2016 Tour de France stage 15

Ouchie! Yesterdays stage 15 had 13,000 feet of climbing in it! Thats a lot! The final climb the riders tackled twice! For the GC men the stage was, more or less, business as usual. Up the road however two riders managed to stay clear to the end. Rafael Maijka and the Columbian rider Pantano battled all the way to the end with Pantano taking the win after a harrowing descent where he took major risks to catch back on after being dropped the last time up the climb. 

Astana made repeated attempts to break things up but Froome and his lieutenant Serge Pouwels were alert and calmly went about containing things. Tejay Vangarderen lost more time and in the post race interview I got the feeling he's resigned to the fact that he's not on par with the big guns this year. 

Todays race was never one for the true sprinters. While not a climbing race, the parcours had enough bumps in it with a cobbled, uphill finish that it would prove too much for riders like Cavendish, Kittle, Griepel and Bryan Coquard. A valiant effort by Rui Costa was reeled in with around 5km to go. 4hrs 25min for 210km is moving right along!

In the end a select group split off the front containing Sagan, Degenkolb, Alexander Kristoff and even Froome. Kristoff and Sagan went to the line with Kristoff thinking he'd won. After reviewing the photo finish, Sagan came away with the win. I still marvel that after 4 or 5hrs it can come down to a matter of millimeters! Sagan has made all of his wins so far look easy. He is showing maturity and patience while still a young rider. Its exciting because he still has many years left in the sport.  

Tomorrow is the 2nd rest day at the Tour. After yesterdays stage the rider deserve it! The GC men will get together with their management and try and figure out how they're going to approach the last week of the race. 2nd place man Bauke Mollema will look at the upcoming days and assemble a strategy for trying to take time out of Froome. So far the team Sky leader seems pretty solid and has never looked like he's been in trouble. Quintana has quite a bit of work to do if he's going to threaten Chris Froome.

A rider I'm keeping my eye on is Adam Yates with the Orica/Bike Exchange squad. I think he's still got quite a bit of gas left in the tank. He has consistently been there with the leaders on the hard stages. If he can avoid mistakes and/or a bad day in the last week I think he has a great opportunity to finish on the podium in Paris. 

PS. Did you see some of the pulls that Tony Martin took today while in the breakaway with his teammate Julian Alaphillipe? Ooof!