Tour de France 2015 20 Alpe d'Huez

Tour de France 2015 Stage 20: Thibaut Pinot conquers Alpe d’Huez; Froome heads to Paris in yellow

Cover: Tour de France 2015 Stage20, Alpe d’Huez
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Todd Hofert


Alpe d’Huez has hosted 28 previous stage finishes in the Tour de France, more than any other summit climb. Crowds lining the twenty-one switchbacks have been estimated to be over a million in years past. Many have been camping there for several days and their anticipation has been growing by the minute. Strava Labs has posted a crowd sourced photo explorer dotting this year’s festivities along the slopes. As such, you can rest assured there will be a frenzy on the slopes of the Alpe d’Huez long before the race caravan. It will reach a fevered pitch when the riders arrive.
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The stage today again crossed the Col de la Croix de Fer as it did the day before. The Croix de Fer, a late addition to Stage 20, replaced the original plan to cross the Col du Galibier, those plans scrapped due to the danger of falling rock. Stage 20 approached the Croix de Fer from the southeast rather than the northwest approach of yesterdays stage. Today’s version of the climb would be longer but not as steep.

Chris Froome, at this stage of the race, must be ready to just get it over with. He again endured rude treatment from a person who spit on him on his way up a climb. Clearly captured on video many on Twitter have been calling for his identity along with a variety of suggestions for retaliation against him. Be aware that viral Internet karma can be a bitch.

The flag dropped at 01:18 PM local time and a group of two, then four formed at 1:20 PM. Alexandre Geniez (FDJ), Ramunas Navardauskas (Cannondale-Garmin), Lars Bak (Lotto-Soudal) and Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) made up the break that stretched out to 7:20 at the base of the Col de la Croix de Fer.

The peloton arrived at the climb to the iron cross and all was tranquillo, but it didn’t last long. Ruben Plaza (Lampre-Merida) took his daily shot at bridging up and getting himself in the break. He brought Andriy Grivko (Astana) with him and not long after a group including Rafel Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo), Winner Anacona (Movistar), Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) and Bartosz Huzarski (Bora) joined them.

Riders continued to jump across the gap to the chase group, it swelled to ten with the addition of Bob Jungels (Trek Factory Racing), Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Dylan van Baarle (Cannondale).

AG2R came to the front to assist Sky with the chase looking to secure the Polka-Dot Jersey for Romain Bardet, a feat likely come up short. The tempo set by AG2R brought most of the counter-attacking group back into their fold only Majka, Plaza and Anacona managed to stay clear.

The pace set by Ag2R was relentless. The pressure reeled the Majka group back and reduced the gap to the four leaders to five minutes halfway up the climb. Richie Porte could be seen following the wheels and shoveling calories in preparing for what was sure to be a painful day in the saddle, his assignment, to protect Froome as long as possible.

Jean-Christophe Peraud buried himself for Bardet and fell out the back spent. Astana and Movistar now starting to show their colors at the front. The pace dismantled Saxo as Roman Kreuziger and Mic Rogers could be seen falling away from the pace. Sky suffering the same and just like that Chris Froome was left with only Richie Porte.

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) launched the first GC sortie as Richie Porte tried to muster a reaction and was looking around for help that wouldn’t come. Nicolas Roche brought himself back up to his team leader, Geraint Thomas struggling unsuccessfully to do the same. The pains and pressures of protecting the Yellow Jersey were turning people inside out. And if anyone were paying attention to the front of the race, Alexandre Geniez attacked at the front 6km from the top, leaving his break-mates scattering. Stage 20 was already living up to its billing.

Nairo Quintana was the next to go and he shot up the road as Roche again popped out the back. Movistar talked all-in and they were backing it up. Quintana and Valverde joined forces their plan taking form, the Yellow Jersey group reduced to four riders, Nibali and Contador along for the ride. Porte was holding them at ten seconds but at what cost? Contador dropped off the pace and Valverde struggled to hang on to Quintana, his mission to lead Quintana down the descent.

Vincenzo Nibali was next to attack and Froome was forced to follow. Froome shut it down immediately as he would have the day prior had it not been for a mechanical, the message delivered loud and clear. Quintana and Valverde would go over the summit in fifth and sixth place with a gap of ten seconds. Froome would follow and Romain Bardet’s hope for holding the Polka Dot jersey was over. The chase regrouped on the descent as Sky exhaled and returned to the front.

Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Alpe d'Huez
Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Alpe d’Huez Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

With 26km to go, Alexandre Geniez had 1.40 lead over Bak and Edet, 3.10 over Pinot, Rolland, Plaza, Serpa, Hesjedal, Anacona and Navardauskas, and 4 minutes over the yellow jersey group led by five riders from Team Sky. The stage had been set as the riders approached Bourg-d’Oisans, the gap 3:48 at the 13.8km to go KOM banner. Karma would catch up to Nibali as he flatted right before the start of the climb, Astana coming to his aid en masse.

Nairo Quintana went on the attack almost immediately. Richie Porte able to cover it and Froome lifting his tempo in response. Move one covered. Quintana launched attempt number two, Sky covering but Froome struggling behind. Wout Poels sat on Quintana and Porte marshaled the duties to drag Froome back to Quintana once more.

Nairo Quintana, Movistar, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 Alpe d'Huez
Nairo Quintana, Movistar, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 Alpe d’Huez Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Ryder Hesjedal now on the attack closing the gap to Alexandre Geniez up ahead dragging Pinot, the teammate of the stage leader along. Nibali was still trying to come back from his misfortune. The Yellow Jersey group was shrinking, with Sky still well represented. Robert Gesink, Mathias Frank, Romain Bardet and Bauke Mollema unable to maintain contact with the Froome group.

Ryder Hesjedal, Cannondale-Garmin, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 Alpe d'Huez
Ryder Hesjedal, Cannondale-Garmin, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 Alpe d’Huez Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Alejandro Valverde rode away from the Yellow Jersey group and Sky was content to let him go. Nairo Quintana, as he had done earlier on the Croix de Fer, jumped to get across but again Sky was equal to the task. Another dig would shed Froome and Contador. Valverde accelerated again as Quintana used him as a carrot. The two teammates joined and pried open the gap as Pinot and Alexandre Geniez joined forces at the front of the race, Hesjedal burying himself to get back to them.

Sep Vanmarcke, Lotto NL-Jumbo, Tour de France 2015 2015 Alpe d
Sep Vanmarcke, Lotto NL-Jumbo, Tour de France 2015 2015 Alpe d”Huez Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Quintana’s tempo burned Valverde but teammate Winner Anacona, a member of the early break, was just up the road ready to take over the work for Quintana, the gap to Froome continued to grow. Ryder Hesjedal attacked Thibaut Pinot with 7km to go but Pinot was able to cover it and attack in return. Quintana was charging hard from behind using Anacona to prepare his next assault.

Thibaut Pinot, FDJ, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 Alpe d'Huez
Thibaut Pinot, FDJ, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 Alpe d’Huez Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Wout Poels would fade at 5km leaving just Porte to take care of Froome. Nairo Quintana refreshed from following Anacona’s wheel accelerated again opening the gap further, now up to 50 seconds.

Thibaut Pinot, FDJ, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20
Thibaut Pinot, FDJ, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The race started to show shades of the 1989 come-from-behind victory of Greg Lemond as Nairo Quintana continued his assault on Le Alpe d’Huez, Chris Froome mustering all the courage he could find to fend off the Columbian.

Thibaut Pinot, FDJ, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20
Thibaut Pinot, FDJ, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Thibaut Pinot clinging to hope for a stage victory was suffering beyond words. That suffering would pay off and the Frenchman would etch his name in the history of the famed mountain taking the stage ahead of Nairo Quintana.

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Thibaut Pinot, FDJ, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

In the end, Quintana would come up short of both goals of the day, 18 seconds shy of the stage win and 1:12 short of Yellow.

Nairo Quintana, Movistar Team, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20
Nairo Quintana, Movistar Team, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

A bitter lesson for the young rider recognizing the 1:28 lost in Stage 2 after missing the split in the winds of Holland. Froome would ride home in fifth place, plenty of time in hand to clinch the overall victory. Chapeau.

Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20
Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Tour comes to its ceremonial end tomorrow in Paris, this years edition to go down in the annals as one of the great races in history.

Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20
Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 Top 10

  1. Thibaut Pinot (FRA) #21
    FDJ 03h 1′ 21″
  2. Nairo Quintana (COL) #51
    MOVISTAR TEAM 03h 17′ 39″ + :18
  3. Ryder Hesjedal (CAN) #164
    TEAM GARMIN-CANNONDALE 03h 1′ 02″ + :41
  4. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) #59
    MOVISTAR TEAM 03h 18′ 59″ + 1:38
  5. Christopher Froome (GBR) #31
    TEAM SKY 03h 18′ 59″ + 1:38
  6. Pierre Rolland (FRA) #121
    TEAM EUROPCAR 03h 19′ 02″ + 1:41
  7. Richie Porte (AUS) #35
    TEAM SKY 03h 19′ 32″ + 2:11
  8. Winner Anacona (COL) #52
    MOVISTAR TEAM 03h 19′ 53″ + 2:32
  9. Wouter Poels (NED) #34
    TEAM SKY 03h 20′ 11″ + 2:50
  10. Ruben Plaza (ESP) #156
    LAMPRE – MERIDA 03h 20′ 11″ + 2:50

Tour de France 2015 General Classification Top 10 after Stage 20

  1. Christopher Froome (GBR) #31
    TEAM SKY  81h 56 ’33″
  2. Nairo Quintana (COL) #51
    MOVISTAR TEAM 81h 57′ 45″ +1:12
  3. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) #59
    MOVISTAR TEAM 82h 01 ’58″ + 5:25
  4. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) #1
    ASTANA PRO TEAM 82h 05 ‘ 09” + 8:36
  5. Alberto Contador (ESP) #41
    TINKOFF-SAXO 82h 06′ 21” + 9:48
  6. Robert Gesink (NED) #131
    TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO 82h 07′ 20” + 10:47
  7. Bauke Moellema (NED) #141
    TREK FACTORY RACING 82h 11 ’47″ +15:14
  8. Mathias Frank  (SUI) #181
    IAM CYCLING 82h 12′ 12″+ 15:39
  9. Romain Bardet (FRA) #82
    AG2R La Mondiale 82h 12′ 33″ + 16:00
  10. Pierre Rolland (FRA) #121
    Team Europcar 82h 14′ 03″ + 17:30

Tour de France 2015 Jerseys after Stage 20

Yellow (Overall leader): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Green (Points): Peter Sagan, Tinkoff Saxo
Polka-dot (KOM): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Worn by: Romain Bardet, AG2R La Mondiale
White (Best Young Rider): Nairo Quintana, Movistar

There were so many things going through my mind going up that last climb. There were moments where I thought, ‘hold on a second I could be in danger here’. But then always having my team-mates with me and having Wout and Richie there all the way until the end. Especially after the job all the guys had done today.
Chris Froome, Team Sky

We fought all that we could to try and gain the time we had lost on Froome, with an attacking strategy from far, far away from the finish, trying to isolate him at the Croix de Fer, yet we couldn’t open a big gap and we had to give all into the final ascent. Winner Anacona did an amazing job for me, riding strong and steady through most of Alpe d’Huez, and the whole team helped me much from the very start, but it wasn’t to be today.

I leave the race satisfied. We lost the Tour into the first week, but I’ll stay content after all good things we found during this race: I’ve got an excellent team, which always took care and supported me, and we all are happy with this. Alejandro? I’m so, so excited about his podium finish. It’s something he searched for during most of his sporting career, and he got it today. There are many people who don’t know the kind of rider he is: he wins from January to December, no matter if it’s a classic, a one-week race… and even podium finishes in three-week grand tours. It’s already a decade since he’s on top of the sport and many people don’t value enough what he does and criticized him. He’s a superb rider and a wonderful person.”
Nairo Quintana, Movistar


Stage 20
Date: 25 July, 2015
Start: Modane Valfréjus
Finish: Alpe d’Huez
Distance: 110.5 km

Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 route

Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 route map

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Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 profile

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Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 climbs

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56 km – Col de la Croix de Fer (2 067 m)29 km de montée à 5.2% – category  H

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110.5 km – ALPE D’HUEZ13.8 km de montée à 8.1% – category H

Maps courtesy of Le Tour de France / © A.S.O.

Vincenzo Nibali, Astana Pro Team, Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 La Toussuire

Vincenzo Nibali takes his first stage win of the 2015 Tour de France at stage 19 on La Toussuire

Cover: Vincenzo Nibali, Astana Pro Team, Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 La Toussuire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Todd Hofert


Three stages remained in the 2015 Tour de France, each becoming progressively shorter in length. The 138km stage to La Toussuire today, the longest of the three and perhaps the most difficult, but falling short on the hype of its successor, the Stage 20 finale on the fabled switchbacks of Le Alpe d’Huez.

IAM Cycling, Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 La Toussuire
IAM Cycling, Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 La Toussuire Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

One would have thought that the general classification was pretty well defined coming into the final weekend, only disaster likely to upset the order that has been established. But if there ever were a stage for disaster, the Tour is it, as are the final days in the Alps after three weeks of surviving the world’s most difficult bike race.

Peter Sagan, Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 La Toussuire
Peter Sagan, Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 La Toussuire Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The interesting fact of the day, according to InfoStrada Sports Twitter account, Peter Sagan has surpassed Sean Kelly in outright 3rd place for the most green jerseys in Tour de France history with 68. Only Erik Zabel (88) and Freddy Maertens (70) have more. Peter Sagan is only 25 years old and should move into second place behind Zabel at the end of this years Tour.

Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne
Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Joaquim Rodriguez picked up where he left off yesterday and attacked the first climb right out of the gate. He succeeded in gathering the ten points for the first man over the top. Along the way attacks from Valverde, Nibali, Contador, Barguil, and Mollema found Chris Froome behind the action painfully aware that this would not be an easy day in the saddle.

A group of 21 riders would establish itself on the descent and through the sprint point. The riders in the break were: Tanel Kangert (Astana), Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale), Roman Kreuziger and Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo), José Herrada and Malori (Movistar), Tony Gallopin and Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal), Joaquim Rodriguez and Alberto Losada (Katusha), Rigoberto Uran (Etixx), Pierre Rolland, Cyril Gautier and Romain Sicard (Europcar), Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), Ruben Plaza (Lampre-Merida), Dylan van Baarle (Cannondale-Garmin), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Stef Clement and Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling), Stephen Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka) and Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka) chasing to include himself in that break, the race now just 10km from the start of the Col de la Croix de Fer.

The peloton hit the Croix de Fer 2:12 behind the stage leaders being led by Lotto NL-Jumbo and the welcome sight of Laurens Ten Dam tapping out the tempo on the front. The grupetto started to form.

Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 La Toussuire
Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 La Toussuire Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Pierre Rolland attacked his break-mates on the climb and back in the peloton, Astana came to the front to set up a move for Vincenzo Nibali. Astana’s pace would shed significant weight from the Yellow Jersey group. The breakaway all caught and passed with exception of Rolland and a chase of two, Ruben Plaza and Rigoberto Uran. Robert Gesink dangled off the back of the Yellow Jersey group. Geraint Thomas suffering a similar fate and Froome was left with only Wouter Poels to support him.

Alejandro Valverde launched an attack ahead of the banner marking 5km to the summit. His gap opened quickly and Wout Poels summoned what courage he had left to try and contain the move for his team leader. Robert Gesink was able to regain contact with the Yellow Jersey group and appeared to have recovered. Valverde continued to try and consolidate the gap or at least keep the pressure on the Sky led chase. The Movistar plan to go all in for the overall win was taking shape.

Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 La Toussuire
Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 La Toussuire Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Chris Froome suffered a mechanical and in a show of poor sportsmanship, Vincenzo Nibali looked at him twice, recognized the race leader was stopping and immediately launched an attack. The real contenders honored the unwritten code of conduct and waited for the race leader to get back on his bike.

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Vincenzo Nibali, Astana Pro Team, Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Pierre Rolland would lead the race over the summit followed by Nibali at 1:06 and Romain Bardet attacked the Yellow Jersey group in hopes of resting the Polka Dot jersey away from Joaquim Rodriguez who had fallen back to the peloton. Chris Froome grabbed sixth place points.

Nibali continued his pursuit of stage leader Pierre Rolland on the descent of the Croix de Fer and up the Col du Mollard. He would catch him with dirty hands shortly after they crested the climb, the Yellow Jersey group now 2:00 behind. Romain Bardet made his move off the front of that group attempting to consolidate his position in the mountain points competition.
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Movistar was straight back to the front on the start of the final climb. Rolland and Nibali had 1:45 in hand on the peloton. The tempo in the select group accompanying the Yellow Jersey was high and the group began to thin out as expected. Nibali attacked Rolland with 16km left to the summit finish, Rolland was cooked.

Status quo up the climb, Chris Froome and Sky benefitting from the Nibali move, the pressure to contain it now on the shoulders of those riders such as Contador and Gesink trying to defend their 5th and 6th place GC standing, the gap between Nibs and the Yellow Jersey group of 11 riders 2:23 as they rode beneath the 10km to go banner.

Quintana attacked. Froome forced to chase with Contador and Valverde on his wheel. Froome’s pace cracked them both. Gesink, who was dropped came back and rode past Valverde and Contador, Quintana still prying open the gap to Froome. Nibali’s gap was shrinking.

Vincenzo Nibali would hang on despite the barrage from behind. His stage win and the subsequent gap moved him up the general classification into fourth place overall jumping Robert Gesink, Geraint Thomas and Alberto Contador. Nairo Quintana finished second at :44 seconds and Froome came in third :29 seconds behind Quintana. Pinot, Bardet, Valverde and Mollema would lead the remainder of contenders home.

The fatigue of defending the Yellow Jersey started to show in Team Sky leaving Chris Froome isolated and forced to defend himself. Will it be too little too late for the others? Froome will take his 2:38 margin into the penultimate stage to Alpe d’Huez tomorrow and barring a really bad day for the leader it should be enough for him to ride the Yellow into Paris on Sunday. Regardless of the order at the top of the famed Alp, expect more aggressive last ditch effort racing tomorrow.

It was a day where I had to survive. I started with bad sensations and cramps all day so I had to save energy as much as I could. I sent Majka to pull at the front and he set the pace and it calmed a bit down. Things turned out quite well. Nibali is now ahead in the GC and I congratulate him for that. It’s true he did a very good job today. In what regards me, I think it deserves more merit to have reached this point than previous victories. I had strong cramps throughout the day and I was praying to make it through. Tomorrow will be another day.”
Alberto Contador, Tinkoff-Saxo

Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 Top 10

  1. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) #1
    ASTANA PRO TEAM 04h 22′ 53″
  2. Nairo Quintana (COL) #51
    MOVISTAR TEAM 04h 23′ 37″ + :44
  3. Christopher Froome (GBR) #31
    TEAM SKY 04h 24′ 07″ + 1:14
  4. Thibaut Pinot (FRA) #21
    FDJ 04h 25′ 19″ + 2:26
  5. Romain Bardet (FRA) #12
    AG2R La Mondiale 04h 25′ 9″ + 2:26
  6. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) #59
    MOVISTAR TEAM 04h 25′ 19″ + 2:26
  7. Bauke Mollema (NED) #141
    TREK FACTORY RACING 04h 25′ 19″ + 2:26
  8. Robert Gesink (NED) #131
    LOTTO TEAM NL – JUMBO 04h 25′ 19″ + 2:26
  9. Alberto Contador (ESP) #41
    TINKOFF-SAX 04h 25′ 19″+ 2:26
  10. Samuel Sanchez (ESP) #66
    BMC RACING TEAM 04h 25′ 19″ + 2:26

Tour de France 2015 General Classification Top 10 after Stage 19

  1. Christopher Froome (GBR) #31
    TEAM SKY 78h 37′ 34″
  2. Nairo Quintana (COL) #51
    MOVISTAR TEAM 78h 40′ 12″ +2:38
  3. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) #59
    MOVISTAR TEAM 78h 42 ‘ 59″ + 5:25
  4. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) #1
    ASTANA PRO TEAM 78h 44′ 18” + 6:44
  5. Alberto Contador (ESP) #41
    TINKOFF-SAXO 78h 45′ 30” + 7:56
  6. Robert Gesink (NED) #131
    TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO 78h 46′ 29” + 8:55
  7. Mathias Frank  (SUI) #181
    IAM CYCLING 78h 50′ 13″+ 12:39
  8. Bauke Moellema (NED) #141
    TREK FACTORY RACING 78h 50′ 56″ +13:22
  9. Romain Bardet (FRA) #82
    AG2R La Mondiale 78h 51′ 42″ + 14:08
  10. Pierre Rolland (FRA) #121
    Team Europcar 78h 55′ 01″ + 17:27

Tour de France 2015 Jerseys after Stage 19

Yellow (Overall leader): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Green (Points): Peter Sagan, Tinkoff Saxo
Polka-dot (KOM):  Romain Bardet, AG2R La Mondiale
White (Best Young Rider): Nairo Quintana, Movistar

Stage 19
Date: 24 July, 2015
Start:  Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne
Finish: La Toussuire – Les Sybelles
Distance: 138 km

Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 route

Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 route map

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Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 profile

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Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 climbs

15.5 km – Col du Chaussy (1 533 m) (D77-VC)15.4 km de montée à 6.3% – catégory 1
83 km – Col de la Croix de Fer (2 067 m)22.4 km de montée à 6.9% – catégory H
103 km – Col du Mollard (1 638 m)5.7 km de montée à 6.8% – catégory 2
138 km – LA TOUSSUIRE (1 705 m)18 km de montée à 6.1% – catégory 1

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Maps courtesy of Le Tour de France / © A.S.O.

Romain Bardet, Tour de France Stage 18, Montvernier

Romain Bardet climbs to a stage 18 victory at Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne

Cover: Romain Bardet, Tour de France Stage 18, Montvernier
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Todd Hofert


Following a dramatic first day in the Alps the race set out once again into the mountainous terrain of southeast France. The stage, despite passing over seven categorized climbs, lacked a summit finish giving way yet again to the strong possibility that a break could succeed. A tough stage proceeded it and two difficult stages with summit finishes follow leaving little more than table scraps for ambitious non-GC men trying to grab an elusive stage win. Today seemed ripe for such a coup.

Regardless of what happened in relation to success or failure of a breakaway, Chris Froome’s nearest rivals continued with a resolve to attack the Yellow Jersey in hopes of finding a chink in his armor. Despite these claims, short of flicking a few flies from his lanky elbows, Chris Froome has been up to the challenge. Unless the trio of Spanish speaking contenders were to cooperate with a relentless barrage of attacks against the leader, he seemed poised to continue his dominance right through the summit of Alpe d’Huez and on to his second Tour de France title in Paris on Sunday.

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Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 Montvernier Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

In addition to the Stage 16 DNS of Laurent Didier (Trek Factory Racing) another five riders would succumb to the brutality of the race with a DNF status. The most notable of course were Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-QuickStep). They were joined by Sam Bennet (Bora-Argon 18), Nathan Haas (Cannondale-Garmin) and Jerome Coppel (IAM Cycling). South Africa’s Louis Meintjes of MTN-Qhubeka did not start today’s stage due to illness leaving 162 riders in the race. Sébastien Chavanel (FDJ) claimed the honor of the Lanterne Rouge three hours and thirty-three minutes behind the race lead.

As has become customary the attempts to form a break were almost immediate. Pierre Rolland (Europcar) took the initiative right at the base of the days first climb, the Col Bayard, whose summit was just 6.5km into the stage. He was followed straight away by Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Julian Arredondo (Trek). Halfway up the climb, 16 riders would bridge to join them followed by another group of 10. 12km in and a break of 29 had established itself.

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Andrew Talansky, Damiano Caruso, Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 Montvernier Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The 29 breakaway members were: Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Romain Bardet, Jan Bakelants and Christophe Riblon (AG2R-La Mondiale), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Roman Kreuziger and Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo), Jonathan Castroviejo and Winner Anacona (Movistar), Damiano Caruso and Rohan Dennis (BMC), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Georg Preidler (Giant), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Michael Matthews and Simon Yates (Orica), Pierre Rolland, Cyril Gautier, Romain Sicard and Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Julian Arredondo and Bob Jungels (Trek), Ruben Plaza (Lampre-Merida), Andrew Talansky, Ryder Hesjedal and Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin), Stef Clement (IAM), Jan Barta (Bora), Serge Pauwels (MTN-Qhubeka). The best place rider in the break on GC being Romain Bardet, 12th at 16.04. The Peloton was at 1.35 at km 14.

The result over the Cat 2 Col Bayard: Joaquim Rodriguez-5 points, Jakob Fuglsang-3 points and Thibaut Pinot-2 points. It would appear as though “Purito” was growing tired of borrowing the Polka-Dots from Chris Froome and he was out to earn them rightfully. The cat 3 Rampe du Motty was next on their plate and Rodriguez again passed first and scored two KOM points while Serge Pauwels took one. Rodriguez now within a couple of points of Froome. The gap to the peloton had grown to five minutes at the 45km mark.

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Serge Pauwels, MTN-Qhubeka, Tour de France 2015 Stage 1 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Rodriguez would again claim the top spot and two points for the côte de La Mure drawing even with Froome at 61 points apiece in the mountain classification, the battle of the day thus far. A few attempts to whittle down the size of the break all failed and Joaquim Rodriguez would again claim maximum points over the top of the fourth of seven climbs, the Col de Malissol with Serge Pauwels again chasing him over in second. News came across that Mark Renshaw (Etixx – Quick Step) had abandoned, leaving Mark Cavendish without his favorite lead out man, a key ingredient for his success on the Champs-Élysées.

Yesterday at the end of the stage I came down with a migraine before the final climb, and the pain never went away overnight,” Renshaw said. “I woke up with the same pain this morning. It’s pain from really stiff muscles in my neck, and that pain from the stiffness has gone up into my head in the form of a migraine.  Every hole, every bump, every rough part of the road I could feel the pain in the back of my head with this stiffness in my neck. I’ve never experienced anything like that before. Together with the team we decided for me to stop. There is no way I could keep going like this. I already knew when I woke up this morning that it’d be hard to finish the stage. The pain was so intense and never lessened.

It’s a shame that I cannot finish this Tour de France after riding with my teammates for two and a half weeks. Especially since I was getting ready for Paris on Sunday and my legs were okay. I’m really sad about it, especially since I can’t be there to help Mark Cavendish for the sprint on Sunday. But I will absolutely be there in Paris to give my full support to my teammates in any way I can, and I wish them the best of luck in these final two days in the Alps before then.”
Mark Renshaw, Etixx – QuickStep

More of the same over the Col de la Morte. Joaquim Rodriguez-5 points, Jakob Fuglsang-3 points, Georg Preidler, 2 points, and Christophe Riblon-1 point. The intermediate sprint would precede the big test of the day, the hors categorie Col du Glandon. The result of the sprint inconsequential in terms of the points competition but there was money to be had for the winner and Thomas De Gendt would claim the prize. Ironically, news was coming forward that the leader of the points competition, Peter Sagan, was off the back of the peloton.

Thomas De Gendt’s ride to the sprint line forced a split in the break with Jakob Fuglsang, Jan Bakelants, Winner Anacona, Damiano Caruso, Joaquim Rodriguez, Thomas Voeckler, Ruben Plaza, Andrew Talansky, Dan Martin and Jan Barta with him. De Gendt’s plan, however, was not for this much company and he would press on solo. The rest of the break would regroup behind him as they sped toward the Glandon. De Gendt would be caught right at the official start of the climb. The peloton were 2:10 behind at the base of the climb, the tempo lifted and the selections started almost immediately, the original break reduced to eleven.

A steady pace by the Sky led peloton would progress up the mountain, the break increasing the gap. Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) had a dig and rode off the front of the peloton. Robert Gesink and Mathias Frank joined Barguil with Richie Porte blowing off the back. Nicholas Roche, Leopold Konig and Geraint Thomas all still present in front of race leader Chris Froome.

The next attack came from Alberto Contador. Nairo Quintana looked to Froome and Sky to respond, they refused and Contador quickly jumped across to the Gesink group. 5km to the summit and the race was heating up. Romain Bardet led the break over the summit ahead of Anacona. Rodriguez popped and was struggling to hang on for the summit. He would fail to add points to his tally for the day.

Nibali launched a couple of moves against Froome followed by Quintana. Valverde popped. The Contador group suffering from the pace behind. Bardet attacked the descent and opened a gap on Anacona. Valverde raced to rejoin the Yellow Jersey group.

Romain Bardet arrived at the foot of the Lacets de Montvernier with a 41-second gap over his chasers. He was able to hold that gap status quo over the top grabbing five more points and bringing himself on par with Rodriguez, each with 68 points in the mountains classification. While Rodriguez will retain the jersey for now, his days are surely numbered.

Pierre Rolland set off in pursuit of his countryman both taking risks on the descent toward the finish. The group of the Yellow Jersey and the current top ten of the race marking each other all of the way.

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Romain Bardet, AG2R-La Mondiale, Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Bardet offered the French and AG2R their second stage win of this years Tour holding Rolland at bay, his solo efforts successful. Winner Anacona came home third followed by Bobby Jungels and Jakob Fuglsang.

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Jakob Fuglsang, Pierre Rolland, Winner Anacona, Bob Jungels, Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Warren Barguil, having been dropped a couple of times on the final climb was able to fight his way back to the Yellow Jersey group and lead the bunch over the line 3:02 behind Bardet whose effort moved him up into the top ten. The nine places ahead of him remaining the same as it was at the start of the day.

