Bauke Mollema has waited for his seventh participation to the Tour de France to claim his first stage victory one year after stepping down from the second place overall to the eleventh in the last two days in the mountains. Lined up as a domestique for Alberto Contador after finishing seventh in the Giro d’Italia, the 30 year old Dutchman from Trek-Segafredo soloed to victory after the grueling climb to Peyra Taillade. Hampered by a mechanical in a crucial moment of the race, Chris Froome retained the yellow jersey.
Warren Barguil on the offensive again
176 riders started stage 15 in Laissac-Sévérac L’Eglise before Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) called it a race quickly as he was suffering from allergies badly. Ten riders made the first breakaway: Warren Barguil (Sunweb), Dylan Van Baarle (Cannondale-Drapac), Robert Kiserlovski and Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin), Tsgabu Grmay (Bahrain-Merida), Giampaolo Caruso (BMC), Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data), Marcus Burghardt (Boar-Hansgrohe), Marcel Sieberg (Lotto-Soudal) and Angel Luis Maté (Cofidis). Barguil led the way up the first category 1 climb of the day to score ten more points in the King of the Mountains competition. Passed the Montée de Naves d’Aubrac, km 28.5, Barguil, Van Baarle, Pauwels, Caruso and Grmay realized that an important group had been formed behind them, including stage 15 winner Michael Matthews (Sunweb).
28 in the lead, including Michael Matthews
After 60km of racing while the peloton was cruising through the scenic Aubrac plateau for the second time in the history of the event after 1975, 28 riders gathered at the front: Jan Bakelants (AG2R-La Mondiale), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Damiano Caruso, Alessandro De Marchi, Amaël Moinard and Nicolas Roche (BMC), Kristjian Durasek and Diego Ulissi (UAE), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data), Tony Martin, Robert Kiserlovski, Maurits Lammertink (Katusha), Tiejs Benoot, Thomas De Gendt and Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal), Michael Matthews, Warren Barguil and Simon Geschke (Sunweb), Luis Angel Maté and Dani Navarro (Cofidis), Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo), Lilian Calmejane and Romain Sicard (Direct Energie), Dylan Van Baarle (Cannondale-Drapac), Tsgabu Grmay (Bahrain-Merida), Romain Hardy and Pierre-Luc Périchon (Fortuneo-Oscaro). Team Sky led the peloton mostly with a deficit of five minutes.
Peyra Taillade, too hard for Tony Martin
The 28 leaders had an advantage of 5.45 with 100km remaining. A time gap of 7.15 was recorded with 75km to go. Martin tried his luck in a solo move 66km away from the finish while a maximum deficit of 9.15 was recorded for the main peloton. Before the unprecedented ascent to col de Peyra Taillade, Chris Froome had a mechanical. His team-mate Michal Kwiatkowski gave him his back wheel. The race leader eventually made it across to the Aru-Bardet group led by AG2R-La Mondiale but after a very demanding effort. Meanwhile, 3km before the summit, Barguil brought Martin back and continued to claim ten more KOM points at the top. A group of nine riders was formed with 30km to go. Mollema rode away solo five kilometers further. He was chased down by Ulissi, Barguil, Gallopin and Roglic but managed to stay nineteen seconds clear of them at Le Puy-en-Velay. The race remained eventful till the end in the group of the favorites, as Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) and Louis Meintjes (UAE) attacked each other for the white jersey and Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors) took advantage of the impossibility for Froome to ride after everyone. The main loser of the day among the big names was Nairo Quintana (Movistar) who completed the stage several minutes adrift after blowing up to col de Peyra Taillade that certainly added to the great spectacle of stage 16 ahead of a well deserved rest day.