Shortly after Flèche Wallonne, Michael Rasmussen travelled to the French Vosges region to reconnoitre stage nine of this year's Tour de France. Although the stage parcours does not (yet) take the riders into high mountain ranges, July 10 could be a treacherous day as several climbs, including the Grand Ballon and the Ballon d'Alsace, have to be mastered before the bunch will ride on the final flat kilometres to Mulhouse.
"It will be a pretty hard stage," Rasmussen wrote in his diary at Feltet.dk. "It is right out of the school yard and up hill. On the first 60 km there are four climbs, so it is definitely a stage in which 40 riders can easily fail to meet the time limit. You are certainly not allowed to have a bad day." He also thinks that this stage might be a good opportunity for a stage win. "It suits me - the harder the better. That will be the first day of separation within the overall classification," he added.