SAN DIEGO, July 25, 2015 – Saturday’s climb up Alpe d’Huez gave Colombian rider Nairo Quintana of Movistar his final chance to gain time back on rival Chris Froome of Sky Racing and win the 2015 Tour de France.
Froome of Sky Racing held a 2:38 lead on Quintana, and it proved too much for Quintana to make up. Despite an impressive blast of climbing power up the slopes of Alpe d’Huez, Quintana found himself a minute short at the finish line, giving Froome the 2015 Tour victory.
“I was only looking for the overall victory, not for the stage win,” said Quintana. “I’ve given everything I had in the past two stages but it didn’t work out. I’m satisfied because we have never stopped trying to win the Tour. I still keep my yellow dream but for the coming years.” Quintana improved on his third-place finish last year, and at only 25 years old will be a force at the Tour for years to come.
“It was only 110 kilometers but it felt like 300 kilometers today,” Froome said after his finish. “I can’t quite come to terms with it just yet. There were so many emotions going through my mind on that last climb.”
Froome credited his teammates Richie Porte and Wouter Pouls, who paced him all the way through the stage and up Alpe d’Huez to help preserve his victory. Froome is now a two-time Tour champion, winning first in 2013.
Thibaud Pinot of FDJ gave France its third stage win of the 2015 Tour, surviving the early breakaway and holding off the charging Quintana by 18 seconds to keep his lead all the way up the mountain, thrilling the throngs of French fans lining the route. It helped salvage the Tour for Pinot, who finished third last year and had great expectations for this year’s Tour. He suffered several crashes in the first week and was fortunate to finish in his battered state. Pinot, also 25, figures to challenge Quintana in future editions of the Tour, and it will be fun to watch the rivalry develop.
Looking back at the performances of Froome head to head against Quintana, it was Froome’s margin gained back on stage 2 in Holland on the long, flat ride exposed to the winds along the coast that gave him the victory.
Alejandro Valverde of Spain will join his Movistar teammate Quintana on the podium in third place. Vicenzo Nibali of Astana gained time over the Alpine stages to end up in fourth place, not what he hoped but a worthy finish. Alberto Contador of Spain couldn’t accomplish the double after winning the Giro d’Italia, finishing in fifth place for Tinkoff Saxo.
Froome’s effort on Alpe d’Huez gives him the polka King of the Mountains jersey as the climbing champion in addition to the yellow jersey. In addition to his second place finish, Quintana wins the white jersey as the Tour’s best young rider (25 and under) by 14 minutes. Peter Sagan wins the green sprinters jersey for the fourth year in a row.
The final stage is a short 68-mile ride into Paris, where the peloton will ride 10 laps around the city, ending in a wild sprint finish for glory on the Champs Elysees. It’s a time for the winner and his team to celebrate, for the jersey winners to enjoy their accomplishments, for the sprinters to thrill fans one last time, and for the rest of the peloton to breathe a sigh of relief for simply surviving it all. Coverage begins on NBCSN at 10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is president/owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Follow the Tour de France daily in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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