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Heartbreak for Bauer as Kristoff snatches stage 15

ESPN staff
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Alexander Kristoff claimed his second stage win of this year's Tour de France © Getty Images
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Alexander Kristoff snatched a dramatic victory in stage 15 of the Tour de France with Jack Bauer suffering heartbreak as he was caught metres from the line following a gallant breakaway.

There was no change in the race for the yellow jersey with leader Vincenzo Nibali finishing alongside Alejandro Valverde, Romain Bardet and Thibaut Pinot.

Garmin-Sharp rider Bauer had led the 222km flat route between Tallard and Nimes almost from the off only to be denied victory in the final few pedal strokes.

Jack Bauer cries as his Garmin-Sharp team-mates try to console him after he was caught by the sprinting pack with metres to go © AP
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He and Martin Elmiger had broken free of the peloton early on to form a lead of over six minutes as both men threatened to pull off one of the great Tour wins.

However, their rain-soaked break gradually dwindled as the stage reached its climax and dropped to just 13 seconds with 1km to go.

As the sprint began to form, Elmiger dropped away early but Bauer looked like he might be capable of pulling off a fairytale win.

With 20 yards to the finish, though, the sprinters finally swamped Bauer with Katusha rider Kristoff claiming his second stage win this year. Heinrich Haussler (UCI) finished second, with Peter Sagan (Cannondale) again narrowly missing out in third.

A devastated Bauer broke down in tears at the finish line as he eventually came home in 10th. "In the last kilometre, I thought I could win," he said.

"It's a childhood fantasy to win a stage of the Tour for any cyclist, and especially for a Kiwi cyclist. Not many of us get the chance to start the Tour de France. I really gave it absolutely everything, and as you can see from my meltdown at the finish line, I was pretty disappointed to come away empty handed.

"We really came together as a team and decided this morning that one of us would be in the move no matter what it took. I hadn't planned on it being a two-man move. Me and Martin managed it pretty well between ourselves. I think we both had decent legs in the finale, I felt I had the upper hand in the last 20km. I just waited to pounce. Maybe I waited a little too late."

Bauer's despair was in marked contrast to Kristoff's joy. "It was close, it was really close," a smiling Kristoff said.

"The break was strong and, with the roundabouts at the end, it was difficult to close them back. Luckily we just caught them on the line and I'm really happy."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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