- Simon Yates won Stage 15 of the Tour de France, the race’s last day in the Pyrenees.
- Julian Alaphilippe finally took a hit as Thibaut Pinot, Geraint Thomas, Steven Kruijswijk, Egan Bernal, and Emanuel Buchmann all put in time on the race leader.
- The 2019 Tour now heads into its second and final rest day.
After winning his first Tour de France stage when the race entered the Pyrenees on Thursday, Simon Yates did it again on Sunday with a consistent ride up to a hard summit finish.
Stage 15 also saw race leader Julian Alaphilippe begin to crack slightly, as several overall favorites put in time on his yellow jersey.
Yates got into the break early on this rainy day in the mountains, staying strong at the front as the group gradually became undone on the final grind up the Prat d’Albis. A new summit finish in the Tour, the Prat challenged riders with 11.8K at a 6.8 percent gradient before reaching pitches of up to 11 percent. (This, after a day where the race had already tackled two other Category 1 climbs.)
The 26-year-old Brit stayed well ahead, crossing the line 33 seconds before notable climbers Thibaut Pinot and Mikel Landa, who took second and third, respectively. Yates put in a similarly impressive performance on Stage 12, when he both climbed and then sprinted his way to his first career Tour victory.
Pinot, meanwhile, emerged as a clear new favorite for the overall win. After losing time on Stage 10, he’s slowly fought his way back into the top five on the General Classification, thanks to his aggressive moves in the mountains. The Frenchman is now well positioned to take the lead from his compatriot in the final week.
On the day’s last climb, as Yates led off the front, Pinot dropped the chase group and then caught Landa, who had been following the stage leader at more than a minute behind. The pair powered to the finish together, with Pinot rising to fourth overall, at 1:50 behind, and Landa entering the top 10 on the GC.
Behind them, Geraint Thomas attacked the yellow jersey group with about 2K to go. Alaphilippe, who had held on for much of the stage, suddenly struggled to bridge gap. It was the first sign of vulnerability for the man in yellow, who has defended and often even extended his lead over the last seven stages.
Thomas—the returning Tour champion who unexpectedly lost time to Alaphilippe in Friday’s individual time trial and again on Saturday’s finish on the Col du Tourmalet—crossed the line in seventh, 1:22 behind Yates. Alaphilippe finished 27 seconds after that, taking the first significant blow to his lead since he won yellow back from Giulio Ciccone on Stage 8.
Going into the stage, Thomas trailed Alaphilippe by more than two minutes in the overall rankings. He’s now slashed that to 1:35. Steven Kruijswijk, another GC contender, finished eighth on the stage and cut his gap to Alaphilippe to 1:47.
Two other pre-race favorites—Egan Bernal, Thomas’s young co-captain on Ineos, and Emanuel Buchmann, somewhat of a dark horse—shrank their overall deficits to 2:02 and 2:14, respectively.
With the Tour’s second rest day coming on Monday, Alaphilippe will hope to recover quickly before the race heads into in the Alps in its final week. As we anticipated, the 2019 Tour is wide open.
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