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

by Todd Hofert

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

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
  7. Christophe Laporte (FRA #173
  8. Michael Matthews (AUS) #105
    ORICA GREENEDGE  same time
  9. Davide Cimolai (ITA) #153
    LAMPRE – MERIDA same time
  10. Florian Vachon (FRA) #209
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

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