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July 8 update: The past several years have seen the high mountains being decisive, but this year it's expected to be the time-trials. Stage 9 is the first of two long time-trials at this year's Tour which along with the prologue total 101 km, 40 km more than the last three years and we have to go back to 2007, the end of the crazy time-trial era, to find a Tour that had more.
The stage 9, 41.5 km time-trial is a point-to-point course from Arc-et-Senans to Besançon, ironically the clock making capital of France. There are no categorized climbs, but the middle section is lumpy with some tricky descending and the final kms are very technical. There are also plenty of flat, straight sections for the power men like Fabian Cancellara who will be one of the favorites, of course. Current World TT Champ, Tony Martin, was expected to be his main rival but he broke a small bone in his hand earlier in the week. He's stayed in the race to make it to this stage after which he is expected to abandoned. How much his injury will hamper him is unknown.
Among the GC contenders, Bradley Wiggins and Cadel Evans are expected to put at least one-minute into their rivals and either one, in particular Bradley Wiggins, could also win the stage although, the lumpy, technical TT may end up favoring Cadel Evans. Considering both have already distanced themselves from many potential rivals after the first mountainous stage on Saturday, this year's Tour could already be down to a two men race heading into the first rest day on Tuesday. But, there are always surprises in the TTs at the Tour especially after two hard days of racing. — Steve
Stage 9 Start Order and Times (CET, subtract 6 hours for EDT) — biciciclismo