Tour de France Stage 15: An Unprecedented Summit Finish
Lyon to Grand Colombier
The Tour’s second week ends with a trip into the Jura—the fourth of the five mountain ranges visited by the 2020 Tour de France—and ends with an unprecedented summit finish atop the Grand Colombier, a steep climb with four different routes to the summit. In fact, each year local cyclists organize a ride that loops together all four ascents in a particularly sadistic celebration of the mountain.
Starting in Lyon, Stage 15 heads east on flat to rolling roads, then concludes by tackling the Grand Colombier from three of the four approaches: the Category 1 Montee de la Selle de Fromentel with pitches that hit 22 percent; the Category 1 Col de la Biche with an overall average gradient of 8.9 percent; and the final Hors Categorie climb of the “proper” Grand Colombier, which is the longest (17.4km to the summit) climb of the three and offers several steep pitches of its own.
The stage should start fast, with BORA-Hansgrohe likely leading the way in a multi-pronged attempt to earn more points in Peter Sagan’s bid to reclaim the green jersey (the Intermediate Sprint comes 58km into the stage—before the climbing begins) and win the stage itself (Max Schachmann is probably the team’s best card to play on a stage like this). We should see a big breakaway head off the front, and it could go the distance—similar to what we saw on Stage 13 when the Tour’s GC contenders were happy to let a group of out-of-contention riders fight for the victory on the summit of the Puy Mary.
Behind the breakaway, Jumbo-Visma should again set a stiff pace. They have the climbing depth to ride tempo on the first two climbs in a bid to isolate riders hoping to take the yellow jersey from Primož Roglič, which could set-up Roglič for an attack of his own on the final climb.
At this point, the only rider who looks capable of threatening Roglič is his Slovenian compatriot, UAE’s Tadej Pogačar. Pogačar has proven to be the only rider able to match Roglič in the mountains, and sits only 44 seconds behind him on the General Classification. The real wild card is INEOS Grenadiers’s Egan Bernal, the defending champion. The Colombian has been isolated when it matters most, ceding time on Friday’s finish on the Puy Mary. He needs to at least match Roglič on Stage 15 to stay in contention for the win—even with more climbing to come in the final week.
This stage is a key battleground in the Tour’s other classifications as well, with Sagan chasing Quick-Step’s Sam Bennett for the green jersey (the Intermediate Sprint in Le Bouchage is their finish line), several riders still in contention for the polka dot jersey as the Tour’s King of the Mountains (Ag2r’s Benoit Cosnefoy should have his hands full defending his current lead), and only 15 seconds between Pogačar and Bernal in the Tour’s Best Young Rider competition (they’re likely more focused on yellow at this point).
The weather will be sunny and warm, which is good because the descents in between the climbs are treacherous, especially when wet.
Riders to Watch
We expect this stage to play out similar to Friday’s Stage 13, with a breakaway going the distance to settle the stage win and the GC battle unfolding behind them. At this point, the Tour’s most aggressive teams have to be BORA and Team Sunweb, who have been ever-present at—and off—the front of the peloton in a bid to win stages. They’ll be at it again with men like Schachmann and Lennard Kämna doing their best for BORA and Tiesj Benoot and Marc Hirchi (who won Stage 12) trying to sweep the weekend for Sunweb. But our official pick is EF Pro Cycling’s Daniel Martinez. The winner of Stage 13 finished well off the back on Saturday, a good sign that he’s focused on taking another win and took the day “off” so as to be as fresh as possible for Stage 15.