Christophe Ena/Associated Press
Astana’s Magnus Cort Nielsen won Stage 15 of the 2018 Tour de France on Sunday, the last stage before the final rest day.
The Dane beat a select few riders in a sprint after a lengthy breakaway. Minutes behind the leaders, the peloton had its own battle for the general classification, with Geraint Thomas maintaining the lead.
Here’s a look at Sunday’s stage results:
The stage profile for the ride to Carcassonne was perfectly suited for breakaway riders, with many anticipating two separate races on Sunday: One for the stage win, and one for the overall classification.
There were plenty of early attacks, with lots of riders hoping to be a part of the break that stuck. An echelon would eventually see the peloton split, and Peter Sagan managed to bridge the gap before the leaders got clear.
The race didn’t open up until the first-category climb of Pic de Nore, and Rafal Majka tried his luck with a solo effort at the front. Dan Martin did the same in the peloton, with an eye on the GC.
Former professional cyclist Jens Voigt loved it:
Jens Voigt @thejensie
Hats off to Dan Martin. Going out there to make his own luck. Love watching it.
Tricky winds complicated matters for both, and the technical descent of the Pic de Nore would be the difference-maker ahead of the city of Carcassonne.
Majka’s solo bid would end shortly after the descent, leaving eight riders with a chance at a stage win. Just a few minutes later, Martin also sat up as the peloton reeled him in.
Crosswinds on the final approach made the finale a nervy one, but Nielsen was able to beat Jon Izagirre and Bauke Mollema in the sprint, despite leading out.
Part of the remaining breakaway crashed in the final straight, while in the peloton, Movistar kept the pace high. Sky also did their part and there would be no major splits.
The riders will enjoy a final rest day in Carcassonne on Monday before the race heads for the Spanish border. This year’s Tour will be decided in the Pyrenees, with stages in the high mountains on Wednesday and Friday and an individual time trial on Saturday.