Geraint Thomas will wear yellow for sixth straight day as Magnus Cort Nielsen wins Tour de France Stage 15

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Magnus Cort Nielsen made it two wins in succession for Astana.

Geraint Thomas will wear the yellow jersey for a sixth straight day after Magnus Cort Nielsen won Stage 15 of the Tour de France to Carcassonne.

Dane Nielsen outsprinted Jon Izagirre of Bahrain-Merida and Bauke Mollema of Trek-Segafredo to make it a second successive stage triumph for Astana, Nielsen the first three home from a 29-man breakaway which had been allowed to get away by the peloton.

The main contenders crossed the line more than 13 minutes later, with Thomas in the front group along with Sky team-mate Chris Froome, Team Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin, and Primoz Roglic of LottoNL-Jumbo to ensure there was no change in the general classification.

Thomas continues to lead Froome by one minute and 39 seconds, with Dumoulin a further 11 seconds back. Roglic sits fourth, two minutes and 38 seconds down.

World champion Peter Sagan got into the breakaway, and he took third place in the day’s intermediate sprint to all-but wrap up the points classification, receiving his 100th green jersey at the finish.

The peloton elected to take things relatively easy ahead of Monday’s rest day, with three big days to come in the Pyrenees next week.

Sagan’s Bora-Hansgrohe team-mate Rafal Majka attacked out of the breakaway on the climb of the Pic de Nore, crested some 41.5km from the finish, but was caught on the long descent towards Carcassonne as eight riders came together.

The final flat section towards town took the pack through fierce crosswinds, and that was the moment for Nielsen, Izagirre and Mollema to sneak off the front.

It is a second straight victory for Astana following Omar Fraile’s win – also out of a breakaway – in Mende on Friday.

It is a first career Tour stage win for the 25-year-old Nielsen, whose previous season highlight was victory atop the Cow and Calf on Stage 2 of the Tour de Yorkshire.

Geraint Thomas remains in charge at the Tour de France.

Geraint Thomas remains in charge at the Tour de France.

It was some way for Nielsen to mark his Tour debut as Astana took full advantage of what was set to be a transition stage ahead of three tough days in the Pyrenees mountains starting from Tuesday.

Nielsen was one two Astana riders who fought hard to get in a breakaway group of 29 riders, along with compatriot Michael Valgren.

And when it came to the final kilometres, the race debutant seized the day.

Nielsen first underlined his ambitions 8km from the finish when he quickly countered Italian Domenico Pozzovivo’s effort to break clear.

And two kilometres further on, Nielsen was quick to join Dutchman Mollema and Izagirre when they left five of their breakaway companions behind.

A lack of cooperation in their wake meant the trio were allowed to build an insurmountable advantage over the closing kilometres.

But Nielsen was simply unbeatable after launching his sprint just under 300m from the finish, where Izagirre finished second and Mollema third.

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Sir Bradley Wiggins claims he has found "very sinister" facts over TUE leak and wants them out in the open

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Sir Bradley Wiggins has claimed he has found out facts relating to the leak of his Therapeutic Use Exemptions and the so-called ‘Jiffy Bag’ case which are “very sinister” and wants it all to come out into the open.

In 2016, the so-called ‘Fancy Bears’ hackers released information showing that Wiggins received permission to use the banned drug triamcinolone before his biggest races in 2011, 2012 and 2013, including the 2012 Tour de France which he won.

Those revelations were followed by a 14-month UK Anti-Doping Agency investigation into whether a package delivered to Team Sky at the Criterium du Dauphine in 2011 – a race Wiggins also won – contained the same drug, with UKAD forced to close the case earlier this year because of missing medical records.

Speaking on ITV4’s coverage of the Tour de France, Wiggins said: “There are things that have come to light with this whole thing that we’ve found out since that are quite scary actually and it’s very sinister.

“We’re still not at the bottom of it, we’re finding new stuff out daily to do with the package that never was and all this stuff and it’s quite frightening actually.

