Magnus Cort Nielsen (Astana) won stage 15 of the Tour de France, taking the victory from a 3-rider sprint ahead of Ion Izaguirre (Bahrain-Merida) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo).
Stage 14 of the Tour de France was another day for the breakaway and our Serge Pauwels was keen on being in the mix once again. It was a big fight for the break though and the early attacks kept going for the opening 40km of the stage before a selection went clear.
29 riders made the big move with Pauwels included for our African Team. Everyone off the front had the category 1 Pic de Nore climb on their minds as after the summit, it was a mostly downhill 41km run to the finish.
With a number of fast men in the lead group, Pauwels forced the pace on the early slopes of the climb to distance the likes of Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe). Pauwels tough pace was countered by an attack from Rafal Majka which split the group drastically.
Majka was first over the summit, followed by 7 chasers. Pauwels was in the 3rd group over the top. The 7 chasers caught Majka on the run to the line and then played a game of cat and mouse to decide the stage. Nielsen, Izaguirre and Mollema snuck away in the final 6km and that was that.
With the stage win done, disaster struck our African Team as Pauwels group came sprinting home for 9th place. A touch of wheels in front of our climber left him with nowhere to go but crash into the Mitchelton-Scott rider in front of him. While Pauwels could still finish the stage, ufortunately the damage was severe as he suffered a broken elbow as a result of the crash and is now out of the Tour de France.
Dr Jarrad Van Zuydum – Team Doctor
Unfortunately Serge had a nasty crash in the finale of today’s stage. The crash was of no fault of his own and seemed a very pointless crash as well. He has come down quite hard on his right elbow and fractured the olecranon process of the right elbow. It’s actually an injury he has had on the left side before and it is something that requires surgery to fix. We are already making arrangements for him to have surgery in Antwerp and he will be back on the trainer pretty soon after that surgery, but obviously we are all very disappointed about the crash.