Chris Froome survived an attempted coup by Romain Bardet’s AG2R-La Mondiale team in a treacherous, hectic 15th stage to retain the Tour de France overall leader’s yellow jersey on Sunday.
Dutchman Bauke Mollema, the strongest and smartest of the breakaway riders — who had three top 10 finishes on the Tour — won the 189.5-kilometre stage from Laissac-Severac L’Eglise but the action was elsewhere.
Defending champion Froome was first caught at the end of a split caused by French team AG2R-La Mondiale, who continued to press the pedals when the race leader suffered a mechanical problem shortly before the key climb of the day.
The Team Sky leader kept his cool, however, and powered his way back to stay on top of the general classification with an 18-second advantage over Italian Fabio Aru.
“It was a stressful moment. I thought I might not get back to the front,” said Froome, who takes the yellow jersey into Monday’s rest day.
“I’m just grateful I survived today. Tomorrow is a rest day so I will regain some energy and hopefully be fresh for the third week.”