22/07/18 - 12:20
Finished
Millau - Carcassonne
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Tour de France • Stage15
avant-match

Millau - Carcassonne

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Highlights 
 
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17:00

Here was the moment Magnus Cort Nielsen took the win.

0km

It's all over as the peloton trundles over the line with yellow jersey Geraint Thomas all smiles as he lives to fight another day in the race lead.

1km 

Team Sky lead the soft-pedalling pack under the flamme rouge. It looks like there's going to be no attacks from the peloton and so a ceasefire in the GC battle.

 

Here's confirmation of the top 10 today.

6km 

Meanwhile, the pack are still 6km from the finish after their leisurely ride today. Once the break got away it all calmed down for Sky and the GC favourites.

0km

CRASH: Five riders from the chasing group hit the deck after a needless touching of wheels as they sprint for minor places. It looks like Howsen, Vichot, Pauwels as well as a Cofidis rider and Martinez of EF Education First.

0km 

Michael Valgren is all smiles as he comes over the line for fourth place knowing that his compatriot and team-mate has won.

0km

Ion Izagirre takes second place and Bauke Mollema third.

0km

Victory for Magnus Cort Nielsen! The Dane opens it up once he senses movement behind - and he has too much speed on the slight uphill ramp. It's a maiden Tour win for Nielsen and a second of the weekend for Astana!

0.5km 

It's come to a near standstill as Nielsen has both riders in his wake on the home straight...

1km

Under the 1-to-go banner and it's Cort Nielsen who has been forced onto the front...

1.5km 

Izagirre goes for a long one! Nielsen closes it down and Mollema chases back on.

2km 

Mollema and Izagirre are carrying Nielsen - but there's no other way. The Dane is sitting back because he knows that he's the favourite...

3km 

The gap is 35 seconds for the three leaders so surely it's going to be a three-way sprint for the win. The smart money is on Nielsen but you never know what may happen at the end of a second week in the Tour.

4km 

Calmejane has another dig but has Valgren sandbagging behind. It's his home roads and he desperately wants something - but the race situation is not working for him, and he'll regret having made that solo attack earlier on...

5km

Back with the main pack and they're hitting a windy section and so it's red alert for the GC big guns.

6km

Calmejane buries himself but he's dragging four dead bodies and he knows it. The Frenchman swings off in frustration - and it looks like eight have become three: Nielsen, Mollema and Izagirre will fight it out for the win.

7km 

Mollema is the latest to have a pop but Nielsen has the match of him and Izagirre bridges over. Calmejane is then lent on to lead the chase because the other teams are represented and Majka is cooked!

10km

The cat and mouse starts. Pozzovivo attacks first but he's reeled in.

12km

Trek-Segafredo (Degenkolb), Bora-Hansgrohe (Sagan) and Astana (Fraile) already have wins in this year's Tour, but the other two teams in this break - Direct Energie and Bahrain Merida - are looking to open up their accounts. Their gap is 13 minutes back to the peloton so it's just between them for the win...

13km 

Ah, and if he wasn't back with the peloton then he is now. Martin and Sagan are caught by the pack. So it was a big effort for nothing for Martin.

14km 

I made a mistake about Sagan - he's only just been caught by Dan Martin on the descent. Still, he's very much out of the picture.

15km 

Majka sits up under the 15-to-go banner. He knows that it's all over. So we have eight riders now to contest the win.

17km 

Just 10 seconds now for the seven chasers. Astana have the two riders best suited for today's finale so Bahrain Merida's climbers Pozzovivo and Izagirre will have to try something a little different.

20km

Under the 20-to-go banner for lone leader Rafal Majka of Bora-Hansgrohe. He only has 20 seconds and so surely it won't be his day. In case you're thinking that Peter Sagan may suddenly appear from nowhere - we're hearing that the green jersey is back with the peloton some 13 minutes in arrears after cracking on that Pic de Nore climb.

22km

This is Astana's race to loss, surely. They have the strongest two finishers here in Cort Nielsen and Valgren, so unless the other riders use their own numerical advantage and attack in relays from early on, our likely winner is one of the two Danes today.

