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Tour de France 2017: Bauke Mollema wins from break as Chris Froome survives yellow jersey scare

Chris Froome fights back to survive late mechanical

Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) soloed to victory on stage 15 of the 2017 Tour de France from the breakaway, as Chris Froome (Team Sky) survived a huge scare to defend the yellow jersey.

It was effectively a day of two races in one, with the peloton happy to let a large breakaway go clear, and it was Mollema who soloed to victory – holding a strong chasing group at bay to claim victory; Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) and Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) finished second and third, respectively.

Back in the bunch, meanwhile, Romain Bardet and his Ag2r-La Mondiale team-mates ramped the pace up and Froome was caught behind a big split on the run-in to the final climb, but managed to fight his way back across the gap.

Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) had no such worries in his defence of the white jersey, meanwhile, also finishing in the bunch, with Dan Martin (QuickStep Floors) the only GC rider to gain time after a late acceleration paid dividends.

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) was the biggest loser, meanwhile, dropped from the GC group on the final climb to lose a huge amount of time.

Bauke Mollema soloed to victory on stage 15 of the 2017 Tour de France (pic: Sirotti)

A lumpy parcours enticed plenty of riders into the breakaway, though there was no stopping polka dot jersey Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb) over the top of the first category-one climb, Montée de Naves d’Aubrac.

Stage 14 winner Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb), the nearest challenger to green jersey Marcel Kittel (QuickStep Floors) in the points classification, was in a counter-attack behind, and when they joined the lead group, making a 28-strong breakaway, he was able to scoop 20 points at the intermediate sprint.

Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing) was the highest-ranked rider in the front group, sat 14th overall at 11’26” – but the Team Sky-led peloton were happy to let him, and the break, go.

Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin) was also in the breakaway, and his acceleration with 66km to go earned him a decent gap and saw the group behind split up.

The real action was unfolding behind, however, as Ag2r-La Mondiale hit the front of the bunch and turned the heat up on the downhill section to the Col de Peyra Taillade.

Their efforts split the peloton, and yellow jersey Froome was caught behind the split, with a mechanical further hindering his chase back on, 50 seconds behind Romain Bardet’s team-mates.

As they hit the final climb, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) also started to suffer and was soon on the back of Froome’s chasing group and then spat out again.

Martin’s lone effort came to an end with 3km left to climb, as the hardest part of the ascent bit hard, and Barguil charged past to add more points to his King of the Mountains challenge.

For Froome, Mikel Nieve’s huge effort got him within 100m of the GC group, but Ag2r-La Mondiale kept the hurt on as Froome – being booed by the French crowds – was left to bridge across himself.

Mikel Landa had stayed safe in the front group, but – despite being fifth overall himself – dropped back to help Froome and dragged the yellow jersey back to the group.

Ag2r-La Mondiale, with a numerical advantage, kept the pace high, however, and the gap to Barguil had closed to 6’40” as the Frenchman crested the summit with 32km to ride.

Chris Froome will take the yellow jersey into the second rest day, after having to fight back ahead of the final climb (pic: Sirotti)

Bardet, after the efforts of his team-mates, attacked the GC group further back but Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) bridged across and the others caught back on too.

In the breakaway, Mollema accelerated on the descent, but the chase behind, including Caruso, was organised.

The GC group slowed, allowing a few riders to catch back on, but Quintana was already almost 90 seconds behind and counting.

Mollema led over the final category-four incline up the road, while in the GC group Yates accelerated off the front.

His initial attack was short-lived, as was another acceleration over the summit, before Martin bolted clear on the flat.

That earned the Irishman a small gap on his GC rivals, but the others finished together to ensure Froome takes the yellow jersey into the final rest day.

Tour de France 2017: stage 15 – result

1) Bauke Mollema (NED) – Trek-Segafredo – 4.41.47hrs
2) Diego Ulissi (ITA) – UAE Team Emirates +19”
3) Tony Gallopin (FRA) – Lotto-Soudal – ST
4) Primoz Roglic (SVN) – LottoNL-Jumbo
5) Warren Barguil (FRA) – Team Sunweb +23”
6) Nicolas Roche (IRL) – BMC Racing +1.00
7) Lilian Calmejane (FRA) – Direct Energie +1.04
8) Jan Bakelants (BEL) – Ag2r-La Mondiale – ST
9) Thibaut Pinot (FRA) – FDJ
10) Serge Pauwels (BEL) – Dimension Data

General classification

1) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky – 64.40.21hrs
2) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana +18”
3) Romain Bardet (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +23”
4) Rigoberto Uran (COL) – Cannondale-Drapac +29”
5) Daniel Martin (IRL) – QuickStep Floors +1.12
6) Mikel Landa (ESP) – Team Sky +1.17
7) Simon Yates (GBR) – Orica-Scott +2.02
8) Louis Meintjes (RSA) – UAE Team Emirates +5.09
9) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Trek-Segafredo +5.37
10) Damiano Caruso (ITA) – BMC Racing +6.05

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