Stage 9: Cluses - Tignes
Stage 9: Cluses - Tignes
Date: July 4, 2021
Stage start: 11:00 a.m. CEST
Stage type: Mountain
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.
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