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by Neal Rogers
July 17, 2017
In today’s Daily News Digest: Mollema solos from breakaway to Stage 15 victory at Tour de France; Brennauer back in Thüringen lead after stage wins for Simmonds, Stephens; Vos wins GC at BeNe Ladies Tour along with two stages; Ferrand-Prévot defends national cross-country title in Plouec; UCI announces junior women category for world cyclocross championships, starting in 2020; Study: Women cyclists more put off by traffic than men; Video: 24 hours with Michael Matthews at the Tour de France; Video: GoPro’s Tour de France Stage 15 highlights.
Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) crossed the line alone on Stage 15 of the Tour de France on Sunday. The win in Le Puy-en-Velay marked his first ever Tour de France stage win. Chasing 19 seconds back was Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) and Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal).
The final selection came from a 28-rider breakaway that rolled on the first climb of the day, the Montée de Naves d’Aubrac. Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin) went away with a solo attempt 60 kilometers out, but was overcome on the final category 1 ascent by the proficient climbers in the move behind. GC leader Chris Froome’s Team Sky had no intentions of bringing the large selection back, as the highest-placed rider within the move, Damiano Caruso (BMC) was over 11 minutes down.
“It’s amazing, I’m so happy to finally win a stage at the Tour de France, I just can’t believe it,” Mollema said. “It’s what I have worked for so hard over the last few years. I knew there was a chance at the beginning of the stage, there was a strong breakaway, about 10 guys, but there were a lot of teams that wanted to block the road, so we couldn’t pass. Finally my teammates got to front, [Michael] Gogl, and Koen de Kort, and we kept the speed up in the peloton. On the first climb we went full gas, trying to bridge to the leaders. Finally we made it, with 25 guys, we made the breakaway. I felt good and gave it a try in the last 30km. I think I’ve never done such a long ride alone. But in the end, I made it.”
Regardless, there would be a race within the main field. Approaching the Montée de Naves d’Aubrac, Ag2r La Mondiale took the front and set an intense pace into the lower slopes of the climb. Froome quickly found himself distanced, but made it back with the help of his team. Moments later, he had a rear flat, and was again distanced, this time substantially. Again, Froome had teammates with him who aided in his ultimate return to the field. Doubtless, the two situations caused back to back panic within the Sky camp.
“It was a pretty scary moment,” Froome said. “There’s never a dull moment at this Tour. Coming into the foot of the main climb, Ag2r took the race on, and at that moment I had to change my back wheel. I stopped with [Michal Kwiatkowski], changed the wheel, and the rest of my teammates sat up and paced me back. On the last little bit over the top, Mikel Landa dropped out of the front group to help me for the last few hundred metres, but it was pretty scary. I thought the jersey could change hands again. I’m grateful to be in yellow, and again I want to say ‘thank you’ to my teammates for amazing work today.”