Philipsen wins Tour stage, Vingegaard keeps lead, Roglic out

CARCASSONNE, France (AP) — Jasper Philipsen of Belgium braved a heat wave to win the 15th stage of the Tour de France in a sprint on Sunday as Jonas Vingegaard kept the leader’s yellow jersey.

Primož Roglič, the 2020 runner-up and a key teammate for Vingegaard, abandoned the race before the start on Sunday because of injuries he previously sustained in this year’s edition.

Philipsen beat points leader Wout van Aert and Mads Pedersen on the line to win a Tour stage for the first time.

“It makes it super unbelievable. I know what losing is like in the Tour de France. I was close many, many times,” Philipsen said. “But that it worked out today, it’s unbelievable.”

Philipsen was second behind Van Aert in the fourth stage of this year’s race.

“It’s been a massive search for this victory and we worked really hard for it,” said Philipsen, holding back tears. “I knew I had good legs, but we just had to wait until the right opportunity.”

Benjamin Thomas had tried to attack for the first win by a French rider on this year’s Tour but was caught on the final stretch.

Faced with temperatures peaking at around 40 degrees Celsius (104 F), organizers deployed measures to deal with extreme heat. They relaxed the rules on riders’ refreshments and the maximum time to complete the stage, which at 202.5 kilometers (126 miles) was the joint second-longest of this year’s Tour. Environmental protesters blocked the road at one point and were quickly removed.

Vingegaard’s lead remains unchanged at 2 minutes, 22 seconds over 2020 and ’21 Tour winner Tadej Pogačar of Slovenia after they both finished in the lead group. However, the Danish rider had to recover from a fall and he has lost two of his Jumbo-Visma teammates, including Roglič. That leaves Vingegaard with reduced support in the peloton as the race enters the Pyrenees following the rest day on Monday.

Roglič did not start the stage following injuries he sustained on stage five when he crashed into a hay bale which had been knocked into the road by a motorbike. Roglič reset his own dislocated shoulder on the side of the road and had been racing in pain ever since.

“To allow my injuries to heal properly, we have decided that I won’t start today,” Roglič said.

Another Jumbo-Visma rider, Steven Kruijswijk, was taken away in an ambulance following a fall.

Two more riders, Magnus Cort and stage-six winner Simon Clarke, withdrew from the race after testing positive for the coronavirus. Eight riders have left the race so far because of the virus.

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