Date: Sunday July 17
Distance: 200 km
A sprint stage to bring the second week of racing to a close and some pleasant, relaxing Sunday viewing after the excitement of the Alps.
The riders will set out for a hilly 200 km from Rodez to Carcassonne. There’s a couple of category-three climbs for the day’s break to sort out before a downhill run from the Côte des Cammazes.
Who will win stage 15?
Mark Cavendish and Michael Mørkøv managed a 1-2 when the stage finished here last year to equal Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 stage wins. This year, the Danish lead-out star will have Fabio Jakobsen as his fast man, and will be among the favourites to win his second stage of the Tour, along with last year’s third-place Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Dylan Groenewegen (BikeExchange-Jayco) and Lotto Soudal’s Caleb Ewan, although the Australian’s form is in question after his stage 13 crash.
After today, there will only be two more days for the sprinters, on stages 19 and 21, so everyone will be in the hunt. After the finish, ahead of the final rest day, let’s hope the riders are allowed to treat themselves to a Cassoulet. They’ve definitely earned it.
It’s also important to note that the Tour is expected to experience its highest temperature on the road to Carcassonne. Weather forecasters predict temperatures of 38-40°C (100-104°F), and that’s just the air. The road surface is likely to exceed 60°C, which for riders pedalling just above the tarmac counts as extreme heat exposure. Thankfully, though, it looks like being the last race day so affected by the heatwave before temperatures fall closer to the July average as the race hits the Pyrenees.