to try and put Team Sky back under pressure now that they have the yellow jersey. 

And what of Quintana? His father has been in the press slating Movistar and their decision to send Quintana to both the Giro and the Tour de France. The Colombian hasn't been at his best during this race and lost more time yesterday. It's unlikely he'll be able to ride into the break as he did on stage 13 but Movistar can make the stage really tough today. Here's what his father had to say about the team though.

And we're off. The riders begin the slow neutralized start before the flag drops and Prudhomme sends us on our way for stage 15 of the Tour de France. 

More glorious sunshine for the riders with Kittle and Rowe tapping away on the front. No sign of Prudhomme but the sunroof is open. Repeat. The sunroof is open so it's only a matter of time before he stands up and starts the race. 

Simon Clarke is also on the front. He's another rider who might try and get into the break today, or at least mark some moves. Cummings, right at the back of the bunch so he's not going to make a play. 

Here he is. Prudhomme is on his feet, he waves his flag and we've got racing on stage 15 of the Tour de France. Cofidis, Katusha, Cannondale and Bora fire men up the road. 

Dimension Data have tried to and we've got a group of around ten riders off the front. That will be the break for now as the rest of the bunch spread out across the road. Lotto, Bahrain, Quickstep have made the cut. We'll bring you the names as soon as we have them. Meanwhile yesterday's breakaway,  - De Gendt and Voeckler - sit at the back and chat. 

Some urgency from the peloton already though and it looks like they're mounting a response. Barguil is in the break and it's Trek who are chasing with Team Sky just policing the field.

Trek have just one man on the front as the leaders establish a 30 second lead. Contador's men missed the split it seems but they're going to need to have more on the front if they're to pull this move back. The break are working really well together in the early stages. 

With Trek on the front it looks like Contador might make a move on the first climb but he would prefer a teammate up the road to bridge up to. That might be why they are chasing. Meanwhile Burghardt and the rider from Katusha are arguing at the back of the break. I dont think the Bora rider is contributing...

Serge Pauwels is in the break. Interesting fact about the Belgium. He owns a British short hair cat. Okay not that interesting.

Ah and now there's massive counter attack from the field and it's being led by Lotto NL and Trek. This is a serious sign of intent as we see Quintana stop for a mechanical. Worst timing ever. 

This is going to be full gas until we hit the climb and then the race is going to really explode. The first group only have 20 seconds but there were several Trek and LottoNL riders in the second split. 

Riders in the first move are :
Barguil, Van Baarle, Kiserlovski, Grmay, Caruso, Pauwels, Burghardt, Tony Martin, Sieberg, Maté.

That second group have been caught but Trek now lead the peloton. Why Burghardt isn't working is unclear to me. They have no rider up on GC and no Sagan. The rest of the break will not be happy that he's just sitting on. 

178km remaining from 189km

Excellent move from Barguil as we approach the first climb of the day. The Frenchman is leading the KOM competition at the moment and is on course to extend his advantage. Team Sky seem happy with the break too. They marked the accelerations from Trek - clearly not willing to allow Contador's men to place themselves up the road for later.

Not sure Trek know what they want as they've once again hit the front and started to chase again as the gap moves out to 1'48. 

A full list of riders in the break:



Warren Barguil (Sunweb), Dylan Van Baarle (Cannondale-Drapac), Robert Kiserlovski (Katusha), Tsgabu Grmay (Bahrain Merida), Damiano Caruso (BMC), Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data), Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Tony Martin (Katusha), Marcel Sieberg (Lotto Soudal) and Angel Luis Maté (Cofidis)

We're on the first climb, the 1st cat ascent of the Montee de Naves d'Aubrac. Trek still setting the pace for the peloton as the break battle with the gradient up ahead. 

169km remaining from 189km

Martin and Burghardt have both been dropped by the break due to the pressure from Barguil who wants those points at the summit. Mate has just lost contact too. Team Sky now start to lead the bunch having let Mollema go up the road.

And there appears to have been a major split in the field. Team Sky are controlling a second peloton but there's a massive group, I think containing Mollema, on the move.

Caruso is a bit of a worry for the GC men too. He's in the first group and he's 14th on GC at 11'26 off yellow. He's certainly not an immediate threat as we see that a number of Trek riders have moved into the Mollema counter attack.

