Chris Froome has once again demonstrated that he is at a completely different level than everyone else in this year’s Tour de France winning solo on the top of Mont Ventoux. With this win, Froome stretches his lead over second placed Bauke Mollema to over 4 minutes, putting him firmly into a commanding lead in the Tour. With the others unable to attack Froome, in fact, unable to respond to the attacks of Froome, it’s hard to see the ead being relinquished.
The longest day of the tour was fairly hot of the start with riders trying to get into a break, and the GC teams controlling where possible. Ultimately, a small group of riders got away, but the lead going into the bottom of the climb was under two minutes so there was never any concern about it not being the GC guys out front contending for the win. Sylvain Chavanel was the last of the break riders to show serious ambition, and with today being Bastille Day in France you knew a Frenchman would have a little extra courage on the day.
Through the bottom kilometers of the climb Team Sky set a scorching pace which really blew apart the group. The first rider to launch a counter was Mikel Nieve in search of some glory for his struggling Euskaltel team. Shortly thereafter, Nairo Quintana launched an attack of his own, some 12km from the finish, and it was what many have been waiting for as team leader Alejandro Valverde had dropped out of GC contention with his mechanical, and shortly thereafter on today’s stage, was dropped off the Sky pace from a select group of some 12 riders.
Peter Kennaugh and Richie Porte were both back from the dead on the stage, and as they did on Ax-3 Domaines, Kennaugh kept the pace at the breaking point of most of the selection, and when he finally trailed off, Richie Porte came in and snapped them all. All, but Alberto Contador who was able to match Porte and Froome, dancing on the pedals in a style somewhat reminiscent of his better years. However, this year, he’s admitted his form is off and Froome exposed that with a massive attack on the steeper slopes which Contador held for some hundreds of meters, but popped eventually. From there Froome set off in sight of the stage leader Quintana, while Contador and Nieve worked together to limit losses.
When Froome caught Quintana, he attacked him immediately, but the Colombian held strong. They worked together, stretching out the lead for some three kilometers, but within the final 2 km, Froome attacked again and Quintana couldn’t match. Froome soloed to the line for the win.
Stage 15 Top Ten
1. Chris Froome (SKY)________5h48’45”
2. Nairo Quintana (MOV)______+29″
3. Mikel Nieve (EUS)_________+1’23”
4. Joaquim Rodriguez (KAT)
5. Roman Kreuziger (TST)_____+1’40”
6. Alberto Contador (TST)
7. Jacob Fuglsang (AST)______+1’43”
8. Bauke Mollema (BEL)_______+1’46”
9. Laurens Ten Dam (BEL)_____+1’53”
10. J C Peraud (AG2R)________+2’08”
Overall Classification after 15 stages
1. Chris Froome (SKY)________61h11’43″
2. Bauke Mollema (BEL)_______+4’14″
3. Alberto Contador (TST)______+4’25″
4. Roman Kreuziger (TST)_____+4’28″
5. Laurens Ten Dam (BEL)_____+4’54″
6. Nairo Quintana (MOV)______+5’47″
7. Jacob Fuglsang (AST)______+6’22″
8. Joaquim Rodriguez (KAT)___+7’11″
9. JC Peraud (ALM)__________+7’47″
10. Michal Kwiatkowski (OPQ)__+7’58″
11. Dan Martin (GRM)__________+8’28″
12. Michael Rogers (TST)______+9’54″
13. Andrew Talansky (GRM)_____+12’32″
14. Maxime Monfort (RLT)_____+13’47″
15. Alejandro Valverde (MOV)____+14’42″
16. Cadel Evans (BMC)________+15’40″
17. Mikel Nieve (EUS)_________+18’12″
18. Andy Schleck (RLT)_______+19’14″
19. Daniel Moreno (KAT)______+21’42”
20. Daniel Navvaro (COF)_____+23’36”