Stage 9 preview

The fearsome Madeleine

Following a rest day in beautiful Morzine, the peloton confronts the toughest Alpine stage.

There are four big climbs culminating in the fearsome Madeleine. The top sections of the Colombière will be familiar from last year when the riders came onto this side of the climb from the Col de Romme and Alberto Contador’s attack dropped team-mate Andreas Klöden but not the Schlecks. The Aravis is straightforward, the Saisies less so, and the Madeleine’s 20km ascent is brutal. The realistic contenders for the overall will emerge.

Procycling’s favourite to win:

Uncertainty surrounds the participation of Caisse d’Epargne team leader Alejandro Valverde with the UCI seeking to extend his ban from racing in Italy to a worldwide exclusion. There are no such doubts over team-mate Luis León Sánchez, though. Winner of the eighth stage last year and the seventh the year before, Sánchez thrives on this kind of terrain, his daredevil descending skills coming into play on mountains like the Madeleine. Watch too for namesake Samuel, the Euskaltel team leader. Both men have some zip in their finishing kick.

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