Chris Froome won stage 15 of the Tour de France this afternoon after a stunning ride up to the 1,912 metre summit of Mont Ventoux. He beat Movistar’s Quintana to the line after the pair attacked 6.5km from the finish. It is Froome’s third stage win in the Tour de France, his second this year and his first in the yellow jersey.
With under 10 kilometres to go, British Cycling Olympic Podium Programme rider Pete Kennaugh dropped out of the lead work, leaving Froome who was being led by Ritchie Porte with Contador tight on his wheel.
The long grinding climb took its toll though and the group became fewer and fewer. With eight kilometres to go, there was only three remaining Porte, Contador and Froome.
Porte put in an incredible performance, pulling the group up the steep and relentless climb but he finally submitted too and was forced to drop back. With 7.5m to go, Nieve could no longer stick with Quintana.
Eventually, Froome raced away from Quintana with 1.2km to go and with 1km to go, Froome had a lead of 10 seconds on the Colombian from Movistar. The gap grew ever larger between the two as Froome asserted his climbing pedigree. With just 500m to go, it was certain that Froome would be victorious in the 15th stage.
This bold move by Froome earned him the stage, increases his lead in the climbing classification and extends his advantage in the general classification.
After taking the stage win, Froome admitted: “I didn’t imagine this. This climb is so historic and it means so much to this race - especially being the 100th edition.
"I really didn’t see myself winning this stage today I thought I’d have to surrender the stage to Quintana in the final. My main objective was to get more of a buffer on the GC. But I didn’t see myself winning that stage today – I really can’t believe it."
Froome was quick to praise his Colombian rival, adding: “He’s a really strong climber. I did expect him to [attack] a little further out but I didn’t expect it to be that hard to try and catch him. In the last 2kms he started fading and I had a little bit left. I was just trying to motivate him. I said ‘Come on let’s just keep pushing on. We’re getting more of an advantage on the guys behind us.’ And he did actually – hats off to him. He started working with me. The last two kilometres I don’t think I attacked he just couldn’t hold the wheel anymore.”
Dutchman Mollema, who rides for Belkin, is now 4'14" behind Froome, while Saxo-Tinkoff's Contador is 4'25" back with six stages remaining ahead of the climax into the Champs Elysees one week today.
Today’s stage set the scene for an incredible finish with Froome once again proving his climbing pedigree as he extended his grip on yellow. Tomorrow is a rest day and racing then continues with stage 16 on Tuesday - a hilly 168km affair from Vaison-la-Romaine to Gap.
Stage 15 results
1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 5:48:45
2 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:29
3 Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:01:23
4 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha
5 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:01:40
6 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
7 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:01:43
8 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:01:46
9 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:01:53
10 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:02:08
General Classification after 15 stages
1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 61:11:43
2 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:04:14
3 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:04:25
4 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:04:28
5 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:04:54
6 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 0:05:47
7 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:06:22
8 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha 0:07:11
9 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:07:47
10 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp 0:08:28