23km 

Just 20 seconds now for Majka over Calmejane, Mollema & Skijuns, Pozzovivo & Izagirre, Valgren & Nielsen. They have almost completed the descent and winds could well be a factor before the finish.

25km

Not far to Carcassonne where today's stage finishes...

28km 

Dan Martin has gone over the summit with around a minute to play with over the peloton. This descent is like the one where he was taken out by Richie Porte last year - the Mont du Chat. Luckily for the Irishman, the Australian is no longer in this race and he's riding alone so shouldn't be swiped from behind, unless it's from a spectator that is...

 

We should add that earlier a specataor almost fell into Majka before he hit the summit... that could have been nasty.

30km 

Trek (Mollema & Skujins), Astana (Valgren & Nielsen) and Bahrain Merida (Pozzovivo & Izagirre) all have two riders in the mix and that could work well for them in the finale. It's bound to come together on the flat 20km run to Carcassone - but with crosswinds expected it will help to have an ally.

36km 

It's very confusing to follow with so many different groups on the road - and much of this descent (and climb) under tree cover. Back with the pack it's Dan Martin who still holds a minute gap.

39km 

Ah, we're finally getting some images from the main pack - and it's Team Sky riding on the front on these narrow roads amid boos of the fans watching from the side. LottoNL-Jumbo are just behind and poised, as are Dumoulin's Sunweb.

41km

Majka, twice winner of the polka dot jersey, goes over the blustery summit with a little gap over Mollema and Nielsen. The Calmejane group is another 20 seconds back. They're onto the descent now and it looks very sketchy...

43km 

It's Pozzovivo who is setting the tempo in the chase - and he's distanced his team-mate Izagirre, Skujins and Soler. The Italian rides with Mollema, Valgren, Nielsen and Calmejane. They're still 30 seconds behind the Pole up front.

45km 

Solid stiff from Majka. Meanwhile, Calmejane, Valgren and Skujins have joined the chase group of four riders, who have passed Bernard. Behind, Dan Martin continues his solo ride up the climb. He's 40 seconds clear of the peloton.

46km

A stupid twit on the side of the road lights a flare and holds it dangerously close to the riders as they pass - indeed, Bernard has to duck underneath it. What a prat.

47km

Majka has passed Grellier, who has been caught by the chasers, and caught Bernard. But the gap is small back to Pozzovivo, Nielsen, Soler and Mollema...

47.5km

ATTACKS: Majka has danced clear in pursuit of the leaders. He's not far from Grellier, who has been dropped by Bernard. But back with the main pack it's Dan Martin who makes the first move. The Irishman picked up a puncture yesterday before the final climb and lost the best part of two minutes as he dropped to 10th on GC. Today he's on a mission to recoup some of that lost time...

48km

Grellier and Bernard have come through the trees and have hit the steepest section of the climb. They're starting to feel the pinch. The chasing group of around 17 riders is 50 seconds down. It contains: Calmejane, Majka, Mollema, Pauwels, Pozzovivo, Izagirre, Martinez, Moinard, Herrada, Valgren, Arndt, Nielsen, Skujins, Soler, Howsen, Terpstra and Bennati. Although it's been splitting up for quite some while. A second group - including that man Sagan - is still two minutes back.

49km

The peloton are approaching the start of the climb with a 13-minute deficit. Here's how Team Sky can make use of their power in numbers, according to the man who's seeking a record fifth win, but sees his path currently barred by team-mate Geraint Thomas, who's in the form of his life.

50km

Domenico Pozzovivo swings onto the front and momentarily forces a split with Rafal Majka and Damian Howsen behind. The two Astana riders bridge over along with Skujins. Valgren and Nielsen are a solid duo - could they make it an Astana double after Omar Fraile's win yesterday?

51km 

Serge Pauwels, Jesus Herrada and Ion Izagirre taking pulls on the front of the break. They have reduced the lead of the French duo to 1'30".

