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Tour de France: Daniel Martinez battles to stage 13 win

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STEPHANE MAHE Former French president Francois Hollande at the stage 12 finish line

Tadej Pogacar won Stage 15 of the Tour de France on a brutal final climb Sunday as his fellow Slovenian Primoz Roglic retained the yellow jersey and last year's victor Egan Bernal dropped out of contention.

No spectators will be allowed at any of the finishes of the Tour de France's stages as the race heads through regions labeled as coronavirus "red zones", organizers said on Friday.

Tadej Pogacar beat yellow jersey-holder Primoz Roglic in a dramatic mountaintop finish to Stage 15, though Roglic retains a 40-second advantage in the yellow jersey and formidable support from teammates who shepherded him up the Grand Colombier climb.

Roglic, the former ski jumper, remained 44 seconds ahead of his fellow Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, and 59 clear of Egan Bernal, the defending champion. "Luckily we had everything under control".

Their yellow jersey Roglic, third on the day behind Australian Richie Porte, attacked first, but Roglic's 21-year old compatriot had the edge over the final 50m. Pogacar, however, was the freshest man in the finale as he outsprinted Roglic for the victory at the end of a punishing 174.5km trek in the Jura mountains.

The Slovenia vs. Colombia contest atop the general classification will play out over two category 1 summits before approaching an even tougher final climb that stretches for more than 17 kilometres.

It meant a second victory for his team this week after Marc Hirschi's solo win on Thursday.

"When you see this young guy (Hirschi) doing these incredible things, of course I am also getting inspired", Andersen said of his teammate.

No attacks came until the closing 10 kilometres, when Belgium's Tiesj Benoot began a frenzy of late moves.

The flamboyant Slovakian let Bennett build a big lead this year but it was cut back on Saturday.

Friday's stage signalled the end of French hopes as Romain Bardet, who started the day in fourth place overall 30 seconds off the pace, ended up 2:30 behind Roglic after the 2016 runner-up took a heavy tumble earlier. He added a second daily combativity award to his prize from Tuesday.

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