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Tour de France Stage 15 Preview: Sprinty with a Chance of Breakaway

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Le-tour_mediumOn Saturday, the Tour tasted the Pyrénées with the stage from Limoux to Foix. The yellow jersey contenders chose not to make a race of it. Mark Cavendish pulled the field up the first category 1 climb of the day. Last I checked, that dude was a sprinter. But what do I know? Team Sky let the break run out the clock to the advantage of Luis León Sánchez. It was crafty of Sánchez to seize the opportunity provided by the Sagan Stalemate. As if anyone in the chase group was going to help Sagan get to the line, right?

Behind, the race nuetralized thanks to a bizarre incident with tacks strewn on the final descent. Evans flatted four times? Or was it five? Wiggins waited, Rolland attacked and later claimed to know nothing, and with this and that, nothing changed in the overall standings, despite the climbing.

Monday should also see no changes in the overall standings, but Cavendish should be able to go back to his day job of sprinting. The climbing thing isn't all that, you know. The stage runs from Samatan to Pau over 158.5 kilometers. With tomorrow's finish, the Tour will visit Pau for the 64th time in its history. The town is conveniently located within reach of the Pyrénées mountains, where the Tour heads next.

It's not quite time for the mountains yet, and Monday's stage should end in a sprint finish. After Cavendish towed the field up the climbs, Team Sky really ought to reward him with some chasing tomorrow. There are three categorized climbs on the menu, but they are all around two kilometers (or less!) in length. The final ten kilometers or so run mostly downhill.

The downhill run-in will likely make it hard for a breakaway to stay away, despite the speedbump climbs scattered over the last 40 kilometers of racing. It's possible that a break will stick, especially now that Peter Sagan has essentially sealed his green jersey title.

But with few chances left for the sprinters, expect to see Lotto and Orica-GreenEdge putting some determined effort into the chase. Orica-GreenEdge in particular has no wins yet at this year's Tour. No doubt they'd like to change that pattern before the Tour reaches Paris. No time like the present.

Here is the current general classification.