Orica-GreenEdge and Lotto-Belisol played poker today during the 15th stage of the 2012 Tour de France to Pau and neither won. The stalemate saw an escape get enough time and end the sprinters’ chance of winning.

“We can’t put our guys on the front day in and day out. It’s 35 degrees and it’s really hot. If we use three guys to ride, then we have three less guys to use in the final,” Orica’s Matt Goss explained. He recovered in the shade of the team’s bus in a parking lot in Pau’s centre.

“The teams with the complete teams would then come over us, and chances are we are not going to win the stage anyway. We played the first week well, we rode with Lotto quite a lot but in this middle week, no one wants to take a bit of responsibility. We took our chances at just saying ‘no’ today.”

Lotto-Belisol looked to Orica-GreenEdge, but found only blank faces. Orica was down one man with today’s abandon of Brett Lancaster, who crashed a few days ago and suffered from a chest infection. Goss can still rely on Daryl Impey for lead-outs – he has taken two third places and one second so far – but decided to play poker.

André Greipel led Lotto to three stage wins in this Tour. Mark Cavendish (Sky) and Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) won the other sprints. Their teams, however, are thinking about the overall classification with Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto), Bradley Wiggins (Sky) and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas).

After tomorrow’s rest day, they face the race’s final mountain legs to Bagnères-de-Luchon and Peyragudes. So, the 158.5km from Samatan to Pau today just became a western-style showdown with no shots fired.

With 11km remaining, the time advantage of the leading six shot up to 11-40 minutes. Sky patrolled the peloton just to keep Wiggins in front, where it wants him to finish in Paris on Sunday.

“Their big goal is to win the Tour de France,” Goss continued. “They’ve won a stage with Mark and I fully understand why they are not putting guys on the front. If we were here to win the Tour, I wouldn’t expect to have half the team riding for me on the front. They have a big goal and hats off to them; they are sitting in a good position at the moment.”

Goss remains without a win. He’s slightly bitter due to a race jury decision to regulate him in a sprint, costing him important green jersey points, and because Lotto benefited from Orica’s work on the 13th stage to Cap d’Agde on Saturday.

Two more possible sprint stages remain before the end, Brive-la-Gaillarde on Friday and the final day in Paris.

“We have to pick and choose,” Goss added. “We can’t ride ourselves to death every day.”

Tour de France 2012: Latest news



Evans suffers multiple punctures after Tour tack attack



Froome not winning this year’s Tour is ‘very great sacrifice’



Frank Schleck criticises ‘boring’ Tour de France



Wiggins: Cycling’s new boss?



Wiggins still Sky’s main man as Tour heads towards Pyrenees



Millar’s Tour win comes after ‘second chance’



Froome explains his attack on La Toussuire



Nibali fails to crack Sky but pleased with Tour mountains performance



Roche ready to achieve career-long Tour top ten ambition



Wiggins: ‘I’m not some s**t rider that’s come from nowhere



Nibali hits out at Wiggins after Tour frustration



Cavendish enjoying new Tour role



Wiggins taking nothing for granted in ‘dream scenario’



Sky keeping Tour focus on Wiggins



Di Gregorio arrested by police at Tour de France


Tour de France 2012: Teams, riders, start list



Tour 2012: Who will win?



Tour de France 2012 provisional start list



Tour de France 2012 team list

Tour de France 2012: Stage reports



Stage 15: Fedrigo wins, day off for peloton



Stage 14: Sanchez solos to Foix victory to save Rabobank’s Tour



Stage 13: Greipel survives climb and crosswinds to win third Tour stage



Stage 12: Millar wins Tour stage nine years from his last



Stage 11: Wiggins strengthens Tour lead as Evans slips back



Stage 10: Voeckler wins and saves his Tour



Stage nine: Wiggins destroys opposition in Besancon TT



Stage eight: Pinot solos to Tour win as Wiggins fights off attacks



Stage seven: Wiggins takes yellow as Froome wins stage



Stage six: Sagan wins third Tour stage



Stage five: Greipel wins again as Cavendish fades



Stage four: Greipel wins stage after Cavendish crashes



Stage three: Sagan runs away with it in Boulogne



Stage two: Cavendish takes 21st Tour stage victory



Stage one: Sagan wins at first attempt



Prologue: Cancellara wins, Wiggins second

Tour de France 2012: Comment, analysis, blogs



Analysis: What we learned at La Planche des Belles Filles



Analysis: How much time could Wiggins gain in Tour’s time trials



CW’s Tour de France podcasts



Blog: Tour presentation – chasing dreams and autographs



Comment: Cavendish the climber

Tour de France 2012: Photo galleries



Stage 14 by Graham Watson



Stage 13 by Graham Watson



Stage 12 by Graham Watson



Stage 11 by Graham Watson



Stage 10 by Graham Watson



Stage nine by Graham Watson



Stage eight by Graham Watson



Stage seven by Graham Watson



Stage six by Graham Watson



Stage five by Graham Watson



Stage four by Graham Watson



Stage three by Graham Watson



Stage two by Andy Jones



Stage two by Graham Watson



Stage one by Graham Watson



Prologue photo gallery by Andy Jones



Prologue photo gallery by Roo Rowler



Prologue photo gallery by Graham Watson



Tour de France 2012: Team presentation



Sky and Rabobank Tour de France recce

Tour de France 2012: Live text coverage



Stage 10 live coverage



Stage nine live coverage



Stage six live coverage



Stage five live coverage



Stage four live coverage



Stage three live coverage



Cycling Weekly’s live text coverage schedule

Tour de France 2012: TV schedule

ITV4 live schedule

British Eurosport live schedule

Tour de France 2012: Related links



Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish



Brief history of the Tour de France



Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index



1989: The Greatest Tour de France ever