After eight top 3 in sprint stages of the Tour de France, Jasper Philipsen, 24, claimed his maiden victory in the race he discovered as the youngest rider in Brussels for the Grand Départ in 2019. It was another 1-2 for Belgian riders at Carcassonne as Wout van Aert crossed the line in second place for a reversed outcome compared to the sprint of the Champs-Elysées last year.
Philipsen is the youngest Belgian stage winner since Tom Boonen at Angers in 2004. Mads Pedersen rounded out the stage podium while Jonas Vingegaard retained the yellow jersey after losing two important team-mates for the coming mountains: Primoz Roglic and Steven Kruijswijk.
POLITT, HONORÉ AND INITIALLY VAN AERT IN THE LEAD
154 riders took the start of stage 15 at 13.19 under the scorching sun. 3 non-starters: Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost) and Simon Clarke (Israel-Premier Tech). A leading trio was formed at km 5 with Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Mikkel Honoré (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl). At km 41, Van Aert was instructed by his team to sit up and wait for the peloton that had remained very active until BikeExchange-Jayco and later Alpecin-Deceuninck set a steady tempo with the aim of a bunch sprint finish for Dylan Groenewegen and Jasper Philipsen respectively. It was Politt doing all the work at the front Honoré’s team also had a bunch gallop in mind for Fabio Jakobsen one year after they won in Carcassonne with Mark Cavendish equalling Eddy Merckx’s record of stage victories at the Tour de France (34). But it was a very different story this time around for Quick Step’s lead out man Michael Morkov who got dropped from the peloton in the early kilometres of stage 15 and was left by himself minutes behind.
VINGEGAARD LOSES KRUIJSWIJK AND CRASHES ALSO
At half way into the 202.5-km long race, the leading duo was 1’30’’ ahead of the peloton after having reached a maximum advantage of 3’ at Ambialet (km 64), on the beautiful shores of the Tarn river. As Honoré swapped turns with Politt in the second half of the stage, the time difference with the peloton went up and down, between one and two minutes as the sprinters’ teams weren’t eager to come across quickly. Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) crashed out at km 135. Another crash affected the same team ten kilometres further. This time, it was the Maillot Jaune himself, Jonas Vingegaard, who went down along with his team-mate Tiesj Benoot.
BENJAMIN THOMAS AT THE FRONT UNTIL 500 METRES TO GO
Trek-Segafredo put the hammer down so Honoré and Politt were reeled in in the ascent to côte des Cammazes (km 154.6) where local rider Benjamin Thomas (Cofidis) and Alexis Gougeard (B&B Hotels-KTM) managed to escape. Some sprinters got dropped: Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal), Fabio Jakobsen (Quick Step), Dylan Groenewegen (BikeExchange-Jayco), Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies)… Some of them got back on 25km before the end. Sprinters’ teams and Ineos Grenadier sped up behind the leading duo. Thomas got rid of Gougeard and forged on by himself 4.5km before the finish at Carcassonne. The French track specialist got overhauled by the peloton only 500 metres before the line. Mads Pedersen launched the sprint strongly after that. Jasper Philipsen managed to pass on the inside to the left while Van Aert on the right side missed out on a third stage win by very little.