Barguil is thinning the break out and there are just four men with him and we've still got 5km to climb until we hit the summit.

Who is in the Mollem group? We can see Matthews. Pantano, I think, is also there as up ahead only Pauwels and Caruso can go with Barguil as we hit the 9 per cent gradient. Froome and co are at 1'48.

164km remaining from 189km

Contador is bridging over to the Mollema group. Will he make the juncture?

It looks like Contador will make it up the Froome peloton are about to shut it all down as Gallopin attacks from the Mollema group.

So we have Barguil, Caruso and Pauwels. 

Mollema continues to lead this counter attack. Contador is back with Team Sky though as Barguil ride to within 2.4km of the first summit.

Team Sky have lost a couple of riders already though and this is really going to bolster Ag2R, who have a man in the Mollema group and haven't done any work yet. Gallopin has caught T Martin but we've riders all over the climb as we seen about five Sky riders left with Froome.

There were about 20 riders in the Mollema group but he's reduced that number dramatically. Roglic is there for LottoNL as the Trek rider continues to try and stretch Team Sky.

Alberto Contador from this morning: It's going to be the day where the break is the protagonist, a lot of teams are still looking for a stage win. But it might still be a complicated day. I'm going well. Day by day, I'm feeling better and have a lot of motivation for the final week."

As  up ahead Barguil takes maximum points at the top of the climb to bolster his lead in the KOM competition. BMC have three men in the Mollema group as we see Contador at the back of the yellow jersey group. 

No descent just yet as the road continues to climb even after the summit of the last climb. Pinot is also in the Mollema group, including Ulissi, and Roche. Calmejane, already a stage winner in the race, is also there.

Reports in that Tim Wellens has quit the race. He was last man home yesterday and then was the first to be dropped today. 

We're not yet on the classified part of the second climb but the fans are out in huge numbers and Barguil is still doing the majority of the work. Once we get over the summit he'll rely on the rest of the break helping him. Or he'll sit up and wait for the second group that contains Matthews - who is looking to win the intermediate sprint.

The Matthews, Mollema, and Pinot group are at 1'18 from the leading five riders. That could be easily closed down after the next climb but it all depends on how each group cooperate. Five riders might work better than the group of 20+.

And we're onto the Cote de Vieurals - it's a third cat climb and once again Barguil moves to the front and starts to set the pace. Logic would dictate that he will stop working as hard once he crests the top of the climb. 

De Gendt is also in the Mollema group and he's Barguil's closest challenger for the points in the KOM competition. The Belgium rider will prioritise a stage win over the jersey and he has two teammates in the second group with him - Gallopin and Benoot who is impressive in his debut Tour de France.

147km remaining from 189km

Knees is on the front for Team Sky with Froome's full supporting cast positioned around him as up ahead Barguil leads Pauwels and van Baarle over the top of the climb. It's rolling terrain for the rest of the stage before we hit the final two climbs towards the end of the stage.

The Mollema group have pulled the Barguil break to within 45 seconds with 138km to go. There are a few hangers-on in the second group of 23 but the move if effective nonetheless as the peloton sits at 4'33 down on the five leaders.

29 seconds as Lotto work to pull the five leaders back. That isn't a bad thing for Barguil. It means he can rest before the next climbs and perhaps help set up Matthews for the intermediate sprint.

Chris Froome (Team Sky) heads to sign on this morning

130km remaining from 189km

BMC and Lotto Soudal have the numbers and they'll push the break from now on as Mollema takes more of a back seat and rests before the final two climbs. 

 Here are the 23 "newcomers" to the lead group: Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Jan Bakelants (AG2R), Tony Gallopin (LottoSoudal), Romain Hardy (Fortuneo-Oscaro), Lilian Calmejane (Direct Engerie), Daniel Navarro (Cofidis), Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo), Nicolas Roche (BMC), Robert Kiserlovski (Katusha), Luis Mate (Cofidis)), Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates), Pierre-Luc Perichon (Fortuneo- Oscaro), Amael Moinard (BMC), Kristijan Durasek (UAE Team Emirates), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Michael Matthews (Sunweb), Simon Geschke (Sunweb), Maurits Lammertinks (Katusha), Romain Sicard (Direct Energie), Alessandro De Marchi (BMC) and Tony Martin (Katusha).

