x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Froome survives scare as Mollema beats Team UAE's Ulissi to win Stage 15 of Tour de France

Dutchman jumps away from breakaway group of day 31kms from finish to claim solo victory.

Netherlands' Bauke Mollema celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win Stage 15 of the Tour de France on Sunday. Peter Dejong / AP Photo
Netherlands' Bauke Mollema celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win Stage 15 of the Tour de France on Sunday. Peter Dejong / AP Photo

Bauke Mollema beat UAE Team Emirates' Diego Ulissi to win Stage 15 of the Tour de France to Le Puy-en-Velay, as Chris Froome survived a scare to retain the yellow jersey.

Dutchman Mollema attacked from the remnants on the breakaway in the closing stages of the 189.5-kilometre stage from Laissac-Severac L'Eglise to take his first career Tour win.

Froome had needed a wheel change when the race was on approaching the Col de Peyra Taillade, and lost almost a minute before spending eight kilometres chasing his way back to the group of main contenders.

But the three-time Tour winner held on and retains his lead of 18 seconds over Italian Fabio Aru, with Frenchman Romain Bardet a further five seconds down in third place.

Bardet's AG2R La Mondiale team had upped the pace as the category one Peyra Taillaide - the penultimate climb of the day - approached with around 40km left, and had already distanced Froome once before the Team Sky man was forced to pull over.

Froome took a quick wheel change from Michal Kwiatkowski before Mikel Nieve and Sergio Henao helped pace him up the climb.

Mikel Landa then answered questions about his loyalty to the cause by dropping out of the lead group to finish the job, and Froome clung on as Bardet tried a brief attack before the summit.

Ulissi produced an inspirational ride to grab second place and in doing so, recorded the best result for the team on this year’s Tour. The Italian joined the counter-attacking group early on in the race and was successful in the sprint finish, overcoming three other riders in the battle to the finish line.

There was also good news for his teammate Louis Meintjes, whose result in Sunday’s stage meant a climb up the General Classification standings. The South African now sits in eighth place.

“Mollema started at the top of the climb and we left him too much space," Ulissi said. "Someone skipped some change and he went away. We tried to chase him but honestly, he had great legs and he was strong. He deserves the win. It’s a shame I got second place but I performed to my maximum. I will try again to get a victory.”