Greipel Sprints to Victory in Stage 15 of Tour de France
Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) has won his third stage of the 2015 Tour de France. Greipel, who has dominated the bunch sprints at this Tour, took another one at the end of Stage 15, a hilly, 183-km run from Mende to Valence. The German won the stage in 3:56:35, with John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) finishing second and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) taking third. Chris Froome (Sky) remains the maillot jaune.
After an early move by Daniel Teklehaimonot (MTN-Qhubeka) was reeled in, 27 riders got clear. Katusha began to chase, and the nine of the break members jumped into the lead. They were Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Michael Rogers and Peter Sagan (both from Tinkoff-Saxo Bank), Lars Bak (Lotto-Soudal), Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin), Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge), Michal Kwiatkowski and Matteo Trentin (both from Etixx-Quick Step), and Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin protected by POC). At 75 km, the Russian squad stopped chasing and Sky took up the task. With 80 km left, the escapees’ advantage maxed out at three minutes.
Rogers punctured, but his breakmates waited for him and the Australian got back on. Katusha resumed leading the pursuit. At 108 km, the peloton trailed the break by about a minute and a half.
On the descent of the Category 2 Col de l’Escrinet, Trentin attacked with 50 km left. Thirteen km later, Hesjedal bridged up to him. The Europcar-led peloton reeled in the remains of the break with 40 km to go. Lotto-Soudal, Europcar, and Katusha paced the peloton. With 29.3 km left, the bunch reeled in Trentin and Hesjedal.
BMC took over at the front and led the field into the final km. Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18) and Kwiatkowski launched attacks, but the bunch snuffed them out. With five km to go, Giant-Alpecin appeared at the front. Zdenek Stybar, Kwiatkowski’s teammate, had a dig with 3.5 km remaining. Lotto-Soudal chased, but the Czech was not caught until the Katusha-led bunch reeled him in just inside of the one-km banner. With 150 m remaining, Greipel powered into the lead on the last turn. The Gorilla held off Degenkolb by about three quarters of a bike length.
Greipel chalked his victory up to teamwork and perseverance. “Lars was in the breakaway,” the Lotto-Soudal man said. “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 m, 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-Elysees, but first we’ll have to deal with the Alps. We will see what Paris brings.”
For Froome, the stage was uneventful. "It was a full-gas stage today, incident free, and there was a great atmosphere out on the road," the maillot jaune said.
In the overall, Froome leads Nairo Quintana (Movistar) by 3:10 and Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) by 3:32. Stage 16 will probably not change the standings, but it should be exciting. The 201-km ride from Bourg-de-Peage to Gap will end with the Category 2 Col de Manse and a descent to the finish. An escapee will win the stage. Who will take it? Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal)? Hesjedal? Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
Check out our annual Tour de France Sale for daily discounts on the most popular products in our bike shop! Subscribe to our training tracker service to track, plan and analyze your training and nutrition? Chris Froome and other pro cyclists from Sky Pro Cycling, Orica GreenEdge and Tinkoff-Saxo use our training tracker to win professional races: Sign up now.