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Peter Sagan, Tinkoff-Saxo, Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 Montvernier Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Two more days in the Alps and two summit finishes separate the riders from Paris. On tap tomorrow the climbs of Col du Chaussy (15.4 kilometre-long at 6.3%) – category 1, the Col de la Croix de Fer (22.4 kilometre-long at 6.9%) – category HC, Col du Mollard (5.7 kilometre-long at 6.8%) – category 2 and the summit finish at LA TOUSSUIRE (18 kilometre-long at 6.1%) – category 1. Opportunities for Quintana, Valverde, Contador, Gesink and company are now wearing thin.

This was one of the toughest days on the bike. I wanted to try things and see what could be done but at the end, we didn’t achieve anything in particular. I dropped Valverde on Glandon, this always brings confidence but the only thing I now focus on is to recover. It was a very hard stage and my attacks were more driven by the heart than the legs. I was able to observe a few things and we will now see how I recover for tomorrow.

In order for Valverde not to be on the podium, a catastrophe must take place. He has an incredible opportunity and just by doing things the right way it’s impossible for him not to reach the podium. The sport of cycling is like this and we will have to take it day by day.”
Alberto Contador, Tinkoff-Saxo

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Alberto Contador, Tinkoff-Saxo, Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 Top 10

  1. Romain Bardet (FRA) #12
    AG2R La Mondiale 05h 03′ 40″
  2. Pierre Rolland (FRA) #121
    TEAM EUROPCAR 05h 04′ 13″ + :33
  3. Winner Anacona (COL) #52
    MOVISTAR TEAM 05h 04′ 39″ + :59
  4. Bob Jungels (LUX) #147
    TREK FACTORY RACING 05h 04′ 39″ + :59
  5. Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) #3
    ASTANA PRO TEAM 05h 04′ 39″ + :59
  6. Serge Pauwels (BEL) #218
    MTN-Qhubeka 05h 04′ 41″ + 1:01
  7. Cyril Gautier (FRA) #123
    TEAM EUROPCAR 05h 05′ 30″ + 1:50
  8. Damiano Caruso (ITA) #62
    BMC RACING TEAM 05h 05′ 30″ + 1:50
  9. Andrew Talansky (USA) #161
    TEAM GARMIN-CANNONDALE 05h 05′ 35″ + 1:55
  10. Warren Barguil (FRA) #82
    TEAM GIANT-Alpecin 05h 06′ 42″ + 3:02
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Steven Kruijswijk, Lotto NL-Jumbo, Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 Montvernier Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Tour de France 2015 General Classification Top 10 after Stage 18

  1. Christopher Froome (GBR) #31
    TEAM SKY 74h 13′ 31″
  2. Nairo Quintana (COL) #51
    MOVISTAR TEAM 74h 16′ 41″ +3:10
  3. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) #59
    MOVISTAR TEAM 74h 17′ 40″ + 4:09
  4. Geraint Thomas (GBR) #39
    TEAM SKY 69h 74h 20′ 05” + 6:34
  5. Alberto Contador (ESP) #41
    TINKOFF-SAXO 74h 20′ 11” + 6:40
  6. Robert Gesink (NED) #131
    TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO 74h 21′ 10” + 7:39
  7. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) #1
    ASTANA PRO TEAM 74h 21′ 35” + 8:04
  8. Mathias Frank  (SUI) #181
    IAM CYCLING 74h 22′ 18″+ 8:47
  9. Bauke Moellema (NED) #141
    TREK FACTORY RACING 74h 25′ 37″ +11:47
  10. Warren Barguil (FRA) #82
    TEAM GIANT-Alpecin 74h 26′ 23″ + 13:08
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Luis Ángel Maté, Cofidis-Solutions Crédits, Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Tour de France 2015 Jerseys after Stage 18

Yellow (Overall leader): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Green (Points): Peter Sagan, Tinkoff Saxo
Polka-dot (KOM):  Joaquim Rodriguez, Team Katusha
White (Best Young Rider): Nairo Quintana, Movistar

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Joaquim Rodriguez, Team Katusha, Tour de France 2015 Stage 19 Montvernier Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

It was a hard day but I felt good and immediately went on the attack with the goal to take maximum points today. Everything went well but it was hard to control all riders in the break the entire day. In the flat part at the feed zone before the Glandon I had a bad moment. It went fast and I could not take my feed bag so on the Glandon I paid for that. It was my goal to also take those 25 points or even the stage win but it was over for me at that point. However, I won’t give up. There are two mountain stages to go and I will attack again. Fuglsang and Bardet will be motivated, too, but I will fight for it.
Joaquim Rodriguez, Team Katusha


Stage 18
Date: 23 July, 2015
Start:  Gap
Finish: Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne
Distance: 185 km


Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 route

Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 route map

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-18-route-mapTour de France 2015 Stage 18 profile

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-18-profile

Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 climbs

6.5 km – Col Bayard (1 264 m)6.3 km de montée à 7% – category 2
35.5 km – Rampe du Motty2.3 km de montée à 8.3% -category 3
60.5 km – Côte de la Mure2.7 km de montée à 7.5% -category 3
70.5 km – Col de Malissol2 km de montée à 8.7% -category 3
85 km – Col de la Morte (1 368 m)3.1 km de montée à 8.4% -category 2
147 km – Col du Glandon (1 924 m)21.7 km de montée à 5.1% -category H
176.5 km – Lacets de Montvernier (782 m)3.4 km de montée à 8.2% -category 2

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Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-18-climbs-Lacets-de-Monvernier

Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 last km

Tour de France 2015 Stage 18 last km

Maps courtesy of Le Tour de France / © A.S.O.

Simon Geschke solos to victory on Pra Loup; Froome moves one step closer to Paris

Cover: Simon Geschke, Team Giant-Alpecin, Tour de France 2015 Stage 17
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Todd Hofert


A daunting and dangerous stage coming off of a rest day and heading straight into the Alps. The Stage 17 profile appears docile enough with only a pair of cat 3’s, a pair of cat 2’s and a single category 1 climb, the penultimate climb of the day, the Col d’Allos. How riders respond to the rest day always a concern particularly when there is little opportunity to spin the legs out when the race gets going again. Some respond favorably to the rest days, others do not.

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Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Chris Froome arrived at the start enjoying a comfortable margin on GC despite coming off a stressful week of answering to critics and fending off physical assaults on himself and his teammates, including the heinous and despicable act of a spectator (I refuse to refer to them as a cycling fan) throwing urine at the race leader.

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Peter Sagan, Tinkoff-Saxo, Tour de France 2015 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Peter Sagan with a firm grip on his goal of winning the Green Jersey for a fourth year running, only an inability to finish in Paris standing between himself and that feat.

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Joaquim Rodriguez, Team Katusha, Tour de France 2015 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Joachim Rodriguez continued to borrow laundry from Chris Froome as the second man in the standings for the climber competition wore the Polka Dot Jersey.

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Nairo Quintana, Movistar, Tour de France 2015 Stage 10 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The White Jersey of the best young rider remained firmly on the shoulders of the man holding second place on GC, Nairo Quintana.

The yellow numbers and helmets of the team competition still being worn by Team Movistar.

There was one rider that did not make the start following the rest day and that was Laurent Didier (Trek Factory Racing). That left 168 riders in the race.

Nine riders were able to briefly break clear after just 3km but the peloton were quick to react and the race was back together after 3.5km. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) would give it another go, looking to make the break for a fourth straight day. He and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) were gone clear however the peloton were having none of it and they too were reeled in just 2km later. Several more attempts to form breaks were squished by the pack and riders were coming unhitched off the back. Most notably, Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) obviously suffering something from the rest day.

The race would reach the top of the first climb, the category 3 col des Lèques, Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) came across the summit first taking two points and Kristjian Durasek (Lampre) one point for second place. Van Garderen already a full minute behind the action, his Tour now in jeopardy.

Every move that had been made included a very aggressive Peter Sagan. Once again he was off the front joined again by Steven Kruijswijk along with Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Garmin) but they would be caught. By this stage in the race it was glaringly apparent to everyone but Peter Sagan that he was not going to be allowed up the road. Van Garderen now reported by his team as suffering from headaches a full 3:52 behind the peloton, an example of just how quickly ones Tour fortunes can change.

Finally after 64km 28 riders were clear, and Sagan’s stubborn persistence had paid off. The break contained: Tanel Kangert (Astana), Jan Bakelants and Mikaël Chérel (AG2R-La Mondiale), Thibaut Pinot and Benoît Vaugrenard (FDJ), Richie Porte and Nicolas Roche (Sky), Rafal Majka and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), Jonathan Castroviejo, José Herrada and Gorka Izagirre (Movistar), John Degenkolb and Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin), Alberto Losada (Katusha), Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge), Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-Quick Step), Perrig Quémeneur (Europcar), Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), Kristjian Durasek and Rafael Valls (Lampre-Merida), Andrew Talansky and Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Mathias Frank (IAM Cycling), Merhawi Kudus, Serge Pauwels and Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN Qhubeka). Serge Pauwels and Daniel Teklehaimanot both of MTN Qhubeka would go one, two over the top of the category 3 Col de Toutes Aures.

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Tejay Van Garderen, BMC Racing Team, Tour de France 2015 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Van Garderen and the small group of riders that had fallen off the back were able to reconnect with the peloton 82km into the stage. For now, Tejay was back in the race and looking to avoid losses and get through the day.

Much to his dismay, however, Alberto Contador went on the attack on the Col de la Colle-Saint-Michel and his move would up the tempo to one that only sixteen riders were able to answer, Van Garderen not one of them. He appeared to be a man defeated and he would abandon a few minutes later. The cruel reality of a race of attrition. A Tweet by Boulder native Connie Carpenter-Phinney summed it up.

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To be fighting for a podium in the Tour de France, and then the next minute you are sitting in the car, was really hard. It was hard to look my teammates in the eyes. It was hard to call my wife and explain to her what was going on. It was a lot of emotions.”
Tejay Van Garderen, BMC Racing

The result at the summit of the Col de la Colle-Saint-Michel (cat. 2): Serge Pauwels-5 points, José Herrada-3 points, Kristjian Durasek-2 points and John Degenkolb-1 point. The break regrouped on the descent, the intermediate sprint was lightly contested in Beauvezer with Benoît Vaugrenard (FDJ) taking the first place points followed by John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) and Peter Sagan content to take third. The ascent and perhaps more notably the descent of the category 1 Col d’Allos right in front of them and the peloton behind.

With opportunities for stage wins dwindling, the 28 man break was jockeying for the right moves that would prevent Peter Sagan from landing the elusive honor of the day. Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin) was able to open up a gap on the lower slopes of the Col d’Allos. Two riders, Kristjian Durasek (Lampre-Merida) and José Herrada (Movistar) giving chase and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) also trying to come across. Roche, Porte, Hesjedal, Vaugrenard, Degenkolb, Losada, Quémeneur and Edet all fell off the pace, the Sagan group in between them and the lone leader.

The peloton’s foot off the gas now well over seven minutes in arrears. Geschke’s move now looking eerily familiar to that of Ruben Plaza’s winning move into Gap two days prior. The remainder of the break less Pinot and Majka regrouped behind Geschke with a 1:45 gap.

The reigning World Champion, Michal Kwitkowski (Etixx – Quick Step) became another notable abandon and the race would explode on the descent of the col d’Allos. Riders were all over the hillside. Pinot would clip a pedal and crash on the descent. Talansky would catch and pass him. Contador would suffer a crash as well. Gesink was separated from the Yellow Jersey group in the final kilometer of the Allos and chaos ensued.

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Alberto Contador, Tinkoff-Saxo, Tour de France 2015 Stage 17 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

My wheel slipped and I fell. We tried to fix my bike but it wasn’t working and I took Peter’s bike. I tried to descend as well as I could but at the bottom of the climb I had to change back to one of my own bikes to minimize the losses. Cycling is like this, sometimes you do well sometimes you don’t. But right now the most important thing is to recove.”
Alberto Contador, Tinkoff-Saxo

Simon Geschke hit the final climb of the day, the Pra Loup, with a two-minute gap on hard charging Andrew Talansky. That gap would prove to be too great to overcome and Simon Geschke claimed a big stage win for Giant-Alpecin. Andrew Talansky followed thirty-two seconds down and Rigoberto Uran at 1:01 rounded out the podium for the day.

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Simon Geschke, Team Giant-Alpecin, Tour de France 2015 Stage 17 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

I didn’t feel great. I joined the breakaway group together with John, which was a strong group.

After the sprint I attacked and started the final climb with an advantage. I had 1’30” for a long time, and I thought I’d just see what would happen.

I knew it was a difficult descent and I went pretty fast. On the last climb I gave it my all and was able to hold on to my advantage. I suffered incredibly but I cannot put this feeling into words.

This is a dream come true. After so many attempts it finally happened. I cannot believe it.”
– Simon Geschke, Team Giant -Alpecin

The truth is that it took a while today to get into the breakaway,” Uran said. “I lost a lot of energy to be in the front at the beginning. It wasn’t easy. I probably paid for the effort in the climb of first category, which is when Geschke went. I was also waiting to see what guys as Majka and Pinot were doing. Then in the downhill I tried to close the gap, but it was already too late.

Congrats to Geschke. Concerning me, I’m happy with my third place even if we are always out there to try and win a stage. This stage was really hard, and in the next days it will be just as tough, if not more tough. But I will try again in the next days. It won’t be easy, but we have to take the risk to get into the breakaway and see what we can do in the final days.”
Rigoberto Uran, Etixx-QuickStep

Back down the Pra Loup the general classification battle was taking place as promised. In a weird show of tactics, Movistar found themselves with four riders and an isolated Chris Froome however they opted to pace the Yellow Jersey up the majority of the climb. Vincenzo Nibali was present and took advantage of some renewed form to move up the GC by finishing with this group. Matthias Frank, the best-placed rider in the days break profited handsomely from his ride moving into the top ten overall.

Movistar now has a firm grip on the final two spots of the overall podium with Nairo Quintana second to Froome at 3:10 and Alejandro Valverde moving into third at 4:09 a full 2:25 ahead of fourth placed Geraint Thomas. Contador hangs on to his fifth place overall but falling to 6:40 behind the Yellow Jersey and stands 1:01 ahead of Robert Gesink in sixth place.

I felt really well today. I recovered fine and did not struggle after the rest day. We fared pretty well, as well myself as my team-mates – with the pace we rode through the Allos climb, I didn’t realized until the end of the climb that we were only four of five at the front. That’s where I tried to attack, just like I did in the finale, though I didn’t get a gap.

We didn’t have an intention of trying to turn things around today as there are days where the mountains are more demanding, and we think we’ll be able to try harder later on. Tomorrow’s stage will be complicated; the one on Friday, finishing at La Toussuire, is a route that suits me well -full of ups and downs, with serious climbs, a hard route with long ascents-; and Alpe d’Huez is a long climb whose slopes are really good for me.

