• Rúben Silva

Tour de France Stage 9 Preview

Thomas de Gendt capitalized the most on a long day in the breakaway, it was fairly easy low contested breakaway, with De Marchi his main opponent which he distanced on the final climb. He soloed to the finish line where he kept a mere margin of 6 seconds before the Frenchmen came behind, who came from the peloton mainly led by Bora and Sunweb all day long, then Astana and EF picked up the race to shorten the gap but it came to nothing as they were later attacked, they arrived in a group containing some sprinters and GC men.

Positive: Alaphillipe moving into yellow, Pinot taking a step and big confidence from the stage to climb towards the provisional GC comes as a big confirmation of his current form. Ciccone and Meurisse kept their performances from the breakaway in the Vosges and Thomas managed to come back to the group after a late crash before the final climb.

Negative: Nibali lost time and is out of the GC aswell as Dylan Teuns, Bahrain lost all their GC hopes after Dennis has too and Colbrelli didn't go through the climbs as the other sprinters did. Astana and EF worked a lot in the peloton and got nothing out of it, same with Sunweb and Bora but at least they still saved their main man, EF had Woods loosing time and GC hopes after a crash.

The Route

Stage 9 is another interesting one, not as hard as the previous but with the majour climbs in more vital points of the stage. The start is hard and it's hard to ignore that very steep climb right there, the Mur d'Aurec-sur-Loire, it's super steep with brutal ramps, as it's likely a day with a lot of riders trying to get in the break it's possible that it will only be settled here. After follows some rolling terrain, there isn't any serious climb but flat meters come rare.

That is until the final 15Km, the Côte de Saint-Just summits with only 13Km to go and provides a vital platform for decisive attacks in case of a breakaway win. If in the peloton the same scenario applies as the descent is technical in the begining, and the road to Brioude is mostly downhill.

The Weather

The wind will still come from the north and stronger, not as strong through halfway through the stage where it could be most exposed, but in the beggining and end of the stage it will feel itself the most, with gusts over 50Km/h and both the main climbs will be dealt with a headwind so to create gaps it will be harder as will the run-up to the line.

The Favourites

It is Bastille day and as today it's a day very suited for the breakaway. Maybe with Alaphillipe and Pinot's showing today they will be motivated to do something tomorrow but the weather conditions and the Frenchman's lead they may opt to stay quiet and save themselves for later in the race. With this I assume that the breakaway has another big big chance.

The sprinters hopes lie on Sagan, Matthews and Trentin as it was the case today with all of them climbing very well, Bora has said their intentions for this stage and it should be a bit easier to control, specially if any other team is interested in chasing together with them. Riders like Alaphillipe and Greg van Avermaet can profit from a fast stage and hard climb, but not too hard in the case of the Belgian.

Pinot should be the climber more interested, Astana sparked interest today but I doubt they'll do the same tomorrow specially as Fuglsang hasn't given yet the evidence needed for such work.

Breakaway candidates on one side should be aplenty but as we seen today maybe not as many riders would really want that. There's Tim Wellens, Natnael Berhane and possibly Dylan Teuns coming for the KOM points. Vincenzo Nibali is out of the GC situation so he has the freedom aswell, everyone in the Bahrain squad in fact. If Bora has the intentions Schachmann and Muhlberger could also play a role, Benoot too is another option for Lotto.

The French will definetely have an extra motivation tomorrow, I see clear thoughts in the head of some riders such as Lilian Calmejane, AG2R may have big intentions, perhaps with Bardet aswell as will FDJ with riders like Molard and Roux have the freedom to get in the break, Waren Barguil may have a dig, Elie Gesbert is another option by Arkea who will surely try something as they failed to do so in this stage.

Over the other teams there are lots of options but it depends on their tactics. I would say Astana may want to put someone in front as they have the depth to do so, they don't however always get their proper riders to do so, Pello Bilbao and Luis Leon Sanchez would be my guesses.

Prediction Time

Alaphillipe, Sagan

Wellens, Teuns, Molard

Matthews, Trentin, van Avermaet, Meurisse, Benoot, Calmejane, Schachmann

I'm going to go with a second Sagan win. If Bora really do focus on him I think they can bring the breakaway back, and today was a sign that not many riders are really willing to push the odds.

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