2022 Tour de France Stage 15 Preview

Rodez > Carcassonne 202.4km

Another day that gives the sprinters and breakaway riders a little hope. With 2639m of climbing, it’s certainly not a flat day, but the presence of just one categorised climb will get the sprinters hoping. The same is true for many potential breakaway riders, recent stages have been more suited to those who can climb, but this day is a good one for those who prefer flatter parcours. As usual, the composition of the break will decide how far it goes in the stage.

Weather

The hottest day of the race so far, with temperatures getting very close to 40 degrees. It’s a light tailwind for much of the day, but there is a crosswind of 20km/h in the final 10km, but there shouldn’t be splits as the road is well protected from the wind.

Key Points

The opening 70km is rarely flat. Lots of little kickers, fast descents and twisting roads.

The final climb also includes the intermediate sprint point. Overall, it’s 9.6km at 4.3%, which could put a few into difficulty. 

Tactics

The start of the stage is narrow, undulating and constantly twisting, which will make it hard to control the size of the break. Back on Friday, I was sure it was going to be a sprint, but it wasn’t. This day I’m leaning towards the break, mainly due to the difficult looking opening 60km, but nothing is certain.

The attitude of the sprint teams will be interesting. The cat 3 climb of 10km at 4% will put off the pure sprinters, and as we witnessed on Friday, the power is gone from a lot of the legs of the domestiques. Riders who make the break at this point in the Tour de France are super strong, bringing them back requires a lot of cooperation and power, which is a big problem for those wanting a sprint. 

When the break forms, we’ll have to see how many riders are in the move. To survive, it really needs more than five, and it would help if it contained some from the sprinter teams, to ensure they don’t work in the peloton. As I’ve said already, this is a breakaway stage that suits the powerful riders in the bunch, you don’t need to be a great climber to win this one. Stages like this rarely come along in the Tour de France, usually only once a year, so expect everyone to be trying to jump in the break. 

The cat 3 climb is well placed. Those chasing the break must keep the gap large enough to stop anyone wanting to attack on the climb and bridge across. The issue with this is that the break will climb faster than the peloton, and with around 50km to go from the crest, it gives the peloton a headache in terms of trying to catch them. This was one of the problems with the chase on Friday, BikeExchange waited too long before committing, will they make the same mistake again?

Contenders

QuickStep – Lampaert and Sénéchal are excellent cards to play in a stage like this. If the French champion wins on home soil, the locals will go crazy. Lampaert crashed the other day, hopefully he’s recovered enough to go for the break. When Lampaert makes the move, he’s got a very good conversion rate.

Nils Politt – strong as an ox, it’s a very good stage for him. He took a memorable win in last year’s Tour; can he take another big win? Most would say yes.

Benjamin Thomas – he’s already had a brilliant season, but a win in the Tour would turn it into a sensational season. He ticks a lot of boxes in this type of stage.

Fred Wright – keeps knocking on the door, he’s been very impressive in the last week. 

Taco van der Hoorn – the classical breakaway pick. 

Edvald Boasson Hagen – he’s won a stage like this before, and after going very close in the cobbled stage, he has the legs required to challenge for the win.

Brent Van Moer – if he can find the form that led him to win a stage in last year’s Dauphiné, he could go a long way in this stage.

Connor Swift – he’ll be free from guiding Quintana in this stage, so I’m hoping to see him in the break. Swift is a hugely talented rider, one who’s due to move to a bigger team in 2023. Not only does he have a big engine, but he has a quick finish from a reduced group.

Jasper Stuyven – now that Pedersen has his win, focus will turn to Jasper. This is a good stage for a rider with his capabilities, having a fast finish could well be the difference between winning and losing from the break.

Chris Juul-Jensen – super strong today, the signs are good for this stage. 

Stefan Bissegger – huge engine, fast sprint. EF have several options for this one, keep an eye out for Rutsch and Cort.

Matej Mohorič – not looking himself, but the stage is over 200km, which normally brings the best out of him.

Wout Van Aert – it’s clear that Jumbo-Visma are no longer going to chase for a sprint finish, Wout has already won two stages and secured the green jersey. If someone else wants to chase down the break, then they’ll step forward in the finale. Given the level of fatigue in the legs of the fast men, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him taking win number 3.

Jasper Philipsen – still searching for his first Tour win. Alpecin did a great job on Friday, but as they are two men down, it’s very hard for them to chase down a strong break. If this stage is going to be a sprint, they’ll need help.

Prediction Time

It looks like another good day for the breakaway. I’m going to take a memorable win for Jasper Stuyven.

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