Saturday, 9 July 2011

Stage 9 Preview

Tomorrow the remaining 189 riders will race 208km from Issoire to Saint-Flour for a long and arduous stage with a very up and down profile featuring the Pas de Peyrol and the first-ever ascent of the Col de Perthus.

No stranger to the Tour, Issoire has featured as a stage town 3 times; in 2005, the peloton left Issoire for a stage that was won by Giuseppe Guerini in Puy-en-Velay. Featuring on two previous stages, Saint Flour is hosting the arrivee for a third time this year. In the 2004 edition it featured at the end of the longest stage of the race that year. Beginning in Limoges on Bastille Day, the stage was illuminated by Richard Virenque, who spent part of his day in a breakaway with Axel Merckx, before covering the last 67 kilometres on his own. At the finish, Virenque won his 7th stage victory; the accumulated points acquired in the mountain stages allowing him to set out to win the polka dot jersey for the seventh time: an all-time record in this discipline.

As the GC contendors seek to test the resolve and determination of each other, sizing up their aversaries along the way, there are sure to be some attacks. This will leave the door open for a breakaway rider to take a victory at the end of this leg breaking stage on the eve of the first repos. A likely candidate is Sylvan Chavanel. Last year the Frenchman won the stage at Les Rousses in the Jura when there were numerous attacks. If the God of Thunder and now of Mountains can stick to the wheel of any glory hunters in these attacks he could well remain in yellow as the race heads into stage 10 on Tuesday.

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