Magnus Cort Nielsen sprints to victory in Tour de France Stage 15

Jo Caldwell
July 24, 2018

The racer of "Astana" Magnus Cort Nielsen was the victor of the 15th stage of the Tour de France.

Shortly before the finish, Cort Nielsen attacked along with Bauke Mollema and Ion Izagirre and went on to defeat both for the stage win in Carcassonne.

The peloton crossed the line 13:11 behind.

Thomas in the yellow jersey, second-placed Chris Froome, and the rest of the overall contenders arrived at Carcassonne and its medieval city walls 13 minutes after the stage victor.

That pause precedes three mountain stages in the Pyrenees, followed by the individual time trial on the penultimate day of the race. "For me, it's the highlight of my career and a massive honour and a privilege to be wearing the [yellow] jersey", Thomas said.

But Thomas, who has a real chance of upstaging Froome to win the yellow jersey if the Kenyan-born champion fails to step up in the crucial, third week, said the doubters are wrong.

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"Anything can happen. Three big days in the Pyrenees to come plus a hard time trial".

Cort proved too powerful for his rivals and moved clear to secure Astana's second successive stage win, following Spain's Omar Fraile triumph yesterday.

The only sustained attack against Thomas came from Daniel Martin , who is 10th at nearly seven minutes behind.

Back in the peloton, there was some brief excitement when Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) attacked from the peloton at the beginning of the ascent to Pic de Nore.

There was also a half-hearted and short-lived attempt by Bardet to slip away on a downhill. "I'm looking forward to the rest day, then the next stage, the next climb, and just keep on doing what we're doing".

The breakaway were allowed to build a lead of almost 15 minutes but the climbs took their toll on several riders forced to drop back as the stage progressed.

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Together with Michael Valgren, Magnus Cort became a part of a long-day breakaway at this stage 15 of the Tour de France (Millau - Carcassonne, 181 km). Reading comments on social media from people saying: "'Since justice wasn't served, we'll serve it from the side of the road.' That's basically an outright threat", he said.

Thomas and Froome lost one of their support riders for the rest of the way after Gianni Moscon was expelled by race organizers for apparently hitting Elie Gesbert of Team Fortuneo.

Up front, the two French riders held onto their lead over the first half of the climb, until Bora-Hansgrohe's Rafal Majka went on the attack and took over the race lead on his own, cresting the summit with 28 seconds over a pack of eight chasers behind.

In the leading trio, Nielsen was always going to be fastest in a three-way sprint but the other two could not rid themselves of the Dane on the final run-in.

Serge Pauwels of Dimension Data was knocked out of the race after breaking his right elbow in a crash near the end.

The International Cycling Union WorldTour race is set to resume on Tuesday (July 24), with a 218km route from Carcassonne to Bagnères-de-Luchon.

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AP writers Andrew Dampf and Ciaran Fahey contributed.

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