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Tour de France Stage 15 Preview

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July 16, 2016 – Sunday’s stage 15 of the 103rd Tour de France (#TDF2016) is the last mountain stage before the second rest day, so it’s sure to be a humdinger.

#PelotonShorts by John Wilcockson/Photo by Yuzuru Sunada

It may not be in the Alps or Pyrénées and it doesn’t have any climbs higher than 5,000 feet (1,524 meters), but the route through the limestone massif of the Jura never ceases to climb and descend. And six of the day’s dozen uphills are categorized—including a fearsome finale: a double ascent (and descent) of the fearsome Grand Colombier mountain.

The only other time this hors-cat climb has been included in a Tour stage was in 2012 when stage 10 was a relatively easy one before the spectacular Grand Colombier, which climbs away from the Rhône River (at right in this image) and the Lac de Bourget (at left). Here, Italian Michele Scarponi leads a small group that split from the day’s breakaway and finished three minutes ahead of the GC leaders’ peloton at the finish in Bellegarde-sur-Valserine, 43 kilometers after the Grand Colombier.

This Sunday’s stage is far more demanding. After crossing the Grand Colombier from the west, the riders complete a lap and a half of a 23.5-kilometer finishing loop. The riders first descend 7 kilometers to the valley floor, then race 7 kilometers on the flat to cross the finish line in Culoz, where they climb back 8.4 kilometers at almost 8 percent, and then repeat the downhill after which daredevil descenders will find a tailwind pushing them to the finish.

These downhills on narrow, twisting roads are far more technical than the straightforward one down the Peyresourde where Chris Froome took his stage win by 13 seconds in the Pyrénées. So he and his Sky teammates will have to be on high alert to ward off the probable attacks by the likes of Nairo Quintana (and Movistar teammate Alejandro Valverde), Trek-Segafredo’s Bauke Mollema, AG2R La Mondiale’s Romain Bardet, Etixx-Quick Step’s Dan Martin, Orica-BikeExchange’s Adam Yates and BMC Racing’s Richie Porte and Tejay van Garderen—all of whom are seeking to regain time they lost in Friday’s time trial.

Follow @pelotonmagazine for more #pelotonshorts from John Wilcockson.
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