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Tour de France stage 15 LIVE - Céret to Andorra la Vella

Updates as peloton takes on huge mountain stage

Hello and welcome to  live coverage from stage 15 of the 2021 Tour de France.

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Estimated stage finish: 5.30pm French time (4.30pm British time).

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Sepp Kuss wins stage 15 of the Tour de France 2021

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Good morning cycling fans and welcome to live coverage from stage 15 of the 2021 Tour de France, another huge mountain day as the peloton crosses the border into Andorra. 

Alex Ballinger here, Cycling Weekly's online news editor, bringing you live updates from today's stage along with my colleague Tim Bonville-Ginn. 

Let's take a look at today's profile next. 

Here's how today's stage looks: 

The profile for stage 15 of the 2021 Tour de France

(Image credit: ASO )

It's a huge mountain test, 191km, climbing from the flag, then with four high category climbs to get over.  

The stage then finishes at the bottom of a long descent from the Col de Beixalis, a perfect opportunity for long range attacks.

Lets hope we see some fireworks today. 

Today's stage starts at 12.20pm French time (that's 11.20am British time), and is expected to finish at around 5.30pm French time (4.30pm British time).

Ever wondered what Tadej Pogačar does with his soft toy lions he's given for every day he's in the yellow jersey? 

We have it from our reliable source (our reporter on the ground Chris Marshall-Bell) that Pogačar gives them to his cousin back in Slovenia. 

Tadej pogacar

(Image credit: Getty)

A bit more on today's final climb, Biexalis. 

Cycling writer Peter Cossins has been speaking to Andorra-resident Dan Martin to get some insight. 

High temperatures could be the decisive factor later in the day. 

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A massive 4,000m of climbing today and the highest point of the 2021 Tour de France. 

This will be a big one. 

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Nairo Quintana says he's targeting the polka-dot jersey, so is likely to try and get in the breakaway today.

Mike Woods currently leads in the KoM competition by four points over Quintana, so it should be a tough battle for the break today. 

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Riders are out for the neutralised start, 3.5km before the flag drops.

Tadej Pogačar leads the peloton in the yellow jersey, with Julian Alaphilippe there in the rainbow jersey and Mike Woods in the polka-dots. 

The flag has dropped and we're racing. 

Mike Woods is on the attack in the polka-dot jersey and has three riders going with him. 

The peloton has strung out to chase down the leading group and is now back together. 

Thomas De Gendt is on the attack to try and split up the bunch on the early climb. Riders are already slipping out the back of the bunch.

De Gendt is pressing hard! He attacked on the climb and already has a decent gap on the peloton.

But the Lotto-Soudal rider is alone and will need some strong riders to bridge across to him if this move is going to stick.

EF Education-Nippo on the attack now to try and reach De Gendt. 

Nielson Powless is the rider from EF on the move, but he's only got a small gap. The peloton has caught him as De Gendt is still out front on his own.

He has a 20 second gap. 

The sprinters are struggling already, Nacer Bouhanni is out the back on this first climb. It's been a rapid start. 

More attacks from the peloton, Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma), Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) are in the attacking group. 

A super strong group has bridged across to De Gendt and caught him.

There are now eight riders out front, including De Gendt, Kruijswijk, Dan Martin.

They have about 30 seconds over the bunch.

A chasing group has also formed with Julian Alaphilippe and Wout van Aert in amongst it. 

Make sure you get involved with our Twitter poll for who you think will take the stage today.

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Second overall, Guillaume Martin right at the back of the peloton at the moment interestingly. The peloton does look to have sat up though.

It looks like that we will be getting a breakaway of around 28 riders today if the two groups come together with Alaphilippe, Valverde, Van Aert and Van Baarle.

162km to go and it is now 2-25 to the UAE Team Emirates led peloton. By the way, Mark Cavendish is still very much in the main bunch as it looks like he's in solid climbing form just at the right moment.

Mark Donovan and Lukas Pöstlberger are the first riders to bridge across to the leading group, making it 10 up the road. 

Michael Matthews is the next to try and bridge across to the leaders from the chase group. There are a lot of talent in the chase. Groupama-FDJ have three riders up here with their two main men in there of Madouas and Gaudu. 

157km to go with 3-30 to the peloton.

Right, we have AT LEAST 32 riders in this front group.

Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma
Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
Bruno Armirail (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
Matej Mohorič (Slo) Bahrain Victorious
Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain Victorious
Wout Poels (Ned) Bahrain Victorious
Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
Kenny Elissonde (Fra) Trek-Segafredo
Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek-Segafredo
Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck - Quick-Step
Davide Ballerini (Ita) Deceuninck - Quick-Step
Jonathan Castroviejo (Esp) Ineos Grenadiers
Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Ineos Grenadiers
Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar
Neilson Powless (USA) EF Education-Nippo
Ruben Guerreiro (Por) EF Education-Nippo
Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-Up Nation
Dan Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation
Nairo Quintana (Col) Arkéa-Samsic
Pierre Latour (Fra) TotalEnergies
Mark Donovan (GBr) DSM
Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
Michael Matthews (Aus) BikeExchange
Franck Bonnamour (Fra) B&B Hotels
Sergio Henao (Col) Qhubeka-NextHash
Ion Izagirre (Esp) Astana-Premier Tech
Aurélien Paret-Peintre (Fra) Ag2r-Citroën
Ruben Fernández (Esp) Cofidis

Just as I write that huge list of riders in the break, it starts to break up again. Six riders breaking away with Kruijswijk leading it with 148km to go with 4-30 to the peloton.