There’s still room for battle. We also entered the podium with Alejandro Valverde, who has a nice chance to snatch a place into the top-3, and kept the lead in the teams’ classification, so today’s overview must be pretty good for us.”
Nairo Quintana, Movistar

Day one in the Alps is in the books and three days remain. What shake ups are in store for tomorrow?

Tour de France 2015 Stage 17 Top 10

  1. Simon Geschke (GER) #86
    TEAM GIANT-Alpecin 04h 12′ 17″
  2. Andrew Talansky (USA) #161
    TEAM GARMIN-CANNONDALE 04h 12′ 49″ +:32
  3. Rigoberto Uran (COL)  #118
    QUICK STEP-Etixx 04h 13′ 18″ + 1:01
  4. Thibaut Pinot (FRA) #21
    FDJ 04h 13′ 53″ + 1:36
  5. Mathias Frank (SUI) #181
    IAM CYCLING 04h 13′ 57″ + 1:40
  6. Steven Kruijswijk (NED) #133
    LOTTO TEAM NL – JUMBO 04h 14 ’44’ ‘ + 2:27
  7. Nicolas Roche (IRL) #36
    TEAM SKY 04h 15′ 19″ + 3:02
  8. Jonathan Castroviejo (ESP) #53
    MOVISTAR TEAM 04h 15 ’21’ ‘ + 3:04
  9. Serge Pauwels (BEL) #218
    MTN-Qhubeka 04h 15′ 22″ + 3:05
  10. Adam Yates (GBR) #108
    ORICA GREENEDGE 04h 15″ 38″ + 3:21

Tour de France 2015 General Classification Top 10 after Stage 17

  1. Christopher Froome (GBR) #31
    TEAM SKY 69h 06 ’49”
  2. Nairo Quintana (COL) #51
    MOVISTAR TEAM 69h 09′ 59″ +3:10
  3. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) #59
    MOVISTAR TEAM 69h 10′ 58″ + 4:09
  4. Geraint Thomas (GBR) #39
    TEAM SKY 69h 13′ 23” + 6:34
  5. Alberto Contador (ESP) #41
    TINKOFF-SAXO 64h 51 ’39” + 6:40
  6. Robert Gesink (NED) #131
    TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO 69h 14 ’28” + 7:39
  7. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) #1
    ASTANA PRO TEAM 69h 14 ’53” + 8:04
  8. Mathias Frank  (SUI) #181
    IAM CYCLING 69h 15 ’36’ ‘ + 8:47
  9. Bauke Moellema (NED) #141
    TREK FACTORY RACING 69h 18′ 36″ +11:47
  10. Warren Barguil (FRA) #82
    TEAM GIANT-Alpecin 69h 19 ’57″ + 13:08

Tour de France 2015 Jerseys after Stage 17

Yellow (Overall leader): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Green (Points): Peter Sagan, Tinkoff Saxo
Polka-dot (KOM): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Worn by: Joaquim Rodriguez, Team Katusha
White (Best Young Rider): Nairo Quintana, Movistar


Stage 17
Date: 22 July, 2015
Start:  Digne-les-Bains
Finish: Pra-Loup Station de Montagne
Distance: 161 km


Tour de France 2015 Stage 17 route

Tour de France 2015 Stage 17 route map

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Tour de France 2015 Stage 17 profile

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-17-Profile

Tour de France 2015 Stage 17 climbs

40 km – Col des Lèques6 km de montée à 5.3% – category 3
67 km – Col de Toutes Aures6.1 km de montée à 3.1% -category 3
96 km – Col de la Colle-Saint-Michel (1 431 m)11 km de montée à 5.2% -category 2
139 km – Col d’Allos ( 2 250 m)14 km de montée à 5.5% -category 1
161 km – PRA LOUP (1 620 m)6.2 km de montée à 6.5% -category 2

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Maps courtesy of Le Tour de France / © A.S.O.

The final week of the 2015 Tour de France

Article by Todd Hofert


The final week of the Tour is more appropriately a five-day affair with a rest day and the largely ceremonial ride into Paris and a subsequent sprint finish.

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Following the second rest day on Tuesday, the riders face a demanding day that again has a general uphill profile from start to finish. The 161km Stage 17 from Digne-les-Bains to Pra Loup features five categorized climbs, the longest and most difficult the Cat 1 Col d’Allos (2,250m 14 kilometre-long climb at 5.5%). The stage finishes atop the Pra Loup (1,620m 6.2 kilometre-long climb at 6.5%). The climb itself is not long enough or steep enough to prove decisive but the short stage coupled with a leader board looking forward to the battles that are sure to ensue over the following three days could provide an opportunity for a day long break to succeed yet again, something that has become rather commonplace this year.

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday will run the general classification through a gauntlet not suited for the faint of heart. If the GC is not already decided, Stages 18, 19 and 20 will fully define the podiums for Paris. Nairo Quintana and Tejay Van Garderen have the most to gain and to lose respectively. Quintana believes he is within striking distance of Froome on his preferred terrain of the Alps and Tejay will be looking to ward off Alejandro Valverde who is lurking a few seconds behind both eyes narrowly focused on grabbing that final podium spot. And Contador, Thomas and Gesink all theoretically within striking distance of the podium and certainly all interested in a top five at least.

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-18-profile.png

Stage 18 on Thursday can be referred to as the queen stage of this Tour. It’s length and sheer volume of climbing earns it that distinction. The route of 186.5km from Gap to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne will ascend 7 categorized climbs including the penultimate hors categorie climb of the Col du Glandon. The GC contenders may be looking to save some energy for the next two days that culminate with summit finishes. If the action doesn’t heat up on the ascent of the Glandon, the descent may also offer an opportunity. The narrow and technical down slopes of the Glandon would suit a fearless descender such as Alberto Contador or Vincenzo Nibali well as they search for some time on the leaders. In addition, there are plenty of mountain points to be had all packed into a relatively short distance. Mix in an opportunistic escapee and this stage has all the makings for some exciting racing.

Stage-19-profile.png

Stage 19 is a monster of a stage. At a glance, it would appear to be just another alpine day at the Tour. Digging a little deeper we can see that there are more kilometers of climbing and more vertical elevation gain than any other stage of the Tour this year. The final 80km of the stage will be either up or down. There will be nowhere to hide and the best tactic of the day will be to be the strongest climber. Throw in the fact that the summit finish also boasts the longest ascent of the Tour and this should be an epic stage.

Alpe-dHuez-1024x892
Le Aple d’Huez. What more needs to be said? Stage 20 is short at just 110km but what it lacks in length is more than made up for by reputation. Huge crowds will greet the riders as they make the famed left hand bend out of le Bourg-d’Oisans and onto the 21 switchbacks that make up the climb to Le Aple d’Huez. There is no doubt that pressure and attacks will come from every direction. A non-GC rider trying to etch his name on one of the plaques of stage winners that line the climb, Quintana making one last gasp effort to reel the Yellow Jersey back or a rider trying to improve their place in the GC. Tour after Tour this climb never disappoints.

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-20-route-map

And finally the roll into Paris. Again a short ride at 109km, the race, as usual, will only heat up once the riders hit the cobbles of Champs-Élysées. Expect a bunch sprint. Expect a fourth stage win for The Gorilla, although Degenkolb, Cavendish, Kristoff, Coquard and a few select others will all be there to have their say in the final result.

Froome heads into 2nd rest day with 3 min 10 second lead; Ruben Plaza picks up Tour de France 2015 Stage 16

Article by Todd Hofert


The stage to Gap today represented the final transition stage of the Tour. Gap lies on the fringes of the Alps at 745m (2,445 ft) above sea level while the stage started at 157m (515 ft) above sea level, another day made up of a long uphill drag from start to finish. This drag included two climbs and an intermediate sprint point.

Three whole minutes into the race a break would form and again Peter Sagan would make sure he was in it. For the third day in a row, he came out to defend his Green Jersey out on the roads. The break was made up of: Andriy Grivko (Astana), Christophe Riblon (AG2R), Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Simon Geschke, Marco Haller (Katusha), Bob Jungels (Trek), Nelson Oliveira (Lampre-Merida), Ruben Plaza Molina (Lampre-Merida), Daniel Navarro (Cofidis), Pierrick Fedrigo (Bretagne-Seche-Environnement), Serge Pauwels (MTN-Qhubeka)

Part of the original move, another group of 16 was caught between the break and the peloton.

35km into the stage the break had established a six-minute gap on the peloton and a minute over the chase of 16 although the gap between the two escape groups was coming down ever so slightly. Some riders would retreat back to the relative peace of the peloton, the pace high out front as the lead group remained intent on fending off their chasers

As planned Peter Sagan took the win and the 20 points at the intermediate sprint in Die. He was uncontested and his win extended his Green Jersey lead over Andre Greipel to 64 points. Halfway through the stage, the gap between the 12 man break and the peloton had swelled to 9:21 with the second group of 12 still hovering around a minute behind the leaders. The two groups finally merged a few kilometers up the road and the gap to the now 23 riders strong breakaway was now over ten minutes. The riders remaining out front were: Grivko (Astana), Riblon (AG2R), Sagan (Tinkoff Saxo), De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Geschke (Giant Alplecin), Haller (Katusha), Irizar and Jungels (Trek), Oliveira and Plaza Molina (Lampre), Navarro (Cofidis), Erviti (Movistar), Hansen (Lotto Soudal), Golas and Trentin (Etixx), Voeckler (Europcar), Mate (Cofidis), Pantano (Cannondale Garmin), Fedrigo and Perichon (Bretagne Séché), Boasson Hagen, Pauwels and Teklehaimanot (MTN)

The race would proceed status quo up the first of two categorized climbs on the road to Gap. The results over the category 2 Col de Cabre:1. Serge Pauwels (MTN) 5 points2. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) 3 points, Edvald Boasson-Hagen (MTN) 2 points, and Marco Haller (Katusha) 1 point. The peloton appeared to fall victim to a series of punctures as they came across the summit. It would later be clarified that molten pavement under the riders tires was making it feel as though they had flatted, the oppressive heat continued to wear down the race.

Edvald Boasson Hagen, MTN Qhubeka, Tour de France 2015
Edvald Boasson Hagen, MTN Qhubeka, Tour de France 2015 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

With 50km to go Edvald Boasson-Hagen (MTN) would have a go off the front of the break. He was joined by Marco Haller (Katusha) and Nelson Oliveira (Lampre-Merida). Peter Sagan, like a boss, drilled the move back almost single-handedly. For now it appeared that the cooperation within this lead group had begun to fracture. The gap to the peloton now over fifteen minutes.

The next to go was Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal). He managed a gap of 31 seconds before Marco Haller (Katusha) made an attempt to bridge up to him. He made the catch and the two working together began to open their advantage. As it approached a minute, the gap to the peloton had grown to nearly eighteen minutes. The Col de Manse (1,268 m) an 8.9 kilometre-long climb at 5.6%, coming into sight.

Adam Hansen, Lotto Soudal, Tour de France 2015
Adam Hansen, Lotto Soudal, Tour de France 2015 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

It’s our goal to win stages, so we wanted to try that again today. It took a while before I and ten others joined the first group. We had to chase for about 100 kilometres because the speed was so high. Luckily some did an extra effort to close the gap. It was the intention to bring Thomas De Gendt into the finale in the best possible position. I had to respond to attacks, but because we were with so many I decided to attack to reduce the group and hoped Thomas could move along. Unfortunately only one other rider joined me, so it was hard to cover more than 40 kilometres. Because of my shoulder injury it’s hard to sprint, so if I would have gone to the finish with some others I wouldn’t have won anyway.”
Adam Hansen, Lotto Soudal

The pace on the ascent of the Col de Manse was lifted and the effects were evident. The gap to Hansen and Haller coming down rapidly. Peter Sagan clinging to the group leading the chase. They made the catch with six km left on the climb and 18km to the finish. An acceleration by Ruben Plaza Molina (Lampre-Merida) blew Hansen and Haller straight out the back leaving Sagan to lead a group of four in pursuit of Plaza.

Most of the break regrouped behind the move of Plaza as his lead grew to a minute, the chasers all intent to sit on Peter Sagan. Sagan, however, attacked the descent putting his bike handling skills on display. Only able to cut the deficit in half however he was once again relegated to a second place finish behind Ruben Plaza who took his first Tour de France stage win. Peter Sagan came across the line beating a fist to his chest signifying his insurmountable grip on his fourth overall Tour Green Jersey, only misfortune able to take it from him now. Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling) COL rounded out the day’s podium.

Vincenzo Nibali, Astana Pro Team, Tour de France 2015
Vincenzo Nibali, Astana Pro Team, Tour de France 2015 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Meanwhile, the fireworks in the chasing peloton had been lit. Vincenzo Nibali, another master of the descent, was off the front of the pack. In a moment of high drama, Geraint Thomas (Sky) was forced off the road on the descent, hitting a pole head first and plummeting over a barrier into a deep ditch, his well-being uncertain. Soon after Nibali led the chasing GC contenders home to the finish Thomas could be seen fighting his way seemingly unscathed back to the group to protect his sixth place in GC. So much testimony to the grit and determination required to complete this great race.

For now, take a deep breath. Tomorrow is a rest day. Then come the Alps and four days of high drama before the race reaches its conclusion in Paris on Sunday.

Peter Sagan, Tinkoff-Saxo, Tour de France 2015
Peter Sagan, Tinkoff-Saxo, Tour de France 2015 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

If you don’t try, you gain nothing. I tried and funnily I always have second places. But it’s okay, I’m very happy with my effort. I might have some bad luck because everybody is looking at me in the race and follows me, when I try. Today, nobody wanted to work on the final climb but I tried to keep the race open. Well, I have a good lead in the points classification but Tour de France is crazy and everyday something can happen and I have to make it to Paris.

