Stage9 preview

Take the high ground

Today's stage starts off easily enough, but there's barely a metre of flat road in its final two-thirds. The six categorised climbs are split between four cat 2 and two cat 3 hills, so the challenge isn't excessive for the main contenders, who should stay pretty tightly packed. However, a few of the overall title outsiders may get shaken out of contention as the pace heats up towards the finish. For those just looking for a stage win, today offers a good opportunity of a break succeeding, but they'll need their climbing legs.

Inside knowledge

This stage offers a chance to join the battle for the mountains title, which has been won for the past two years by David Moncoutié. The Cofidis climber has made taking a third title a major objective in what could well be his final pro season, but might still decide against a long day in a break collecting a relatively insubstantial amount of points on these middle-ranking mountains. More likely to join the fray are riders from less powerful teams, such as Footon, Bbox and Française Des Jeux. The latter's Thibaut Pinot and Arthur Vichot are in line for their major tour debuts and will target days like this.

Those looking for mountains classification points will have to do battle with two-time Vuelta King of the Mountains, David Moncoutié. Spaniard Egoi Martínez could potentially make taking a third title difficult for the Frenchman.

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