Cort Nielsen wins Stage 15, Thomas keeps Tour lead on Froome

24 July, 2018, 22:30 | Author: Malcolm Quinn
  • Focused Chris Froome at the start of yesterday’s stage

Cort Nielsen finished the hilly 181.5-kilometre (112.7-mile) leg from Millau that ended in a long descent to Carcassonne in 4 hours, 25 minutes.

Team Sky with Britain's Chris Froome, left, and Britain's Geraint Thomas, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, passes a banner reading "Ventoline, Special Discount for Team Sky" referring to Froome doping's allegations during the fourteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 188 kilometers (116.8 miles) with start in Saint-Paul Trois-Chateaux and Mende, France, Saturday July 21, 2018.

Welshman Thomas, a former Olympic track cycling champion, suffered the indignity of being booed off the podium when he won the second of back-to-back stages in the high Alps to take his lead over four-time champion and teammate Froome to 1min 39secs.

"I've said it before, but it's the first time I've raced for 3 weeks, as a GC (general classification) leader so it's a bit of an unknown", said Thomas, after he and Froome trailed home over 18 minutes behind Spanish stage victor Omar Fraile in Mende.

"(Dumoulin) can really pace himself", Thomas said.

But Thomas, who has a real chance of upstaging Froome to win the yellow jersey if the Kenyan-born champion fails to step up in the crucial, third week, said the doubters are wrong.

With one week remaining, Froome sits second in the overall standings, 1 minute and 39 seconds behind Sky teammate Geraint Thomas.

"Anything can happen. Three big days in the Pyrenees to come plus a hard time trial".

He was the strongest sprinter of the trio, and proved so by easily claiming his first Tour stage win and giving Astana back-to-back stage victories.


But Astana rider Fraile, who claimed his maiden Giro d'Italia stage a year ago following a long breakaway, was intent on ruining their party.

Thomas and Froome lost one of their support riders for the rest of the way after Gianni Moscon was expelled by race organizers for apparently hitting Elie Gesbert of Team Fortuneo. "I'm looking forward to the rest day, then the next stage, the next climb, and just keep on doing what we're doing".

Thomas says the priority is to make sure Sky riders don't race against each other.

Cort Nielsen took part in a successful attempt to separate, then together with two companions split front shaping, and finishing the alignment coolly attacked from the first position and easily understood by competitors.

Rafal Majka was leading the race on the final ascent when he barely avoided a fan who appeared to be pushed onto the road.

Serge Pauwels of Dimension Data was knocked out of the race after breaking his right elbow in a crash near the end.

The racing returns on Tuesday with Stage 16, a 218-kilometer mountain trek from Carcassonne to Bagneres-de-Luchon.

Associated Press writers Ciaran Fahey and Joseph Wilson contributed.

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