Stage 15 takes the form of a 174.5km jaunt from Lyon to the fearsome Grand Colombier, though taking almost 100km before the road seriously begins to test those with eyes set upon the yellow jersey. The 11.1km Montée de la Selle de Fromentel will get the bunch warmed up, after which a rapid descent takes them to the base of the 6.9km Col de la Biche, soon making it apparent who shall not last the rigours of the day. Once again the road drops down, placing the frontrunners at the foot of the Grand Colombier, a HC climb which lasts for 17.4km and averages 7.1%.
This finale is one of the few where, not only could the race be lost, but there is a strong chance of it being won. An unrelenting gradient will offer little in the way of recovery, and if distanced, it shall become increasingly unlikely to regain the bike lengths to follow the leaders.
There is little to suggest that Primož Roglič shall not be the man to beat on Stage 15, where recent success on the same Gran Colombier ascent at the Tour de l’Ain make him the favourite. He has not offered a moment of weakness thus far, protected by an extremely strong Jumbo-Visma squad, who will endeavour to position him well in the final kilometres as he looks to sprint to another stage victory.
One of the greatest rivals to the ambitions of the current yellow jersey is Tadej Pogačar, the incredibly gifted 21 year old showing little to suggest he cannot survive the test at hand, nor struggle to contest the outcome. The youngster will certainly be on the wheel of his compatriot, but may well possess the turn of speed required to overcome Roglič, in order to win the stage; most likely having escaped together.
Next best placed to challenge for the honours is Egan Bernal, though he has failed to offer much so far to imply he can go the distance and win atop the Gran Colombier. The further into this year’s Tour de France we progress, the greater Bernal’s threat to the overall will become, as he so often emerges strongest during the culminations of such stage races.
One who may enjoy the freedom required to pursue the win on today’s stage is Miguel Ángel López, who has been showing glimmers of his best form at times recently. The stage suits him well, and given the unlikely chance of him winning the overall, this is a brilliant opportunity to at least collect a stage win.
Someone who deserves consideration is Enric Mas, who typically performs well on such finales, though might require a few more stages in the mountains to really find his rhythm. However, there will not be a great need to pursue him if attacking late, as the 25 year old offers little to genuinely threaten the yellow jersey.
It will not take much for the cunning Mikel Landa to sense a stage win if the likes of Roglič and Pogačar are clearly eyeballing one another as the road rapidly runs out. He is in good enough form to make a winning move, but it will need to be timed to perfect, as there are those around him who look faster on this finale.
Others who could prove animated are: Thibaut Pinot, Marc Hirschi, Richie Porte, Emmanuel Buchmann, Marc Soler and Pierre Rolland.
1st Tadej Pogačar 2nd Primož Roglič 3rd Mikel Landa