Stage 9: Gérardmer - Mulhouse
Category: Medium mountains
Highest point: 1,336m
After finishing in Gérardmer the day before, the riders get to stay in town for the night and depart from there this morning. We are likely to see the general classification battle begin to take shape here, as they take on six classified climbs, including the first category one climb of the race.
The route leave no time to get in some road miles, as the road heads upwards almost as soon as the riders roll off the start line. The sprinters are in for a tough day and the grupetto will be forming pretty early.
There will already have been some tough days, especially the cobbles on stage five, so gaps will already be appearing in the general classification. With so many climbs on this stage, anyone who makes it into the break is in with a shot of wearing the polka-dot jersey by the end. This stage suits a rider such as Christophe Riblon, who won’t be put off tough parcours.
From the top of the final climb there is a long descent towards Cernay. Good descenders such as Vincenzo Nibali can use this as a chance to put some time into rivals like Chris Froome and Alberto Contador. However, he may find it difficult to keep them at bay over the 20 kilometres of flat roads to the finish in Mulhouse.
Alex Sans Vega says... "Every time the Tour comes to the Vosges, the stages are very interesting. I expect a big group to go and make it to the finish. At this point, the sprinters' teams won't work and we won't see a clear leader. It's going to be exciting, with action from the start."
Jens Voigt has previous in these parts. In 2005, the Tour de France ran a stage from Gérardmer to Mulhouse that took in a few different climbs on that day. Michael Rasmussen was the winner on the day, after attacking at kilometre four. Voigt finished over three minutes later, but rode himself into yellow. It was also the stage where Jan Ullrich somersaulted his way off the side of the road.
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