Matthews, Ballerini, Powless, Bernard, Nibali and Kruijswijk are the leading six now. Ballerini marking Matthews I believe as he will try and beat the Australian in the intermediate sprint.

Just 11 seconds to the chase group too. 4-50 to the peloton.

Poels bridges across to the leaders, couple of dangerous moves behind with the lead group made up of 10 riders. 

Bernard not working and that is really agitating  Kruijswijk. But now the Dutchman is sitting on too, so who know's what's going on with that.

The dangerous move, by the way, was Kruijswijk dropping off them attacking, pretending to go one way round to the traffic island but then at the last second went back to the same side as the rest of the break, which nearly had Bernard going into the signpost on the traffic island. Not great that from Steven.

The group is now coming back together again making the group 32 riders yet again. 139km to go with 6-04 back to the peloton.

Brian Smith on the Eurosport comms making the point that Pogačar is not a fan of heat. He has already unzipped his jersey as today is the hottest day of the race with the final climb getting the full sun all the way up later this afternoon.

Will the heat defeat Pogačar? It's possible as that's where he struggled in last year's Tour as well as the Vuelta in 2019. He managed to pull himself onto the podium in the Vuelta on a cooler rainy day in the mountains, which we know he likes.

Matthews took the 20 points at the intermediate sprint with De Gendt in second oddly, Ballerini in third. 122km to go, 8-23 back to the peloton.

So Matthews is now 72 points behind Cavendish in the green jersey standings.

We have got onto the first climb of the day! The category one climb of the Montée de Mont-Louis. First of four climbs today, which includes the highest point of this year's race with the Port d'Envalira.

But, back to the Montée de Mont-Louis, it is 8.5km at an average of 5.7 per cent gradient with an altitude of 1563 metres.

116km to go, 8-47 gap between the Groupama-FDJ led break and the UAE Team Emirates led peloton.

Looks like the breakaway could be running away with this stage.

The gap is up to 8-30 now with 112km left to race.

With this big group of talented riders up the road, it might be too tough for the GC group to bring this back.

But it depends how the next few kilometres are raced. 

The peloton are onto the first categorised climb of the day, the Montée de Mont-Louis, 8.5km at 5.7 per cent. 

Everything is calm for now as UAE Team Emirates control the pace in the bunch.  

Mark Cavendish is just starting to lose contact with the bunch and is fighting hard to try and keep a good pace on the climb. 

The time cut could be tough today with the sprinters losing contact on the first climb. 

Speaking of time cuts, we've put together a guide to Tour de France time limits and how they work, just for occasions. 

Read here: How do Tour de France time cuts work?

Arnaud Démare was eliminated from the Tour de France on stage nine

(Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

The breakaway hit the summit of Montée de Mont-Louis and there was a sprint for the KoM points, Wout Poels was first scoring 10 points, followed by Wout van Aert who takes eight and Mike Woods was third, taking six. 

Woods still leads the KoM competition with just one point over Poels. 

With 96km to go, we still have a 32-rider group out front with a 9-32 gap over the yellow jersey group. 

It looks like the stage winner will come from this front group. 

The break are onto the second categorised climb the Col de Puymorens, they now have 10-14 over the peloton. 

The breakaway is 3km from the summit of the Puymorens, with 32 riders still in the leading group, including the likes of  Alaphilippe, Van Aert, Kruijswijk, Nibali, Dan Martin, Mike Woods, Valverde and Thomas De Gendt. 

That group has 9-44 on the yellow jersey group with 60km still to race.

After the summit of this climb, there's a descent followed by another climb, the Port d'Envalira.

Big sprint to the top of Puymorens in the breakaway., with Van Aert going full gas against Wout Poels.

Van Aert takes maximum time, with Poels second and Woods third in his polka-dot jersey.

 Woods and Poels are now tied on points in the KoM classification after that sprint, both on 62 points. 

The yellow jersey group are really pulling the breakaway back now on the Puymons.

As the peloton crest the climb, the gap is down to 6-45.

With 47km to race the stage could still go to one of the GC contenders if the breakaway slows. 

The break is well onto the Port d'Envalira, the highest point of the 2021 Tour de France. 

 Nairo Quintana attacks 1.4km from the summit! 

 Big attack by Quintana here, hitting out for the stage win most likely.

The Colombian hasn't been trying for the KoM points today so it seems like he's committed to the stage. 

He already has 30 seconds on the rest of the break. 

Nairo Quintana crests the Envalira, winning the Souvenir Henri Desgrange, award to the first rider to reach the highest point on the Tour de France. 

Quintana onto the descent, but the chasing group is just 15 seconds behind. It's going to take a big effort for Quintana to stay away on the descent. 