52km 

Pawel Poljanski sets the tempo now alongside Tom Skujins. The Pole is one of two Bora-Hansgrohe team-mates Sagan has in this break - the other being Rafal Majka. That's a solid trio to have for this finale.

 
53km

The break is onto the Cat.1 Pic de Nore (12.3km at 6.3%). The gap for the French duo is up to 1'55" as Movistar duo Imanol Erviti and Marc Soler come to the front to set tempo for this 27-man chase group.

54km

With the decisive climb coming up, the gap for the two leaders over the peloton hits 12 minutes. It's Wout Poels and Luke Rowe who are controlling the tempo for Sky, who will surely come under a bit of pressure on the climb - and that sinuous descent afterwards.

56km

The final climb is coming right up and it's a biggie...

59km

And yes, Sagan takes the 15pts for third place ahead of Greg van Avermaet in this slimmed down chase group. That puts him onto 452 points - just 18pts from his record tally from 2015, which he is bound to reach later today, no doubt, at the finish. If not, then certainly before the end of the race.

60km

Bernard takes the intermediate sprint - uncontested - with Grellier right in his wheel. Behind, expect Sagan to add to his huge tally of green jersey points...

62km

We're approaching the intermediate sprint at Mazamet and our leading French duo have 50 seconds on the other escapees and 10'40" on the pack. Mazamet is the home town of a certain Christophe Bassons, who took a stance against Lance Armsrtong and the doping culture of the 1990s and early 2000s.

66km 

On another uphill drag, Bernard joins Grellier just as the road exits the trees. While it seems like we're in the middle of nowhere, there are also a huge number of fans lining the streets - and generally they're cheering and not booing. That's probably because we have two Frenchman in lead - I expect things are a little different for the Sky-led peloton...

68km 

Grellier has Julien Bernard of Trek-Segafredo bearing down on him. Both Frenchman are making their debuts in the Tour this July.

70km 

Grellier still leads as the road enters dense woodland and goes up-and-down a little amid throngs of spectators. He has about 15 seconds on a little ramp before the descent towards the intermediate sprint.

75km 

It's Fabien Grellier again who zips clear on another downhill stretch. The roads are winding and rolling, making it quite tricky to control. But the fast pace means the pack are now 9'10" back.

76km 

The trio were caught but Skujins has put in another dig - matched by Sagan, who will be aware of the intermediate sprint coming up.

81km

Another attempt by Skujins to get away - he's one of three Trek riders in this break, and he's opened up a small gap with Grelier Van Avermaet. The pack is now 8'20" back after slowing considerably through the feed zone.

84km 

It's back together after that flurry of activity. Daryl Impey currently leads the pack until Terpstra takes over once again with Sagan on his wheel. They're clearly trying to force a selection on these rolling roads.

85km 

Astana duo Michael Valgren and Marcus Cort Nielsen drive the chase with that trio holding a small gap over the break.

86km

With the break heading through the feed zone, Niki Terpstra rides clear with Tom Skujins in a dubious move which has Peter Sagan hot on their heels.

88km

Geraint Thomas is back with the peloton after dropping back for a call of nature alongside fellow Welshman Luke Rowe. A lull while the yellow jersey was taking some time out has seen the gap for the breakaway grow to seven minutes.

92km

Apologies for the slight delay - just had to nip out to pick up some lunch. No change as the riders negotiate a long, sweeping downhill. The road will head back up on a short rolling segment before this descent towards the intermediate sprint continues. Expect to see that man Peter Sagan take the points in the sprint - he's currently on the front of the break doing his thing. The Sky-led pack trails at 6'10".

102km

It's all over for Lilian Calmejane, who sits up and waits for his team-mates in the breakaway. That was an odd move - and could well have jeopardised his chances of winning the stage today on his home roads. The gap back to the Sky-led peloton is still around the 6'40" mark.

103km

In the four times the Tour has come to Carcassonne the stage has been won by a solo breakaway - something which bodes well for Calmejane. The last rider to do so was Yaroslav Popovych of Ukraine, who finished 27 seconds ahead of Alessandro Ballan in Stage 12 from Luchon.

