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Tour de France - Cycling: Stage 15 preview

There's a rare sprint day to look forward to at the Tour de France on Sunday and both Fabio Jakobsen and Dylan Groenewegen are sure to be in the mix on Stage 15.

Saturday's lumpy route to Mende saw Michael Matthews claim a superb breakaway win, seeing off Alberto Bettiol in a sprint finish after a thrilling duel up the Cote de la Croix Neuve.

In contrast, this looks like a real day for the speedsters, who will be hoping for a repeat of last year's finish in Carcassonne, where Mark Cavendish equalled Eddy Merckx's record of 34 Tour stage wins.

Jakobsen and Groenewegen are likely to be the main protagonists, especially after another crash on Friday for Caleb Ewan, whose luckless Tour continues.

Green jersey winner Wout van Aert should also contend, while Alpecin-Deceuninck's Jasper Philipsen also needs a result after falling short in the first week.

With the race heading into the Pyrenees next week, the favourites may decide to hold back. Conserving their energy will only place further pressure on the sprinters, who, after this, only have two more stages, including the one into Paris, to make their mark.

WhatTour de France, Stage 15
WhereRodez to Carcassonne
When12:05 UK Time, Sunday 17th July
How to watchLive on ITV4, Eurosport, Discovery+ & GCN+

Stage 15 route details

The day begins in Rodez and the 202.5km stage meanders southwest before concluding in the shadows of the famous Medieval citadel on the hill.

Although not exactly flat, Stage 15 provides little for the riders to worry about, with just two category three climbs along the route, the last of which crests around 50km from the finish.

The Cote d'Ambialet and Cote des Cammazes are the two categorised ascents, while the intermediate sprint takes place after 147km in Saint-Ferreol.

Although the undulating nature of the course will give the breakaway some protection, the last 25km are either downhill or flat, providing the peloton with scope to reel any attacks in.

Three to follow

Fabio Jakobsen

Back after his horrific accident and having gotten through his first real battle against the Alps, Fabio Jakobsen will be eyeing a second victory of his debut Tour de France.

That Stage 2 success felt like a watershed moment in his career and he completed an early double for his Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl following Yves Lampaert's win in the opening time-trial.

Jakobsen has enjoyed a strong year, triumphing in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, as well as taking plenty of stage victories, including at Paris-Nice.

After winning the points classification at the Vuelta a Espana, he will have been disappointed not to push Van Aert harder but the Belgian's relentless riding means the 25-year-old can be cut some slack.

Even so, having been picked ahead of Mark Cavendish, he needs another win to justify his place on the team.

This sets up perfectly and Lampaert and Michael Morkov should guide him to the finish line, where it will be down to Jakobsen to produce the goods.

Dylan Groenewegen

Their history means that whenever Jakobsen is mentioned, Dylan Groenewegen will be too and the Dutchman looks to have rediscovered his legs this year.

Two wins at the Saudi Tour set him up nicely and he entered this race on the back of a sprint victory at the Tour of Slovenia.

Groenewegen's success on Stage 3 was his first grand tour success since 2019 and will have calmed any nerves.

However, after battling through the Alps and with the Pyrenees on the agenda next week, the 29-year-old will be another one hoping to repay his team's efforts in shepherding him this far.

Team BikeExchange-Jayco tried to set him up on Friday but had no luck. Any miscalculations will be unforgivable and the Amsterdamer's duel with his compatriot could be a classic.

Jasper Philipsen

The third rider in the current batch of leading sprinters, Jasper Philipsen is the one without a victory at this year's Tour.

Philipsen thought he had triumphed on Stage 4, winning the sprint but missing the vital information that Van Aert had already soloed home in Calais.

The 24-year-old is another who has won stages at the Vuelta, but arrived here looking for his maiden Tour win and will be feeling the pressure to deliver for Alpecin-Deceuninck, who have lost their other star, Mathieu van der Poel.

Philipsen's wins at the UAE Tour show he is a quality operator, however, the Tour de France is on an altogether different level.

Winning is what he has to do over the next week and Sunday is a great opportunity.

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