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Trek-Segafredo star Bauke Mollema powered to victory in stage 15 of the 2017 Tour de France on Sunday.
Mollema sealed his first stage win of this year’s Tour after triumphing in the the journey from Laissac-Severac L’Eglise to Le Puy-en-Velay, per the official Tour de France Twitter account:
Le Tour de France @LeTour
Victoire de @BaukeMollema !! / Mollema takes the win #TDF2017 https://t.co/WnhFiv0TpS
Riders can look forward to their second and last rest day on Monday following a demanding stage 15 ride.
The official Tour de France Twitter account provided a look at Sunday’s top 10 finishers:
And here’s how the general classification looks heading into Monday’s rest day:
Le Tour de France @LeTour
Nouveau classement général, @CarusoDamiano entre dans le top10 et @NairoQuinCo en sort / New GC, Caruso in the top 10, Quintana out #TDF2017 https://t.co/2u5RuS4IIT
Warren Barguil led the earliest breakaway approaching the first-category Montee De Naves d’Aubrac, and the Team Sunweb star remained at the forefront 60 kilometres and two climbs into the stage.
But the peloton eventually caught up with Barguil’s party, and Stage 14 winner Michael Matthews followed up Saturday’s victory by tightening his battle for the green jersey just over the halfway mark, per Cycling Central:
Michael Matthews grabs another 20 points and moves to 80 behind Kittel. Bling doesn’t think the fight for the green jersey is over #sbstdf https://t.co/DcsIPqUCs2
Katusha-Alpecin rider Tony Martin timed his break at an incredible pace and maintained a significant nose ahead from 65 kilometres out, heading up the second first-category climb of the day, the Peyra Taillade.
Chris Froome was caught napping around 40 kilometres from the finish and saw his peers capitalise when he was forced to change a tyre, resulting in him slipping eight minutes and 40 seconds off the leader.
However, Spanish team-mate Mikel Landa helped bring the Briton back up to speed, and Froome even cut a minute from his opponents’ time in catching up, an effort praised by Sky Sports reporter Orla Chennaoui:
Orla Chennaoui @SkyOrla
Whatever you say about Froome he is a bloody good bike racer. This is never say die stuff.
In the second peloton group sat Nairo Quintana, who sat eight-and-a-half minutes behind leader Mollema, causing ex-cyclist and writer Michael Rasmussen to question the tactics at play:
Michael Rasmussen @MRasmussen1974
Don’t really get what they are pulling for now in the group with the favorits now ? Quintana’s in 8th ?
Mollema added to his King of Mountains points tally by reaching the Saint-Vidal peak first, and cycling reporter Daniel McMahon noted the burden on the Trek-Segafredo rider’s shoulders:
You can save Trek’s Tour. No pressure, Mollema.
Barguil and Primoz Roglic applied pressure on the leader as part of a hounding quartet, while Simon Yates of Orica-Scott made the initial thrusts from the front of the first peloton as temperatures rose near 30 degrees Celsius.
But Mollema’s ride proved too domineering and too consistent to prevent, bringing the Netherlands a first Tour de France stage win in 2017, not to mention the first Tour victory of his career.
It was always possible stage 15 would end in a messy manner, but few might have predicted Mollema would emerge from the pack to claim such a comfortable win and with so many stragglers behind.
Quintana will be seen as the day’s biggest loser after losing several minutes on leader Froome, who can enjoy his rest day knowing he responded well to setbacks in order to keep his throne atop the GC.