105km

According to French TV, Calmejane's attack was not planned. Questioned by former Direct Energie rider (and current TC pundit) Thomas Voeckler on the motorbike for France Televisions, the team's sport director Benoit Genauzeau admitted that Calmejane’s solo move from the bottom of Col de Sie was entirely improvised. "Lilian knows the roads at perfection,” he said. "He has taken a big risk. The other breakaway riders can't be underestimated. There are three strong teams there. But there wasn't much to do to stop him." Personally, I think it was a suicide vanity move. But we'll see.

108km

Calmejane is cheered by the fans lining the streets of a small town he passes through with a gap of 1'10" over the chasing 28-man break. The peloton is 6'45" in arrears but that man Arnaud Demare has managed to fight back on. Our lone leader is approaching the Col de la Bassine which is not categorised but has been used as a Cat.3 climb before in the Tour, albeit in the opposite direction (which is much harder).

112km

"You could have lent me your yellow sunglasses too."

115km

We spoke to Lilian Calmejane this morning ahead of the stage: "Today smells like home. It's rough roads and difficult climbs and strong southern accents. I hope the winner today will have such an accent - there are only a few of us in this Tour. Just Anthony Perez and me. I'm hoping it will be a good day for me. I know this stage well, I did a recon ahead of the stage on a very windy day. The Pic do Nore is a tough climb and the decent will have sidewinds. But I'm not going to get too excited - there are still 20km after the descent, which itself it quite sketchy, and they will be difficult. You will need to have energy in reserve if you want to win in Carcassonne." Despite all that, though, he's gone on a solo attack with 125km remaining!

116.5km

Over the top of the Col de Sie goes lone leader Lilian Calmejane to pocket the 5pts at the summit. Behind there's a bit of movement as Serge Pauwels leads the chase. The Belgian is currently third in the KOM standings and adds another 3pts there to move onto 66pts. Alaphilippe leads still on 93pts with Barguil on 70pts. Tom Skujins took third place behind Pauwels - the Latvian was in polka dots early in the race but those 2pts will only increase his tally to 8pts.

118km 

This is an impressive effort from Calmejane, who probably hoped that some other riders came with him when he rode clear. Perhaps they didn't because they felt he was crazy to attack such a large group from so far out - but he does know the roads and so this could play into his hand. His gap is up to 1'15" now.

121km

Here's why there are no UAE Team Emirates riders in the break. Their directeur sportif told letour.fr this morning: "It’s useless to break away because we have no chance to win. We’d better keep our strengths for the Pyrenees. Dan Martin knows them well and it should suit him more than the Alps. Why not targeting a second stage win?"

122km

Some would say that this stage had Lilian Calmejane's name written all over it...

123km

The gap is up to five minutes now for the Calmejane, who leads his fellow escapees by 50 seconds on this second categorised climb of the day.

124km 

It's perhaps understandable that Sky and LottoNL-Jumbo aren't involved in this break, but a massive hash for Lotto Soudal, Katusha-Alpecin, UAE Team Emirates and Wanty-Groupe Gobert to have missed out on this one and a chance to win the stage.

125km

As the break starts the Cat.2 Col de Sie (10.2km at 4.9&) there's an attack from Lilian Calmejane of Direct Energie. An odd decision from the French youngster to go so early but he's riding on his local roads and so perhaps feels suitably inspired.

126km

Courtesy of letour.fr here are the names of the 29 riders in the break: Daniel Martínez (EF Education First), Silvan Dillier (Ag2r La Mondiale), Nikias Arndt (Team Sunweb), Amäel Moinard and Florian Vachon (Fortuneo - Samsic), Sonny Colbrelli, Ion Izagirre and Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain - Merida), Damian Howson and Daryl Impey (Mitchelton - Scott), Daniele Bennati, Imanol Erviti and Marc Soler (Movistar Team), Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team), Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors), Peter Sagan, Rafal Majka and Pawel Poljanski (Bora - Hansgrohe), Magnus Cort and Michael Valgren (Astana Pro Team), Serge Pauwels (Team Dimension Data), Arthur Vichot (Groupama - FDJ), Lilian Calmejane, Fabian Grellier and Romain Sicard (Direct Energie), Bauke Mollema, Julien Bernard and Toms Skujins (Trek - Segafredo) and Jesús Herrada (Cofidis).

