Stage 9: Gérardmer - Mulhouse
Although a shorter stage than the previous day, stage 9 will put the hurt on the riders, with four Cat 3 climbs, one Cat 2 and the Cat 1 Le Ballon d'Alsace to burn the legs - just over 9km at 6.8% - which is something to get a bit excited about. It was the first climb of the Tour in 1905, and as such represents the first real test of the climbers 100 years later. Without Virenque in '05, there may be a new mountain king looking to make his mark early on the big climbs, as this represents the first real mountainous stage and an opportunity for GC contenders to consolidate their position if they're feeling up to it. Whoever takes the stage will have to possess a decent sprint, as it's a good 60km from the summit of Ballon d'Alsace to the finish in Mulhouse, and those teams that can assemble any sort of order after the descent will be in with a real chance of the stage win.
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