Back in the bunch, Ineos Grenadiers have taken control to try and put Tadej Pogačar under pressure. 

Pogačar is isolated from his team-mates but looks comfortable sitting on the Ineos train. 

Geraint Thomas is drilling it on the front of the GC for Ineos as they approach the summit of this climb. 

The gap to the breakaway is now down to 5-29. 

Nairo Quintana has been caught by rest of the break on the descent, but he looked super strong so he will no doubt attack again on the final climb of the day. 

35km left on the stage. 

Quintana on the attack again on the final climb of the day, the Col de Beixalis. 

The breakaway has started to fall apart. 

Quintana has been caught again by a small group of the strongest climbers, including Mike Woods, Valverde and Alaphilippe. 

That group is 5km from the summit. 

Nine riders in that front group now, but Alaphilippe is struggling to hold on. 

Back in the peloton, which is still 4-49 behind the break Ineos are still digging in to try and dislodge Pogačar but he's not moving. 

In the fight for the stage win, Sepp Kuss has attacked solo and is 30 seconds in front of his companions, with 4km left to the summit of the climb.

Kuss is looking looking good, he could be able to hold off the other climbers. 

Carapaz attacks!

The Ecuadorian has fired his attack in the GC group to try and drop Pogačar, but it hasn't worked yet. Pogačar is comfortably able to follow, with Jonas Vingegaard also there.

Rigoberto Urán was caught out by the attack but has managed to bridge across.

The four GC favourites are all together now on the mountain. 

Kuss is flying towards the summit, 2.7km from the finish. He has 26 seconds over the chasers. 

In the GC group Ben O'Connor (Ag2r-Citroën) attacks! The Australian has been a revelation this Tour after finding his way onto the podium earlier in the race.

He's sixth overall and wants to take back more time.

O'Connor has been caught already but it was a promising move. 

Pogačar now leads the GC group and is starting to apply some pressure, but Vingegaard has attacked and is putting his rivals under the hammer.

Pogačar follows along with Carapaz, Uran and Enric Mas. 

Vingegaard again! He's insanely strong. But he's not able to shake them with his latest attack.

Meanwhile at the front of the race, is Jumbo-Visma team-mate Sepp Kuss is fighting for the stage win.

He's crested the final climb with 19 seconds over Alejandro Valverde.

It's all downhill to the line now, can the American hold on? 

More attacks from the GC group, this time O'Connor again. These guys are just going and going, it's brilliant stuff, but no one is able to get a gap and Pogačar is leading the group once again. 

Still 23 seconds for Kuss on the descent, but it's a narrow margin when you have a rider like Alejandro Valverde on your tail. 

8.9km remaining.

The GC group is over the summit of the climb and onto the descent. 

Wout van Aert has dropped back from the breakaway to join the GC contenders, he's riding on the front for his team leader Jonas Vingegaard. 

But with just the descent left to tackle it doesn't seem like there will be many chances to get the gap. 

In the fight for the stage, Kuss is into the final 3km and is maintaining his advantage over Valverde. 

300m Kuss has done it! 

He's done it! 

Sepp Kuss wins the biggest race of his career - stage 15 of the Tour de France. 

Stage result: 

1. Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma, in 5-12-06
2. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, at 23s
3. Wout Poels (Ned) Bahrain-Victorious, at 1-15
4. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Astana-Premier Tech
5. Ruben Guerreiro (Por) EF Education-Nippo
6. Nairo Quintana (Col) Arkéa-Samsic
7. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, all at same time
8. Dan Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation, at 1-22
9. Franck Bonnamour (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
10. Aurélien Paret-Peintre (Fra) Ag2r-Citroën, all at same time

The GC group is in, no major time gaps between the existing favourites, but Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) has dropped out of second place, as Uran moves back up behind Pogačar, with Vingegaard third again. 

Martin drops down into ninth overall, almost eight minutes off the race lead. 

General classification after stage 15: 

1. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, in 62-07-18
2. Rigberto Urán (Col) EF Education-Nippo, at 5-18
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma, at 5-32
4. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers, at 5-33
5. Ben O'Connor (Aus) Ag2r-Citroën, at 5-58
6. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 6-16
7. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech, at 7-01
8. Enric. Mas (Esp) Movistar, at 7-11
9. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis, at 7-58
10. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Bahrain-Victorious, at 10-59

Read the race report: Sepp Kuss came out on top on stage 15 of the Tour de France with Pogačar keeping control of yellow

Sepp Kuss wins stage 15 of the Tour de France 2021

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Read Tadej Pogačar's comments after stage 15 here: Bullish Tadej Pogačar fully confident of winning yellow after passing Tour de France's 'most scary stages' 

Tadej Pogačar keeps yellow again

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sepp Kuss had 'to go as deep as possible' to take maiden Tour de France victory: Read more 

Alejandro Valverde and Sepp Kuss at the Tour

(Image credit: Getty )

Right that's us done here at CW for today! 

Thanks for reading folks and enjoy the rest day, we;ll be back with more live coverage on stage 16.