The last stage before the first rest day of the tour is also the final day in the Pyrenees. The tour has decided to test the riders before they are allowed to relax for a day with three category 1 climbs, a category 2 climb and a mountain summit finish up the Hors Categorie Andorre Arcalis. Right from the beginning heading southeast out of the Spanish town of Vielha Val d'Aran riders will start the ascent up the Port de la Bonaigua. After a fast descent into Sort riders face the second category 1 climb up Port del Cantò. THis climb is not as steep as the first, but is longer at 19 km. The descent off the climb is a bit more technical, but the roads are wide and fast. As the course passes through Adrall it swings back north away from Spain and towards Andorra. The long sustained incline hits the intermediate sprint point just before the start of the category 2 climb of Côte de la Comella. Riders will almost immediately go into the Col de Beixalis with an average grade of 8.5% for 6.4 km. The final test will be up the HC Andorre Arcalis which features a series of 12 switchbacks in the last 5 km at an average grade of 7.5%.
|Stage Distance||184.67 km|
|Avg. Peloton Speed||35.54 km/h|
|Avg. Pulling Power||331.71 watts|
|Avg. Pulling Yaw||2.62 °|
What little wind there is will be a cross for the first 120 km. Once the riders start heading towards Andorra there may be a slight tail wind but with the current forecasts it will be negligible. The temperatures will be high again in the mid to upper 20s which has already given some riders like Thibaut Pinot issues in the mountains. One interesting note is that the pressure is a bit lower than it has been so far in the tour, this will make the air just a slight bit easier to cut through aerodynamically and every little bit will help on a stage like this.
Stage 8 was an amazing stage that saw Froome storm to the lead on an improbable attack right before and throughout the final descent into Bagnères-de-Luchon. It was a move no one, especially Nairo Quintana saw coming. Stage 9 should prove to be another epic battle between these two riders. With Froome now in yellow expect Sky to set the tempo and try to control the race. Like stage 8 the leading group should dwindle throughout the 4 categorized climbs into Andorra. After today's stage Quintana will want to strike back on the final climb up the HC Andorre Arcalis and show Froome he will be there till the end. Looking at the final climb with the Time Analysis tool, the optimal attack sections will be around 175 km where the road kicks up in gradient to around 9% for a short period. Movistar may try a one two punch with Valverde and Quintana if they believe there is a chance to isolate Froome with an attack there. A second sustained attack right after a relatively flatter section at 179.5 km when the road kicks back up to 7.5% grade could be a possibility as well. Sky looked strong on stage 8, so it may prove to be very difficult to isolate Froome, but the Andorre Arcalis Summit finish represents their best chance till the last week of the tour.