130km

The situation is as follows:

  • 29-man leading break
  • Yellow jersey pack +3'45"
  • Gruppetto, including Arnaud Demare +8'30"
132km

The gap is quickly up to three minutes for this 29-man break. Some interesting names here, most notably Van Avermaet, Calmejane, Majka, Mollema, Pauwels, Pozzovivo, Ion Izagirre, Sagan, Valgren, Nielsen, Soler, Colbrelli and Terpstra...

136km 

I think that's it: Sky have shut things down on the front of the pack, who now trail the leading move by 40 seconds. The best placed rider in the break is Greg van Avermaet, and he's 29 minutes down on GC.

138km

It's relentless out there. A group of 30 riders have managed to open up a small gap on the rolling roads. A handful of riders then darted clear of the main pack, which is now being controlled by Sky. So, this could be the move that sticks. Let's wait and see who's in it - Domenico Pozzovivo certainly is, and Sagan now.

140km 

Cofidis have taken things up and Barguil is right on the nose, too. You sense that something must happen soon, but the latest to force a shake-out by Daniel Oss came to nothing.

142km 

Oss, Howsen, Van Avermaet, Boswell and Clarke - all these riders are trying something, but there's no point listing their names in full because it will change in a couple of minutes. But Peter Sagan is still very much in the mix.

144km 

French veteran Sylvain Chavanel tries to solo clear but he's getting nothing from the pack. 20-odd riders have managed to bridge over but the gap back to the pack is closed and we're back together again. A fascinating - and fast - battle to sort today's break out today. It's been almost an hour of non-stop racing since the start.

145km

The break sits up on a blustery exposed plateau. They're caught by this small peloton which can only contain around 100 riders while Groupama-FDJ take up the pacing - which is odd considering their man Arnaud Demare now trails this main pack by five minutes!

147km

It's Quick-Step duo Tim Declercq and Philippe Gilbert who are setting the tempo on the front of the pack as they attempt to kill this breakaway for their man Alaphilippe, for whom Barguil is a threat in the KOM competition. They have already brought Boasson Hagen to heel and the gap is under 10 seconds now...

150km 

No leeway for the leading trio, whose advantage comes down to 10 seconds on this flat stretch ahead of the next climb. One rider is trying to bridge over - it's Edvald Boasson Hagen of Dimension Data.

155km 

Movistar come to the front of the pack and seemingly shut things down, which is odd. They don't have anyone in the leading trio but they seem to want to slow the chase up. The gap is still only 20 seconds for Barguil, Yates and Muhlberger.

157km 

Just 15 seconds for the trio as Alaphilippe leads the chase from behind. Andrey Amador (Movistar) is also pressing, as is Lilian Calmejane of Direct Energie. All three of those riders were involved in the break yesterday.

160km 

A small chase group formed and it must have been dangerous because Sky suddenly went to the front of the main pack - which is all strung out - to lead the chase. We don't know who was involved in that increase in tempo, but it's been neutralised for now. Thomas is right on the front and on high alert as Sagan, the green jersey, puts in the latest attempt to zip clear in pursuit of the leading trio.

162km

Adam Yates and Warren Barguil have combined to open up another gap. Both riders have been very active at the start of this stage. They're joined by Gregor Muhlberger on another uncategorised climb. EF Education Drapac and Bahrain Merida are leading the chase.

164km

This GIF from Team Sky is quite telling: it shows Thomas looking rather imperious and confident on yesterday's final climb, and a wheezy Froome very much looking on the rivet. It's going to be fascinating to see how their inter-team rivalry pans out today and next week.

