Froome keeps hold of yellow
Despite facing one heck of a scare on Sunday afternoon, Chris Froome managed to keep hold of his leader's yellow jersey after suffering a mechanical issue on the approach to the penultimate climb of the day.
Unlike earlier in the race when an attack from Fabio Aru on the maillot jaune when it appeared in trouble was roundly shouted down by the key protagonists, Romain Bardet's well-organised and well-prepared team took the race to the defending champion, much to the delight of the thousands of fans for the Ag2r-LaMondiale leader who was looking to take advantage of being on his home roads.
With around 40 kilometres of the 189.5km stage from Laissac-Sévérac l'Église to Le Puy-en-Velay remaining, Froome lost contact with the Ag2r-La Mondiale-powered group and at one point trailed his general classification contenders by 45sec. Following his wobble on the road to Peyragudes on Thursday, Froome looked in grave danger of having the maillot jaune taken off his shoulders for a second time in a matter of days in what is turning out to be one of the most closely contested Tours de France in the race's 114-year history.
Froome's moment of stress – which will have felt an eternity for his team and family watching on television – came when he had a problem with his rear wheel and was forced to take Michal Kwiatkowski's before attempting to chase down Bardet on his home turf.
After burning up Sergio Henao and Mikel Nieve who helped in Froome's chase, the defending champion appeared exposed and isolated, not just to the danger of losing yellow but also the darkside of riding on enemy roads. As Froome chased down Bardet, the three-time Tour winner was given a hostile reception as he tapped out a rhythm through a cacophony off boos from fans lining the road of the penultimate climb of the day, the brutal Col de Peyra Taillade.
However, Landa played the perfect team-mate and dropped back out of Bardet's group before shepherding Froome back on after which the two team-mates, who earlier this week were said to have been at loggerheads in a leadership battle, worked together in tandem all the way to the line. Froome eventually finished safely to keep hold of his yellow jersey while Landa, for his efforts, in fact, lost time and a place in the overall standings to Dan Martin, not that the Basque seemed too bothered. The pair, said Landa, had "saved the day very well".
Despite the drama, Froome retained his lead of 18sec over Aru, with Bardet a further five seconds down in third place. Froome, who will owe Landa a huge debt of gratitude should he end up standing on the top step of the podium in Paris for a fourth time a week from now, later admitted the situation was 'stressful', but thanked his team-mates.
“It was a stressful moment. I wasn’t sure if I’d get back on again,” said Froome. “Ag2r rode their race and rode fast. Just before the climb I had a problem with my back wheel, it was damaged. Kwiatkowski gave me his wheel because the team car was stuck behind. I gave it my maximum to get back up to the leaders.
“I’ve got to thanks my team-mates yet again for helping me. Sergio Henao and Mikel Nieve gave their maximum. Landa too. He helped me a lot on the climb."
With six days of racing remaining, a bullish Froome said he is still the man to beat, and with a time trial to come on the penultimate stage in Marseille, his rivals will need to ride an aggressive final week following Monday's rest day.
“It up to my rivals to attack me," Froome added. "They have to gain time before time trial. For now I’m just happy to have the jersey and to have a rest day tomorrow.”
All of the other competition leaders – Marcel Kittel (points), Warren Barguil (mountains), Simon Yates (young rider) – retained their leaders' jerseys while Team Sky still top the teams classification. Stage winner Bauke Mollema was named most aggressive rider of the day and will wear a red bib number during Tuesday's stage.
Martin climbs into top five
Dan Martin's general classification rivals crossed the finish line 12 seconds after the Quick-Step Floors rider and so the Birmingham-born Irishman leaped above Mikel Landa in the overall standings and goes into Monday's rest day fifth overall, 1min 12sec adrift of race leader Chris Froome.
Martin finishes ahead of rivals
Dan Martincrosses the finish line, but waht will the gap be to his general classification rivals?
Martin catches the break!
