Following on from Omar Fraile’s stage win yesterday, Magnus Cort Nielsen gave Astana it’s second consecutive victory on today’s stage to Carcassonne. Geraint Thomas retained the yellow jersey.
151 riders took the start of stage 15 in Millau and 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) then took two more KOM points at the top of Côte de Luzençon (km 9).
The main breakaway of the day was formed at km 43 by 29 riders and included Sonny Colbrelli, Ion Izagirre and Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain – Merida), Daryl Impey (Mitchelton – Scott), Marc Soler (Movistar Team), Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team), Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors), Peter Sagan and Rafal Majka (Bora – Hansgrohe), Magnus Cort and Michael Valgren (Astana Pro Team), Serge Pauwels (Team Dimension Data), Arthur Vichot (Groupama – FDJ), Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie), Bauke Mollema, Julien Bernard and Toms Skujins (Trek – Segafredo) amongst others.
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. Fabian 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 was caught by seven chasers with 14km to go: Izagirre, Pozzovivo, Cort, Valgren, Calmejane, Mollema and Skujins. 7 kilometres before the finish, Mollema attacked and took Cort and Izagirre with him.
Izagirre attacked with 1.5 kilometres to go and 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 to take his first stage victory. The peloton crossed the line with a deficit of 13 minutes and Geraint Thomas remained in the lead of the overall ranking ahead of the second rest day.