Sepp Kuss of Jumbo-Visma has won today's Stage 15 of the Tour de France in Andorra. Ahead of tomorrow's second rest day, defending champion Tadej Pogacar of UAE Team Emirates reatains the overall lead.
With 4,500 meters of climbing the 191.3km stage from Ceret was the first stage this year in the High Pyrenees, and saw a big break of almost 30 riders eventually get clear after a big fight to get in the break, as we’ve seen so often in this edition.
Kuss – based as so many riders are these days in Andorra – attacked from the break on the ascent of the day’s final climb, the Col de Beixalis.
He was pursued by former world champion Alejandro Valverde of Movistar, who finished in second place today, 23 seconds behind, with Wout Poels of Bahrain Victorious taking third nearly a minute further back, and also taking the polka-dot jersey as best climber from Michael Woods of Israel Start-Up Nation.
Behind, defending champion Pogacar was isolated but unflustered despite attacks from Ineos Grenadiers on behalf of Richard Carapaz, while Guillaume Martin of Cofidis, who moved to second yesterday, dropped to ninth with Rigoberto Uran of EF Education-Nippo back in second spot overall, albeit 5 minutes 18 seconds down on the leader.
The group containing yellow jersey Pogacar came home 4 minutes 51 seconds behind the stage winner, and was led by Kuss’s team mate Wout Van Aert.
Once again, Deceuninck-Quick Step’s Mark Cavendish, in the green jersey of points classification leader, came home safely inside the time limit.
After tomorrow’s rest day, there is another mountain stage on Tuesday, covering 169km to Saint-Gaudens and including and ascent of the Col de Portet- d’Aspet.
Stage winner Sepp Kuss
It's incredible. I'm lost for words. To be honest, I've really suffered a lot in this Tour, I just didn't feel I had the... the spice in the legs. Today I knew it was finishing where I live, and I was really motivated. Finally I had really good legs again so I'm so happy.
My girlfriend and her family were on the final climb cheering me on. I also want to say hi to my parents back home because I haven't seen them in a long time. So I had my family of Spain and my family back home in the US.
It was a hard day in the break. I know the final climb fairly well. I actually don't ride it so much in training because it's so hard but I knew the beginning was tough so I knew if I went there and got a gap then I could try and hold it to the finish. Wout rode alll the way down the valley for me so after big champ does that work for you, you have to finish it off.
It means a lot. I still can't believe I'm in the Tour de France, much less winning a stage. It's really incredible. I'm lost for words.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.