Stage 9: Issoire - Saint-Flour
A rollercoaster ride
The final stage before the first rest day fulfils Prudhomme's desire for unpredictability. That the last winner in Saint-Flour was Richard Virenque back in 2004 says a good deal about what the riders are up against today. There's very little riding on the flat, just frequently steep ups and downs. At almost 1600m, the Pas de Peyrol is the highest road pass in the Massif Central. Following it are the not-insignificant Perthus and Prat de Bouc passes before the road drops irregularly towards Saint-Flour. The finish is uphill too and could well result in a breakaway rider finishing alone.
Distance: 208 km
Highest point: 1,589m
Category: Medium mountains
Vin Denson says...
"These rolling stages are impossible to call. People associate the Alps and Pyrenees with the brutality of the Tour, but days like this are generally much, much harder. They will be full gas for 150km, and lots of strong guys will be targeting it."
Matt White says...
"A day for the break and maybe even the handing over of the yellow jersey. A lot of riders will be thinking of the joy of the Tour's first rest day tomorrow."
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