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Monday, July 12, 2010

Tour de France Preview - Stage 9

If you are a Tour rider and look at the profile of Stage 9 and you are not a climber, you will quickly realize it is going to be a long, long day. If you are a climber or a contender for the overall classification, you realize that it is going to be a long and stressful day. 204 kilometers (127 miles), three category climbs, one Hors Categorie (beyond categorization) climb (de la Madeleine), combined with the heat will make it a tough day for all.

The climbs are steep and long, the Col de la Colombiere at 20 km (12 miles long). The Col de la Madeleine goes up for about 30 km to close out the day has several pitches over 9% grades, that is a vertical rise of nine feet for every 100 feet of horizontal feet traveled. In other words you would be nine feet higher to the clouds after traveling about 30 yards, 2 to 3 times steeper than your average U.S. overpass.

The first three climbs come in the first 2/3 of the course with about 50km of descent and flats for recovery before the final climb starts. That positioning almost certainly means that a breakaway (a group of 15-20 probably) will almost certainly ride away top tackle the climbs on their own. If the breakaway wants to succeed, they'll need about 12-18 minutes at the base of the Madeleine to keep the climbing specialists from crossing the finish line first. Look for someone that can go downhill better than his companions to steal away on the long fast descent to Saint-Jean de Maurienne. 

Only someone who is not a threat to the overall will be allowed in the breakaway, that leaves out a number of choices, such as Sanchez (2:05 down), Hesjedal, (1:11 down), Van den Broeck or Vinokourov (3:05) because they would still be considered a threat to the yellow jersey. How about I put my money on Hincapie (42:20) , or Gerdemann (25:45), or maybe I'll whisper (Armstrong) who may want to show what he can do when he doesn't hit the deck.

Whomever wins the one, will deserve it. Adieu


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graphic by Velonews

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