Stage 15: Céret - Andorra la Vielle
Date: July 11, 2021
Stage timing: 12:20 - 17:28 CEDT
Stage type: Mountain
Stage 15 preview video
The Tour makes its debut appearance in France’s cherry capital of Céret and its first in the department of Pyrénées Orientales since Thomas Voeckler took a breakaway victory in Perpignan back in 2009. As you’d expect on the day before a rest day, this will be a significant test for the GC contenders, who will have to be right on their mettle in the finale of this long westward sweep through the Pyrenees.
Commencing in the Tech valley, the stage starts by hopping over the Fourtou pass into the Têt valley, the route rising gently but steadily through Prades to reach the intermediate sprint at Olette. Approaching the citadel of Mont-Louis, the location of the first of three first-category climbs, the gradient picks up a little and keeps on rising to Font-Romeu.
A long and steady descent follows, but the riders are still well above 1,000 metres when they start to climb again, this time to the second-category Puymorens pass.
Beyond it, there’s just a couple of kilometres of descent before the riders begin to head upwards again, crossing the border into Andorra at the rather ugly shopping hub of Pas de la Case, then rising above its garish buildings to the majestic Envalira pass, this year’s site of the Henri Desgrange prize that goes to the rider who’s first to reach the Tour’s highest point.
Another long descent will take the riders into the heart of the principality and to the foot of the final and by far the most difficult test, the Col de Beixalis, a bonus point where eight, five and two seconds will be awarded to the first three riders. It’s relatively benign near the bottom and the top, but far from it in its mid-section, where there are frequent ramps well into double figures.
The drop away from it to the finish in Andorra’s capital is challenging too. Fast and technical, it’ll be well known to the riders who live in the locality such as Julian Alaphilippe and Tao Geoghegan Hart.
Matt White's view
The race goes up to nearly 2000m three times during the day but it’s not super high altitude. It’s high enough and it’s a tough day in the office. There’s a lot of climbing and, again, it’s the day before the rest day so it will be the last roll of the dice for some guys, not quite the last roll but the guys who are looking to win from a mountain stage breakaway will have this day earmarked.
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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).
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