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