With team leader Andrew Talansky injured and gone, the Garmin-Sharp domestiques have been given a free ride on the Tour and Bauer almost made the most of the opportunity on Sunday's 15th stage.
The New Zealander formed the breakaway of the day with Swiss Martin Elmiger of the IAM team and after a tense finale, he was caught as the line approached by the chasing bunch. "It's just a bitter, bitter disappointment. It's a childhood dream to win a stage of the tour and for a domestique, like myself, I'm normally working for others," said Bauer, who broke down in tears after the finish of the stage won by Norway's Alexander Kristoff. "This was my first chance to be up the road and with the change in the wind and the weather, me and Martin realised we had a chance."
Katusha rider Kristoff, who also won the 12th stage on Thursday, was first to the line as he edged out Australian Heinrich Haussler and Slovakian Peter Sagan, second and third respectively.
Italian Vincenzo Nibali stayed safe in a bunched finish and retained the overall leader's yellow jersey in an unchanged top 10. "I thought it was a little bit too late, I thought I'd have to go for second but I was relieved that we caught them," said Kristoff.
"I was a bit surprised I could take the win today. Maybe they had heavier legs than me after the Alps."
Time trial specialist Tony Martin also tried his luck some two kilometres from the finish, but his effort lacked conviction. Kristoff, who won the Milan-San Remo classic this year, is now eyeing a win on the Champs Elysees on the final day of the Tour on Sunday.
"It would be hard to compete but it would be great to win in Paris, but I have to beat extremely strong riders," said Kristoff, who will have the chance to recharge this afternoon, on the Tour's second rest day.