24-year-old Simon Yates has reached the conclusion of the second week of the Tour de France in seventh place overall and still with the best young rider white jersey he claimed back on stage five.
Today’s stage 15 threatened another shake up as AG2R La Mondiale rode aggressively to put pressure on the yellow jersey of Chris Froome (Team Sky) and in one moment in the final 40km had distanced the leader.
Yates was attentive and always on the right side of any splits in the main contenders which eventually re-grouped before the ORICA-SCOTT rider attacked on the final climb to try and take some seconds. Ahead, Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) took the stage honours from the breakaway.
“I like to race aggressively and today was one of those days I could do that,” Yates said.
“I was trying to sneak away, like I did the other day, and get some seconds. It didn’t work out, but that’s OK, it’s worth trying and I gave it a go.
“I had good legs and you look at how close the race is. I could have possibly gained 10 seconds, 15seconds maximum, but I think every second will count when it comes to Paris.”
At the conclusion of 15 days of racing Yates sits seventh overall, two-minutes two-seconds behind race leader Froome, and with a three-minute and seven-second lead on nearest white jersey contender Louis Meintjes (USA Emirates).
How it happened:
An early category-one climb set the perfect launch pad for a successful breakaway on stage 15 and it delivered.
An initial five-rider move was joined by 23 chasers as the front of the race swelled and began to ride out to a significant advantage.
At its biggest, the breakaway had nine-minutes advantage and with 60km to go Tony Martin (Katusha Alpecin) attacked solo. The final category-one climb proved too difficult for the time trail specialist and he was caught and passed with 35km left to race.
Meanwhile, behind, AG2R La Mondiale put the hammer down on the approach to the last climb and caught the yellow jersey of Froome napping. The Sky rider recovered only to suffer from a mechanical and be dropped again, needing to use all of his teammates to regain contact in a now elite group of favourites in the peloton.
Yates tried his luck with an attack on the final climb but was heavily marked before Dan Martin (Quickstep Floors) was allowed to slip off the front in the closing kilometres.
At the front, Mollema took a solo victory into Le Puy-en-Velay with Yates and the favourites group crossing the line six-minutes 25seconds down, losing 14 seconds to Marin who finished just ahead.
Tour de France – Stage 15 Results:
1. Bauke Mollema (Trek Segafredo) 4:41:47
2. Diego Ulissi (UAE Emirates) +0:19
3. Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) +0:19
27. Simon Yates (ORICA-SCOTT) +6:25
Tour de France – General Classification after stage 15:
1. Chris Froome (Team Sky) 64:40:21
2. Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team) +0:18
3. Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) +0:23
7. Simon Yates (ORICA-SCOTT) +2:02