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Tour de France 2021: Stage 9 preview

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Stage 9 profile 2021 Tour de France

Stage 9 profile (Image credit: ASO)
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Stage 9 map 2021 Tour de France

Stage 9 map (Image credit: ASO)

Stage 9: Cluses - Tignes

Date: July 4, 2021 

Distance: 144.9km

Stage timing: 13:00 - 17:30 CEDT

Stage type: Mountain

Stage 9 preview video

Two years after the planned stage finish in Tignes had to be abandoned following a freak storm that washed out the roads on the descent from the lofty Iseran pass, the Tour is living up to its pledge for a quick return to Primož Roglič’s (Jumbo-Visma) favourite ski station with this tasty-looking stage. There are five categorised climbs on the menu, the first of them arriving soon after the start. The second-category Côte de Domancy is not particularly high, but it features some fierce ramps, renowned for providing the springboard for Bernard Hinault’s victory in the 1980 World Championships and for scattering the hopes of many contenders on the final day of last year’s Critérium du Dauphiné, notably race leader Thibaut Pinot.

It climbs into Megève, the intermediate sprint arriving soon after at Praz-sur-Arly. The riders will soon be climbing again, this time to the first-category summit of the Col des Aravis, from which there’s a long descent into Beaufort. From there, the target is the Cormet de Roselend, but this pass will be reached by a new and beautifully-spectacular route via the HC or super-category Col du Pré. It’s a hard haul too, averaging not far short of 8 per cent for 12.6 kilometres.

From the crest, the road descends to the deep blue waters of the Roselend reservoir and crosses the dam at the bottom end, before circling the lake and climbing the equally-stunning Cormet de Roselend, which is not far short of 2,000 metres high. Another long descent leads down into Bourg-Saint-Maurice and the start of the long and gradual climb up the Tarentaise valley towards Tignes.

It’s steady to begin with, but bares its teeth beneath the dam at Les Brevières, where the road switches back and forth sharply, and steeply. Gaps are likely to appear between the GC contenders and these could well stretch as the road continues to rise towards Tignes. It’s not a summit finish, because the final 2km are almost flat, but it is well over 2,000 metres high. Reaching it, many will be glad of the rest day to come.

Matt White's view

By the time we get that far into the race, you will already have seen who the real favourites are. You’ve had a time trial, you’ve had the first mountain stage and on Stage 9 the climbing starts earlier at 20km into the race and there is more potential for a strong climber’s breakaway to stick.

For the guys who are looking for stage wins, they can throw a few more logs on the fire and afford to expend a little bit more energy knowing that it’s the rest day next and the day after the rest day is more of a sprint day. One thing is for sure, on those short stages – it’s only 145km – it will be aggressive and fast so it’ll be a fast day but more of a chance for the breakaway to stick on a stage like today.

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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).

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