The Spin: Stage 15

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Stage 15

An easy day after the Pyrenees as the riders leave the mountains and around the Mediterranean coast, a place where millions of French and northern Europeans migrate for the summer to profit from the sea and sunshine. The stage starts in Limoux, half-famous for its sparkling white wine that struggles for attention alongside the more famous champagne.

But the route today is inland, not by the sea and more appealing than the often over-build coastline. The race will pass by many vineyards and look out for the rugby posts in sports fields, this is the heartland of what the French call le balon oval.

For the racing it’s flat and fast. The only categorised hill of the day is 2.2km at 4.6%, almost unremarkable after the past few days in the Pyrenees. It can be windy in the area, the hills are dotted with windmills to generate electricity but the forecast looks mild.

The intermediate sprint is late in the day, after 144km and we’re likely to see the sprinters going for this to claw back points from Philippe Gilbert.

The finish is likely to be a sprint, especially since HTC-Highroad want to help Mark Cavendish keep his green jersey… but they’ll have their work cut out to both contain any moves and then set up a train at the finish. Perhaps we’ll see Lampre and Omega Pharma-Lotto joining in, especially since Greipel is in such good form.

Stage 15 last kilometres

You can see the last few kilometres here. Look at the 12 warnings before the finish, it won’t be easy but things should hopefully be calmer than the first week. The last kilometre is slightly uphill but at a 1% gradient.

Weather: normally one of the sunniest places in France, today looks like being a bit overcast and wet. 21°C (70°F) at best and a light three quarters tailwind which will be worth keeping an eye on in case it blows stronger than predicted in the last 50km where the race could split.

Ankush July 17, 2011 at 12:08 pm

I’m wondering who will FDJ send up the road, looks to be Delage’s turn. I think today we could see a breakaway succeed on a flat stage although HTC will go all guns blazing. Movistar will also try to send a guy upfront, it will be interesting.

dbarton July 17, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Looks like perfect stage for Cav – let’s hope that the mountains haven’t blunted that acceleration!

TomC July 17, 2011 at 4:57 pm

That’s one hell of a twisty finale!

LeonG July 17, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Standing on the side watching live we saw a very tired looking peloton cross the River Herault today. Mark won in Montpellier and Thomas kept his yellow maillot. Sleep in tomorrow and the battle resumes on Tuesday. There is everything to play for but I miss Vino, Bradley, Andreas and all those who were in with a chance. The Schlecks miscalculated yesterday – will they regret it?

grumpyoldman July 17, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Nice to see Cav win another stage, and he looks good for the green in Paris, but I have one cause for concern and a genuine question that I’d be grateful for an answer to.

Given how much he struggled on stage 14 (1 HC and 2 cat 1s), and the fact that he only made the cut by 1 minute, could he be eliminated on stage 18 given that it features 3 HC climbs?

Also, does the 30 min cut-off mean >30 minutes behind the stage winner, or >30 minutes behind the peloton?

The Inner Ring July 17, 2011 at 9:14 pm

grumpyoldman: yes, it’s a real concern. The cut off is taken from the first rider to cross the line and it varies according to a complex formula. I’ll try to cover this topic soon.

grumpyoldman July 17, 2011 at 9:54 pm

Thanks for your prompt reply, and thanks for this excellent site.

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