TDF Rest Day/Stage 9 Preview

13 Jul

I hope you were able to get some rest on rest day. I know I certainly needed a rest from writing, but then here I am anyway.

Just a little heads up about the stage tomorrow – in one word – difficult. In a few more words – difficult, but not the type of stage that should dislodge any of the true contenders. With that said, some that look like contenders may lose significant time. Plus, as Stage 8 taught us, anything can happen to anyone – including the true contenders.

On Stage 9, there are four climbs: Col de la Colombiere (Cat. 1), Col des Aravis (Cat. 2), Col des Saisies (Cat. 1), and Col de la Madeleine (HC). HC is Hors Catégorie, which is French for – "so difficult it is beyond category".

Unlike Stages 8 and 7, Stage 9 will not feature an uphill finish. The finish is actually 40km from the summit of the Madeleine – a harrowing technical descent that flattens out about 10km from the end. If the area is not too heavily treed, we should get good video coverage of the riders flying down the descent. You will not believe how fast they go!

In tomorrow’s stage we will likely see a breakaway of riders in search of points or a win, and multiple splits in the main field along the climbs. The biggest selection of riders will occur on the last climb of the day – the monstrous Madeleine.

Something to keep in mind is once the riders reach the summit then start their descent towards the finish, those that were dropped due the climb may be able to rejoin. Meaning that time lost on the climb may be regained on the descent – depending on the ability of the rider to negotiate this very tricky descent.

Although these climbs are very challenging, they are not the toughest that riders will face in this year’s Tour. That distinction belongs to the Col du Tourmalet in the Pyrenees, which the riders will climb twice this year.

There very well will be riders finish outside the time limit for Stage 9 and thus get eliminated.

One other thing, although it is counterintuitive, Tour riders often have a difficult time racing the day after a rest day. A day of (active) rest can actually leave them feeling sluggish and slow.

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