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Tour de France Stage 15 Betting Preview

As expected, the breakaway stayed away on Stage 14 with Matteo Trentin outsprinting Michael Albasini and Andrew Talansky to take the victory. The GC contenders and their teams happily sat back in the peloton to rest their legs.

However, the time for resting is well and truly over as the final week of the Tour begins with a monster stage. The longest stage of this year's Tour sees the peloton run for over 240km, but rather than the distance, it is the finish that is the highlight - a summit finish on the legendary Mont Ventoux. This is the ninth time that a stage has finished on the barren peak of Mont Ventoux. Most recently, in 2009, Juan Manuel Garate won from Tony Martin after Andy Schleck failed to attack without his brother.

Tour de France Stage 15

The climb is 20.8km long with an average gradient of 7.5% with several sections of over 10%. The first 5km are relatively gentle at under 6%, but after that is when the first real steep section comes. It is expected to be a hot day, but wind is always an issue on Mont Ventoux and it will be blowing into the faces of the riders making it very difficult to go alone. The gradient kicks up again for the final section and any rider that has nothing left could easily lose time even this close to the finish.

Despite the time lost yesterday, Chris Froome still has a healthy lead in the general classification. His rivals will look to attack him repeatedly on this climb, especially if they can isolate him from his team again. However, he should have help from Lopez, Kennaugh and Porte, at least for the early part of the climb. It will also be incredibly tough for any of his rivals to drop Froome on this climb. He has already shown his ability this year and it is no surprise to see him as the favourite to win this stage.

If the likes of Nairo Quintana, Alberto Contador or Bauke Mollema look to attack him on this stage, he will certainly look to chase it down. However, there are plenty of talented riders that will be desperate to win on this stage that he would probably allow to get away.

The first of these is Alejandro Valverde. The Spaniard will have been devastated that a broken wheel in Stage 13 cost him over ten minutes and ruined any hopes that he had of winning this Tour. It had been his main aim all season and he will be looking to salvage something. He is now over 12 minutes down on Chris Froome and he might be allowed to attack and stay away for the stage win. He has history on Mont Ventoux when he finished second behind Sylwester Szmyd in the 2009 Dauphine here, taking over the leader jersey. With his team concentrating on Quintana, he may have a free role to go for the win.

The two French riders that might fancy their chances are Pierre Rolland and Thibaut Pinot. Rolland is the current holder of the King of the Mountain jersey, although has picked up plenty of points on the smaller climbs during stages and has surprisingly struggled a bit on some of the climbs. Thibaut Pinot had a great race last year, but has been very disappointing so far. He was dropped early in the Pyrenees and is reportedly suffering from a sore throat, so it would be a real surprise were he to win here.

Dan Martin has already won a stage this year having attacked with Fuglsang on Stage 9 on La Hourquette d'Ancizan. He is an excellent climber and would love to win this stage, but at only five minutes down, there are questions over whether he would be allowed to go. I suspect he probably would, but there is enough doubt for me to hesitate to recommend him. The same arguments go for Jakob Fuglsang.

Simpson Memorial Mont Ventoux
The Simpson memorial is a reminder of the brutality of Mont Ventoux

Andy Schleck is an interesting one. He has performed better than I expected in this Tour so far, staying with some of the big names on most of the climbs. At over eight minutes down, he is no threat to the GC, so if he were to attack, they would probably let him go. Although he is not close to the form he has shown in the past, he is still an excellent climber and cannot be discounted.

Mikel Nieve has also shown his climbing ability this Tour. He finished sixth in the stage to Ax 3 Domaines and stayed with the leading group the following day. Any hopes of a top 10 finish were surely dashed when he was caught out on Stage 13 finishing in the Valverde group and losing over 10 minutes. Coming into the Tour, he said that he was targeting a stage victory and with the team likely looking for new sponsorship, this would be the ideal time to put them in the spotlight.

Another possible name to watch is Thomas de Gendt. He had a nightmare first week that put him out of contention for a top 10 finish, but he is a talented climber. A second place in the summit finish of Cuitu Negru in last year's Vuelta and victory in the Giro stage to Passo dello Stelvio are excellent demonstrations of what he can do. With Vacansoleil inexplicably missing the breakaway today, they will be desperate to get involved tomorrow.

Chris Froome is rightfully the favourite for this stage, but with a seemingly weak team, his focus will be defending his jersey rather than going for the stage win. This could be mean that one of the climbers further down the GC might be allowed to take the prestige of a stage win on top of Mont Ventoux. At the moment, there are no match bets that catch the eye, but I may add some in the morning once more firms go up with them.


1. Chris Froome
2. Nairo Quintana
3. Bauke Mollema
4. Alberto Contador
5. Alejandro Valverde

Recommended Bets

Alejandro Valverde @ 12/1 (Paddy Power)
Mikel Nieve E/W @ 33/1 (Sky Bet)
Thomas de Gendt @ 50/1 (Paddy Power)

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