TOUR DE FRANCE 2023 | STAGE 15 | LES GETS LES PORTES DU SOLEIL > SAINT-GERVAIS MONT-BLANC
Wout Poels claimed his first stage win at the Tour de France at the age of 35 after spending many years at the service of great leaders. The best personal result of the 2016 Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner in the Grande Boucle was third at Andorra in 2021 until he soloed to victory at St-Gervais Mont-Blanc. Wout van Aert and Mathieu Burgaudeau rounded out the podium while Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar arrived together once again.
ALPAHILIPPE AND LUTSENKO ON THE ATTACK
The start proper of stage 15 has been given to 157 riders at 13.26. One non-starter: Dani Martinez (Ineos Grenadiers). Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) was the first attacker of the day but the peloton reacted to all initial offensives. A split occurred in the bunch after 10km of racing with Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) and Felix Gall (AG2R-Citroën) caught behind but it was all together again at km 16. Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ), Alberto Bettiol, Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost), Jasper Stuyven (Lidl-Trek), Ben O’Connor (Ag2r-Citröen), Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Gorka Izagirre (Movistar), Matthew Dinham (DSM-Firmenich), Anthony Turgis (TotalEnergies) made an interesting move but were also reined in at km 26. Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe) rode away solo at km 29. He was joined by riders like Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-Quick Step) and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) in several moves. Alaphilipe and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) escaped from a 27-man leading group after 42km of racing.
MARTIN IN A 39-MAN LEADING GROUP
A group of 37 was formed behind the leading duo when a crash occurred in the peloton at km 52, putting an end to the chase. It was composed of Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates), Omar Fraile (Ineos Grenadiers), Olivier Le Gac, Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Andrey Amador, Magnus Cort, Powless, Rigoberto Uran (EF Education-EasyPost), Mikel Landa, Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious), Marco Haller, Patrik Konrad, Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Giulio Ciccone, Mathias Skjelmose, Juan Pedro Lopez (Lidl-Trek), Nans Peters (Ag2r-Citröen), Van der Poel, Soren Kragh Andersen (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Rui Costa (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), Guillaume Martin, Ion Izagirre (Cofidis), Alex Aranburu (Movistar), Chris Hamilton (DSM-Firmenich), Michael Woods, Hugo Houle, Krists Neilands, Dylan Teuns (Israel-PremierTech), Lawson Craddock, Luka Mezgec, Chris Juul-Jensen (Jayco-AlUla), Warren Barguil, Simon Guglielmi (Arkéa-Samsic), Tobias Halland Johannessen, Torstein Traeen (Uno-X) and Mathieu Burgaudeau (TotalEnergies). The peloton crossed the line of the intermediate sprint at Bluffy (km 72) eight minutes after Alaphilippe and Lutsenko. With 85km remaining, it became a lead group of 39 riders. Haller took off 10km further.
POELS ALONE AT CÔTE DES AMERANDS
Rui Costa overhauled Haller to become the lone leader in the ascent to col de la Croix Fry 60km before the end but he was brought back by 19 chasers 1.3km before the summit. Ciccone crested in first place. Soler attacked in the following climb. The Spaniard was later joined by Van Aert, Poels and Neilands who crashed in a downhill. Poels rode away solo up the côte des Amerands with 10.7km remaining.
The yellow jersey group was reduced to the lone Adam Yates along with Vingegaard and Pogacar in the last ten kilometres of racing. Yates rode away from the duellists who were rejoined for a while by Carlos Rodriguez before Pogacar launched his first attack under the red flame of the last kilometre Vingegaard managed to stick to his wheel without any difficulty and retained the yellow jersey before the second rest day.
WOUT POELS: “I ALWAYS DREAMT OF WINNING A TOUR DE FRANCE STAGE”
“I really love this moment. I always dreamt of winning a stage in the Tour de France. Obviously, with Gino [Mäder’s death in June], it has a special meaning. It means a lot to win a stage in the Tour. It makes me super happy. I only started to believe in it in the final kilometres. I had to go full gas. It was amazing, amazing. Gino was helping me today.
I thought I had the perfect approach to the Tour. I skipped the Dauphiné but I did pretty well at the Tour of Slovenia [9th] and the team took me to the Tour. They believed I could perform in the third week… and here I am. I really enjoyed my time with Team Sky. It was an incredible experience, but yet I never could fight for stage win. I could do it today and I’m very happy.”
GIULIO CICCONE: “I’M SORT OF HAPPY”
“It was a brutal day. I was not at my best today. I did my maximum effort to take as many KOM points as possible. It was good opportunity. We will continue like this in the third week. Me and my teammates are in good shape, so we will try again. I’m feeling better than yesterday about the outcome of the race, because I got the KOM jersey after a big fight. I’m sort of happy, yet it is still not good enough. In order to claim this jersey in Paris, I need to be in the breakaway as many days as possible, whereas Pogacar and Vingegaard can take points while in the GC battle. There are two different ways to win this KOM classification, yet both are hard!”
TADEJ POGACAR: “WE CAN HEAD TO THE THIRD WEEK WITH CONFIDENCE”
“We took the final climb hard. I felt that Jonas was super good. I knew I could not drop him because the climb was too easy. I tried to improvise and let Adam [Yates] go so he could grab a few seconds for the GC. He is now closer to the podium, which is super nice. We can head into the third week with lots of confidence. We feel good, we have good legs. Today’s was a really good team performance. We have a rest day tomorrow, and yet another one for some of the guys on Tuesday. Let’s see after the rest day how to tackle these final decisive stages. As for the ITT, I know the route very good. I hope it suits me pretty well. It’s a very parcourse and can’t way to get started.”
JONAS VINGEGAARD: “IT KEEPS GETTING BETTER AND BETTER TO WATCH”
“It has been yet another battle between the two of us. I guess it keeps getting better and better for the spectators! The team felt pretty good today, although we of course had this crash that affected some of my teammates. I hope everyone involved is well. Today I felt more in control than in previous days. We can be happy about the stage. I’d like to tell the spectators to enjoy the race and be there to cheer for us without standing on the road or pouring beers on us. Please, just enjoy the race. I’m happy there is a rest day coming. It will be very good for the legs. What will I do? Just chill and relax!”