Tour de France: Alexander Kristoff sprints to victory on stage 15
Alexander Kristoff sprinted to victory on stage 15 of the Tour de France to claim his second win of the race.
The Norwegian led the quick men home after they had chased down Jack Bauer of New Zealand and Switzerland's Martin Elmiger 20m from the finish in Nimes.
Heinrich Haussler was second, while Peter Sagan was third to strengthen his grip on the green points jersey.
Italy's Vincenzo Nibali retained the race lead, four minutes, 37 seconds ahead of Spain's Alejandro Valverde.
|Rob Hayles - BBC Sport commentator|
|"Jack Bauer was on the right, digging so deep and his legs went from underneath him. Kristoff won and, while I say he timed it to perfection, he had some luck as well. They were panicking in the peloton."|
Garmin-Sharp rider Bauer was in tears at the finish after he was chased down in the closing stages by Kristoff who led the sprinting pack for his second stage win this year.
"It's just a bitter, bitter disappointment. It's a childhood dream to win a stage of the tour and for a domestique, like myself, I'm normally working for others," he said.
"This was my first chance to be up the road and with the change in the wind and the weather, Martin and I realised we had a chance for the win.
"I left it until 400m to go. I thought I had it but then I realised in the last 50m that I had nothing."
Bauer, who finished 10th, had harboured hopes of picking up a first ever stage win as he and Elmiger broke clear in the opening stages of the 222km ride from Tallard in the foothills of the Alps.
The duo battled through stormy conditions and difficult crosswinds and saw their advantage, which had been more than eight minutes at one stage, cut to 60 seconds with 15km remaining.
It seemed as though the sprinters had miscalculated the time they needed to reel in the long-standing leaders, with a number of roundabouts requiring safe navigation in slippery conditions.
|What to expect on stage 16|
|"This is another stage that has the potential for the breakaway to succeed. There is a 20km descent to the finish where we drop almost 1,000m in altitude so it will be a fast pace. It's pretty much man v man on a descent, as fast as you feel confident going. If it is was long and a bit flatter you could get help from your team-mates but I've been to see this one and it's steep and technical so you're on your own."|
Bauer and Elmiger were 13 seconds ahead of the peloton with 1km to go but Kristoff timed his attack to perfection to take victory just metres from the line.
"It was a little bit late for comfort. It was very close," conceded Kristoff. "I thought I would be second. We turned on the gas."
Race leader Nibali maintained his lead of four minutes 37 seconds finishing alongside Valverde, Romain Bardet and Thibaut Pinot.
Monday is a rest day and Geraint Thomas, Team Sky's sole British rider left in the race, will analyse how the race is developing in his blog on the BBC Sport website.
Tuesday's 16th stage takes the riders into the Pyrenees mountains from Caracassone to Bagneres-de-Luchon.
Stage 15 result
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor/Katusha) 4hrs 56mins 42secs
2. Heinrich Haussler (Aus/IAM Cycling) ST
3. Peter Sagan (Svk/Cannondale)
4. Andre Greipel (Ger/Lotto-Belisol)
5. Mark Renshaw (Aus/Omega Pharma - Quick-Step)
6. Bryan Coquard (Fra/Europcar)
7. Ramunas Navardauskas (Lit/Garmin-Sharp)
8. Romain Feillu (Fra/Bretagne-Seche)
9. Michael Albasini (Swi/Orica GreenEdge)
10. Jack Bauer (New Zealand / Garmin)
General classification after stage 15
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Astana) 66hrs 49mins 37secs
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar) +4mins 37secs
3. Romain Bardet (Fra/AG2R) +4mins 50secs
4. Thibaut Pinot (Fra/FDJ) +5mins 06secs
5. Tejay van Garderen (US/BMC Racing) +5mins 49secs
6. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra/AG2R) +6mins 08secs
7. Bauke Mollema (Ned/Belkin) +8mins 33secs
8. Leopold Konig (Cze/Netapp-Endura) +9mins 32secs
9. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned/Belkin) +10mins 01secs
10. Pierre Rolland (Fra/Europcar) +10mins 48secs