I’m very happy with the support I have here at the Tour, it really motivates me. For example, a whole bus from Slovakia is here and follows me at the race to cheer me on – it’s really nice. Today, I also had many great friends in the group that all wanted to stay with me so it was very difficult to do something but I did my best, also for the supporters.”
Peter Sagan, Tinkoff-Saxo

Tour de France 2015 Stage 16 Top 10

  1. Ruben Plaza (ESP) #156
    LAMPRE – MERIDA 04h 30′ 10″
  2. Peter Sagan (SVK) #47
    TINKOFF-SAX 04h 30 ’40’ ‘ + :30
  3. Jarlinson Pantano (COL) #188
    IAM CYCLING 04h 30′ 46″ + :36
  4. Simon Geschke (GER) #86
    TEAM GIANT-ALPECIN 04h 30′ 50″ + :40
  5. Bob Jungels (LUX) #147
    TREK FACTORY RACING 04h 30′ 50″ + :40
  6. Christophe Riblon (FRA) #17
    AG2R La Mondiale 04h 30′ 50″ + :40
  7. Daniel Teklehaimanot (ERI) #219
    MTN-Qhubeka 04h 31′ 03″ + :53
  8. Thomas De Gendt (BEL) #73
    LOTTO-SOUDAL 04h 31′ 10″ + 1:00
  9. Luis Angel Mate (ESP) #174
    COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS 04h 31′ 32″+ 1:22
  10. Thomas Voeckler (FRA) #129
    TEAM EUROPCAR 04h 31′ 32″+ 1:22
Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015
Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

I did hear on the radio that G (Geraint Thomas) had been caught in a crash behind. At that point I was just trying to say to the guys around me ‘listen there’s been a crash let’s just try and keep the race steady for now.’ But obviously only a few kilometres before the finish the guys wanted to go hard.

It’s really unfortunate for us to lose Pete Kennaugh at this point. He’s a big part of the team but he’s had a tough couple of days with illness. I hope he recovers soon. It means we’re going to have to share the work between the eight riders but the guys are strong and I’ve got a lot of confidence in them.

Beyond that I think it’s been a pretty good day for us. We saw the other GC teams trying today. Tinkoff-Saxo took the race on at the foot of the last climb. We saw attacks over the top and Vincenzo Nibali going for it. I think that’s definitely what we can expect these next two days in the Alps. The race certainly isn’t over yet. We’re going to have try and keep control of the race and hope we can keep the lead until Paris.”
Chris Froome, Team Sky

Tour de France 2015 General Classification Top 10 after Stage 16

  1. Christopher Froome (GBR) #31
    TEAM SKY 64h 47 ’16”
  2. Nairo Quintana (COL) #51
    MOVISTAR TEAM 64h 50′ 26″+3:10
  3. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) #61
    BMC RACING TEAM 64h 50′ 48” + 3:32
  4. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) #59
    MOVISTAR TEAM 64h 51′ 18” + 4:02
  5. Alberto Contador (ESP) #41
    TINKOFF-SAXO 64h 51 ’39” + 4:23
  6. Geraint Thomas (GBR) #39
    TEAM SKY 64h 52′ 48” + 5:32
  7. Robert Gesink (NED) #131
    TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO 60h 64h 53′ 39” + 6:23
  8. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) #1
    ASTANA PRO TEAM 64h 55′ 05” + 7:49
  9. Bauke Moellema (NED) #141
    TREK FACTORY RACING 64h 56′ 09″ + 8:53
  10. Warren Barguil (FRA) #82
    TEAM GIANT-Alpecin 64h 58′ 19″ + 11:03

Tour de France 2015 Jerseys after Stage 16

Yellow (Overall leader): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Green (Points): Peter Sagan, Tinkoff Saxo
Polka-dot (KOM): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Worn by: Joaquim Rodriguez, Team Katusha
White (Best Young Rider): Nairo Quintana, Movistar


Stage 16
Date: 20 July, 2015
Start:  Bourg-de-Peage
Finish: Gap
Distance: 201 km


André Greipel picks up his third win of the Tour de France at Stage 15 in Valence

Cover: André Greipel, Tour de France Stage 15
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Todd Hofert


The race has reached its second Sunday and the riders that remain can finally see Paris on the horizon. Despite the role attrition has played upon their minds and bodies, there now seems to be hope for riding onto the famed cobbles of the Champs-Élysées in one weeks time. Stage 15 was set up nicely for the sprinters provided those teams came to the front trying to ensure a break wouldn’t succeed all the way to Valence.

The early forays of teams trying to get riders in breaks started immediately. Led by Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN) with ten riders trying to coming across to join him before being closed down by the peloton.

Lieuwe Westra (Astana) and Dylan van Baarle (Cannondale) were the next to try. A counterattack of 16 riders including Peter Sagan and Michal Kwiatkowski joined Westra and van Baarle 8km in and the break was established.

Tired legs became obvious early on with the grupetto starting to take shape on the very first climb, the côte de Badaroux: Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo), Jérôme Coppel (IAM), Marcel Sieberg (Lotto), Peter Kennaugh (Sky), Michal Golas and Mark Cavendish (Etixx), Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN) were all off the back.

The result at the top of the côte de Badaroux (cat. 3), km 9.5: Serge Pauwels (MTN), 2 points Lieuwe Westra (Astana), 1. Additional riders were able to make it across and the lead group was up to 27 riders.

Katusha came to the front of the peloton en masse to chase down the break, their efforts directed toward their man Alexander Kristoff. They would reduce the gap but Peter Sagan, looking to put a nail in the coffin of the Green Jersey competition, initiated a counter move and pulled a few riders free of the 27 man break. The riders to join him were Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo), Lars Bak (Lotto-Soudal), Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin), Simon Yates (Orica-Greenedge), Michal Kwiatkowski and Matteo Trentin (Etixx – Quick Step) and Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin). This group of nine succeeded in staying away, for now, the others returned to the pack.

No one bothered to contest the intermediate sprint and Peter Sagan took the 20 points for first followed by his teammate Mic Rogers. Cavendish still off the back of the peloton over six minutes behind the race. The gap to the break was at 2:02 and just the Cat 2 climb of the Col de l’Escrinet lay between the riders and the downhill run into the finish.

Sagan and his eight break-mates crossed the summit of the Col de l’Escrinet with just over a minute on the chasing peloton, the grupetto down over eleven minutes. The result of the climb at the Col de l’Escrinet: Thibaut Pinot, 5 points, Hesjedal, 3 points, Kwiatkowski, 2 points, and Trentin, 1 point. Matteo Trentin went on the attack over the top opening up a small gap ahead of the break. The peloton would catch the remainder of the break with 38km remaining in the stage only Trentin and Ryder Hesjedal up the road.

Just under 30km to go the peloton would close the gap and make the catch of Matteo Trentin and Ryder Hesjedal. A bunch sprint minus Mark Cavendish shaping up as the race zeroed in on Valence.

Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-Quick Step) opened up a gap in the run in to the finish. With 3km to go he soloed off the front looking for a long range flyer to take him to his second stage win. Katusha and Lotto-Soudal drilling the front reeled him in just shy of the 1km to go banner.

Tour de France 2015 Stage 15
Tour de France 2015 Stage 15 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures© Chasing Light Media

Andre Greipel slammed the door for his third stage win of the Tour beating John Degenkolb, Alexander Kristoff, Peter Sagan and Edvald Boassen Hagen. What looked like a Green Jersey competition that was all but decided now has Greipel back within 44 points and still a threat to Sagan. Peter Sagan has now finished in the top five of ten of the fifteen stages of this Tour, an impressive display of consistency.

The peloton rolled in safely behind with no changes in the general classification or other jersey competitions. Next up, Stage 16, followed by a much-needed rest day on Tuesday before the race hits the Alps.

The first 18.5 kilometres were very important for me. If I could survive in the beginning of the stage, I knew that I could sprint for the victory. The biggest task was to stay in the peloton during these tough first kilometres, I really suffered. Afterwards there was a plateau and then there was a downhill. The only obstacle left on the course was a climb of the second category.

Lars was in the breakaway. He didn’t help in the front group and because of the great work of Katusha in the peloton, the breakaway didn’t get much space. Also, the teammates did an excellent job and surrounded me very well. Tim Wellens kept me out of the wind and they nicely guided me to the sprint. It was a different sprint today because Greg Henderson and Marcel Sieberg weren’t there, but Jens Debusschere and the others really did a great effort. I can only be thankful for their work.

I suffered the whole day and I had some problems with my knee. But with the finish line in sight, I can always give that extra push. I knew that in the final 250 meters, there was a headwind. My timing was just good enough, although Degenkolb and Kristoff came close. At first, we came to the Tour de France for one victory, the fact that we won three stages now is just a dream. This sprint was the toughest of all sprint stages. The last chance will be on the Champs-Elysées, but first we’ll have to deal with the Alps. We will see what Paris brings.”
– André Greipel, Lotto Soudal

André Greipel, Lotto-Soudal, Tour de France 2015 Stage 15
André Greipel, Lotto-Soudal, Tour de France 2015 Stage 15 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures© Chasing Light Media

I was up last night with stomach problems. In terms of the team’s tactics, we prayed it would be an easy start. But we had the plan to get guys in the breakaway anyway. I felt empty at the start. It’s a shame because I was going good in the last couple of days. I had Mark Renshaw and Michal Golas with me, and we thought there was a chance we could come back.

But once Katusha got on the front, and the TV cameras realize there’s a chase happening and go to the front of the peloton, you know it’s going to be a long day for us guys behind. After about 30 kilometers we knew it was about surviving the day. We knew there wasn’t a chance to win with me. But we knew there were guys that were in the break, which is really good. It was a hard day for us, but I’m still in Le Tour de France. I’m looking forward to just trying to get to Paris and I hope I am not ill in the next days.”
Mark Cavendish, Etixx – QuickStep

Tour de France 2015 Stage 15 Top 10

  1. André Greipel (GER) #75
    LOTTO-SOUDAL 03h 56′ 35″
  2. John Degenkolb (GER) #81
    TEAM GIANT-Alpecin same time
  3. Alexander Kristoff (NOR) #96
    TEAM KATUSHA same time
  4. Peter Sagan (SVK) #47
    TINKOFF-SAX same time
  5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) #211
    MTN-Qhubeka  same time
  6. Ramunas Navardauskas (LTU) #168
    TEAM GARMIN-CANNONDALE same time
  7. Christophe Laporte (FRA #173
    COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS same time
  8. Michael Matthews (AUS) #105
    ORICA GREENEDGE  same time
  9. Davide Cimolai (ITA) #153
    LAMPRE – MERIDA same time
  10. Florian Vachon (FRA) #209
    BRETAGNE – SECHE ENVIRONNEMENT same time
Tour de France 2015 Stage 15 500m
Tour de France 2015 Stage 15 500m Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures© Chasing Light Media

Tour de France 2015 General Classification Top 10 after Stage 15

  1. Christopher Froome (GBR) #31
    TEAM SKY 59h 58′ 54”
  2. Nairo Quintana (COL) #51
    MOVISTAR TEAM 60h 02′ 04” +3:10
  3. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) #61
    BMC RACING TEAM 60h 02′ 26” + 3:32
  4. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) #59
    MOVISTAR TEAM 60h 02′ 56” + 4:02
  5. Alberto Contador (ESP) #41
    TINKOFF-SAXO 60h 03′ 17” + 4:23
  6. Geraint Thomas (GBR) #39
    TEAM SKY 60h 03′ 48” + 4:54
  7. Robert Gesink (NED) #131
    TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO 60h 05′ 17” + 6:23
  8. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) #1
    ASTANA PRO TEAM 60h 07′ 11” + 8:17
  9. Tony Gallopin (FRA) #71
    LOTTO-SOUDAL 60h 07′ 17” + 8:23
  10. Bauke Moellema (NED) #141
    TREK FACTORY RACING 60h 07′ 47” + 8:53
Roman Kreuziger, Tinkoff-Saxo, Tour de France 2015 Stage 15
Roman Kreuziger, Tinkoff-Saxo, Tour de France 2015 Stage 15 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures© Chasing Light Media

Tour de France 2015 Jerseys after Stage 15

Yellow (Overall leader): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Green (Points): Peter Sagan, Tinkoff Saxo
Polka-dot (KOM): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Worn by: Joaquim Rodriguez, Team Katusha
White (Best Young Rider): Nairo Quintana, Movistar


Stage 15
Date: 19 July, 2015
Start:  Mende
Finish: Valence
Distance: 182 km

MTN Qhubeka’s Stephen Cummings wins at the Tour de France 2015 Stage 14

Cover: Stephen Cummings, MTN-Qhubeka, Tour de France 2015 Stage 14
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Todd Hofert

Transition Stage. Technically that is what today’s stage was. Does that diminish it in the eyes of a rider or a spectator? I guess it depends upon perspective. From mine, a Tour stage is always a Tour stage, each with their unique characteristics that add to the overall spectacle. Stage 14 from Rodez – Mende would be no exception.

The profile included four categorized climbs including the Côte de la Croix Neuve. Longer than the Mur de Huy and Mûr de Bretagne climbs, and also with a steeper average gradient. It provided a finish that may have bordered on too much for a puncheur and something short of a ‘real’ climb for the GC boys. The long uphill drag from start to finish, the heat and threat of more thunderstorms made for a stage that was anything but a roll through the countryside.

Robert Gesink, Lotto NL-Jumbo, Tour de France 2015 Stage 14
Robert Gesink, Lotto NL-Jumbo, Tour de France 2015 Stage 14
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Robert Gesink (Lotto NL-Jumbo) NEL was caught up in a crash just after the neutral zone. Having an excellent Tour thus far despite his early season setbacks it was good to see he was back up and riding and none the worse for the wear. An early break tried and failed as the peloton regrouped after the crash.

The little crash I was involved in was nothing serious. I only had to chase for twenty kilometres to return to the peloton afterwards. Besides that, I was feeling fine. That last climb was an annoying one. It was hectic, but I started climbing in a good position at the front of the group. In the end, I finished in a group with my main competitors and I was setting the pace.”
Robert Gesink, Lotto NL-Jumbo

Ruben Plaza, Lampre-Merida, Tour de France 2015 Stage 14
Ruben Plaza, Lampre-Merida, Tour de France 2015 Stage 14
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) SVK would initiate an attack and a small group of 5 would form the first successful break of the day. He had Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling), Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-QuickStep), Bob Jungels (Trek Factory Racing), Ruben Plaza (Lampre-Merida), Andrey Grivko (Astana), Matthieu Ladagnous (FDJ) with him. The move would grow to 7 leading up to the first sprint of the day.

Sagan won the intermediate sprint and a chase of 13, including yesterdays stage winner, Greg Vanavermaet would recognize the significance of having Sagan up the road and the group would swell to 20 soon after. The top five places for the sprint were Peter Sagan, 20 pts, Ruben Plaza, 17 pts, Andriy Grivko, 15 pts, Bob Jungels, 13 pts, Matthieu Ladagnous, 11 pts.

This group had 7:32 with 100km to go. The 13 to join the break were Romain Bardet and Jan Bakelants (AG2R-La Mondiale), Thibaut Pinot and Jérémy Roy (FDJ), Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar), Greg van Avermaet (BMC), Koen de Kort (Giant-Alpecin), Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEdge), Michal Golas (Etixx-Quick Step), Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Kristjian Koren (Cannondale-Garmin), Pierre-Luc Périchon (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) and Stephen Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka)

Andrew Talansky’s Tour misfortunes would continue as he would suffer a puncture that would knock him out of the break and he could be found sitting on the back of the peloton, understandably demoralized.

