Stage 15 was the final transition between the Alps and the Pyrenees, finishing at Pau. Due to it’s location at the foot of some of the best climbs in the Pyranees, Pau is one of the most frequently featured places in the Tour de France, and yesterday saw the Tour’s 64th visit to the town. Despite being on 158.5km long, the stage featured some 2000m of climbing, with 3 categorised climbs. The break away took a while to get established, and given the stage profile there was always the chance that the sprinters teams would pull it back for the run-in. In the end however the bunch seemingly had one eye on today’s rest day, and failed to get organised – in truth only Lotto-Belisol looked like they wanted to work. So the six riders forged on, creating a gap of almost 12 minutes at the end. The best sprinter in the group was Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis), but the run-in toasted him and he finished 1 minute behind his break-away companions. With him out of the picture, Pierrick Fedrigo (FDJ-BigMat), a winner in Pau previously, and Christian Vandevelde (Garmin-Sharp) jumped away, with Fedrigo leading out and taking the sprint. Apart from that it was a quiet day.
With a race defining long time trial to come on Saturday, and with Wiggins in yellow and arguably the best time triallist still in the tour, anyone with ambitions of taking the top step in Paris will have to attack Sky over the two remaining high mountain stages. Wednesday’s and Thursday’s mountain stages should be epic