2009 Tour de France Preview
The parcours of the 2009 Tour de France is definitely different.
1 Port d'Envalira at 23.5 km, the Category 2 Col de Port at 102 km, and the Category 1 Col d'Agnes at 132.5 km. Look for fireworks on the Cols de Port and d'Agnes, with a group of breakaways fighting for the win.
Stage 9, a 160.5-km ride from Saint-Gaudens to Tarbes, will take the riders over the Category 1 Col d'Aspin at 60.5 km and the hors categorie Col du Tourmalet at 90 km. Look for escapees to vie for the win.
After a rest day, the riders will take on Stages 10 to 12. The flattish, 194.5-km run from Limoges to Issoudun will be tackled on Bastille Day, so it is nice to hope for a French winner, but a foreign sprinter such as Cavendish or Hushovd is more likely to win. Stage 11, a rolling, 192-km run from Vatan to Saint-Fargeau, should end in a bunch sprint as well. Stage 12, a rolling, 211.5-ride from Tonnerre to Vittel, is hillier than its two predecessors, but the sprinters' teams should be able to control the finish.
The riders will return to the mountains for Stage 13. The 200-km ride from Vittel to Colmar will feature the Category 1 Cols du Platzerwasel (138.5 km) and du Firstplan (179.5 km). Look for a group of no-hope climbers and breakaway men to scrap for the finish.
Stage 14 will be a 199-km ride from Colmar to Besancon. It will be the last chance that a flatlander will have to win for nearly a week, so expect the sprinters to fight hard for this stage. Cavendish, Freire, and Hushovd are the ones to bet on.
Stages 15 to 19 will be a decisive phase of the 2009 Tour. Stage 15, a 207-km ride from Pontarlier to Verbier, Switzerland, will end with a Category 1 ascent. Stage 16, a 160-km ride from Martigny to Bourg-Saint-Maurice, will feature the hors categorie Col du Grand-Saint-Bernard (40.5 km) and the Category 1 Col du Petit-Saint-Bernard. Stage 17, the 2009 Tour's queen stage, will be a 169-km ride from Bourg-Saint-Maurice to Le Grand-Bornand, will feature four Category 1 ascents. Stage 18 will be a 40 km time trial in Annecy that might favor the good stage race time trialists as opposed to the time trial specialists.
Stage 19 will be a 178-km transitional stage from Bourgoin-Jallieu to Aubenas. The stage, which will be rolling, will feature a Category 2 climb at 160 km that might see a breakaway seize the day. Stage 20, a 167-km ride from Montelimar to Mont Ventoux, will sort out the race with its legendary hors categorie finishing climb (if the race has not already been sorted out). Stage 21, a flat, 184-km run from Montereau-Fault-Yonne to Paris, will be the traditional procession for the winner.