Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 20th 2015 Contents A56
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, July 20, 2015
VALENCE---Andre Greipel took his
third stage victory of this Tour de
France by winning a bunch sprint
at the end of Stage 15 yesterday,
while Britain's Chris Froome
remained in control of the overall
race lead on a day when French
police boosted security around his
Greipel, the Lotto-Soudal rider
from Germany, powered to the line
John Degenkolb of the Giant-
Alpecin team was second, Katusha's
Alexander Kristoff third and Peter
Sagan of Tinkoff-Saxo finished
fourth on the 183-kilometre (114-
mile) stage from Mende.
Police stationed half a dozen offi-
cers around Froome's Team Sky bus
at the start after the race leader com-
plained the previous day that a spec-
tator shouting "doper!" in French
hurled a cup of urine at him on Stage
14.Froome blamed what he called
"very irresponsible" media for turn-
ing public opinion against him and
his team by questioning their dom-
inant performance. Froome repeated
that claim at the finish in Valence.
"What I am saying is that if people
are led to believe that these per-
formances are not legitimate, that's
what's going to push them to start
booing, and to start punching and
spitting and throwing urine on rid-
ers," Froome said.
He again insisted cycling is cleaner
than it was.
"Times have changed. Everyone
knows that," he said. "This isn't the
wild west that it was 10 or 15 years
ago. Of course there are still going
to be riders who take risks in this
day and age, but they are the minor-
ity. It was the other way around 10
or 15 years ago. There is no reason
in this day and age for that level of
suspicion to continue. There's
absolutely no reason."
Because of its flat finish, Stage 15
represented the last opportunity for
sprinters to shine before climbers
take back the spotlight in the Alps
in the last week after a rest day on
Mark Cavendish, the only rider
to beat Greipel in a massed bunch
sprint at this Tour, wasn't able to
compete for the win in Valence
because he was dropped by the
speeding pack early in the stage that
was hilly at the beginning.
Telling himself "you have to hang
on here," Greipel managed to stay
with the pack that rode at a furious
pace over the bumpy terrain, deter-
mined not to let breakaway riders
take the stage win.
At Valence, Greipel and his team
positioned him neatly for the final
sprint. From there, he did the rest,
choosing just the right time to accel-
"I made the right decision. The
team put me in the right spot,"
"I had the power in my legs to
finish it to the line," he said. "It's
all about the legs. Mother Nature
gave me this."
Cavendish rolled in among a last
group of 26 riders who finished near-
ly 16 minutes behind Greipel. Greipel
launched himself at top speed about
300 meters (yards) from the line and
held on for his ninth stage win overall
at the Tour. At this Tour, he also
won stages 2 and 5.
The manager of Cavendish's
Etixx-Quick Step team, Patrick Lefe-
vere, said the British rider was
exhausted after a bad night's sleep
in a hotel without air conditioning.
"After two weeks of the Tour de
France those things kill you," Lefevere
Cavendish said stomach problems
kept him awake.
"I felt empty at the start," he said.
"After about 30 kilometers (18 miles)
we knew it was about surviving the
day. We knew there wasn't a chance
to win with me."
The sprinters' last chance for a
stage win will be on the Champs-
Elysees in Paris next Sunday. But
they must first survive four days of
climbing in the Alps.
Monday's Stage 16 before the rest
day takes the Tour into the foothills
to Gap. With two moderate climbs
followed by a downhill finish, it
should suit punchy riders lower
down in the overall standings who
are looking for a stage win before
the podium challengers do battle in
the really big mountains.
Froome goes into the Alps, the
last major obstacle, with a comfort-
able lead and is nearing closer to his
second win, having first won the
Tour in 2013.
The Sky team rider finished safely
in the main pack with the other
podium favorites on Sunday, and
there were no changes in their overall
Froome still leads second-placed
Nairo Quintana by 3 minutes and
10 seconds. Tejay van Garderen of
the BMC team remains 3:32 back in
Greipel powers home to take Stage 15
Germany's Andre Greipel, right, crosses the finish line ahead of Peter Sagan
of Slovakia, left, Norway's Alexander Kristoff, second left, and Germany's
John Degenkolb, centre, to win the 15th stage of the Tour de France cycling
race over 183 kilometres with start in Mende and finish in Valence, France,
yesterday. AP PHOTO
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