 
165km 

Still no break has formed but it's not from want of trying. Anthony Perez, the local rider from Cofidis, had a pop after the climb but it came to nothing.

 
170km 

There's a fast pace on the front as riders try to cause a shake-out. Barguil is back in the mix trying to force things with the world champion Sagan, who is just so incredibly consistent and ever present.

171.5km

It's Alaphilippe who takes the 2pts going over the summit ahead of Martinez. But their advantage is very small. Still, the Frenchman increases his lead to 22pts over Barguil in the battle for polka dots.

172km 

Alaphilippe and Dani Martinez (EF Education First) have a small gap as they approach the summit. Many riders have been dropped - including Sky's Luke Rowe, which could affect the way the team of race leader Thomas ride this stage...

173km 

Barguil still driving the pace but he's not been given much leeway from the peloton, which is all very strung out on this climb. Tejay van Garderen and Alaphilippe are lurking.

174km

An early attack from Warren Barguil of Fortuneo-Samsic. The Frenchman has targeted today's stage - he also wants KOM points in his bid to retain the polka dot jersey. He currently trails compatriot Julian Alaphilippe of Quick-Step Floors by 20pts in the climbers' competition.

175km

We're onto the Cat.3 Cote de Luzencon (3.1km at 5.9%). We have three categorised climbs today of increasing difficulty and a total of 17 KOM points up for grabs.

176km 

Yates is reeled back in on a wide, sweeping downhill after that early climb. Thomas De Gendt and Marcus Burghardt are on the front while Peter Sagan looks like he might like to get involved... not long to the first categorised climb of the day.

179km 

Early problems for Arnaud Demare who is already off the back on this climb up underneath the Millau viaduct. It's going to be a long day for the Frenchman and some of the other remaining sprinters...

180km

It's uphill from the outset today and there's been an early attack from Britain's Adam Yates of Mitchelton-Scott - looking to save his Tour after a disappointing few days in the Alps.

181.5km

Tour race director Christian Prudhomme waves the flag from the back of his Skoda Octavia - and the race is on!

12:20
12:15

The riders are currently soft-pedalling through the neutral zone ahead of the start of today's stage.

12:10

A reminder that after yesterday's GC stalemate for the top three it's Welshman Geraint Thomas who leads Sky team-mate Chris Froome by 1'39" in the standings with Dutchman Tom Dumoulin in third at 1'50". Primoz Roglic's explosive cameo on the Croix Neuve yesterday saw the Slovenian consolidate his fourth place and move within 59 seconds of Froome, while Frenchman Bardet, who conceded 14 seconds to his direct rivals, stays in fifth place but drops to 3'21" in arrears.

12:05

Here's more on today's route with an aerial 2D map birds-eye-view of all the challenges.

Video - Tour de France: Stage 15 preview

01:19
12:02

The peloton passes through the beautiful Montagne Noire area of the southwestern tip of the Massif Central in a demanding stage that climaxes with the tough Cat.1 Pic de Nore climb – a mini Ventoux-type ascent amazingly only now making its Tour debut – ahead of a fast run to the chocolate box Medieval town of Carcassonne. If this medium mountain stage has breakaway written all over it, then the top GC riders will also be on red alert for it's clearly another banana-skin of a day as the race heads towards the Pyrenees. Here's the official profile...

12:00

Yesterday, Spain's Omar Fraile proved the strongest of a large 32-man breakaway to win Stage 14 at Mende as Geraint Thomas finished alongside team-mate Chris Froome and Dutch rival Tom Dumoulin to retain race lead in the Massif Central. Basque climber Fraile, of the Astana team, attacked on the leg-sapping Cote de la Croix Neuve to reel in lone leader Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) and hold French favourite Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) at bay. Read all about it below...

11:55

Hello and welcome to live coverage of Stage 15 of the Tour de France - an intriguingly undulating 181.5km ride from Millau to Carcassonne as the riders leave the Massif Central and head through the Black Mountains to the Languedoc region of south-west France.