Saturday, July 6, 2013

Stage 9 Preview and Profile 2013 Tour De France


The first big mountain stage is behind them. Team Sky and their leader Chris Froome put the hammer down, and it is up to the challengers to try and reclaim what he took from them on Saturday.

The stage 9 profile covers five Pyrenean mountains

Stage 9 is the last in the Pyrenees

Now they have stage 9, and more mountains to contend with.  Stage 9 takes the riders 168.5 kilometers from Saint-Girons to Bagneres-de-Bigorre. On the way they will climb five mountains, four of which are category-1 climbs. The first climb is a cat-2 that comes early, about 23k into the stage, and it will make a fine point of attack.

Almost immediately after that, comes the cat-1 Col de Menté (7k at 7.7%).
After about 20k of relatively easy roads that lead to the intermediate sprint in Bagneres de-Luchon, come three consecutive category-1 climbs that all top 1500 meters in altitude. Not gargantuan, but tough enough to do some damage to the field. This will thin out the peloton a good deal.


The Peyresourde profile

The middle climb is the long and steady Col de Peyresourde. They will be climbing from the opposite direction that they climbed it in stage 16, last year. This side is 13.2k at 7%. From the Peyresourde, there will be no respite whatsoever. The fourth climb is the cat-1 Col de Val Louron-Azet. It logs in at 7.4k at 8.3%.

The last and worst climb is the cat-1 La Hourquette d’Ancizan. It tops out with about a 30k descent to the finish in Bagneres-de-Bigorre. It is the fourth cat-1 in a row, and is listed as 9.9k long, averaging 7.5% incline. Look for an elite group to go over the last climb and race down the early part of the descent putting as much time behind them and whoever is trying to chase.

The final climb before the 30k descent to the finish

That 30k descent looks like enough room for dedicated riders to get back on to a lead group, but after all the climbing I would not expect too many besides the cream of the crop to be there to contest the finish. It looks to me like a good stage for Rui Costa of Movistar, Roman Kreuziger or Nicolas Roche of Saxo-Tinkoff, Michal Kwiatkowski of Omega Pharma, or maybe Mikel Nieve of Euskaltel. It will come down to the men who recover best after the stage 8 effort.

I definitely expect to see Froome, Valverde, and Contador there at the finish, and probably Mollema, Fuglsang and Dan Martin as well. I would say Evans, Pinot and Hesjedal, too, but like I said, it will come down to how well they all recover overnight.

MY PICK: Rui Costa (Movistar)


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