Saturday, 20 January, 2018

Tour de France: Dan Martin's late move moves him to fifth

Rosalie Gross | 17 July, 2017, 17:55

The Netherlands' Bauke Mollema won stage 15 of the Tour de France as Britain's Chris Froome recovered impressively from a mechanical problem to preserve his overall race lead in Le Puy-en-Velay.

It was an extraordinary effort by Froome, coming as it did during such a tough climb, but his efforts ensured he takes an 18-second lead over Fabio Aru into Monday's rest day, with Bardet a further five seconds back in third place.

This year's race has shown that big time gaps over a single stage are nearly impossible to gain amongst the leaders, meaning they must seize every opportunity that comes along, no matter how small. If I didn't get back, I wouldn't expect to be in yellow [now]. Thanks to my team mates who helped me, I save myself.

Dutchman Mollema attacked in the closing stages of the 189.5km ride from Laissac-Severac L'Eglise to take the first Tour win of his career. For everything he's accomplished, for all of the bright lights and big settings to which he's become accustomed, the guy many have labeled the "GOAT" - Greatest of All Time - admits to feeling heavy legs and jumbled thoughts at important on-court moments to this day.

The Trek-Segafredo rider was able to make his attack stick for an impressive triumph, with Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates), Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) and Primoz Roglic (Lotto NL Jumbo) finishing 19 seconds back, just ahead of Barguil. "It's really no surprise, as this week has been brutal", said Martin.

"They all emptied themselves to get me back into the race", Froome said of his teammates. That was a big goal for me.

"Kwiatkowski is sharp, super sharp, and I guarantee he'd have made the call and he did well", Brailsford said.

Australian Michael Matthews outpaced Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet in the final meters in Rodez, winning the stage 14 of the 104th Tour de France.

"There is a lot of trust, no doubt, no question", Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford said after the stage when asked about Landa's ambition.

The Polish rider went all out, using his time trial skills to resist the peloton's pursuit as long as possible.

"His strong point is he's very strong will-powered and Dan definitely believes he can win it, which he should do, because a couple of years ago (in 2014) if there weren't the two crashes (Froome and Alberto Contador), then (Vincenzo Nibali) wouldn't have won", added Roche, who believes circumstances could always give his nephew a chance. It was close to the chases at the end.

Ahead of two grueling days filled with some truly punishing ascents, the main contenders on the Tour de France were all hoping that Wednesday would be a nice, relaxed day on the bike.

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