With both of the main British hopes in both the pursuit of the Yellow and Green jersey’s no longer competing, the Tour de France’s ninth stage begins with many fans looking for new heroes to follow.
Setting off on a 170km journey from Gerardmer to Mulhouse, the riders embark on a low mountain stage where the sheer number of climbs, rather than the severity of them, is the greatest challenge to overcome.
From the outset, the cyclists are asked to commute uphill and it isn’t until the 127th kilometre that they can finally enjoy the ease of descent, as they start to speed down into Mulhouse for the finish.
One day before the main, gruelling climbs begin, the ninth stage will be quite a marker at showing who the strong riders are as six climbs are slated for the stage in total.
Appearing tailor made for a lone rider to strike with a breakaway and make it count, there’s one all-round rider who must fancy his chances of taking a rare stage win.
Peter Sagan, the consistent young Slovakian rider for Cannondale, has been wearing the Tour’s Green jersey ever since the end of the second stage.
Adept at climbing and capable in the sprint – the final 20km of stage nine are flat, for a sprint finish – Sagan is renowned for picking up points in both types of race, as his all-round ability keeps in the mix whether the stage be undulating or flat.
Yet to win a stage on the Tour so far, Sagan has not been out of the top five in any of the previous stages so far.
Now with the chance to show his ability in a stage that seems perfectly set for him, Sagan can get his name up on the winner’s board and further extend his advantage in the race to be the points classification victor, something he’s 1/20 to achieve.
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