Toulouse – Bagneres-de-Bigorre, 224km
What will happen?
The Pyrenees arrive. It’s already been a hard week, but this is a brute. Okay, so it’s not as glamorous as a stage with a summit-finish and the descent from the Col d’Aspin to the finish is a little uninspiring, but this is a real energy-sapper. It’s also very long, at 224 kilometres. Even on the fast schedule it’s anticipated it’ll take the riders almost six hours. The favourites may well choose to wait until Hautacam on Monday to make their mark but they could end up at the front by default as the breakaway riders tire in the latter stages.
What is the terrain like?
Lumpy all day and mountains at the end. The first 125km feature four fourth-category hills and a third-category hill. This is not a straightforward run at the Col de Peyresourde, it’s up and down all day and the peloton could split up as early as the third-cat Col des Ares.
The main climbs
Col de Peyresourde – first-category climb with 57km to go. It’s 13.2km long at an average gradient of 7.1 per cent
Col d’Aspin – first-category climb with 26km to go. It’s 12.3km long at an average gradient of 6.5 per cent
Will Kirchen stay in yellow?
Probably, but again it won’t be easy. He should be able to stay with the other overall favourites over the two first-category climbs and even if he does get dropped on the Col d’Aspin should get back on, provided he doesn’t lose too much time. As long as he doesn’t blow, he should be fine.
What they say…
Alejandro Valverde, still nursing injuries from his fall the other day. “I had a good day. With the rain it was important to get through without any problems. Now we go to the mountains and the race changes again.”
Kim Kirchen: “I have waited a long time to be in this position so I am not nervous. I climbed well in the Pyrenees last year. For sure it’ll be a different experience with the yellow jersey on my back. I have lost the lead in the green jersey competition, but at the moment that is not the priority. Anyway, I will hopefully score some points in the mountain stages.”
Damiano Cunego: “It has been a strange Tour so far. The last days have been on difficult roads and it’s been dangerous. I am glad we’re at the mountains because it makes it easier to ride at the front without complications. I hope to regain the time I lost at Super Besse and Aurillac. Just because I lost time there does not mean I will lose more in the Pyrenees.”
Who’s wearing the jerseys?
Yellow Kim Kirchen (Team Columbia)
Green Oscar Freire (Rabobank)
Polka-dots David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval)
White Thomas Lovkvist (Team Columbia)
CW’s tip for the win
Alejandro Valverde. With a shallow 26-kilometre descent to the finish after the Col d’Aspin, it’s not going to be a day for individual heroics, but a group effort. Unless the favourites let a small group get such a big lead by the top of the Peyresourde they can’t catch them, there will probably be a general regrouping on the way down.
Then it’s a question of whether anyone can get away on the run-in. If not, the stage will go to the fastest sprinter, and that’s Valverde.
Stage 9 info: map, profile and more
|TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: STAGE REPORTS
Stage eight: Cavendish wins again in Toulouse
Stage seven: Sanchez takes action-packed stage
Stage six: Ricco storms to win
Stage five: Cavendish takes first Tour win
Stage four: Schumacher wins TT and takes race lead
Stage three: Dumoulin wins stage from break
Stage two: Hushovd wins chaotic sprint
Stage one: Valverde wins
|TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: NEWS
Cavendish talks about his second stage win [stage eight]
Beltran heads home but doubts remain about other Tour riders
David Millar: the dope controls are working
Manuel Neltran tests positive for EPO at the Tour
Comment: How the Tour rediscovered its spirit
Doping back in Tour de France headlines
Millar: close but no cigar in Super-Besse [stage six]
Super-Besse shows form of main contenders [stage six]
Millar to go for yellow [stage six]
Team Columbia’s reaction to Cavendish’s win [stage five]
Cavendish talks about his Tour stage win
Tour comment: Why Evans should be happy [stage four]
Millar: Still aiming for Tour yellow jersey [stage 4]
Who is Romain Feillu?
Cavendish disappointed with stage two result
Millar too close to Tour yellow jersey
Stage 2 preview: A sprint finish for Cavendish?
Millar happy after gains precious seconds in Plumelec
Valverde delighted with opening Tour stage win
Comment: Is Valverde’s win a good thing for the Tour?
|TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: PHOTOS
|TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: GUIDE
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