Dan Martin has managed to catch up with some of the riders from the earlier breakaway. Superb effort there and he could end up climbing the general classification in a short while.
Mollema wins stage 15!
Bauke Mollemahas just won his first ever stage at the Tour de France. Diego Ulissi finished second while Tony Gallopin rounded off the podium.
Warren Barguil, who extended his lead today in the mountains classification, finished safely in fifth.
750 metres to go
Bauke Mollema passes below the flamme rouge and the Dutchman's digging deep into his reserves and, I'm fairly sure, he's about to win his first stage at the Tour de France.
1.5km to go
I think Bauke Mollema has increased his lead at the front of the race.
2km to go
Warren Barguil, Primoz Roglic, Diego Ulissi and Tony Gallopin are still chasing down stage leader Bauke Mollema, but nobody appears to want to take control.
Martin chasing seconds
Mikel Landa, who started the day 9sec adrift of Dan Martin on general classification, has taken up the chase.
6km to go
Bauke Mollema is still out on his own at the front. Back in the general classification group, Dan Martin has attacked on the flat. The Quick-Step Floors rider isn't, as yet, being chased down. He's a fight is Dan!
7km to go
Simon Yates was reeled back in, but but in a repeated attack and was joined by Mikel Landa. The pair went over the top of Côte de Saint-Vidal ahead of their general classification contenders and are looking lively.
As the general classification riders head up towards the summit of the Côte de Saint-Vidal, Simon Yates puts in a little dig off the front. The Orica-Scott rider has a few bike lengths over the rest.
10km to go
Bauke Mollema's lead has been whittled down to around 10 or 15 seconds and he's now being chased down by Primoz Roglic, Warren Barguil, Diego Ulissi and Tony Gallopin.
13km to go
Primoz Roglic, the promising Slovenian, is on the wheel of Warren Barguil as the pair chase down Bauke Mollema on the final categorised climb of the day, the category four Côte de Saint-Vidal. The pair are around 25sec behind the stage leader, but can the polka dot jersey add a second Tour de France stage to his palmarès just two days after winning his first, will the former ski-jumper (Roglic) drop him on the descent or can Mollema hold on and claim his first stage win at the Tour in seven attempts?
15km to go
Bauke Mollema is now on the final climb of the day, the category four Côte de Saint-Vidal.
Back in the general classification group, Louis Meintjes appears to be helping out Ag2r-La Mondiale on the front while Chris Froome is chatting with team-mate Mikel Landa.
Mollema extends lead at front
Bauke Mollema appears to be extending his lead at the front of the stage. The gap, I think, is over a minute now - his team car has been allowed to shimmy on past the chasing group it must be at least 60 seconds.
20km to go
George Bennett, one of the four Kiwis at this year's Tour de France, has managed to get back on to the general classification group. While Bauke Mollema presses on at the front of the stage, the group chasing him are working well together, riding through-and-off.
25km to go
Just one more categorised climb, the category four Côte de Saint-Vidal, to follow before the rolling finish into Le Puy-en-Velay. Bauke Mollema is still out in front, but the Dutchman's lead is only around 17sec.
27km to go
Romain Bardet, Chris Froome, Fabio Aru, Rigoberto Urán, Dan Martin, Simon Yates, Mikel Landa, Louis Meintjes, Alberto Contador and Alexis Vuillermoz are all in that group of general classification riders while Nairo Quintana is well over a minute behind.
28.5km to go
Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) has now attacked off the front of the stage. Back in the general classification group Ag2r-La Mondiale continue to lead the way.
30km to go
Romain Bardethas attacked off the front of the general classification group. Rigoberto Urán and Dan Martin were quick to respond. Chris Froome appears to have rediscovered his legs following that earlier scare.
Barguil adds more points to his tally
Back at the front of the race, Warren Barguil is out of the saddle as the Sunweb rider nears the summit of the Col de Peyra Taillade.
