This is a difficult stage to predict. It’s a medium mountain day that heads uphill from the gun- but ends with a long descent into Mulhouse that should give any contenders on a bad day the chance to latch back on.
If ever a breakaway is going to succeed in this Tour it will be on Stage 9, which appears tailor-designed to give a lone rider the opportunity to escape and stay hidden for the entire day. There’s no rest from the up-and-down until the 127 of 170 kilometres, when the riders begin the extended downhill into the city with the very Germanic name.
There’s no truly terrifying mountain on which the yellow jersey contenders might hope to distance each other. But the sheer number and intensity of the climbs- six in total are categorised- is enough to hurt both legs and mind. The Tour will almost assuredly not be won on this prototypical Vosgian stage- but it could well be lost by a contender suddenly lacking in form.
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