Norway's Alexander Kristoff jubilant after crossing the finish line first in Stage 15 of the Tour de France on Sunday. - AFP
NIMES (AFP): Alexander Kristoff gained his second victory of the Tour de France on Sunday as he came home first on the 222km 15th stage from Tallard to Nimes.
The Norwegian powered through in a sprint finish to deny New Zealander Jack Bauer, who came within 100 metres of winning after a breakaway of more than 200km.
Australian Heinrich Haussler was second with Peter Sagan of Slovakia third.
While Katusha's Kristoff will be celebrating on Sunday night, it was cruel luck for tearful Bauer.
Alongside Swiss champion Martin Elmiger, the Kiwi had spent almost the entire race in an escape.
They took off from the start and within 25km already had a lead of more than eight minutes.
That eked out to almost nine minutes before the chase began.
It seemed to be all over when the gap came down to 3min with still 60km to ride but the chase was disjointed.
With 8.5km left they still had 45sec and it seemed like they might hold on.
Into the final kilometre they had around 12sec and it looked touch and go.
The two riders kept collaborating right to the end and when they launched the sprint the peloton was right on their heels.
Bauer had the stronger legs but agonisingly was caught in the last 100m and finished 10th, bursting into tears after crossing the line exhausted.
Race leader Vincenzo Nibali had a relatively calm day in the saddle, maintaining his 4:37 lead over Spain's Alejandro Valverde with Romain Bardet still third at 4:50.