Alexander Kristoff took the win on stage 15 of the Tour de France as the sprinters caught Martin Elmiger and Jack Bauer on the line.

Bauer had disappeared into the lead from the very beginning of the 222 kilometre stage between Tallard and Nimes but lost out in the closing stages as the chasing pack eventually put in a push.

Stormy conditions and difficult crosswinds made life difficult for Bauer and Elmiger but they maintained their lead until Katusha's Kristoff led the sprinting pack past - leaving Garmin-Sharp rider Bauer in tears at the finish.

It seemed as though the sprinters had miscalculated the time they needed to reel in the long-standing leaders, with a number of roundabouts requiring safe navigation in slippery conditions.

But, as the closing metres were knocked off, Bauer, who eventually came home 10th, and Elmiger - who had worked well together to keep themselves clear - dropped back into the field.

Green jersey holder Peter Sagen came third as Vincenzo Nibali remained in the yellow jersey heading into the 16th stage with a four minute 37 second lead over Alejandro Valverde.

Although Nibali was not in the picture for the stage win, the Italian was happy to play the long game in tricky conditions.

"At some point, gusts of wind were blowing from the side," the Astana rider said.

"The road was curvy in a village. I didn't want to be caught by surprise. That's when BMC accelerated but I was attentive and they stopped a few kilometers further.

"I've maybe learnt how to handle a stage race as a team but it was at the different period of the season. I came to the Tour de France this year after improving my condition progressively in order to reach my first peak of the year precisely at the Tour de France."

Elsewhere, Orica-GreenEdge confirmed on Twitter that Simon Yates would take no further part in the tour.

"After an impressive debut, 21yo @SimonYatess will head home to recover, destined for more great things to come. More in our report. #TDF," they tweeted.

Yates' withdrawal does not come as a surprise as he was drafted into the team at the last minute but it does mean that Team Sky's Geraint Thomas is the last British rider remaining this year.

Yates told the team's website: "It was a once in a lifetime opportunity with the start in Yorkshire.

"Almost in my home training base basically and it's something I will never forget for the rest of my life.

"Once we got over to France it's been non-stop really and it really has been surreal, a really good experience and I hope to be back here in a year to come."

Yates had been involved in a long breakaway during Saturday's mountainous stage, which has given him a taste for more.

"Racing wise, yesterday in the breakaway, I felt really good," he said.

"I got away in a big group, I think there were 17 away in the end, and just got caught in the final climb again.

"But going back to the experience thing, it's one of those things that you really take on board and it helps you for the future so I think it was just another great opportunity and I'm looking forward to being back."