Tour de France Stage 15: Mollema solos to superb victory as Froome fights to keep yellow jersey
By Luke McLaughlin, Velon Media Team , 16 Jul 2017

Bauke Mollema’s determined lone attack saw him burst away to claim Trek-Segafredo’s first stage win of the 2017 Tour de France in Le Puy-en-Velay.

Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) was second and Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) third after the remnants of a large breakaway group failed to close the gap to Mollema - testament to the Dutchman's incredibly strong solo effort in the final 30km.

Chris Froome keeps the overall race lead having crossed the line in 28th place, 6’25” behind stage winner Mollema and in a group with closest rival Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team) - but it was far from an easy day for him or Team Sky.

The three-times Tour winner suffered a big scare on the penultimate climb, needing to change a wheel and battling back into the favourites’ group, just after AG2R-La Mondiale had attacked en masse to prompt a chaotic, entertaining end to the stage.

Bauke Mollema celebrates his first Tour win (LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty)
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Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors) grabbed a few precious seconds with a strong attack inside the final six kilometres, moving above Mikel Landa (Team Sky) to fifth in GC.

Stage 13 winner Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb) had looked strongest in the large breakaway that went away early, and extended his KOM competition lead to 78 points.

Tony Martin (Team Katusha Alpecin) soloed off the front - attacking with 68km left - but ran out of gas on the category-one Col de Peyra Taillade. 

Mollema made the decisive move with 30km left, and despite the efforts of a powerful chasing group he stayed away to record his first Tour de France stage win by 19".

Mollema said: “It’s amazing, I’m so happy to finally win a stage in the Tour de France, I just can’t believe it you know, it’s finally what I’ve worked so hard for the last few years.

"I’ve been close a few times and this year I really wanted to go for a stage, that was a big goal for me, and yesterday I knew this was a chance."

Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) produced another excellent ride to narrow Marcel Kittel's lead in the points classification - the Australian has 294 points to 373 for the Quick-Step Floors rider. Simon Yates (ORICA-SCOTT) leads the best young rider classification.

Stage 15 result: Top 10

1    Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo    4h41'47"     
2    Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates    +19"     
3    Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal          
4    Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team LottoNl-Jumbo          
5    Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Sunweb    +23"     
6    Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing Team  +1'00"     
7    Lilian Calmejane (Fra) Direct Energie 1'04"     
8    Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale          
9    Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ          
10    Serge Pauwels (Bel) Dimension Data          

Top 10 GC after Stage 15

1    Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky    64h40'21"     
2    Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team    +18"     
3    Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale +23"     
4    Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac +29"     
5    Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors +1'12"     
6    Mikel Landa (Spa) Team Sky +1'17"     
7    Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott +2'02"     
8    Louis Meintjes (RSA) UAE Team Emirates +5'09"     
9    Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo +5'37"     
10    Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team +6'05"

Stage 15 in pictures

Rider of the Day - Warren Barguil

There are plenty of candidates today - most obviously the stage winner Bauke Mollema, not to mention Tony Martin, who mounted an impressive solo attack of his own. But Warren Barguil's attacking riding and brilliant climbing was a pleasure to watch. Barguil of Team Sunweb is our Rider of the Day for Stage 15. He has cool sunglasses too.

Tweet of the Day

Team Sky's Michal Kwiatkowski looks back on the worrying mechanical for race leader Chris Froome, when the Polish rider had to hand over a wheel because the car was unable to get there. Froome got a 'slap on the bottom' from his team-mate, too:

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