CARCASSONNE, France — With the Pyrenees looming, Geraint Thomas had his final calm ride while wearing the yellow jersey at the Tour de France.
His rivals for cycling’s most prestigious prize, including his teammate Chris Froome in second place, mostly held back over the hilly Stage 15 on Sunday as Thomas kept the overall lead for the fourth consecutive day.
With the final week of racing ahead, the Tour will pause for the riders to rest on Monday. After that, they will face a stretch in the Pyrenees featuring three mountain stages before an individual time trial on the Tour’s penultimate day.
Thomas maintained his advantage of 1 minute 39 seconds over Froome, the defending champion. Tom Dumoulin, the world time trial champion, remained in third, 1:50 back. Primoz Roglic was fourth at 2:38 behind, and Romain Bardet was 3:21 behind in fifth.
With Froome seeking a fifth Tour championship and Thomas having won back-to-back summit finishes in the Alps, Team Sky has yet to declare its current top option for the title.
Thomas and Froome have not attacked each other, but that uneasy truce could be put to the test as the race enters its decisive phase.
Thomas, while not saying he will race against Froome, has made clear that he is not going to relinquish his shot of winning a first Grand Tour.
Thomas, Froome and the rest of the overall contenders slowly rolled across the finish line at Carcassonne and its medieval city walls 13 minutes after the stage winner, Magnus Cort Nielsen of Denmark.
A breakaway group of 29 riders — none of whom posed a threat to Thomas’s overall lead — got away early.
Cort Nielsen, Ion Izagirre and Bauke Mollema dropped the five other remaining escapees before competing among themselves for the stage win.
Cort Nielsen, 25, claimed his first career win at the Tour after staying ahead of Izagirre and Mollema in a sprint over the final 200 meters. He finished the hilly 181.5-kilometer (112.7-mile) leg from Millau, ending in a long descent to Carcassonne, in 4 hours 25 minutes.
It was the second consecutive stage victory for the Astana team. Cort Nielsen’s teammate Omar Fraile claimed Stage 14 on Saturday.
The only sustained attack against Thomas came from Daniel Martin, who is almost seven minutes behind in 10th place. He tried a getaway while going up the Pic de Nore climb 40 kilometers from the finish but was reeled in on the way down.
There was also a halfhearted and short-lived attempt by Bardet to slip away on a downhill.
“We were always in control,” Thomas said. “We were always in the right place, and it’s a good day to get done.”
Thomas and Froome lost one of their support riders for the rest of the way, however, after Gianni Moscon was expelled by race organizers for apparently hitting Élie Gesbert of Team Fortuneo.
The racing returns on Tuesday with Stage 16, a 218-kilometer (135.5-mile) mountain trek from Carcassonne to Bagnères-de-Luchon.
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