Jarlinson Pantano of IAM Cycling outsprinted Tinkoff’s new team leader Rafal Majka after the six difficult climbs of Stage 15 of the 2016 Tour de France. It was the Colombian rider’s first Tour de France stage win.
Pantano joined the day’s big breakaway, a 30-rider group which didn’t escape until an hour into the stage. The Colombian rider joined a rotating group of stage leaders on the Hors Categorie Grand Colombier, got dropped by Rafal Majka on the climb up the Cat 1 Lacets du Grand Colombier, caught the Tinkoff leader on the descent, and won the final dash to the finish line in the town of Culoz.
Rafal Majka didn’t take the stage, but he did retake the lead in the King of the Mountains classification, and also earned Most Aggressive Rider for the stage.
Short but Steep
The 160-km stage from Bourg-en-Bresse to Culoz , snaked through France’s Jura mountains, and twice ascended the iconic Grand Colombier in the final 50 km. The stage also included a Cat 1,. a Cat 2 and a pair of Cat 3 climbs before the two trips up Colombier.
The stage was packed with action, as Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin,) Julian Alaphillipe (Etixx-Quickstep, Alexis Vuillermoz (AG2R-LaMondiale,) Sébastien Reichenbach (FDJ,) Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha,) and Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data) attacked the breakaway alone or in pairs and trios.
The top of the General Classification remained unchanged. Only Astana even made an attempt to challenge Team Sky and race leader Chris Froome.
Astana’s Tanel Kangert and Jacob Fuglsang accelerated on the Colombier to set up an attack by team leader Fabio Aru. Movistar’s Alajandro Valverde joined in.
Froome and Team Sky had to work a little, but with their unshakable confidence, and the strength of Wouter Poels, steadily reeled in the attack.
Froome’s main rival, Nairo Quintana, again made no attacks.
AG2R’s Romain Bardet launched a solo attack on the Lacets du Colombier, but Froome was untroubled; Sky pursued deliberately and shut down the attack at the summit of the final climb. BMC’s Tejay Van Garderen, however, couldn’t keep up with the accelerated pace and dropped back, losing over a minute and dropping from sixth to eighth in the General Classification.
The 2016 Tour de France heads to Switzerland for Stage 16, 209 km from Moirans-en-Montagne in France to Berne. There is some possibility that the stage could end in a sprint, but it is not impossible that a breakaway could make good. However, with a rest day on Tuesday and the Sprinters’ teams not having another real chance until Stage 21, it seems probable that Etixx, Dimension Data, Direct Energie, Lotto Soudal, and Orica-BikeExchange will try to control the race.