Froome back in the game / 32.5km to go
Chris Froome has just got back onto the Ag2r-La Mondiale group and as the Team Sky rider returns, his team-mate Mikel Landa moves towards the front to let Romain Bardet's squad know they're back in the game.
Chris Froome has lost his team-mates and he's totally isolated, all alone chasing all of his general classification rivals. Froome is being loudly booed by fans on the roadside.
— ITV Cycling (@itvcycling) July 16, 2017
Mikel Landa has dropped out of that leading group to help his team-mate get back on.
35km to go
Tony Martin has cracked at the front of the stage and the German has been caught by Warren Barguil on the steepest section of this category one climb. Romain Bardet has around five team-mates with him and in that group is also Fabio Aru, Dan Martin, Rigoberto Uran, Simon Yates. The Chris Froome trio is around 15 or 20 seconds down the road and they are giving it the beans as they chase down Bardet. If they cannot catch them Froome is in great danger of losing the yellow jersey tonight.
Worrying times for Froome
Chris Froomehas a couple of team-mates with him – Sergio Henao and Mikel Nieve– and the trio are chasing on up the road, but there are a number of small groups they need to pass before latching on to the Ag2r-La Mondiale group. I'm hearing Froome is around 35sec behind Romain Bardetet al!
Tony Martin, by the way, still leads the stage by around 35sec.
Ag2r-La Mondiale applying the pressure
Romain Bardet and Ag2r-La Mondiale are heading up the Col de Peyra Taillade and I can't see Chris Froome. Mikel Landa, though, is in the leading group so I'm sure the maillot jaune will be really happy about that.
Froome chasing back on
As it stands Chris Froome is around 30sec behind Romain Bardet and his Ag2r-La Mondiale team-mates. This has just got very interesting.
Froome has mechanical!
Chris Froome has had a mechanical and was forced to stop and change a wheel with team-mate Michal Kwiatkowski. The race is now on! Sergio Henao dropped back to help him get back on, but he will have burned up a bit of energy there that he didn't want to do.
Ag2r-La Mondiale are pushing on up the road.
This stage has just woken up. Thank you Ag2r-La Mondiale.
Ag2r-La Mondiale attack Froome!
Romain Bardet's team Ag2r-La Mondiale have taken it up on the front of the main peloton and are putting the pressure onto Team Sky as they approach the bottom of the Col de Peyra Taillade. I was expecting something from the French team, but thought they would do something on the upper slopes of this very hard category one climb.
42.5km to go
Tony Martin now leads that 27-man chasing group by 1min 36sec, while the peloton featuring Chris Froome and all of the main general classification contenders in 9min 29sec adrift of the German.
45km to go
Here's another look at the next climb. As you can see it gets a little steep in places – up to gradients of 16 per cent – so expect splits in both the leading group and the main peloton.
— VeloViewer (@VeloViewer) July 16, 2017
I wouldn't be surprised to see a bit of a rumble between the general classification riders up here. Remember, we are on Romain Bardet's home turf so the Ag2r-La Mondiale rider may just fancy putting on a show for his fans and, of course, attempt to put the frights on Chris Froome.
50km to go
As Tony Martin drops down towards a flat section before the shortish run to the bottom of the Col de Peyra Taillade, the German is doing that scary sitting-on-the-toptube thing that sportive riders really ought to stop trying to do in an attempt to get a little more aerodynamic, and he's putting a little more time into the leading bunch.
Martin going solo
The Katusha-Alpecin time trial specialist has already put over a minute into the stage leaders, though with the category one Col de Peyra Taillade coming in around 20 kilometres it's difficult to see Tony Martin holding on to his lead. Isn't it?
Martin, of course, is both the reigning world and German time trial champion and has a history of winning stages in this sort of fashion.
62km to go
Tony Martin, for the second time today, has attacked off the front of the leading group and the four-time world time trial champion has put around 20sec into that strong and select group.
