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Le Tour Stage 15: Heartbreak For Bauer as Kristoff Wins

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Eric Feferberg, Getty Images

Garmin-Sharp's Jack Bauer experienced the worst of heartbreaks as a stage win was snatched from his fingers in the final 50 meters of today's stage. The New Zealand rider was in a day long breakaway with IAM Cycling's Martin Elmiger that profited from on and off heavy rains and wet roads in the final fifty kilometers of the stage that derailed the efforts of Lotto-Belisol and Giant Shimano, among other teams, to organize an effective chase. The duo hit the final ten kilometers with just under a minute to spare and a technical run into Nîmes that had over six roundabouts to navigate gave the duo a little assistance over a chase that was splintering under the impetus of numerous attacks, most notably not one but two flyers by world time trial champion Tony Martin. As the fugitives hit the final kilometer, they still had 15 seconds in hand and were still cooperating well, giving them a chance at the stage win. They never slowed and Elmiger jumped first at 450 meters to go, momentarily gapping Bauer. The Kiwi clawed his way back onto the Swiss rider's wheel and then came around him in what was less a sprint and more a prolonged burst of speed. But inside the final fifty meters, the bunch sprint came thundering by, denying Bauer a win and sending him into tears after the finish line.

The sprint behind the duo was a messy affair, no one team able to impose a leadout on the peloton. It was finally Katusha's Alexander Kristoff who emerged from the scrum in first to take a second stage win in this year's Tour. Kristoff beat Heinrich Haussler by half a bike length, the Australian's "bad weather power up" wearing off slightly in the final ten kilometers when the sun emerged from the storm clouds. Maillot vert wearer Peter Sagan was in third, ratcheting up his 9th top-five stage placing while still being eluded by a single win. Bauer was swept up so late in the sprint he finished tenth.

The stage looked an easy one for everyone involved - a rest day for the general classification riders and a guaranteed bunch gallop for the pure sprinters. However, wind and rain swept through the area as the race neared the coast, causing multiple teams to hit the front in attempts to keep their leaders in a safe position or even to split the race in intermittent crosswinds. Fierce rain was interspaced with sun, but even the brighter portions of the final hour were plagued by standing water on the roads in numerous places. The weather coupled with the seemingly unending roundabouts made for a tense bunch and made the job of reeling in Bauer and Elmiger much harder than expected. The toll of the day was apparent in the different makeup of the top ten with purer fastmen like Marcel Kittel falling out of position late and hardier riders like Ramunas Navarduaskas and Michael Albasini finishing inside the top ten instead.

Results:

1 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha 4:56:43
2 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling
3 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale
4 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol
5 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
6 Bryan Coquard (Fra) Team Europcar
7 Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin - Sharp
8 Romain Feillu (Fra) Bretagne - Seche Environnement
9 Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica Greenedge
10 Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin - Sharp

General Classification:

1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 66:49:37
2 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:04:37
3 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:04:50
4 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr 0:05:06
5 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:05:49
6 Jean-Christophe Péraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:06:08
7 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling 0:08:33
8 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team Netapp-Endura 0:09:32
9 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling 0:10:01
10 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 0:10:48