Sunday, 9 July 2017
2017 Tour de France: Calmejane wins in Jura. Brutal Stage 9 preview
Fine first TDF stage win for Lilian Calmejane
Chris Froome still in Yellow –
will he still be wearing it after Stage 9?
Yesterday the fine solo victory of 24-year-old Lilian Calmejean added further to the promise already shown by this young French rider. Not only was this his first TDF stage win but he took the climber's mountain polka dot jersey from Fabio Aru. Let's hope that the pressure of being a new hope for French cycling doesn't prove too much of a burden for him.
Yesterday's stage was easily the most exciting of this year's Tour with the racing fast and furious from the off and it never really settled down. As I suggested yesterday not only was there big competition to get into the break but the sprinters' teams were also keen to contest the intermediate sprint, which was early on in the stage.
The uncategorized climb out of Arbois found out some of the riders – notably Arnaud Démare and Luke Rowe, the team captain of Sky.
Eventually a large group of riders got away around 80 kilometres into the stage but Sky managed to control this well. By the finish only Calmejean, who won despite a bout of cramp just five kilometres from the finish, and Robert Gesink were ahead of the still substantial peloton. None of the overall contenders made any serious attack, perhaps wanting to wait for today's very tough stage.
Stage 9: Nantua to Chambéry 181.5 kms
Today's ferocious profile with three HC climbs
First two HC climbs
Mont du Chat
Today's stage with its three HC climbs is certainly very tough. Let's hope that the racing lives up to expectation. It could go either way: the contenders look at attack Sky and Chris Froome or it becomes a procession with contenders fearful to take the risk, especially as thundery showers are forecast for today.
We could see big changes to the overall order tonight. Will Froome still be in Yellow or will it be Fabio Aru or Richie Porte or Dan Martin. How will Nairo Quintana and Alberto Contador fare?
As this stage starts with an immediate climb up the Cat 2 Côte des Neyrolles and if I was one of Froome's rivals I would look to attack right from the start and hope to repeat what happened in Stage 15 of the 2016 Vuelta when Froome was isolated on a similar start.