70km to go
The gap between the stage leaders and the group featuring Chris Froome, who is wearing his 52nd yellow jersey today, two more than the great French champion Jacques Anquetil who won four Tours de France, by just over seven minutes.
80km to go
Interesting to see that Fabio Aru today has four Astana team-mates alongside him near the front of the peloton while Chris Froome, who just briefly stopped for a natural break, has all seven team-mates with him. Each and every one of them acting as domestique for the maillot jaune.
85km to go
The leading 28-man breakaway is over halfway into today's stage and they're tapping away 6min 25sec up the road from the peloton. Not great deal going on right now, but as we have seen throughout this Tour de France anything can happen at anytime.
Matthews wins intermediate sprint
As expected, Sunweb sprinter Michael Matthews adds another 20 points to his tally and close the gap on green jersey competition leader Marcel Kittel to 79 points.
94.5km to go
The leading bunch is just under one kilometre away from today's intermediate sprint. Time for Michael Matthews to go to work methinks.
100km to go
Tony Martin's brief attack was short-lived and the German time trial specialist is back in the bunch. The main peloton, meanwhile, has just passed through the feedzone where riders scooped up their mussettes from the roadside soigneurs. But what is stuffed into those heavily branded cotton bags?
103km to go
Hello, what's this? Tony Martin has chipped off the front of the fairly large leading group.
110km to go
Fairly quiet out on the road at the moment. The leading 28-man group that includes Lilian Calmejane who won a stage at the Tour last Saturday, now leads the maillot jaune by 5min 25sec.
— letourdata (@letourdata) July 16, 2017
Michal Kwiatkowski of Team Sky was just spotted working his way up through the peloton with his jersey stuffed with bidons.
— Tom Bennett (@tommbennett) July 16, 2017
It's quite hot out on the road today and the riders will be needing to hydrate throughout the stage, as James Morton, Team Sky nutritionist, told us recently . . .
By the way, that leading group of 28 riders now has 5min 4sec advantage over the peloton.
130km to go
As expected, that rather large 23-man group has now caught Warren Barguil et al.
— Le Tour de France (@LeTour) July 16, 2017
131km to go
Cycling fanatic John Kerry, the former US Secretary of State, is at the race today and he's with the Cannodale-Drapac top brass and he has been talking about the Paris Agreement, the global climate accord that that clown Donald Trumps want to bin off.
— Cannondale-Drapac (@Ride_Argyle) July 16, 2017
Speaking about Mr Trumps, I'm sure you've seen it but if not here he is 'enjoying' Bastille Day with some genuinely good trumpeteers alongside French president Emmanuel Macron.
137km to go
That large 23-man chasing group is just 43sec behind the stage leaders now and one would imagine that Warren Barguil is hardly going to press on given that his team-mate Michael Matthews is in there and will be eyeing the points at the intermediate sprint.
Barguil the king of the hill
Warren Barguil who has just extended his lead in the mountains classification competition atop the Côte de Vieurals spoke earlier today to letour.com who he told his Sunweb team want a third successive stage win at this year's Tour de France.
“We talked about winning back-to-back stages but it seemed something very difficult to achieve," Barguil said. "But today, we want more! Shall we win three in a row, it would be exceptional. There are some fabulous stages coming and we'll try to get one more victory.”
150km to go
Warren Barguil is now pushing on towards the summit of Côte de Vieurals where he will be hoping to add another two points to his tally in the mountains classification.
Back in the main peloton, Team Sky have all eight of their riders sat on the front protecting the maillot jaune of Chris Froome.
151km to go
Stage leaders Warren Barguil, Damiano Caruso and Serge Pauwels have been caught by Dylan van Baarle and Tsgabu Grmay while a very strong and sizeable group of 23 riders are in pursuit.
