Ion Izagirre dug deep on the first Pyrenees stage to take yet another top result on the brutal Tour de France stage 15
Basque rider Ion Izagirre showed great form yet again by riding at the front of the race on the first Pyrenees day to take a great fourth place after 191 brutal kilometres, to miss the podium by just centimetres.
The last stage before the rest day and final week of the Tour de France delivered a big mountain stage, featuring the highest peak in this year’s edition, the Port d’Envalira at 2408 metres.
From the drop of the flag, the peloton fought to create a breakaway with Ion Izagirre amongst the attacking riders. After some kilometres of racing a large group consisting of 30 riders pulled away, with Izagirre representing the Kazakh-Canadian team.
The breakaway, which featured many stronger climbers, opened up an ample gap of more than eight minutes over the peloton on their way to the Pyrenees in Andorra. Meanwhile, Izagirre’s teammate Alexey Lutsenko found himself next to the yellow jersey and rode yet another amazing race to defend his place on the overall ranking.
Tackling the penultimate ascent of the race, the highest point in this year’s edition, the 10.8 kilometre long and 5.8% in average steep climb, saw the race come alive. Several attacks were launched and Ion Izagirre was able to hold the pace until later stage winner Sepp Kuss made his decisive move. The Basque rider stayed in one of the chasing groups near the soloist at the front, while Alexey Lutsenko was limit his time loss.
The last climb of the day before the descent towards the finish line in Andorra la Vella, saw a battle between youth and experience, as Sepp Kuss was able to hold off former World Champion Alejandro Valverde to take the stage win, while Ion Izagirre missed out the podium by centimetres in the sprint from the chasing group.
Five minutes later Alexey Lutsenko crossed the line among the other top ten GC riders and moved up to seventh place on the overall ranking ahead of the final week of the Tour de France.
We knew today’s stage would be a hard and long day, especially as we are already stage 15 of the Tour de France. We decided that I would go in the breakaway, which wasn’t easy at all to get into but I managed it and was in the big break. We followed the Groupama FDJ pace, as they had quite a good pace with the whole team, as they rode for Gaudu. On the second to last climb, there were some attacks and I tried to follow but on the last climb, the race lit up and the fight for the stage win started. I tried to give my best, but I couldn’t do more in the end and took fourth place. I am still happy with my place and performance, of course we wanted to do better but we will look forward to the final week and try again to finally take a stage win., says Ion Izagirre
Tour de France
Stage 15: Céret > Andorra la Vella (191.3km)
Top 3: Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma); 2.Alejandro Valverde (Team Movistar); 3.Wout Poels (Bahrain-Victorious)
Astana – Premier Tech Top 3: 4. Ion Izagirre; 27. Alexey Lutsenko; 55. Jakob Fuglsang
— nadine Pfeffer to www.astanapremiertech.com