The race would roll along status quo for the next 50km or so, the peloton content for the most part to keep the break around six or seven minutes up the road. The gap would start to fall on the cat 2 Côte de Sauveterre led by Richie Porte and the rest of the Sky train. The results at the top of the climb of the côte de Sauveterre were Matthieu Ladagnous, 5 pts, Jérémy Roy, 3 pts, Jan Bakelants, 2 pts, Jarlinson Pantano, 1 pt.

Michal Golas, Etixx – Quick-Step, Tour de France 2015 Stage 14
Michal Golas, Etixx – Quick-Step, Tour de France 2015 Stage 14
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Soon after the summit Michal Golas (Etixx-Quick Step) attacked the break apparently looking to soften up the group for Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-QuickStep) ahead of the finale. The break started to fracture as a result. Kristjian Koren (Cannondale-Garmin) got away in pursuit with no concerted chase coming from behind. He would make the connection with Golas at the base of the penultimate climb of Côte de Chabrits.

FDJ was left to lead the chase. Sagan and Greg van Avermaet sitting in readying themselves for the battle to come on the final climb to the line. The gap to the peloton started to grow again to just over six minutes with 9km to go and the winner of the stage now certain to come from the break.

The lead pair hit the base of the climb with a slim 16 second margin, the 18 man chase eager to reel them in and claim a stage win. The attacks started to go with just under 4km to go. Sagan was unable to answer as was van Avermaet. Simon Yates was there, Romain Bardet looking like the man to beat. Thibaut Pinot struggled to recover but clawed back Bardet. Yates popped off the wheel on the steepest section of the climb.

Behind in the peloton an attack came from Nairo Quintana would get a gap on the Yellow Jersey and Froome was isolated. Nibail answered briefly and Froome’s persistence brought him back to the Colombian.

At the front of the race Pinot caught Bardet at just under 2km to go and seemingly from nowhere Steve Cummings would catch them both at the Flamme Rouge. Cummings rode straight past and soloed home for the stage win. Pinot second and Bardet third. The win for Cummings is the first Grand Tour stage win and certainly the biggest win in MTN-Qhubeka team history.

Froome would mark Quintana with Van Garderen popped well down the road, Quintana’s sights set on moving up a step on the podium. Contador losing time and Valverde attacking him late. Froome led the peloton home 4:17 seconds behind the leaders and beat Quintana in the sprint followed by a hard charging Alejandro Valverde.

Peter Sagan consolidated his lead in the Green Jersey competition with a fifth place finish. Chris Froome did the same gaining another 18 seconds on his overall lead. Tejay Van Garderen drops a spot on GC losing time to Quintana and Valverde and perhaps jeopardizing his hopes for a Tour podium, clinging to just a 30 second margin over Alejandro Valverde.

Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Stage 14 Photo: G
Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Stage 14
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Will Stage 15 offer any opportunity for the riders to recuperate? A few minor climbs up front, an intermediate sprint and a cat 2 in the middle followed by a long descending ride to what would appear to be a day for the sprinters.

Stephen Cummings, MTN-Qhubeka, Tour de France 2015 Stage 14
Stephen Cummings, MTN-Qhubeka, Tour de France 2015 Stage 14
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

I wasn’t the strongest today and I knew there were better climbers in our lead group. I had to play the waiting game today as FDJ were looking to set up Pinot for the win. I waited and waited and eventually, the last climb arrived which I rode at my own pace.

Pinot and Bardet were just ahead and I used them as the carrot dangling in front of me for motivation. Everyone went bananas at the start of the climb but the key was to remain calm and take my opportunity when it arrived. I made contact with the two Frenchman at the top of the climb and knew they might hesitate to chase me if I got the jump on them on the flat part before the finish.

I threw caution to wind and just went for it. It paid off and I won the stage. This is an incredible day for me and the team, with it being Mandela Day the team was motivated more than usual but I don’t think we can quite believe what has just happened. It may take a while to sink in.”
Stephen Cummings, MTN-Qhubeka

I should have won. I really thought I was winning this time. When Thibault Pinot caught me in the climb I was exhausted. We are friends but we both have been fooled by Cummings . It would have been so much better if one of us had won. I attacked early in the climb but I did not know the road very well. There are still opportunities for a stage victory in the alps. However I will need to choose wisely where to attack because I am really tired.”
Romain Bardet, AG2R La Mondiale

Tour de France 2015 Stage 14 Top 10

  1. Stephen Cummings (GBR) #212
    MTN-Qhubeka 04h 23 ’43”
  2. Thibaut Pinot (FRA) #21
    FDJ 04h 23′ 45″ + :02
  3. Romain Bardet (FRA) #12
    AG2R La Mondiale 04h 23’ 46” + :03
  4. Rigoberto Uran (COL) #118
    QUICK STEP-Etixx 04h 24’ 03” + :20
  5. Peter Sagan (SVK) #47
    TINKOFF-SAXO 04h 24’ 12” + :29
  6. Cyril Gautier (FRA) #123
    TEAM EUROPCAR 04h 24’ 15” + :32
  7. Ruben Plaza (ESP) #156
    LAMPRE – MERIDA 04h 24’ 15” + :32
  8. Bob Jungels (LUX) #147
    TREK FACTORY RACING 04h 24’ 15” + :32
  9. Jonathan Castroviejo (ESP) #53
    MOVISTAR TEAM 04h 24’ 15” + :32
  10. Simon Yates (GBR) #109
    ORICA GREENEDGE 04h 24’ 16” + :33
Vincent Nibali, Astana Pro Team, Tour de France 2015 Stage 14
Vincent Nibali, Astana Pro Team, Tour de France 2015 Stage 14
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Tour de France 2015 General Classification Top 10 after Stage 14

  1. Christopher Froome (GBR) #31
    TEAM SKY 56h 02′ 19″
  2. Nairo Quintana (COL) #51
    MOVISTAR TEAM 56h 05′ 29″ + 3:10
  3. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) #61
    BMC RACING TEAM 56h 05′ 51″ + 3:32
  4. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) #59
    MOVISTAR TEAM 56h 06′ 21″ + 4:02
  5. Alberto Contador (ESP) #41
    TINKOFF-SAXO 56h 06′ 42″ + 4:23
  6. Geraint Thomas (GBR) #39
    TEAM SKY 56h 07′ 13″ + 4:54
  7. Robert Gesink (NED) #131
    TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO 56h 08′ 42′” + 6:23
  8. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) #1
    ASTANA PRO TEAM 56h 10′ 36″ + 8:17
  9. Tony Gallopin (FRA) #71
    LOTTO-SOUDAL 56h 10′ 42″ + 8:23
  10. Bauke Moellema (NED) #141
    TREK FACTORY RACING 56h 11′ 12″ + 8:53

Tour de France 2015 Jerseys after Stage 14

Yellow (Overall leader): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Green (Points): Peter Sagan, Tinkoff Saxo
Polka-dot (KOM): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Worn by: Joaquim Rodriguez, Team Katusha
White (Best Young Rider): Nairo Quintana, Movistar

It was really hard because the finale was so tough with a three-kilometer climb of more than 10 percent. I took 20 points in the intermediate sprint and at that point it was really hectic, everybody wanted to break away but I managed to secure the points. It was overall a good day, but the battle for the green jersey is not over.

We have seven stages left and we have to pay attention every day. Today, I said to myself that I would try to go as fast as I could on the final climb and I’m okay with the result. The climbers in the group accelerated at the bottom and I thought that I should keep my own pace and perhaps there would be a slight chance that I could catch them at the top. Of course, I would like to win, but it’s not easy for me on a climb like this. 

Today I was thinking about tomorrow’s stage and I really hadn’t planned to go in the breakaway. But I aimed for the intermediate sprint and suddenly I was in the there and then I stayed, which also meant that I took extra points for the green jersey on the finish line. Maybe I can try again tomorrow but I’m not Superman. So we will see how I feel and for sure we’re going to do our best again, maybe I’m tired and maybe I’m not.”
Peter Sagan, Tinkoff-Saxo


Stage 14
Date: 18 July, 2015
Start:  Rodez
Finish: Mende
Distance: 178 km


Tour de France 2015 Stage 14 route

Tour de France 2015 Stage 14 route map

Tour de France 2015 Stage 14 route map

Tour de France 2015 Stage 14 profile

Tour de France 2015 Stage 14 profile

Tour de France 2015 Stage 14 climbs

20 km – Côte de Pont-de-Salars1.3 km de montée à 5.8% – category 4
146 km – Côte de Sauveterre9 km de montée à 6% – category  2
169.5 km – Côte de Chabrits1.9 km de montée à 5.9% -category 4
177 km – Côte de la Croix Neuve (1 055 m)3 km de montée à 10.1% -category 2

Tour de France 2015 Stage 14 climbs - Cote de la Croix

Maps courtesy of Le Tour de France / © A.S.O.

Joaquim Rodriguez, Tour de France 2015 Stage 12

Joaquim Rodriguez wins Tour de France 2015 Stage 12

Cover: Joaquim Rodriguez, Tour de France 2015 Stage 12 © Tim De Waele / Team Katusha
Article by Todd Hofert


Stage 12 could only be described as a beast. It was on the long side. It graduated steadily in difficulty over a cat 2 climb, followed by two cat 1 climbs before culminating on the vaunted slopes of Plateau de Beille, the hors categorie climb of the day at 15.8 kilometres in length with an average gradient of 7.9%. And it came on the third and final day in the Pyrenees. The recipe for an exciting day of racing.

Stage 12 could only be described as a beast. It is on the long side. It graduates steadily in difficulty over a cat 2 climb, followed by two cat 1 climbs before culminating on the vaunted slopes of Plateau de Beille, the hors categorie climb of the day at 15.8 kilometres in length with an average gradient of 7.9%. And it came on the third and final day in the Pyrenees. The recipe for an exciting day of racing.

Chris Froome with a comfortable lead on the General Classification spent yet another day in Yellow. Places 2 through 10, however, should be hotly contested as only a handful of minutes separate the riders in those positions. Peter Sagan was back in the Green Jersey and appeared ready to defend it on the day’s intermediate sprint just 20km into the stage. Nairo Quintana wore the White Jersey and Richie Porte would do the honor of wearing the Polka-Dot Jersey on loan from his teammate Chris Froome, the rightful owner of that tunic. No surprise that Team Sky would continue to lead the team competition.

Right out of the gate Lotto Soudal would take charge of the peloton to ensure that an early break could not form and take sprint points away from Andre Greipel. Just 7 points down on Peter Sagan his intent to get the Green Jersey back. He would win the sprint followed by John Degenkolb in second but Peter Sagan’s persistence and a third place would leave the Gorilla two points shy of reclaiming the Maillot Vert.

It wouldn’t take long for the break to form once the business of the sprint was out of the way. At 27km a 22 rider break form that included riders from 15 teams: Lieuwe Westra, Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Matthieu Ladagnous, Jérémy Roy (FDJ), Gorka Izagirre (Movistar), Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx), Romain Bardet, Mickaël Chérel, Christophe Riblon (AG2R), Jan Barta (Bora), Bryan Coquard, Romain Sicard (Europcar), Kristjian Durasek (Lampre), Dani Navarro (Cofidis), Sylvain Chavanel, Jérôme Coppel (IAM), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Frédéric Brun, Anthony Delaplace (Bretagne-Séché), Louis Meintjes (MTN), Georg Preidler (Giant), Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo). At 35km the break had established a 3:45 gap.

The result at the top of the first climb of the day, the Col du Portet d’Aspet (km 57.5) was Georg Preidler(Giant-Alpecin) 5 pts, Jérémy Roy(FDJ) 3 pts, Lieuwe Westra (Astana) 2 pts and Anthony Delaplace(Bretagne-Séché) 1 pt. The time gap to the peloton was 5:05.

The breakaway would start to splinter on the Col de la Core. The pack reduced to 13 then began to slowly regroup as the remainder of the riders settled into their rhythm and regained contact. Over the top of the climb maximum points would be taken by Kristjian Durasek, 10 pts followed by Georg Preidler, 8 pts Mikaël Chérel, 6 pts Matthieu Ladagnous, 4 pts Sylvain Chavanel, 2 pts and Romain Bardet, 1 pt

Preidler, Kwiatkowski and Vanmarcke would move clear on the descent of the Col de la Core, the peloton would come across the summit more than ten minutes back of the lead trio. The lead group would reduce to two as Georg Preidler was unable to hang. Kwiatkowski would set the pace up the Port de Lers, the penultimate climb of the day, with Sep Vanmarcke following. Rodriguez, Izagirre and Sicard rejoined Bardet, Fuglsang and Meintjes and the group of six continued in pursuit of the two leaders. Results at the summit of Port de Lers: Michal Kwiatkowski, 10 pts, Sep Vanmarcke, 8 pts and 53 seconds back Mikaël Chérel, 6 pts Louis Meintjes, 4 pts Romain Bardet, 2 pts and Jakob Fuglsang, 1 pt would follow. The gap to the peloton had grown to a maximum of 12:30.

The race would hit torrential rain and even hail along the valley on the way to Plateau de Beille. Kwiatkowski and Vanmarcke would extend their advantage to 1:50 over the nearest chaser at the base of the final climb. With 13km remaining, Kwiatkowski would dispatch Sep Vanmarcke and soldier on solo looking to hang on to the narrow margin to his chasers. The peloton would hit the climb with a fury led by Lotto NL-Jumbo and Movistar 10:38 behind the leader. Sky would come forward to restore order and the steady pressure would reduce the field.

Michal Kwiatkowski, Tour de France Stage 12
Michal Kwiatkowski, Tour de France Stage 12 Photo: Etixx – Quick-Step/Tim De Waele

It’s a pity I couldn’t handle the power necessary to stay away on the last climb. It was really steep after a long day out front. Being caught 7.6 kilometers from the finish is too bad, but for me, it was a bit unexpected to be in that breakaway in the first place. It was many guys and a lot of strong climbers. I think Sep and I did a great move to stay away from the pure climbers. I think it was smart to be aggressive on the descent before the last climb and build the gap. We worked together well and I’m thankful to him. We played the best tactic possible for our skills. It was too bad we didn’t have enough of a gap to stay away. I couldn’t have done any better than what I did.

The rain was even nice to cool off from the heat we dealt with all day, especially with the high temperatures we’ve also been dealing with in the last stages. I tried to fight until the end. It wasn’t enough to win a stage, but I’m happy my performance is getting better and better each day. Congratulations to Rodriguez as he deserved the victory today. He was super strong and he is one of the best climbers in the peloton. I am happy I tried to go for the stage win. I have to be satisfied because you can’t win if you don’t try.”
Michal Kwiatkowski, Etixx – QuickStep

Rodriguez, Jakob Fuglsang, and Romain Bardet would provide the most exciting action of the day as they sparred their way across the gap to Kwiatkowski, Rodriguez providing the majority of animation. His persistence would finally pay off and he would ride away from Fuglsang and Bardet and catch Kwiatkowski with 7.7km remaining.