That pursuing group comprises: Jan Bakelants (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Tiejs Benoot (Lotto-Soudal), Lilian Calmejane (Direct Énergie), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Alessandro De Marchi (BMC Racing), Kristjian Durasek (UAE Team Emirates), Simon Geschke (Sunweb), Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal), Romain Hardy (Fortuneo-Oscaro), Maurits Lammertink (Katusha-Alpecin), Pierre-Luc Périchon (Fortuneo-Oscaro), Michael Matthews (Sunweb), Amaël Moinard (BMC Racing), Dani Navarro (Cofidis, Solutions Crédits), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Nicolas Roche (BMC Racing), Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates).
Tim Wellens(Lotto-Soudal) has been forced to abandon the Tour de France. The Belgian has reportedly been suffering with allergies in the last few days.
Barguil extends his lead in mountains
Unsurprisingly, Warren Barguil goes over the top of the category one Montée de Naves d'Aubrac to add a further 10 points to his tally in the mountains classification. By the way, the maillot jaune trails the three stage leaders by 2min 48sec.
161km to go
Bauke Mollema's group, I've just realised, includes Michael Matthews who will be thinking about the intermediate sprint in Saint-Alban-sur-Limagnole after 96km. The green jersey of Marcel Kittel, by the way, is struggling at the back somewhere. If you are new to the sport and don't understand all the jerseys, here's a little explainer ...
163km to go
Tony Gallopin, the Lotto-Soudal rider, has bridged the gap to the Tony Martin group while Alberto Contador's move has been cancelled out by Team Sky.
Back at the front of the stage, Warren Barguil is spinning away and looking really comfortable here.
164.5km to go
Alberto Contador moved up towards the front of the main peloton before attacking off the front. The Spaniard, of course, has two team-mates up the road.
165km to go
Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin), Marcel Sieberg (Lotto-Soudal) and Luis Ángel Maté (Cofidis, Solutions Crédits) have fallen off the back while Dylan van Baarle (Cannondale-Drapac) and Tsgabu Grmay (Bahrian-Merida) have just been dropped by the leading trio of Warren Barguil (Sunweb), Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing), Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data).
The maillot a pois is pressing those pedals hard and making his co-riders struggle.
166km to go
There are a whole stack of riders sitting on Bauke Mollema's wheel, including the Dutchman's team-mate Jarlinson Pantano who we haven't seen a great deal of this year. The Colombian climber was one of the most entertaining riders at last year's Tour, but has appeared a little off the pace this year. Could today be the day the 28-year-old shows us what he is capable of?
168km to go
Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) has attacked off the front of the peloton and is giving chase to the breakaway which is starting to splinter after Warren Barguil pressed on at the front, off in pursuit of those 10 points at the top of Montée de Naves d'Aubrac.
170km to go
The breakaway riders, who lead the maillot jaune by 1min 35sec, are now on the bottom of the Montée de Naves d'Aubrac climb. It looks fairly warm out there. Robert Kiserlovski and German national road champion Marcus Burghardt alraedy have their jerseys unzipped and flapping away in the wind.
175km to go
Team Skyhave fanned out across the road to stop any attacks off the front of the peloton which would suggest they are happy with the composition of the breakaway. There are no riders in the leading group that offer any threat to Chris Froome on general classification – the highest placed rider is Damiano Caruso who started the day 11min 26 behind the Kenya-born Briton – so they will be more than satisfied for that 10-man group to have their day in the sun. Others may think otherwise, of course.
180km to go
A 10-man group comprising Warren Barguil (Sunweb), Dylan van Baarle (Cannondale-Drapac), Robert Kiserlovski (Katusha-Alpecin), Tsgabu Grmay (Bahrian-Merida), Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing), Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data), Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin), Marcel Sieberg (Lotto-Soudal), Luis Ángel Maté (Cofidis, Solutions Crédits) now lead the stage by a fairly narrow margin of just 25sec.
With a category one climb – Montée de Naves d'Aubrac – coming after just 28.5km into today's stage, it's hardly surprising to see the young Frenchman Barguil in this group. The Sunweb rider, of course, leads the mountains classification and will be keen on adding to his tally atop that climb where the first rider over the top can pick up 10 points.
