Sunday, 11 July 2021 18:01

Staff Reporter.

American Sepp Kuss claimed his maiden victory on the Tour de France with a solo ride in the 15th stageas defending champion Tadej Pogacar was barely bothered in the 191.3-km mountain trek from Ceret to Andorra on Sunday.

The Jumbo-Visma rider prevailed from the day's breakaway thanks to a sharp attack in the last climb before holding off Alejandro Valverde in the descent to the finish with the Spanish veteran taking second place 23 seconds behind.

Dutchman Wout Poels finished third, 1:15 off the pace before Pogacar and his main challengers crossed the line 4:51 behind Kuss.

Pogacar heads into Monday's rest day with an advantage of five minutes and 18 seconds on Colombian Rigoberto Uran with Dane Jonas Vingegaard in third place a further 14 seconds adrift.

France's Guillaume Martin, who had jumped up to second courtesy of his presence in the breakaway on Saturday, was distanced in the descent from the Port d'Envalira, at 2,408 metres the highest point of this year's Tour.

He could not make it back to the group of overall contenders before the ascent of the Col de Beixalis (6.4km at 8.5%), where Pogacar's rivals tried to unsettle the Slovenian.

Ecuador's Richard Carapaz was the first attacker but he was easily reined in by Pogacar, who also had little trouble staying in the wheels of Uran and Vingegaard when they briefly jumped away.

Stage 15 results:

1. Sepp Kuss (US/Jumbo Visma) 5hrs 12mins 06secs

2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar) +23secs

3. Wout Poels (Ned/Bahrain-Victorious) 1mins 15secs

4. Ion Izagirre (Spa/Astana) Same time

5. Ruben Guerreiro (Por/EF Education-Nippo)

6, Nairo Quintana (Col/Arkea-Samsic)

7. David Gaudu (Fra/Groupama-FDJ)

8. Dan Martin (Ire/Israel Start-Up Nation) 1mins 22secs

9. Franck Bonnamour (Fra/B&B Hotels) Same time

10. Aurelien Paret-Peintre (Fra/AG2R Citroen)

General classification after stage 15:

1. Tadej Pogacar (Slo/UAE Team Emirates) 62hrs 07mins 18secs

2. Rigoberto Uran (Col/EF Education Nippo) + 5mins 18secs

3. Jonas Vingegaard (Den/Jumbo Visma) +5mins 32secs

4. Richard Carapaz (Ecu/Ineos Grenadiers) +5mins 33secs

5. Ben O'Connor (Aus/AG2R Citroen) +5mins 58secs

6. Wilco Kelderman (Ned/Bora-Hansgrohe) +6mins 16secs

7. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz/Astana) +7mins 01secs

8. Enric Mas (Spa/Movistar) +7mins 11secs

9. Guillaume Martin (Fra/Cofidis) +7mins 58secs

10. Pello Bilbao (Spa/Bahrain-Victorious) +10mins 59secs.