Sunday 18 August 2019

Pinot raises hopes for a French Tour winner

France's Thibaut Pinot, center, and Spain's Mikel Landa climb Prat d'Albis during the fifteenth stage of the Tour de France. Photo: AP Photo/Thibault Camus
France's Thibaut Pinot, center, and Spain's Mikel Landa climb Prat d'Albis during the fifteenth stage of the Tour de France. Photo: AP Photo/Thibault Camus

Independent.ie Sportdesk

Simon Yates soloed to his second Tour de France victory of the week oblivious to the fireworks behind him as the battle for the yellow jersey exploded on the ramps up to the Prat d'Albis on stage 15.

Thibaut Pinot darted forward for the second day in a row as the first cracks appeared in Julian Alaphilippe's challenge, while Geraint Thomas again watched his rivals race out in front of him.

Today's rest day will be a chance to dissect a general classification in which only 39 seconds separate Thomas in second from Emanuel Buchmann in sixth, and in which Alaphilippe seems to accept he may no longer be a factor despite sitting 95 seconds ahead of Thomas.

"It's not a surprise that I'm starting to struggle," said the Deceuninck-Quick Step rider, who did not target the Tour this year but will enjoy an 11th day in yellow when the race resumes in Nimes tomorrow.

If Alaphilippe is fading, Pinot certainly isn't. He has established himself as the man most likely to end a 34-year wait for a home winner of the Tour.

His first kick, with seven kilometres to go, put Thomas in trouble. His second dig, four kilometres from the top, left Buchmann and Egan Bernal behind.

By the line, Pinot had taken 55 seconds out of Thomas to sit only 15 behind in fourth overall.

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