Slovenia’s Tadej Pogacar crosses the finish line of the fifth stage of the Tour de France cycling race, an individual time-trial over 27.2 kilometers (16.9 miles) with start in Change and finish in Laval Espace Mayenne, France, Wednesday, June 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, Pool)
- Stage 15 of the 2021 Tour de France (Sunday, July 11) presents a difficult test in the mountains before a day off
- Sunday’s 192 kilometres in the Pyrenees are a test for the strongest climbers
- Will Tadej Pogacar flex his muscles even more, or can someone start to reel him in?
The final week of the Tour de France is approaching. Only Stage 15 remains before Monday’s second rest day, and then six stages, one of them ceremonial, until the riders reach Paris.
The time is now if someone is going to put Tadej Pogacar’s title in peril. With the backstop of an off-day looming, who will attack, and how successful will they be on a testing mountain stage Sunday?
Stage 15 is one of three mountain tests remaining. Pogacar (+750) is the favorite to win and solidify his dominance when things get going (6:30 am ET) on a day where his rivals have little choice but to take their best shot at derailing him.
Let’s look closely at the Stage 15 odds and consider where value is present.
Tour de France Stage 15 Odds
|Rider||Odds to Win||Top-3 Finish Odds at DraftKings|
|Miguel Angel Lopez||+1400||+400|
|Wout Van Aert||+1600||+450|
|Ion Izagirre Insausti||+2000||+550|
Odds as of July 10th.
On Saturday Pogacar more or less let Martin go. Not every attack is worth spending the energy to counter, and a four minute lead is still sufficient. While Pogacar conserved energy, Mollema broke away from the attack and went solo 42 kilometres from the finish. He rather easily got to the line for his first stage victory, more than a minute ahead of Patrick Konrad and Sergio Higuita. Martin, who was a part of the initial breakaway, put himself at least for the time being in a podium position.
Sunday’s trek between Céret and Andorra la Vella has four major climbs. The day begins on a mild sustained uphill, leading to the first of three Category 1 challenges on the day. The Montée de Mont-Louis is 8.4 kilometres at 5.7%. After a Cat 2 obstacle, there are two Category 1 climbs in the final 50 km of the route. The major action is likely to take place on the last test, the Collada de Beixalis, which is is 6.4 kilometres with an average gradient of 8.5%. Expect a move early on this mountain, the first half rises at over 10% and features sections up to 15%. Pogacar is sure to be challenged here. The finish is downhill.
Martin is immediately behind Pogacar at this point, 4:04 back. Four other riders are less than six minutes behind, Rigoberto Uran (5:18), Jonas Vingegaard (5:32), Richard Carapaz (5:33), and Ben O’Connor (5:58).
UEFA Euro 2020 Odds Tracker
Though Vingegaard briefly rattled Pogacar on Stage 11, there have been few minutes of worry for the defending champ this year. When anyone has questioned his strength, he has responded. There is little doubt he will be pushed on Sunday. What will the response be?
Let’s discuss the betting options for Stage 15.
There are reasons to back Pogacar on Sunday, and equally strong arguments why you should wager on someone else.
On one hand, Pogacar has proven to be the strongest rider, both last year and over the first two weeks this year. Additionally, he is his best in the mountains. Furthermore, he has risen to the occasion consistently when challenged. Lastly, he is incredible on descents. This stage ends headed downwards.
On the flip side, Pogacar does not need to win the stage in order to wear the yellow jersey into Paris. Also, if GC contenders are not in the breakaway, they very well could succeed and be inconsequential to the overall standings. Finally, the price on Pogacar isn’t overly tempting, particularly since the day could go in several different directions.
The winner of Stage 11 this year, likely the most challenging day of the race, was Wout van Aert. Why? Because van Aert is a terrific rider that is not in contention to win. He is unthreatening to the GC, yet capable of tackling the most difficult of courses.
On Stage 15 van Aert is viable, in very much the same way that Julian Alaphilippe is. Both have won countless stages at the Tour, aren’t important for the GC to keep super close tabs on, and are plenty good enough to take daily honors.
Alaphilippe won the first stage of this year’s event, and took the Mountains Classification in 2018. There is little question his goal for the rest of the 2021 Tour is to pocket another stage.
Completely different than van Aert and Alaphilippe is Carapaz. As the leader of Team Ineos, the dominant team over the past decade, Pogacar pays an abundance of attention to his positioning and tactics. While Ineos is not having a great race, and Carapaz has attacked several times without gaining ground, it is hard to see a situation where they don’t launch an assault on Pogacar Sunday.
Carapaz won the Giro d’Italia in 2019, and took the Vuelta a España last year. He is more than capable, but will not escape with a fight.
The most successful attack on Pogacar during this edition of the Tour came from Vingegaard. He separated himself from the leader on the second ascent of Mount Ventoux. However, on the descent, Pogacar caught up.
Vingegaard came into the Tour in excellent form. He was second to Primož Roglič in the Tour of the Basque Country. The 24-year-old from Denmark has serious upside, whether that is on display Sunday, or going forward.
Dave Friedman has covered professional and college sports for two decades. From ESPN to the Associated Press, Regional Sports Networks, Metro Networks, and many local outlets, he has written about and broadcast major and minor events throughout the country.