Magnus Cort Nielsen gives Astana back to back victory
July 22 nd 2018 - 18:06
The second stage of the weekend ended up like the first one with a Tour de France debutant from Astana taking his first stage victory as Magnus Cort Nielsen mimicked Omar Fraile in Carcassonne, also at the end of a long breakaway. For the first time, the Kazakh team claimed back to back victories (since 2007). Cort Nielsen is the 12th Dane to win a Tour de France stage, 48 years after the first one, Mogens Frey in 1970. Geraint Thomas retained the yellow jersey.
151 riders took the start of stage 15 in Millau. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) was the first attacker while Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) was the first rider in difficulty right after the flag off. Julian Alaphilippe (Quick Step) took two more KOM points at the top of côte de Luzençon (km 9), after which Anthony Perez (Cofidis) attacked by himself. Warren Barguil (Fortuneo-Samsic) and Yates rode away at km 19. Georg Mühlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) rejoined them on kilometre further. The main breakaway of the day was formed at km 43 by 29 riders: Daniel Martínez (EF Education First), Silvan Dillier (Ag2r La Mondiale), Nikias Arndt (Team Sunweb), Amäel Moinard and Florian Vachon (Fortuneo - Samsic), Sonny Colbrelli, Ion Izagirre and Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain - Merida), Damian Howson and Daryl Impey (Mitchelton - Scott), Daniele Bennati, Imanol Erviti and Marc Soler (Movistar Team), Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team), Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors), Peter Sagan, Rafal Majka and Pawel Poljanski (Bora - Hansgrohe), Magnus Cort and Michael Valgren (Astana Pro Team), Serge Pauwels (Team Dimension Data), Arthur Vichot (Groupama - FDJ), Lilian Calmejane, Fabian Grellier and Romain Sicard (Direct Energie), Bauke Mollema, Julien Bernard and Toms Skujins (Trek - Segafredo) and Jesús Herrada (Cofidis).
Calmejane and Grellier had energy to spend
Approaching his native province of the Tarn, Calmejane rode away solo at km 56 and stayed in the lead by himself until km 72 after cresting the 2nd category col de Sié at the front. Grellier, also from Direct Energie, went alone with 72km to go. Six kilometres further, Bernard rejoined him and won the intermediate sprint at Mazamet, 60km before the end in Carcassonne. Majka bridged the gap to Grellier and Bernard at half way into the climb to Pic de Nore. The Pole continued on his own until he got caught by seven chasers with 14km to go: Izagirre, Pozzovivo, Cort, Valgren, Calmejane, Mollema and Skujins. 7km before the finish, Mollema sped up and took Cort and Izagirre with him.
Cort Nielsen, the fastest of the leading trio
Izagirre attacked with 1.5km to go. Mollema and Cort Nielsen reacted. The Astana rider, competing against two former stage winners of the Tour de France, was the fastest of the leading trio. He logically became the first Dane to win a stage since Nicki Sorensen (stage 12 from Tonnerre to Vittel in 2009). The peloton crossed the line with a deficit of 13 minutes. Geraint Thomas remained in the lead of the overall ranking ahead of the second rest day.