And they're off!
Christian Prudhomme got the race under way a couple of minutes early and and handful of riders attacked from the off. Serge Pauwels, Tony Martin and Tsgabu Grmay, Warren Barguil, Dylan van Baarle and Damiano Caruso are all present.
Hello everybody and welcome to our live rolling blog from the Tour de France. Just 10 minutes until race director Christian Prudhomme pops out of his red Skoda and waves his little flag at kilometre zero on the outskirts of Laissac-Sévérac l'Église to signify the start of today's racing.
From looking at the profile, today looks like it could be another blockbuster of a stage. Difficult one to call, but I imagine the stage winner will come from a breakaway. I'm guessing there will one heck of a scrap to get in the breakaway and I wouldn't be too surprised if it comprises 20 or so riders.
It's probably worth noting, too, that Romain Bardet is a local lad and today will be riding on his home roads so I wouldn't be surprised to see the Ag2r-La Mondiale rider, who starts the stage second on general classification, attempt to put the maillot jaune under pressure.
Telegraph Cycling Podcast: re-cap of yesterday's stage
There was a significant twist at the end because Fabio Aru, who was left without support from his Astana team-mates, lost time and the yellow jersey to Chris Froome. It was a surprising finish because today was not expected to be a critical one for the overall favourites.
But, in this Tour that is being decided by seconds in short bursts of intense racing perhaps nothing should surprise us.
Before that, Australia’s Michael Matthews gave Team Sunweb their second consecutive stage win following Warren Barguil’s Bastille Day victory yesterday.
We hear from Matthews’ team-mate Simon Geschke and team boss Iwan Spekenbrink, plus from Michael Valgren about Astana’s frailties that cost Aru his yellow jersey.
Plus there’s a look ahead to Sunday’s stage through the Cevennes to Le Puy en Velay.
The Cycling Podcast is supported by Rapha and Science in Sport
Tour de France, satge 15: quick preview
When is the next stage of the Tour de France?
Stage 15 of the Tour de France is on Sunday July 16, 2017.
When does stage 15 at the Tour start?
The 189.5km run from Laissac-Sévérac l'Église to Le Puy-en-Velay, starts at 12.10pm (BST).
And when does the race finish?
The second grand tour of the season concludes in Paris on Sunday July 23 following the 103km stage from Montgeron to the Champs-Élysées.
What TV channel can I watch the race on?
Eurosport, ITV and S4C will be broadcasting every stage live each day – click here for full stage-by-stage details of broadcast times – whileTelegraph Sport will provide live blogs to keep you up to speed with the latest news. Bookmark this page for all of the action.
And what time is Sunday's live coverage?
Stage 15: Laissac-Sévérac l'Église – Le Puy-en-Velay, 189.5km
Telegraph Sport liveblog: From 11.30am
TV details: Eurosport 1 12pm-5.15pm, ITV4 12-5.30pm, S4C 2pm-TBC
What does the stage profile look like?
Who should you watch out for on the road to Paris?
Who are the bookmakers' favourites for the race?
Chris Froome is the favourite to win the Tour de France for the fourth time in his career this year while Fabio Aru, the Italian national road champion, has moved up to second second best in the betting to win the general classification, while Frenchman Romain Bardet is third.
"Chris Froome is one of the most successful cyclists in Tour de France history and we make him the favourite to win the yellow jersey for a fourth time this year where he patriotic support has already gathered for the Team Sky rider," said bookmaker Coral's John Hill.
Chris Froome: 21/50
Romain Bardet: 9/1
Fabio Aru: 11/1
Rigoberto Urán: 13/1
Mikel Landa: 25/1
Nairo Quintana: 50/1
Dan Martin: 66/1
Simon Yates: 200/1
Alberto Contador: 250/1
Louis Meintjes: 500/1