The first explanations in the Pyrenees were expected this Sunday, as stage 15 of the Tour de France reached the mountainous Principality of Andorra. During the first 140 kilometers, the riders had to cross the Pyrénées-Orientales region starting from Céret, with two climbs on French soil: the Montée de Mont-Louis (8.5 km at 8.7%) and the Col du Puymorens (5.8 km at 4 , 6%).
Once the latter accomplished, the peloton entered Andorra with the Port of Envalira (10.8 km at 5.8%), the roof of this 108th edition of the Grande Boucle, culminating at 2,406 meters above sea level. Finally, the Col de Beixalis (6.2 km at 8.6%) was the last ascent of this 193 km course, and its technical descent of 14 km would designate the last stage winner before the second rest day.
Immediately after the start, the riders exploited the first 20 kilometers uphill to escape. Two unlisted climbs, the Col de Lauro and the Col de Fourtou, were used by a group of 32 riders to distance themselves from the yellow jersey group. They were able to gather a 10-minute lead at the halfway point. All the riders of the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert team were in the peloton, around Louis Meintjes, 14th in the general classification.
The race situation remained the same until the Col du Puymorens, where the Movistar and INEOS teams both increased the pace within the peloton, causing significant selection. Benefiting from the protection of Jan Bakelants until the very windy Port d’Envalira, Meintjes then made it to the summit towards Beixalis in the yellow jersey group, reduced to only fifteen riders.
It was in this final climb that the decision was made up front, with Sepp Kuss (Jumbo) overcoming his fellow breakaways to make it to the finish on his own, as the winner. By crossing the line in 31st position, 2 minutes from the yellow jersey, Louis Meintjes punctuated the first two weeks of the Tour de France in fifteenth place in the general classification.