121km remaining from 189km

Green jersey Marcel Kittel (QuickStep Floors) apparently had an off-day yesterday, falling out of the peloton early. But so far today he is safely within the peloton again. His biggest rival for the green jersey, Sunweb's Michael Matthews, is in the lead group. But even another victory today for Matthews wouldn't bring enough points for him to take the green jersey.

Why is Sky letting this group go? Because the highest-ranked rider in it is Caruso, who is over 11 minutes down.

The Feed Zone has ben reached, at least by the lead group. Bon appetit!

105km remaining from 189km

Tony Martin has jumped from the lead group and has a few meters lead. But even for the World TT champ, 103 km alone is a bit much.

Three of the riders in the lead group have already won stages this year: Calmejane (stage 8), Barguil (stage 13) and Matthews (stage 14). Having won two in a row, Sunweb would be delighted to go for a third.

The gap has dropped slightly, now at 5:48. 

Sunweb set things up for the intermediate sprint, and Matthews easily took the points ahead of De Gendt and Bakelants.

The peloton finally crosses over the intermediate sprint line, 6:05 after Matthews.

88km remaining from 189km

This large group is working well together, with the various teams all taking their turns at the front. 

Back in the mail field Knees and Rowe continue to keep the break in check, with the gap at 6'34. The Team Sky pair will continue like this until we reach the base of the next climb. The we'll see the likes of Landa, Nieve, Henao and Kwiatkowski take over. 

Froome it seems is having a comfort break and that allows the gap to inch out to around seven minutes. 

The race leader is now being paced back to the main field and Knees is made aware and told to get back to work. Sky have everything under control at the moment but there's still a long, long way to go.

The race leader is now being paced back to the main field and Knees is made aware and told to get back to work. Sky have everything under control at the moment but there's still a long, long way to go.

Pinot must be a real threat for the stage win. He's had back seat during the Tour so far and been a bit unwell but he's found his climbing legs today as he drifts back to the team car to pick up some nutrition from the FDJ team car. 

Fabio Aru:

Romain Bardet:

Alberto Contador:

63km remaining from 189km

Martin has about 400m on the main break and we've a long descent, another valley, and then the next climb. One rider versus 27 but the one is arguably the best time trialist over the last five years.

Martin has actually pushed his lead out to 53 seconds and it's growing with each pedal stroke.

This is a smart move from Katusha - look to weaken Lotto and the rest and then try and save your remaining two riders for the finale. 

Bakelants has tried to jump out of the break but he's been shut down by Lotto Soudal. His move has sparked more of a reaction as BMC attack from the chase and it's all splitting up. I'm going to regret saying that Martin had no chance... He's descending like a demon. The bunch are over 8 minutes down. 

54km remaining from 189km

52km remaining from 189km

49km remaining from 189km

Back in the field and the first signs of intent from Movistar. They've been fairly subdued so far in the stage and but for a mechanical for Quintana we've rarely seen them. They've now nudged their way to the front, their pint-sized climber in tow as they look to set him up for the final two climbs. 

44km remaining from 189km

We're almost on the Col de Peyra Taillade and BMC are ripping the break apart with a furious pace. They're looking to pull Martin back and then try and set up a stage win but riders like Barguil and Gallopin can't be forgotten. 

40km remaining from 189km

This is a real danger for Froome who is relying on Movistar to pull this back together but AG2R have got the upper hand at this point. We're not even on the penultimate climb. Aru has made the split and Froome has to chase. The gap is only about 100m . 

Massive moment for Team Sky and they've shut that gap down with a lot of help from Movistar. 39km to go and the stage, and the race are wide open. 

Out front and Martin is on the climb. Froome is asking his teammates to get back to the front as Caruso leads the break on the climb. Ullisi is there and he looks strong as well. Nine minutes between Martin and the yellow jersey still.

Where are Sky? Because Froome is having to close a gap on his own. 

Froome has stopped. What an awful time to have a mechanical. AG2R are not going to stop. 

