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Tour de France: Eight riders who helped to light up the race

Peter Sagan on stage seven of the 2015 Tour de France

Chris Froome has taken all the plaudits after winning his second Tour de France, but he was not the only star of this year's race.

From breakaway regulars to unexpected stage winners and riders who soldiered on despite crashes, the Tour was littered with unsung heroes.

Here are eight riders who deserve a special pat on the back…

Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan, Tour de France, stage 16
Image: Sagan finished in the top 10 in no fewer than 12 stages

The Slovakian will be remembered at this year’s Tour for having finished second five times and in the top 10 no fewer than 12 times, but despite his lack of a victory, he was arguably the most entertaining rider of the race.

Apart from the mountain days, he was in the thick of the action on almost every other stage and even went on a run of being in four consecutive breakaways from stages 14-17.

Steve Cummings

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Steve Cummings, Tour de France 2015, stage 14, Mende
Image: Steve Cummings produced a stunning win on stage 14

The 34-year-old Briton produced arguably the most unexpected and impressive win of the race. And not only that, he did it as his South African team MTN-Qhubeka celebrated Mandela Day.

Stage 14 into Mende finished with a steep climb that didn’t look suited to a bulky rider like Cummings, but he managed to crest the summit just behind climbing specialists Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet and then overtook them on the 1.5km of flat to the finish line.

Daniel Teklehaimanot

Daniel Teklehaimanot during stage seven of the 2015 Tour de France
Image: Daniel Teklehaimanot wore the polka dot jersey for four days in the first week

The Eritrean catapulted himself to worldwide stardom by illuminating the first week of the Tour.

Another rider representing MTN-Qhubeka in their debut Tour, he infiltrated several breakaways in the opening stages and collected enough mountains classification points to claim the polka dot jersey, which he wore for four days.

Geraint Thomas

DIGNE, FRANCE - JULY 22: Geraint Thomas of Great Britain and Team Sky crosses the finish line during Stage Seventeen ahead of Chris Froome of Great Britain
Image: Geraint Thomas somehow bounced back from a sickening crash

The Team Sky rider was one of the outstanding performers of the race and had been fourth overall until fatigue finally caught up with him in the final two mountain stages.

However, his most eye-catching contribution to the race was somehow getting back on his bike and finishing stage 16 just 36 seconds behind his rivals after being barged into a telegraph pole head first and then being flung down a ditch.

Jean-Christophe Peraud

Jean-Christophe Peraud injured after a fall yesterday, rides in the pack during the 178,5 km fourteenth stage of the Tour de France
Image: Jean-Christophe Peraud's was badly cut in a crash on stage 13

There were a multitude of broken bones in this year’s Tour, but one of the worst crashes was suffered by Peraud on stage 13.

The Frenchman came down on an innocuous stretch of flat road, but the surface was so rough that his left side was almost entirely covered in either cuts or road rash. Peraud not only continued, but on his way back to the peloton he even collected water bottles for his team-mates.

Rohan Dennis

Rohan Dennis, Tour de France 2015, stage one, Utrecht
Image: Rohan Dennis produced the fastest ever speed in a Tour time trial

The Australian’s victory on stage one’s individual time trial seems a long time ago but is unlikely to be forgotten for quite a few years thanks to being the fastest average speed ever recorded in a time trial at the Tour.

Dennis’ speed of 55.446kmh eclipsed Chris Boardman’s previous best of 55.2kmh and was a truly stunning performance.

Andre Greipel

Andre Greipel, Tour de France, stage 21, Champs-Elysees
Image: Andre Greipel defied the years to claim four stage wins

With Marcel Kittel absent from this year’s Tour, many expected Mark Cavendish to be king of the sprints. However, it was 33-year-old German Greipel who produced some of the best form of his career to rack up four wins and take his career total at the Tour to 10.

Fabian Cancellara

Fabian Cancellara, crash stage three of the 2015 Tour de France
Image: Fabian Cancellara rode 55km on stage three with a broken back

The Swiss maestro led the Tour going into stage three but was then involved in a frightening crash on the road to the Mur de Huy that left riders piled up against a lamppost.

Cancellera broke his back in two places in the incident but somehow remounted his bike and rode 55km to the finish line, where he discovered the extent of his injuries and later abandoned.

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