• Andre Greipel got the better of a trio of the best to win Stage 15 of the Tour de France (AAP)Source: AAP
There were only two questions to be answered on Stage 15 of the Tour de France. Would a break survive to take the stage or would it come down to a bunch sprint finish?
By
Cycling Central

20 Jul 2015 - 1:30 AM  UPDATED 20 Jul 2015 - 9:35 AM

Gorilla growling
Greipel: fastest of the fast
André Greipel has proven to be the fastest man at this year’s Tour de France adding another impressive sprint victory to his rising tally overnight on Stage 15.

Those questions were answered when the peloton wound back the early break and André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) won in a sprint after riding a rolling to flat 183km from Mende to Valence.

He finished ahead of a star-studded triptych of riders, John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin), Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo).

The victory was Greipel’s third at this year’s Tour, marking him unquestionably as the best of the fast men for 2015.

“The key factor today was suffering from kilometre zero until the end,” Greipel said. "The team kept me out of the wind, tried to keep me in the front group and it worked quite well, even if it was hard to stay with the bunch today.

“At the end we made it perfect to keep me in a good position for the sprint and I just went the last 250 metres full gas, and kept it to the line.”

Led by race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky), the general classification leaders took the night off with their only concern to finish the stage as uneventfully as possible.

Of the transition stages to the Alps this one was the most suited to the sprinters but interestingly did not feature Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep) who was dropped early and found himself among a group of riders in a face-off against the time cut, some 12 minutes in arrears.

The stage started with a massive 27-rider breakaway which was eventually whittled down to a strong group containing Michael Rogers and Peter Sagan of Tinkoff-Saxo, Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE), Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ),  Lars Bak (Lotto-Soudal),  Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin) plus the Etixx-QuickStep pair of Michal Kwiatkowski and Matteo Trentin.

They progressed uneventfully but the peloton was reluctant to let them off the leash as the sprinters had some work to do in Valence.

Their exploit came to an end at 40km to go with only Hesjedal and Trentin resisting the inevitable for another 10km.

Together again Lotto-Soudal, Katusha, Europcar and Giant-Alpecin all took turns at the front of the peloton for their sprinters, Greipel, Degenkolb and Kristoff through to the finish.

 

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