UAE Team Emirates’ Diego Ulissi produced a brilliant ride to grab second place on stage 15 of the Tour de France on Sunday.
And in doing so, he recorded the best result for his team on this year’s Tour. The Italian joined the counterattacking group early on in the race and was successful in the sprint finish, overcoming three other riders in the battle to the finish line.
There was also good news for UAE Team Emirates’ Louis Meintjes, whose 34th place finish in Sunday’s stage meant a climb up the General Classification standings. The South African now sits in eighth place.
Bauke Mollema won the stage in a solo breakaway to Le Puy en Velay as Chris Froome retained the leader’s yellow jersey.
Commenting on his second place finish, Ulissi said: “Mollema started at the top of the climb and we left him too much space. We tried to chase him but honestly, he had great legs and he was strong. He deserves the win. It’s a shame I got second place but I performed to my maximum. I will try again to get a victory.”
Meintjes was understandably proud of his rise in the overall standings.
“It was a very hard day and a very interesting day,” he said. “We raced pretty aggressively from the start trying to get Diego in the breakaway. I stayed with most of the favourites, but the last 50kms and in the last categorised climb we were also racing in the back and I just managed to stay with the front group. I tried a little bit but didn’t really get away. Only five days left to do something.”
Meanwhile, reigning champion Froome had to survive a worrying moment when he suffered a mechanical problem in the last 50km that saw him drop 50 seconds behind his main rivals as he had to take a wheel from team-mate Michal Kwiatkowski to continue.
With Romain Bardet’s AG2R team pushing the pace, a mad 20km chase ensued as Mikel Nieve, Vasil Kiryienka and Sergio Henao helped pace Froome back to the group, and the three-time champion made contact 3km before the summit of the first-category col de Peyra Taillade, 30km from the finish.
“AG2R did their race, they went quickly up the climb but just before the climb I had a problem with my rear wheel – it was broken and I had to change it,” Froome said.
“My team-mate Kwiatkowski stopped and gave me his wheel because the team car was a long way away. We did the maximum to get back to the head of race. Again thanks to my friends and team-mates. Sergio Henao and Mikel Nieve did everything to get back to the front of the race, and Mikel Landa as well who waited for me at the top.”
Riders will have the chance to regain energy during Monday’s rest day. Stage 16 will be one of the most beautiful on the Tour as riders head through the volcanic planes of Massif Central towards the River Rhône.
1 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek – SegaFredo 4:41:47
2 Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:19
3 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Sudal ”
34 Louis Meintjes (SA) UAE Team Emirates 0:06:24
1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 64:40:21
2 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:18
3 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Monidale 0:00:23
8 Louis Meintjes (SA) UAE Team Emirates 0:05:09
1 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica – Scott 55:32:10
2 Louis Meintjes (SA) UAE Team Emirates 0:03:07
3 Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Sudal 0:28:08
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