Tour de France: Simon Yates wins Stage 15; Julian Alaphilippe clings to lead
Simon Yates of Britain posted a second stage win with a solo raid during the last Pyrenean trek of the Tour de France as Frenchman Thibaut Pinot gained more time on his rivals in the fight for the yellow jersey with a ferocious attack in the final climb on Sunday.
Yates triumphed at the summit of the Prat d’Albis in Stage 15, three days after his first stage victory in the southwestern mountain range.
Pinot crossed the finish line in second place, 33 seconds behind Yates, and moved to fourth overall.
Julian Alaphilippe was isolated without a single teammate to help him in the 7 1/2-mile final climb and cracked but managed to salvage his yellow jersey.
Defending champion Geraint Thomas remained second in the general classification.
Coming right after the ascent of the Tourmalet — where Pinot had already showed his great form and stamina with a stage win at the famed Tour mountain — Stage 15 ran close to the ancient Cathar castles and was a punishing ride totaling more than 24 miles of climbing.
Yates, the Vuelta defending champion, made his decisive move about 5 1/2 miles from the line.
“I’m very proud of that,” Yates said of his second victory at this Tour.
Racing behind, Pinot attacked a reduced group of overall contenders to drop both Thomas and Alaphilippe. Thomas did not panic and rode at his pace until he accelerated with less than a mile left to cut the overall gap on Alaphilippe from 2 minutes and 2 seconds to 1:35.
Alaphilippe was so exhausted after his effort up the hill, where he grimaced through the rain, that he had to grip a roadside barrier afterward while he caught his breath.
“If I crack I hope he’ll carry the torch for the French,” Alaphilippe said about Pinot.
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