Froome takes a wheel or a new bike, not sure but the yellow jersey is chasing one more. He has Henao with him but this is a massive moment for him in this year's Tour. Ag2R are tearing up this climb with 5.9km to go until the summit. 

Another teammate drops back for Froome as AG2R look to turn the screw at the front. Froome is in trouble here but at least he has two men with him. 

The AGR2 peloton are not yet on the climb proper yet but they're about to hit the slower slopes. Froome is around a minute down on the front of the Bardet group. Way out in front T Martin continues to lead.

Froome is coming through the groups so the chase is working but he still has some work to do. Landa Aru, Chaves, Yates, MArtin and Contador are in the AG2R group. Where is Froome?

36km remaining from 189km

Froome is about to catch other group but it's not the one that matters. He's still way off the back as Neive and Henao work their socks off for him. 

So Froome is officially 48 seconds off the Bardet group. As things stand he's out of yellow and Aru is moving back into the race lead. There's still a long way to go though. 

34km remaining from 189km

Wow Quintana has blown too and Froome has caught and past him as Barguil moves into the lead with Pauwels chasing him.

I think there are 6 AG2R riders in the Bardet group but Froome is closing. Quintana though has totally fallen apart. His team aren not even waiting for him. 

Barguil is alone and clear, Pauwels can't match him as further down the climb AG2R continue to rip the race apart. Now Froome loses Nieve and Henao. He has to close the rest of the gap on his own. Meanwhile Landa isn't waiting. The plot thickens....

Four riders left for AG2R as we hit the hardest part of the climb. Froome is being booed by the crowds as he takes a corner. 

And Landa has dropped back for Froome. 

Landa has waited as the gap comes down to around 10 seconds. Froome was on the ropes but he's not out for the count just yet.

Pauwels is coming back to Barguil. Slowly but he's doing it. 

32km remaining from 189km

Bardet has two men left but how is he going to use them? Froome moves up the lead group which is down to around 12 riders as up ahead Pauwels makes contact with Barguil.

Froome is in crisis mode as he sits at the back of the group and tries to recover but there's no recovery on a climb this hard. Contador is out of the saddle but he looks like he's struggling too. 

And Barguil kicks again and is clear once more. 

Bardet has attacked. 

Only Uran can go with him and Contador and Martin chase.

Back together again as Froome makes contact as well. Up ahead and Barguil is caught by a vastly reduced group that contains Pinot. 31km to go.

In the yellow jersey group AG2R use up their last domestique. Bardet should have really attacked just as Froome made contact... right when he was on the limit.

Still around 6 mins of climbing for the GC men as Mollema attacks from the break on the descent. 

Bardet's last man Latour sets the pace with the group down to around 10 riders. Yates is the last man. 

There are still two Lotto Soudal riders in the break as they lead the chase for Mollema.

Meanwhile 1km to the summit for the GC men.

Quintana, meanwhile, has lost over 90 seconds to Froome and company. His podium hopes are well and truly over. Almost.

Over the top for the GC men. No one missing, other than Quintana and Bennett from the top 11. 

21km remaining from 189km

Quintana has Betancur for company as he looks to rescue his position. 

The chase group has swelled behind Mollema with Roche and Calmejane among the riders to make it back. Mollema has 18 seconds.

Bennett has put in a shift and makes contact with the maillot jaune group. 

17km remaining from 189km

It's looking good for Mollema. The gap is at 44 seconds with 15km to go. 

Mollema deserves this if he takes the win. He was the one rider who had real intent on that first climb when he led the counter attack. Now he's on his own and about to hit the final climb. 

The Trek rider has about 500m on the chase as he starts the climb. 14km to go.

Landa and Froome are still in conversation just behind the AG2R train. Team Sky are up against it but they still have their two best riders in the mix as we see Roglic attack from the chase group. Barguil is the only rider who can go with him.

Huge test for Mollema now with Roglic and Barguil sharing the chase work. 500m to go until Mollema crests the top of the final categorized climb.

Where is Barguil finding the energy for this? He's now out of the saddle and bringing back Mollema.

Mollema closes in on the top of the climb. He's over the top but he still has 13km to go. Barguil and Roglic are closing and are less than 20 seconds back. 

Mollema will hope that Barguil and Roglic are caught and then the chase hesitate. That might be his only hope right now.