I was in hell during the last ten days, I could not follow the rhythm of the peloton. Today I found some new energy such as the AG2R a Mondiale team. However, this Tour still represents the biggest failure of my career because my main goal was to reach the top 5. At least, I gained in confidence today, which is quite good for the Alps. I am more than pleased of my Plateau de Beille climb. Honestly, my best friend Mickael Cherel did an amazing job but Rodriguez was better than us.”
Romain Bardet, AG2R La Mondiale

Robert-Gesink-Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-12
Robert Gesink, Tour de France 2015 Stage 12 Photo: Lotto NL – Jumbo

Robert Gesink would suffer a puncture at a critical time as the Yellow Jersey group had been reduced to about 11 riders. He would be unable to claw his way back to the group and would give back a handful of seconds as a result of his misfortune.

Today went quite well, although it sucked that I had a puncture at the foot of the Plateau de Beille,” Gesink said. “It was a bad moment. I took another bike, I started riding to the top as if it was a time trial. Thanks to the adrenaline, I almost made it back to the yellow jersey group. I could see them all the way up, but unfortunately, I couldn’t close the gap.”
Robert Gesink, Lotto NL – Jumbo

Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas would maintain a tight grip on the rest of the Yellow Jersey group keeping the tempo high and responding to accelerations. Alejandro Valverde would launch several sorties trying to soften up the Sky armada and Richie Porte would finally succumb after successfully covering them. Contador would try his luck and Froome would bring him back himself. Nibali would try. Quintana would try. Nothing would stick. The remnants of the days breakaway were picked off one by one with only 8 of the original 22 being able to survive to the finish ahead of the Yellow Jersey group.

Nairo Quintana, Tour de France 2015 Stage 12
Nairo Quintana, Tour de France 2015 Stage 12 Photo: Movistar

It was a good work from everyone in the team. A difficult day, with really demanding climbs and, above all, serious temperature changes and rain in the finale. It took even more energy from us, but we stood it and attacked the leader several times. Sky managed to control all of them, as well ours as the ones from Alberto, Vincenzo… they dominated the situation pretty well and have shown to be strong, as well Froome as his team-mates. We’ll keep dreaming and trying; there’s still a long way to go and everything won’t be decided until the final mountain stage. I feel well at the moment, we’re as strong as in previous days; I think my level shouldn’t go down in what’s left in this Tour, and should I keep it like today, I think we can try some good things until Paris. There’s much to cover, we lost some ground already, but there’s some good condition we’ll use to keep fighting till next Sunday.”
Nairo Quintana, Movistar

Joaquim Rodriguez’s move would stick and he would ride home solo to claim his second stage win of the Tour. Jakob Fuglsang would follow 1:12 down and Romain Bardet, after suffering miserably the day before, would claim the third spot on the podium of the day. The remainder of the 8 members that survived the break of the day would come in next and the faithful lieutenant Geraint Thomas would fight his way back to finish the job of getting Chris Froome to the line unscathed.

Tejay Van Garderen would answer all of the attacks and would finish behind the late sprint to the line led by Valverde and Froome. The top ten would remain almost unchanged with Gesink jumping over Tony Gallopin from 8th to 7th despite his bad luck.

I knew Sky had a really strong team and they were going to try to neutralize any of the attacks of all the dangerous guys. So when they were jumping, I just sat behind Sky to make sure they pulled them back. Hopefully, those guys will keep doing that so they waste a few of their bullets. Then, in the third week they might pay the price.”
Tejay Van Garderen, BMC Racing Team

The peloton will be looking for a bit of restored order as they roll into the weekend tomorrow.

Tour de France 2015 Stage 12 Top 10

  1. Joachim Rodrgiuez (ESP) #91
    TEAM KATUSHA 05h 40′ 14″
  2. Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) #3
    ASTANA PRO TEAM 05h 41′ 26″ + 1:12
  3. Romain Bardet (FRA) #12
    AG2R LA MONDIALE 05h 42′ 03″ + 1:49
  4. Gorka Izagirre Insausti (ESP) #57
    MOVISTAR TEAM 05h 44′ 48″ + 4:34
  5. Louis Meintjes (RSA) #217
    MTN-QHUBEKA 05h 44′ 52″ + 4:38
  6. Jan Barta (CZE) #192
    BORA-ARGON 18 05h 46′ 01″ + 5:47
  7. Romain Sicard (FRA) #127
    TEAM EUROPCAR 05h 46′ 17″ + 6:03
  8. Mikael Cherel (FRA) #14
    AG2R LA MONDIALE 05h 46′ 42” + 6:28
  9. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) #59
    MOVISTAR TEAM 05h 47′ 00″ + 6:46
  10. Christopher Froome (GBR) #31
    TEAM SKY 05h 47′ 01″ + 6:47

Tour de France 2015 General Classification Top 10 after Stage 12

  1. Christopher Froome (GBR) #31
    TEAM SKY 46h 50′ 32″
  2. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) #61
    BMC RACING TEAM 46h 53′ 24″ + 2:52
  3. Nairo Quintana (COL) #51
    MOVISTAR TEAM 46h 53′ 41″ + 3:09
  4. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) #59
    MOVISTAR TEAM 46h 54′ 30″ + 3:58
  5. Geraint Thomas (GBR) #39
    TEAM SKY 46h 54′ 35″ + 4:03
  6. Alberto Contador (ESP) #41
    TINKOFF-SAXO 46h 54′ 36″‘ + 04:04
  7. Robert Gesink (NED) #131
    TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO 46h 56′ 04″ + 5:32
  8. Tony Gallopin (FRA) #71
    LOTTO-SOUDAL 46h 58′ 04″ + 7:32
  9. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) #1
    ASTANA PRO TEAM 46h 58′ 19″ + 7:47
  10. Bauke Moellema (NED) #141
    TREK FACTORY RACING 46h 58′ 34″ + 8:02

Tour de France 2015 Jerseys after Stage 12

Yellow (Overall leader): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Green (Points): Peter Sagan, Tinkoff Saxo
Polka-dot (KOM): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Worn by: Joaquim Rodriguez, Team Katusha
White (Best Young Rider): Nairo Quintana, Movistar

Stage 12 – Lannemezan / Plateau de Beille – 195km

Stage 12
Date: 16 July, 2015
Start:  Lannemezan
Finish: Plateau de Beille
Distance: 195 km


Tour de France 2015 Stage 12 route

Tour de France 2015 Stage 12 route map

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-12-route-map.png

Tour de France 2015 Stage 12 profile

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-12-profile.png

Tour de France 2015 Stage 12 climbs

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-12-climb-Plateau-de-Beille.png

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-12-climb-Port-de-Lers.png

Tour-de-France-2015-Stage-12-climb-Col-de-la-Core.png

Maps courtesy of Le Tour de France / © A.S.O.

Rafal Majka, Tinkoff-Saxo, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11, Col du Tourmalet

Rafal Majka conquers the Tourmalet & takes stage 11 at the Tour de France 2015

Cover: Rafal Majka, Tinkoff-Saxo, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11, Col du Tourmalet
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


Rafal Majka (Tinkoff Saxo) claimed the victory at Cauterets after charging over the Tourmalet at stage 11 of the Tour de France. Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) finished second 1 minute behind Majka and Emanuel Buchmann (Bora Argon 18) was third.

I dedicate this win to my team and especially Ivan Basso and Daniele Bennati, who crashed today. I only attacked once, but it was at the right moment. I was watching the other riders and noticed that many of them were suffering so I decided to attack. My teammates supported me to go in the breakaway and I told my sports directors that I wanted to attack already on the Tourmalet instead of waiting. I needed a hard climb to create a gap and I took nearly 1’30” on the Tourmalet. I’m very happy with this win and it is great for the morale on the team.”
Rafal Majka, Tinkoff Saxo

Geraint Thomas, Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Col du Tourmalet
Geraint Thomas, Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Col du Tourmalet Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Chris Froome (Team Sky) safely retained the overall lead sitting 2 minutes 52 seconds in front of Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing) after stage 11.

DN7R5195
Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Stage 11 – Pau / Cauterets – Vallée de Saint-Savin – 188km

by Todd Hofert

Just over a week into the Tour and the top wrung of the GC ladder is now well established. Chris Froome stamped his authority on this years campaign on the first HC climb of the race yesterday. Now sitting on a margin of 2:52 over his nearest rival will he continue to “ride defensively” in his own words, or will he assert himself to make an emphatic claim on the title?

The stage to Cauterets today provided an equal opportunity for either approach he chose to take. Well suited for a break to succeed and for the climber looking to establish himself as a Polka-Dot Jersey contender, an easy ride in the bunch is what Froome was hoping for today with Plateau de Beille on the profile for tomorrow.

Any thoughts of an easy day were quickly extinguished when a series of attempts to form a break were all chased down. It seemed all of the teams were interested in being in the break today and that led to difficulty for anyone trying to establish a break and for anyone thinking they would have an easy start to the day. An attempt to take notes on all the activity leading up to the break that finally formed would prove futile and I too would settle back to accepting that my chances for covering the break today were over.

The break that did finally succeed after about 85km of racing would contain: Arnaud Démare (FDJ) FRA, Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) POL, Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) FRA, Steve Morabito (FDJ) SUI, Serge Pauwels (MTN-Qhubeka) BEL, Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Argon 18) GER and Julien Simon (Cofidis, Solutions Credit) FRA. They would lead the race through the feed and onto the slopes of the Col d’ Aspin.

Earlier in the day, the bunch would contest the intermediate sprint at just over 56km into the stage. Peter Sagan, after Tweeting yesterday that he wants his Green Jersey back, would land a 17 point second place result behind Matteo Trentin (Etixx – Quick Step) ITA. This would give Sagan the points he needed to rest the jersey away from Greipel for the time being. John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) GER would grab 15 points for third, Zdenek Stybar (Etixx – Quick Step) CZE and Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) FRA would round out the top five. Andre Greipel would come in 9th.

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Dan Martin, Cannondale-Garmin, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Col du Tourmalet Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Dan Martin (Cannondale Garmin) IRL, trying to salvage what has thus far been a dreadful Tour for Cannondale-Garmin, would put in an effort to bridge to the break and would reel them in up the Col d’ Aspin. The lead group of seven had a seven-minute gap over the peloton and a handful of minutes over the few stragglers trying to stay out ahead of the pack. The gap over the summit of the Col d’ Aspin would be 7:48. Dan Martin would claim the 10 points for the first man to reach the summit and would immediately go on the attack on the descent.

Tour de France 2015 Stage 11
Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Martin would not go far as the remaining six members of the break plus Arnaud Démare, one of the aforementioned stragglers, would manage the gap to Martin and the group of eight would arrive at the base of the Col du Tourmalet together 7:06 ahead of the main field.

Rafal Majka, Tinkoff-Saxo, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Col du Tourmalet
Rafal Majka, Tinkoff-Saxo, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Col du Tourmalet Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) POL would strike out on his own on the Tourmalet. He would gain a minute over his former break companions. He would go over the top and grab the 25 points and 5,000 euros.

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Rafał Majka, Tinkoff-Saxo, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The peloton would follow led by the Maillot Jaune at 5:35, the remnants of the break somewhere between. Vincenzo Nibali could be seen on the front of the chasing peloton. Riding for himself or for the newly assigned team leader Jakob Fuglsang?

Rui Costa, Lampre-Merida, Tour de France 2015 teams presentation
Rui Costa, Lampre-Merida, Tour de France 2015 teams presentation Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Rui Costa would abandon the race still suffering from injuries his injuries from last week. He joins a long list of abandons including Johan Van Summeren (AG2R), Rein Taaramae (Astana), Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Ben Gastauer (AG2R).

Serge Pauwels, MTN-Qhubeka, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11
Serge Pauwels, MTN-Qhubeka, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The break would splinter across the roads. Serge Pauwels (MTN-Qhubeka) BEL in pursuit of Majka, Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Argon 18) GER in pursuit of Pauwels, Dan Martin (Cannondale Garmin) IRL aggressively attacking them all. At the 4km to go banner Dan Martin (Cannondale Garmin) IRL would storm past Serge Pauwels the last man between he and Majka but it would once again prove too little too late for Martin as Rafel Majka would cruise to the stage win. Emanuel Buchmann would catch Pauwels as well relegating the former to fourth place on the day.

Tommy Voeckler, Team Europcar Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Col du Tourmalet
Tommy Voeckler, Team Europcar Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Col du Tourmalet Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Thomas Voeckler and Julien Simon would cross the line some 3:33 adrift of the stage winner followed by Bauke Mollema who launched a late attack on the yellow jersey group. Vincenzo Nibail, who looked solid on the Col d’Aspin and the Tourmalet would pop yet again giving up more time on the general classification. At what point does he simply abandon the race?

Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Col du Tourmalet
Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Col du Tourmalet Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

A big day on the way to the summit of the Plateau de Beille faces the riders tomorrow. The steep slopes should provide plenty of action for those trying to make a dent in Froome’s lead and move themselves up the leader board.

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Vincenzo Nibali, Alejandro Valverde, Tejay Van Garderen, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Stage 11
Date: 15 July, 2015
Start:  Pau
Finish: Cauterets – Valley of Saint-Savin
Distance: 188 km

Rigoberto Uran, Etixx-Quick Step, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11
Rigoberto Uran, Etixx-Quick Step, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Top 10

  1. Rafal Majka (POL) #45
    TINKOFF-SAX 05h 02′ 01″
  2. Daniel Martin (IRL) #167
    TEAM GARMIN-CANNONDALE 05h 03′ 01″ + 1:00
  3. Emanuel Buchmann (GER) #194
    BORA-ARGON 18 05h 03′ 24″ + 1:23
  4. Serge Pauwels (BEL) #218
    MTN-Qhubeka 05h 04′ 09″ + 2:08
  5. Thomas Voeckler (FRA) #129
    TEAM EUROPCAR 05h 05 ’35’ ‘ + 3:34
  6. Julien Simon (FRA)#177
    COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS 05h 05 ’35’ ‘ + 3:34
  7. Bauke Mollema (NED) #141
    TREK FACTORY RACING 05h 07′ 12″ + 5:11
  8. Alejandro Valderde (ESP) #59
    MOVISTAR TEAM 05h 07′ 20″ +5:19
  9. Christopher Froome (GBR) #31
    TEAM SKY 05h 07′ 22″+ 5:21
  10. Alberto Contador (ESP) #41
    TINKOFF-SAX 05h 07′ 22″ + 5:2
Steve Morabito, FDJ, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Col du Tourmalet
Steve Morabito, FDJ, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Col du Tourmalet Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Tour de France 2015 General Classification Top 10 after Stage 11

  1. Christopher Froome (GBR) #31
    TEAM SKY 41h 03′ 31″
  2. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) #61
    BMC RACING TEAM 41h 06′ 23″+ 2:52
  3. Nairo Quintana (COL) #51
    MOVISTAR TEAM 41h 06′ 40″ + 3:09
  4. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) #59
    MOVISTAR TEAM 41h 07′ 30″ + 3:59
  5. Geraint Thomas (GBR) #39
    TEAM SKY 41h 07′ 34″ + 4:03
  6. Alberto Contador (ESP) #41
    TINKOFF-SAX 41h 07′ 35″ + 4:04
  7. Tony Gallopin (FRA) #71
    LOTTO-SOUDAL 41h 08′ 04″ + 4:33
  8. Robert Gesink (NED) #131
    LOTTO TEAM NL – JUMBO 41h 08′ 06″ + 4:35
  9. Warren Barguil (FRA) #82
    TEAM GIANT-ALPECIN 41h 10′ 15″ + 6:44
  10. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) #1
    TREK FACTORY RACING 41h 10′ 36″ + 7:05
Tour de France 2015 Stage 11
Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Tour de France 2015 Jerseys after Stage 11

Yellow (Overall leader): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Green (Points): Peter Sagan, Tinkoff Saxo
Polka-dot (KOM):Chris Froome, Team Sky
Worn by: Richie Porte, Team Sky
White (Best Young Rider): Nairo Quintana, Movistar

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Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Col du Tourmalet Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Laurens Ten Dam, Lotto NL-Jumbo, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Col du Tourmalet
Laurens Ten Dam, Lotto NL-Jumbo, Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 Col du Tourmalet Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 route

Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 route map

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Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 profile

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Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 climbs

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Tour de France 2015 Stage 11 last km

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Maps courtesy of Le Tour de France / © A.S.O.

Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Stage 10

Chris Froome solos to victory & moves ahead by nearly 3 minutes at Tour de France 2015 Stage 10

Cover: Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Stage 10
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Todd Hofert


 

Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Stage 10
Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Stage 10 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Chris Froome (Team Sky) soloed to a commanding victory on La-Pierre-Saint-Martin, crossing the finish line 59 seconds ahead of teammate, Richie Porte and 1 minute 4 seconds in front of third place, Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

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Richie Porte, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Stage 10 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

While Froome played down his lead in post-race interviews, stating it was still a very long race, his performance increased his lead in the overall to 2 minutes 52 seconds over second place, Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing) and by 3 minutes 9 seconds over Quintana.

Nairo Quintana, Movistar, Tour de France 2015 Stage 10
Nairo Quintana, Movistar, Tour de France 2015 Stage 10 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Sky definitely put on quite the performance. I tried my best to stay with them. When it got too much for me, I tried to stay in my rhythm and focused on getting to the top. I don’t think today was my best day. But it wasn’t all bad. I am still keeping a good GC (general classification) position.

The first mountain day is always tricky. We have done almost two weeks without climbing any real mountains. So it can be quite a shock to the system, especially after a rest day. I feel like it should go better from here. I am definitely still happy about where we are sitting.”
Tejay Van Garderen, BMC Racing

Stage 10 – Tarbes to La Pierre-Saint-Martin – 167km

It was Bastille Day in France today, the French National Day commemorates the beginning of the French Revolution with the Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789. And a Frenchman in the break on Bastille Day is as common as fireworks on Independence Day in the US. So it would be today with Pierrick Fédrigo (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) FRA initiating a solo break just a few kilometers into the stage. A few kilometers later Kenneth Van Bilsen (Cofidis) BEL would launch a bid to bridge to the solo attacker. He would finally make contact with Fédrigo some 30km later and the two would ride out to a maximum gap of 14:16.

Coming out of the first rest day the first 100km or so of the stage to La Pierre-Saint-Martin was well suited to allow the riders to spin the legs back life. With just rolling terrain all of the way to the base of the final climb the riders could shake off the negative effects that so often occur during a rest day. The warm-up, however, would be short-lived as the hors categorie climb to the summit finish at La Pierre-Saint-Martin was looming on the horizon and there would be no hiding from it.

Movistar and Sky would take up the primary responsibilities of marshaling the two-man break. Kenneth Van Bilsen would collect the points over all three of the category 4 climbs that led the way to La Pierre.

The intermediate sprint was won by Pierrick Fédrigo without being contested by Van Bilsen an agreement likely formed giving Van Bilsen the mountain points on offer thus far. The peloton would follow through the sprint point some 8 minutes later with Andre Greipel taking the third place points followed by Mark Cavendish and John Degenkolb. Peter Sagan would finish seventh and with that Greipel would reclaim the Green Jersey.

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Tour de France 2015 Stage 10 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The teams of the GC contenders would arrive at the base of the climb licking their lips for the first real opportunity to do what they do best. Movistar would come to the front to set a yeoman’s pace not hiding their cards to be played for Nairo Quintana. Sky was well represented as was Tinkoff Saxo and Astana. Surprisingly Tejay Van Garderen was isolated almost immediately. This could spell trouble for him over the long haul. Andrew Talansky could also be seen popping off the back a victim of his own team’s fervor.

Robert Gesink would launch a long range sortie with about 12km remaining. That move would be reeled in a few kilometers up the climb just prior to a searing attack by Chris Froome with 6.3km to go. No one was able to follow. Froome would continue to open the gap with only Nairo Quintana able to mount a chase. His efforts would fail as well.

Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Stage 10
Chris Froome, Team Sky, Tour de France 2015 Stage 10 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

At the line, Chris Froome would have the 2015 Tour de France by the throat. He would finish a minute ahead of teammate Richie Porte and just over a minute ahead of Nairo Quintana. Robert Gesink with an impressive ride up the final climb would grab fourth place vaulting himself up into 8th on the general classification. Alejandro Valverde would round out the top five.

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Robert Gesink, Team LottoNL-Jumbo, Tour de France 2015 Stage 10 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The big losers of the day would be Tejay Van Garderen giving up 2:40 to Froome, Alberto Contador giving up 3:01 and Vincenzo Nibali virtually imploding early on giving up over four and a half minutes to the stage winner. He now sits in tenth almost 7 minutes down.

For a man who said he would ride defensively today, it will be interesting to see how he approaches the next two stages. Short of misfortune has the Tour been decided on just the first climb of the race?

I just thought instead of riding a defensive race, ‘come on guys let’s push on here. Some guys are in trouble let’s take advantage of that.’ I asked the guys to push on a bit. The legs felt good so I think it worked out just to plan.

Now we’re just going to have to take it on a daily basis. I’m in such a great position now and with such team around me. Guys like Richie Porte coming second, G just a few places back in fifth – it just shows the caliber of riders I’ve got supporting me. Hopefully, now we can just ride a defensive race. Let’s see – there’s still a very long way to go to Paris but of course, I’m ecstatic about how it went today.

When I heard on the radio it was like music to the ears, especially this early in the race. There are some really big time gaps today which I’m quite surprised about, seeing as we only had the one climb on the final. The one thing that comes to mind for me is that maybe some of the guys didn’t look after themselves quite that well through the rest day yesterday, or maybe came out of the rest day feeling quite heavy. My guys were great. It was a dream day for us.”
Chris Froome, Team Sky


Stage 10
Date: 14 July, 2015
Start:  Tarbes
Finish: La Pierre-Saint-Martin
Distance: 167 km

Tour de France 2015 Stage 10 Top 10

  1. Christopher Froome (GBR) #31
    Team Sky 4h 22′ 07″
  2. Richie Porte (AUS) #35
    Team Sky + :59
  3. Nairo Quintana (COL) #51
    Movistar + 1:04
  4. Robert Gesink (NED) #131
    Team LottoNL-Jumbo + 1:33
  5. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) #59
    Movistar + 2:01
  6. Geraint Thomas (GBR) #39
    Team Sky + 2:01
  7. Adam Yates (GBR) #108
    Orica GreenEDGE + 2:04
  8. Pierre Rolland (FRA) #121
    Team Europcar + 2:04
  9. Tony Gallopin (FRA) #71
    Lotto Soudal + 2:22
  10. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) #61
    BMC Racing + 2:30

Tour de France 2015 General Classification Top 10 after Stage 10

  1. Christopher Froome (GBR) #31
    Team Sky 35h 56′ 09″
  2. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) #61
    BMC Racing + 2:52
  3. Nairo Quintana (COL) #51
    Movistar + 3:09
  4. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) #59
    Movistar + 4:01
  5. Geraint Thomas (GBR) #39
    Team Sky + 4:03
  6. Alberto Contador (ESP) #41
    Tinkoff-Saxo + 4:04
  7. Tony Gallopin (FRA) #71
    Lotto Soudal + 4:33
  8. Robert Gesink (NED) #131
    Team LottoNL-Jumbo + 4:35
  9. Warren Barguil (FRA) #82
    Team Giant-Alpecin + 6:12
  10. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) #1
    Astana Pro Team + 6:57

Tour de France 2015 Jerseys after Stage 10

Yellow (Overall leader): Chris Froome, Team Sky
Green (Points): André Greipel, Lotto Soudal
Polka-dot (KOM):Chris Froome, Team Sky
Worn by: Richie Porte, Team Sky
White (Best Young Rider): Nairo Quintana, Movistar

Tour de France 2015 Stage 10 route

Tour de France 2015 Stage 10 route map

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Tour de France 2015 Stage 10 profile

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Tour de France 2015 Stage 10 climbsTour-de-France-2015-Stage-climb-La-Pierre-Saint-Martin.png

Maps courtesy of Le Tour de France / © A.S.O.

Tejay Van Garderen, BMC Racing Team, Tour de France 2015 Stage 5

Looking ahead to Week Two at the Tour de France

Cover: Tejay Van Garderen, BMC Racing Team, Tour de France 2015
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Todd Hofert


Following a hectic first week of the Tour, there are few who can say things have gone to plan. The same holds true for the pre-race favorites. What was dubbed the fantastic four, Contador, Froome, Nibali and Quintana, is now down to three plus one as Tejay Van Garderen has added his name to the marquee with a solid week of racing and Vincenzo Nibali has all but excused himself.

BMC would see themselves pip Team Sky by one second for the Stage 9 Team Time Trial win with Quintana’s Movistar notching an impressive third just four seconds back of Sky. Contador and Tinkoff-Saxo would give away twenty-eight seconds to the winning time and all but eliminate any chance Peter Sagan would have to claim a yellow jersey. Nibali and Astana would round out the top five, 35 seconds back, leaving Nibs on the outside looking in at 2:22 on GC.

Vincenzo Nibali, Astana Pro Team, Tour de France 2015 teams presentation
Vincenzo Nibali, Astana Pro Team, Tour de France 2015 teams presentation Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

A well-deserved rest day awaited the riders following the TTT and the transfer to Pau. Looking ahead, the rest will be short as the Pyrenees are laying in wait. If week one was an endeavor of limiting losses, week two will serve up opportunities to consolidate or to make a move.

The big news coming out of the rest day is the unfortunate announcement by Ivan Basso that he has been diagnosed with testicular cancer and will leave the Tour immediately. He had been suffering pain and an examination by team doctors led him to the hospital for more extensive testing that resulted in the diagnosis early Monday morning. There has been an outpouring of support and we wish him well in his upcoming treatment and recovery.

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Stage 10 on Tuesday will take the riders from Tarbes to La Pierre-Saint-Martin, a short-ish 167km route across three relatively benign category 4 climbs and on to a summit finish on the hors catergorie La Pierre-Saint-Martin (1,610 m 15.3 kilometre-long climb at 7.4%). The cat 4 climbs are not likely to soften up the group enough to result in significant time gaps amongst the leaders, but given the time that both Vincenzo Nibali and Nairo Quintana have given up in week one, they will have no choice but to attack and make the most of their opportunities if they want to retain the label of contender. Whether or not the La Pierre offers those opportunities we’ll have to wait and see.

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Tour de France 2015 Stage 8 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The Stage 11 trek will take the race from Pau / Cauterets – Vallée de Saint-Savin, 188km. The climbing gets a little more serious crossing a total of six categorized climbs including the cat 1 Col d’Aspin (1,490 m 12 kilometre-long climb at 6.5%) and the venerable hors categorie Col du Tourmalet (2,115 m17.1 kilometre-long climb at 7.3%) before finishing atop the category 3 Côte de Cauterets (6.4 kilometre-long climb at 5%). While the profile may look daunting, the terrain between climbs should offer ample opportunity for the main race to regroup in advance of the finish. Rest assured there will be a break trying to steal away the mountain points and a chance to don the coveted Polka-Dot Jersey.

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On Thursday The Tour offers up a classic day in the Pyrenees on the roads from Lannemezan to Plateau de Beille. Now day three in the mountains we should start to see a refinement of the top twenty of this years Tour. The finish on the feared hors categorie Plateau de Beille (15.8 kilometre-long climb at 7.9%) is one for the pure climbers. It will offer a premium opportunity for the likes of Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana to take some time back. Conversely Chris Froome may well see an opportunity to seize total control of the race. And where will Tejay Van Garderen shake out in the end. This will be a pivotal day in his quest for a Tour podium. A jour sans or day without, on Stage 12 could ruin that plan.

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Stage 13 on Friday should bring with it some respite as the race rolls out of the high mountains of the Pyrenees. The transitionary stage over 198.5km from Muret to Rodez will offer a stage win opportunity for the sprinters who have the legs left to get themselves over the three categorized climbs mid stage. With the Alps on the horizon this is one of the few remaining chances left for glory for the fast men before the Champs-Élysées.

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The stage on Saturday looks eerily familiar to the early stages ending on the Mur de Huy and the Mur de Bretagne. The 178.5km route from Rodez to Mende finishes on the Côte de la Croix Neuve. The climb of 3 kilometres at over 10% serves up the perfect launch pad for riders like Rodriguez, Valverde, Van Avermaet, and even Nibali if his form has returned by this point in the race. The GC contenders, as evidenced in week one, will certainly be present and accounted for as well. A stage win is up for grabs but there should be little impact on the GC.

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Thomas Voeckler, Team Europcar, Tour de France 2015 teams presentation
Thomas Voeckler, Team Europcar, Tour de France 2015 teams presentation Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Rounding out week two, Sunday’s stage from Mende to Valence should be anything but a casual roll through the scenic Rhone Valley. This stage sets up well for a bunch sprint before arriving in Paris a week later. A few climbs are smattered about on a stage that starts 731m above sea level, reaches a high point of 1,223m with 113km to go then descends for the majority of the day. If a break can stay away across the top of the category 2 climb of Col de l’Escrinet (787 m 7.9 kilometre-long climb at 5.8%) the backside descent and largely flat 56km run in to the finish could potentially spoil the day for the sprinters. I would expect to see a rider like Thomas Voeckler showing his contorted face and tongue in a break.

A rest day, the Alps and of course Paris will be in sight for the riders that remain following what is sure to be a tough and exciting second week of racing.