“We’re still working on it, still trying to piece it all together. Not a legal team, just other people coming to us now and saying, ‘You know this has happened, don’t you?’

Chris Froome.

Chris Froome.

“We can debate TUEs and that’s one thing, but where it went after that with everything else – there is a film to be made there.

“God yeah, I’d love it to all come out. Once it’s all stacked up and pieced together, it’s quite shocking.

“There are a few people bricking it at the moment, I know that for sure. I hope it comes out of its own accord but it is in certain people’s interest for it not to come out and get buried.

“We’ll see. It’s all gone very quiet at the moment.”

Wiggins’ TUEs did not break any rules, but raised ethical questions and led some to suggest that details of all TUEs issued should be published in the interests of transparency. Wiggins dismissed that idea in typically colourful fashion.

“I don’t think it would help publishing riders’ TUEs as some people will have embarrassing things they don’t want out there,” he said. “What if a rider has an affair and gets a sexually-transmitted disease and there is medication for that on his records?”

Last week, Wiggins suggested Sky would have a “real problem” on their hands if Geraint Thomas took the yellow jersey ahead of four-time Tour winner Chris Froome – a scenario which came to pass as Thomas won back-to-back stages in the Alps to lead the Tour by one minute and 39 seconds from Froome.

Current Tour de France leader Geraint Thomas.

Current Tour de France leader Geraint Thomas.

It created an intriguing comparison with the 2012 Tour when Wiggins and Froome had an uneasy relationship, with Froome appearing to attack Wiggins on Stage 11 before sitting up, perhaps trying to show he was the stronger rider despite being in a domestique role.

Six years on, Wiggins said he did not think Froome was trying to take the yellow jersey off him.

“I don’t think Chris was trying to attack me to drop me and win the Tour in 2012,” he said.

“He was thinking he needed to secure his second place and he wasn’t as confident in his time trialling as he is now.

“There is so much stress and pressure in this race that you’re on edge. I didn’t realise some of that until after.”

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Puncture 1km from finish threatens to derail Dan Martin, but he recovers and remains in Tour de France top-10

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Dan Martin (l) suffered a puncture but remains in the top-10.

Dan Martin remains in contention at the Tour de France despite a puncture seeing him finish nearly 20 minutes behind Stage 14 winner Omar Fraile.

The puncture came in the final kilometre of the stage from Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux for the UAE Team Emirates rider, hampering the Irishman’s chances of keeping up with the General Classification (GC) contenders as they crossed the line.

However, despite the bad luck, Martin retained his position in the top-10 overall, falling just one place to 10th as he came home 19′ 52” behind Spain’s Astana rider Fraile.

Crucially, despite his bad luck, he was still just under two minutes adrift of yellow jersey occupier Geraint Thomas, as well as Team Sky colleague Chris Froome and Team Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin, who crossed the line together in 30th, 31st and 32nd places respectively.

Martin, who was 50th, is now 06′ 54” behind Thomas, but has a healthy near three minute gap to Movistar veteran Alejandro Valverde in 11th.

Fraile put in a late attack to take home his first ever Tour victory.

Martin said: “It was the worst moment possible (to get a puncture before the climb). Either side of the road there was a lot of gravel and we were riding on the side of the road, it was a risk and it happened, but there is nothing you can do.

“That’s just the way it is. It was a hard start and everybody knew it was going to go on to the smaller roads and no-one panicked. It was a really strange day.”

Sunday will see riders head for the Pyrenees and the last of the mountain stages as they tackle a 181.5km route from Millau to Carcassone.

Two early categorised climbs could test the peloton and anyone who is feeling the strain of the previous stages may find themselves fighting to stay in contention.

If those two climbs don’t split the peloton then the final one, the Pic de Nore – a 12.3km category one climb with an average gradient of 6.3 per cent – certainly could.

There will be a long descent before riders hit the flat finish in what may be a thrilling end to racing before Monday’s rest day.

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