As Ulissi makes it up to Roglic and Barguil. Benoot is there as well. So that's four riders chasing down Mollema.

11km remaining from 189km

Gallopin has made the chase group too. It's not Benoot. Sorry.

The chase can see Mollema and if they work together they'll catch the Trek rider. 10km to go.

And Yates attacks on the climb. 

AG2R lead the chase and the move is closed down.

He's still clear, actually and the gap is growing. Landa has Froome on his wheel as Landa moves up. 

Landa pushes on and Contador is drifting back with Bennett .

Landa isn't letting Yates have any room and the Orica rider is closed down.

Yates again and Landa is the only rider who can follow but it's right at the top of the climb and it should all come back together. 

7km remaining from 189km

And Dan Martin has attacked. Huge move and he's clear.

AG2R are looking around. Landa looks around. Who is going to close this down because it's another strong move from the Irish climber. In the end it's Landa who moves to the front.

Up ahead and Mollema continues to fight the gradient as the chase start to attack each other. 5km to go for the Trek leader but the gap is less than 15 seconds.

Mollema is flagging as he starts to descent again. And there's an attack from AG2R and Landa shuts that one down. Martin has around 10 seconds on yellow right now.

Quintana is the big loser today. He's going to drop even further down the GC at the end of today. 

3km to go for Mollema. Can he do it? He has 8 seconds.

2km remaining from 189km

Now they form a chase but Mollema has 2km to go.

He has over 200m on the chasers. It's his to lose but he needs to keep it together. Barguil takes a long turn.

1.2km to go.

Mollema is closing in on his first Tour de France stage win.

He doesn't win much but he's a classy rider on and off the bike. Can he hang on?

600m to go for Mollema.

Around the final bend for Mollema. 300m to go.

He looks back for the fist time. Raises his hands and takes stage 15 of the Tour de France.

For the sprint for second.... it's Ulissi second, Gallopin third and Barguil fourth. 

Roche attacks and gains fifth. Not a great day for BMC considering the numbers they had. Caruso will move up the GC. 

Martin has caught a chase group and he's gaining more time on yellow. This could turn out to be a massive day for the QuickStep rider. 

Martin has linked up with a group that contains De Gendt and it's the Belgian who is leading the group. It's forced Froome to start helping with the chase from the yellow jersey. Martin is really having a strong few days and he's gaining time on all his rivals.

Matthews sprints from a group. Not sure where he finishes but he might gain a couple of points on Kittel there. 

1km to go for Dan Martin but there's no time gap to the yellow jersey group. 

6'12 for Martin on the line.

Froome leads the rest home, 12 seconds down on Martin on the line. 

What a stage!

Here's today's top 10 for the stage: 

 

So much to go through and digest from today. Quintana lost time, Froome almost lost time, and got booed by a small number of people on the road side, AG2R went on the attack and Mollema won the stage.

Froome was put under huge pressure when AG2R split the field on the descent before the final climb. He then had a flat and needed to use up most of his team as he chased back on but Landa waited for him. Froome kept it together but in truth everyone was already on the limit and he only needed to respond from one attack from Bardet. 

Froome is perhaps one of the GC winners today given how much pressure he was under but so too was Dan Martin, who gained time on all his rivals. We've not seen the full top ten yet so we'll have to wait and see where Caruso is now.

Here's the new top ten on GC:

Landa:

So Martin leapfrogs Landa into fifth while Caruso has cracked the top ten. Chances of the podium are still wide open. 

Here's the race leader: 

 

Froome may have come into the stage with hopes of testing his rivals but in the end he'll be happy to keep yellow after being put in serious trouble by AG2R and then a mechanical. 

And here's Bauka Mollema, the stage winner: 

 

 

 

You can find the results, report and images from today's stage, right here.

Our story on Froome's epic day is just here.

A reminder of how the GC picture looks after today's stage:


1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 64:40:21
2 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:18
3 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:23
4 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac 0:00:29
5 Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors 0:01:12
6 Mikel Landa (Spa) Team Sky 0:01:17
7 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 0:02:02
8 Louis Meintjes (RSA) UAE Team Emirates 0:05:09
9 Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 0:05:37
10 Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:06:05

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