Tour de France Stage 9 Preview: The Jagged Plateaus of the Massif Central
Stage 9 of the 2019 Tour leaves Saint-Étienne and heads west into the Massif Central highland region of southern France. With a jagged profile similar to Stage 8, the 170.5K course features three categorised climbs – plus several more that could have been categorised, but weren’t.
A breakaway will go early, and you can bet it will include Tim Wellens, who currently wears the polka dot jersey. A steep Category 1 climb comes 36.5K in, and with 10 points available at the summit, Wellens should go on the attack and try to extend his lead in the King of the Mountains competition. The next 100K bounce up and down a series of plateaus before descending back into the valley on the way to the finish in Brioude.
As we’ve seen twice already in this year’s Tour (on stages 3 and 8), the finale features a late Category 3 climb and a fast downhill to the finish. With the breakaway expected to get caught beforehand – a long stretch of flats between the last two climbs will give the peloton an edge over escapees – attacks will be fierce as riders fight for the stage win.
Riders to Watch
It’s another ideal stage for Julian Alaphilippe. The current overall leader took advantage of similar finishes to win Stage 3 and regain the yellow jersey on Stage 8, making him a top favourite for Stage 9. (As if the Frenchman needed any more motivation, it’s also Bastille Day.)
But if sprinters like Peter Sagan, Michael Matthews, and Greg Van Avermaet can make it over the final climb without letting anyone escape, we could see a very elite group sprint for the win in Brioude.