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"Richie [Porte] and Mikel [Nieve] are both a little bit ill at the moment so we wanted to give them the best chance of recovering before the three hard stages in the mountains," Portal says

Photo: Sirotti










20.07.2014 @ 20:52 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

With no GC options, Team Sky tried to use today's flat stage of the Tour de France to save energy for the Pyrenees. In the end, Bernhard Eisel tried to mix it up in the sprint and came away with 12th.


Team Sky survived the wet and wild conditions on the 15th stage of the Tour de France as Alexander Kristoff claimed a dramatic sprint victory in Nîmes.


Team Sky’s seven remaining riders kept themselves out of trouble during the 222km trek from Tallard and conserved their energy for the Pyrenees as the lead-out trains battled for supremacy at the front of the bunch.


The predicted mass sprint had looked in doubt as Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling) and Jack Bauer (Garmin-Sharp) produced a resolute performance from the breakaway, and the duo were still 13 seconds ahead as they passed under the flamme rouge.


Omega Pharma – Quick-Step and Europcar mounted a determined chase on the finishing straight however, and hauled the escapees back just metres from the line, but it was Kristoff (Katusha) who emerged triumphant by jumping out of Mark Renshaw's (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) wheel and powering on to make it two sprint wins from two.


Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling) had to be content with second place on the stage, while Peter Sagan (Cannondale) rounded out the podium places for the fifth time in this year’s Tour.


There was no change at the top of the general classification so Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) heads into the second rest day with his four minute and 39 second advantage over Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) safely intact.


Bernhard Eisel was Team Sky's highest-ranked rider in 12th position, with Geraint Thomas also present in a sizable front group.


After the stage, Sports Director Nicolas Portal was pleased to see his riders return safe and well and admitted the rest day would provide an ideal opportunity to recuperate before a tough last week in the saddle.


“It was all about getting to the finish without any crashes today, not taking any risks, and we can look forward to the rest day now. Richie [Porte] and Mikel [Nieve] are both a little bit ill at the moment so we wanted to give them the best chance of recovering before the three hard stages in the mountains.


“There was a lot of wind and rain today which made it harder than expected, but the guys coped with it OK and G and Bernie both managed to finish in the front group. We gave Bernie the freedom to get himself in the mix and he didn’t do a bad job at the end against the pure sprinters.


“Tomorrow we’ll have a short press conference and then go out on the bikes for an hour and a half. The rest of the day will be spent doing just that - resting up and formulating a plan for the next stages. Obviously, we still want to get something from this race, and we’ll do all we can to achieve that.”



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