The 2017 Tour de France’s first Dutch stage winner is Bauke Mollema of Trek-Segafredo, who took a solo victory from a large breakaway on Sunday. Yellow jersey Chris Froome survived a scare as a mechanical compounded a missed move and he was able to come back from 30-seconds down on his rivals.

The Course
It was a tricky day in the Massif Central of the Aubrac region, a 189-km route with four categorized climbs including two Cat. 1’s, the second of which peaked 31-km from the finish. There was a Cat. 4 and an uncategorized climb in the mostly downhill section that followed.

The Breakaway
Immediately 10-riders dashed away, among them Warren Barguil in the polka dot jersey. Barguil would take the maximum KOM points atop the first Cat. 1. Meanwhile, a counterattack led by Mollema formed. Soon after a Cat. 3 climb, again topped by Barguil, the counter move joined up and there were 28-riders out front with plenty of BMC and Lotto-Soudal representatives.

The break held a 5:15 gap by kilometre 78’s feed zone. On the long stretch to the second Cat. 1 sat the day’s intermediate sprint. Saturday’s winner Michael Matthews was in the escape and snaffled up the maximum green jersey points, drawing him closer to category leader Marcel Kittel.

With 105-km remaining escapee Tony Martin (Germany/Katusha) bolted, time trialing to a gap of nearly a minute over his breakmates. He was heading towards the final Cat. 1, Col de Peyra Taillade, 8.3-km of 7.4%.

Col de Peyra Taillade
Martin headed up the ascent solo. Just before the peloton hit the slope AG2R took over the front. Froome was distanced and then suffered a mechanical. Since the race was definitely on, Romain Bardet, Rigoberto Uran, Alberto Contador, Nairo Quintana and Fabio Aru didn’t wait for him.

Froome had teammates at first but lost them. Nairo Quintana dropped from the AG2R group, and was unable to stay with Froome. The crowds on the climb booed Froome as he fought back.

At the pointy end of the race, still 6:30 ahead of the GC action, Barguil caught and dispatched Martin with 2.5-km to climb. Mikel Landa dropped back to guide Froome to the AG2R group. Bardet and Uran attacked soon after Froome rejoined but didn’t get far before Aru chased them down.

The Rolling Terrain to Le Puy-en-Velay
A whittled down breakaway reformed on the descent. Mollema bounced away. Mollema had a 45-second gap by the time he reached the final climb of the day, a Cat. 4, 2-km of nearly 7%.

Barguil led three others in chase of Mollema, only 17-seconds ahead with 12-km to go. The quartet couldn’t keep its cohesion. After Simon Yates’ failed dig on the Cat. 4, sixth place Dan Martin (Ireland/Quick Step) managed to force a gap.

Mollema held off the chase group with plenty of time to celebrate. Martin picked up remnants of the breakaway, who worked with the Irishman. Martin moved up over Landa into fifth.

Quintana tumbled out of the top 10.

Monday is the blessed second rest day.

2017 Tour de France Stage 15
1) Bauke Mollema (The Netherlands/Trek-Segafredo) 4:41:47
2) Diego Ulissi (Italy/UAE-Emirates) +0:19
3) Tony Gallopin (France/Lotto-Soudal) s.t.

2017 Tour de France GC
1) Chris Froome (Great Britain/Sky) 64:40:21
2) Fabio Aru (Italy/Astana) +0:19
3) Romain Bardet (France/AG2R) +0:23


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