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Simon Yates Wins 2019 Tour de France Stage 15; Julian Alaphilippe Loses GC Time

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJuly 21, 2019

TOPSHOT - Great Britain's Simon Yates celebrates as he wins on the finish line of the fifteen stage of the 106th edition of the Tour de France cycling race between Limoux and Foix Prat d'Albis, in Foix Prat d'Albis on July 21, 2019. (Photo by JEFF PACHOUD / AFP)        (Photo credit should read JEFF PACHOUD/AFP/Getty Images)
JEFF PACHOUD/Getty Images

Mitchelton–Scott's Simon Yates raced to victory on a gruelling Stage 15 on the Tour de France, while Julian Alaphilippe showed the first signs of weakness in the yellow jersey, as Thibaut Pinot made big strides in the general classification.

Tour de France™ @LeTour

Solo win for @SimonYatess! Chapeau! 🏆 Victoire en solitaire pour Simon Yates ! Chapeau ! 🏆 #TDF2019 https://t.co/oQ62Fbrqn6

Yates produced a terrific acceleration on the final climb, riding away from Simon Geschke and then holding off the chasing pack to take a comfortable win. It's the Englishman's second stage win on the 2019 Tour.

In the race for yellow, Pinot staked his claim as the man to watch in the final week, as he dropped Egan Bernal, Geraint Thomas and Alaphilippe on the final climb. 

Tour de France™ @LeTour

⏪ Relive the last kilometre of Stage 15, the solo win of @SimonYatess and the strong ride by @thibautpinot and @MikelLandaMeana! 💪 ⏪ Revivez le dernier kilomètre de l'Etape 15, la victoire en solitaire de Simon Yates et le numéro de Thibaut Pinot et Mikel Landa ! 💪 #TDF2019 https://t.co/nJrA9yWwdf

Felix Lowe provided the results for the stage and the overall standings: 

Felix Lowe @saddleblaze

Stage 15 result: another superb day for Pinot as Yates takes the spoils and Alaphilippe wobbles, but limits losses to retain yellow. #TDF2019 https://t.co/uUEv6W95iS

Felix Lowe @saddleblaze

New top 10 after Stage 15 with Alaphilippe limiting his losses to ensure an 11th day in yellow #TDF2019 https://t.co/qEdFdOMSzT

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With three first-category climbs for the riders to conquer on Sunday, there was always going to be drama on the stage.

In the breakaway, there were some big names in Nairo Quintana and Romain Bardet, although the struggles of those men early in the race meant they weren't threats deemed worthy of chasing down by the peloton.

After the first ascent, the peloton did start to reel in the leading group and it was Simon Geschke who made the first move out of the pack in the hope of a solo ride to the finish. 

It was the first significant burst from the leaders that had stuck, with the German breaking the elastic up the Mur de Peguere. He was joined by Simon Yates as they rolled over the penultimate summit of the day: 

Tour de France™ @LeTour

⛰️ Simon Geschke is the first one atop of the Mur de Péguère. Simon Yates joins him just atfer. ⛰️ Simon Geschke est le premier à se hisser en haut du Mur de Péguère. Simon Yates le rejoint juste après. #TDF2019 https://t.co/RWVUMK9UKf

After a routine descent, the leading duo were followed by a chasing group, who in turn were ahead of the peloton, with Alaphilippe still looking comfortable.

Mikel Landa was the man on the move at the start of the final climb, as he was able to bridge the gap from the peloton to the chasers. The Spaniard quickly swept past them too, leaving Quintana and Bardet behind.

Up ahead, Yates made his move with nine kilometres to go, putting the hammer down to leave Geschke behind: 

Tour de France™ @LeTour

🇬🇧 Simon Yates gives it a go and will try to claim a solo win today ! 💪 🇬🇧 @SimonYatess s'en va pour tenter d'aller chercher la victoire en solitaire aujourd'hui ! 💪 #TDF2019 https://t.co/VwwnwJfQzo

With the battle for the stage now seemingly between Yates and Landa, further back the general classification race started to light up, with Pinot making his move from the peloton. While Alaphilippe and Egan Bernal reacted, Thomas was left behind initially.

After another attack from Pinot, Alaphilippe finally cracked and dropped back from his compatriot for the first time. Per Neal Rogers, there was drama all over the ascent at this point: 

Neal Rogers @nealrogers

Stage 15 race report: OMG Yates! OMG Landa! OMG Pinot! OMG Bernal! OMG Alaphilippe! OMG Thomas! #TDF2019

Meanwhile, after his stage win on Saturday, Pinot was looking serene as he set off after Yates: 

Mihai Cazacu @faustocoppi60

Thibaut Pinot goes clear, absolutey flying uphill. 😍 I hope Marc Madiot is fine. #TDF2019

Eventually, the Frenchman was unable to compete for the stage, although he worked with Landa to take more time out of the yellow jersey holder.

Further back, Thomas was able to put together a late recovery, as he attacked past Alaphilippe and ensured the leader's advantage was less than two minutes going into Monday's rest day. The man in the maillot jaune, noticeably exhausted, eventually crossed the finish line with his lead intact, but severely diminished.

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