Froome sur­vives coup at­tempt

The Southland Times - - SPORT - JULIEN PRETOT

Chris Froome has sur­vived an at­tempted coup by Ro­main Bardet’s AG2R-La Mon­di­ale team in a treach­er­ous 15th stage to re­tain the Tour de France over­all leader’s yel­low jer­sey yes­ter­day.

Dutch­man Bauke Mollema, the strong­est and smartest of the break­away rid­ers, won the 189.5km stage from Lais­sacSev­erac L’Eglise, but the ac­tion was else­where.

De­fend­ing cham­pion Froome was first caught at the end of a split caused by French team AG2R-La Mon­di­ale, who con­tin­ued to press the ped­als when the race leader suf­fered a me­chan­i­cal prob­lem shortly be­fore the key climb of the day.

The Team Sky leader kept his cool, how­ever, and pow­ered his way back to stay on top of the gen­eral clas­si­fi­ca­tion with an 18-sec­ond ad­van­tage over Ital­ian Fabio Aru.

De­spite fall­ing back to 12th place af­ter fin­ish­ing 32nd on the stage, Kiwi Ge­orge Ben­nett still man­aged to bridge the time gap be­tween him and the top 10. The Team Lot­toNL-Jumbo rider is just 30 sec­onds be­hind 10th place Dami­ano Caruso of BMC Rac­ing.

Bardet, who en­joyed huge crowd sup­port in his home re­gion in the Mas­sif Cen­tral, stays third 23 sec­onds off the pace. Colom­bian Rigob­erto Uran is fourth, six sec­onds fur­ther back.

A week af­ter Aru had at­tacked just as he suf­fered a me­chan­i­cal prob­lem, Bri­ton Froome again had trou­ble with his bike and, as the race was on, none of the main con­tenders waited for him.

AG2R-La Mon­di­ale ac­cel­er­ated sud­denly at the front of the pelo­ton with some 45km left and Froome and some of his team mates were trapped at the wrong end of the split.

Froome suf­fered a me­chan­i­cal prob­lem and was as­sisted by team mate Michal Kwiatkowski. Mikel Nieve and Vasil Kiryienka pulled Froome as they trailed Bardet’s group, which con­tained Aru and Rigob­erto Uran, by 45 sec­onds.

The Bri­ton made up the time on the as­cent of the Col de Peyra Tail­lade, an 8.3km climb at an av­er­age gra­di­ent of 7.4 per cent.

Bardet and Aru jumped away on the climb but were eas­ily reined in.

Ire­land’s Dan Martin ped­alled away on a flat sec­tion af­ter the de­scent to gain 12 sec­onds on Froome and the other favourites, ac­cord­ing to pro­vi­sional re­sults.

CHRIS­TIAN HARTMANN/REUTERS

Chris Froome re­mains in the yel­low jer­sey af­ter a treach­er­ous 15th stage of the Tour de France.

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