Peter Sagan added to his green jersey points haul with some breakaway action before Andre Greipel took the stage in a tumultuous bunch sprint. The German powerhouse held off strong sprints from Alexander Kristoff and John Degenkolb while Sagan, once again among the bridesmaids, was edged into fourth place.
Rider of the day
He may not have won today, but after a day on the attack, fourth place in the bunch sprint was still a success for Peter Sagan. Proving once again how astute a rider he is, Sagan managed to hitch on to the break of the day again, and picked up a valuable 20 points in the intermediate sprint, mopping up the combativity award in the process.
With all the focus on Sagan’s stage win drought and his consistent high-placed finishes, it’s easy to forget just how shrewd the guy is when it comes to slipping away. It’s also important to remember that Sagan is doing a lot of his best work without the support of a team, with Tinkoff’s main priority being Alberto Contador. With no train to set him up, Sagan struggled to work himself into a good position, and that ultimately cost him a chance to challenge Greipel for the stage win, but fighting through to fourth place was enough to keep his lead in the points competition almost unassailable.
Three things we noticed
1. Sharing a drink on a hot day. Frayed tempers were apparent in the Tinkoff-Saxo camp today. As Peter Sagan pulled over for a bike change, one of the many camera bikes decided to hang around to film it but came in a bit close to the man in green. Within kicking distance, to be precise. A few tense seconds later Sagan was on his way again, under the covering fire of a water bottle aimed at the camera launched by one of the friendly Tinkoff mechanics, who must have been worried about the poor cameraman’s hydration levels.
2. World class bike skillz. What goes up must come down, and after all that climbing the descent towards the race finale was fast and at times hairy. A few days ago, Michal Kwiatkowski tweeted about hitting 102kph on a descent and today he showed just why he’s got the confidence to take on that kind of speed, bunnyhopping an unexpected piece of traffic furniture at terrific speed and just controlling the landing, avoiding what would have been a horrible crash. Impressive skills, but not impressive attention to rider safety by the race organisers.
3. French resistance. They may have had a less than enjoyable start to the race, but the sight of Thibaut Pinot in the breakaway again today must have brought encouragement to fans of French riders. It seems that his rehabilitation from week one is now complete and, along with Romain Bardet’s return to form, things are setting up nicely for some more French glory as the race hurtles towards the Alps. Now if Jean-Christophe Peraud can just hang in there for the rest day …
Stage 15 result
1. Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) 3:58:35
2. John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) same time
3. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) s/t
4. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) s/t
5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka) s/t
1. Chris Froome (Sky) 59:58:54
2. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +3:10
3. Tejay van Garderen (BMC) +3:32
4. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +4:02
5. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) +4:23
6. Geraint Thomas (Sky) +4:54
7. Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) +6:23
8. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) +8:17
9. Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) +8:23
10. Bauke Mollema (Trek) +8:53
Points leader: Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo).
King of the Mountains leader: Chris Froome (Sky).
Best young rider: Nairo Quintana (Movistar).
Team classification: Movistar.
Link: Official race website