Tour de France Stage 15: Last Day in the Pyrenees

Will Julian Alaphilippe hold his lead over three Category 1 climbs?


Whit Yost |

The 2019 Tour’s third and final day in the Pyrenees, Stage 15 begins in Limoux and slowly heads to the top of the first climb, the Category 2 Col de Montségur. A large breakaway should have forged a big lead by this point, with Peter Sagan likely to attack to score maximum points at the Intermediate Sprint in the valley on the other side.

Then things get real, with three Category 1 climbs jammed into the final 75K. The day’s penultimate climb, the Mur de Péguère, is by far the toughest, with several extended pitches nearing 20 percent in the final 3.5K to the summit. A selection will certainly be made here, with real contenders for the stage win emerging before a 25K descent to Foix and the base of the final climb.

The summit finish on the Prat d’Albis is new for the Tour, but it’s a hard one (11.8K at 6.8 percent), with tough ramps coming early followed by a steady grind to the summit.

Julian Alaphilippe will have his hands full defending the yellow jersey, but he has a bit of breathing room with a lead of more than two minutes. The climbs actually suit the Frenchman better than the Tourmalet, but after incredible efforts on stages 13 and 14 to defend his lead, one has to wonder how long he’ll manage to hold on.

That said, everyone is suffering at this point in the Tour, and unless someone shows clear signs of faltering, the main contenders might be happy to ride tempo all the way to the finish, waiting for the Alps in the final week to try and crack Alaphilippe.

Riders to Watch

A breakaway should succeed, perhaps one filled with a few out-of-contention GC riders— guys like Romain Bardet, Vincenzo Nibali, and Stage 12 winner Simon Yates. While we mistakenly picked him to target Stage 14, we still expect Giulio Ciccone (who took the yellow jersey from Alaphilippe for two days on Stage 6) to go on the attack again, hunting for a stage win and perhaps the polka dot jersey.

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