Julian Alaphilippe’s lead was reduced to under two minutes in the general classification battle after Simon Yates won his second Tour stage.
Simon Yates climbed to a second Tour de France stage victory in the space of four days and Geraint Thomas clawed time back on race leader Julian Alaphilippe on the Prat d’Albis.
Yates celebrated a maiden Tour win at Bagneres De-Bigorre on Thursday and the Brit pulled away from Simon Geschke to go solo on a tough final climb in the Pyrenees to win a 185-kilometre stage 15 which started in Limoux.
Thibaut Pinot followed up his victory on the Col du Tourmalet on Saturday by taking second place in his homeland 24 hours later, enhancing his chances of winning the race.
Thomas revealed he “really wasn’t feeling great” when he was dropped by Alaphilippe on the brutal Tourmalet, but the defending champion looked in much better shape as he pulled away from the Frenchman to reduce his lead.
— Mitchelton-SCOTT (@MitcheltonSCOTT) July 21, 2019
Deceuninck-Quick Step rider Alaphilippe will still be donning the yellow jersey when the final week starts on Tuesday following a rest day, yet Thomas closed the gap by 37 seconds.
An exhausted Alaphilippe crossed the line in 11th place through gritted teeth, with his advantage over Thomas cut to one minute, 35 seconds and Pinot now has just 1:50 to make up on his compatriot.
Steven Kruijswijk finished in the same time as Thomas, leaving the Team Jumbo-Visma rider 1:47 adrift of Alaphilippe in the general classification battle.
Thomas was dropped for the second time in the weekend late in the stage, yet this time he hit back to lead Kruijswijk and Alejandro Valverde over the line.
Mikel Landa finished in third spot ahead of Emanuel Buchmann, with Thomas’ Team INEOS colleague Egan Bernal fifth – the same spot he holds in the GC standings.
1. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 4:47.04
2. Thibaut Pinot Groupama-FDJ) +0:33
3. Mikel Landa (Movistar) +0:33
4. Emanuel Buchman (Bora-Hansgrohe) +0:51
5. Egan Bernal (Team INEOS) +0:51
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) 61:00:22
2. Geraint Thomas (INEOS) +1:35
3. Steven Kruijswijk (Team Jumbo-Visma) +1:47
1. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 284
2. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) 191
3. Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) 187
King of the Mountains
1. Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) 64
2. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) 50
3. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) 37
A welcome opportunity for the riders to recharge their batteries on a rest day before a a 177km stage 16 which starts and finishes in Nimes that is set up for the sprinters.