CARCASSONNE, France -- Jasper Philipsen of Belgium braved a heat wave to win the 15th stage of the Tour de France in a sprint Sunday as Jonas Vingegaard kept the leader's yellow jersey.
Primož Roglič, the 2020 runner-up and a key teammate for Vingegaard, abandoned the race before the start Sunday because of injuries he previously suffered in this year's edition.
Philipsen beat points leader Wout van Aert and Mads Pedersen to the line to win a Tour stage for the first time.
"It makes it super unbelievable. I know what losing is like in the Tour de France. I was close many, many times," Philipsen said. "But that it worked out today, it's unbelievable."
Philipsen was second behind Van Aert in the fourth stage of this year's race.
"It's been a massive search for this victory, and we worked really hard for it," said Philipsen, holding back tears. "I knew I had good legs, but we just had to wait until the right opportunity."
Benjamin Thomas had tried to attack for the first win by a French rider at this year's Tour but was caught on the final stretch.
Faced with temperatures peaking around 104 degrees Fahrenheit, organizers deployed measures to deal with extreme heat. They relaxed the rules on riders' refreshments and the maximum time to complete the stage, which at 126 miles was tied for the second-longest of this year's Tour. Environmental protesters blocked the road at one point and were quickly removed.
Vingegaard's lead remains unchanged at 2 minutes, 22 seconds over 2020 and 2021 Tour winner Tadej Pogačar of Slovenia after they both finished in the lead group. However, the Danish rider had to recover from a fall and has lost two of his Jumbo-Visma teammates, including Roglič. That leaves Vingegaard with reduced support in the peloton as the race enters the Pyrenees following a rest day Monday.
Roglič did not start the stage following injuries he suffered in Stage 5 when he crashed into a hay bale that had been knocked into the road by a motorbike. Roglič reset his own dislocated shoulder on the side of the road and had been racing in pain ever since.
"To allow my injuries to heal properly, we have decided that I won't start today," Roglič said.
Another Jumbo-Visma rider, Steven Kruijswijk, was taken away in an ambulance following a fall.
Two more riders, Magnus Cort and Stage 6 winner Simon Clarke, withdrew from the race after testing positive for COVID-19. Eight riders have left the race so far because of the coronavirus.