Cycling: Brutal stage can be Pierre affair…

Stage 9 of the Tour, and a savage day in the Jura mountains beckons.  Peppered with climbs right from the off it includes 3  Hors category climbs, the most evil categorisation in the Tour.  They are noticeable for their steepness, with the final climb of Mont de Chat looking particularly brutal.

There is a reasonably long descent to the line, but that’ll offer little chance to regroup for those left floundering.

This day should be significant for the King of the Mountains jersey and it may well be worth looking at some of the more proficient climbers who are both unencumbered by team duties and not challenging for the yellow jersey and who may feel liberated to attack from the offset.

Rafal Majka has won that jersey twice, but lies too close to yellow to be allowed any rope today.  Thibault Pinot, Pierre Rolland, Robert Gesink and Daniel Navarro all have the ideal profile.  Of the group we probably favour Rolland, who is both far enough back whilst hinting at decent form.  He has won this type of stage in previous Tours.

Such has been the ferocity of racing this week, there must be a chance that the battle for yellow pulls back any breakaways.  If that ensues, then we could have a small group of the elite left by the top of Mont de Chat.

Fabio Aru has to be respected after showing his climbing legs in winning a few days ago in a summit finish, whilst Chris Froome may want to underline his yellow jersey position.  Richie Porte, Romain Bardet, Nairo Quintana and Dan Martin should all be there about, along hopefully with our each way yellow tip, Louis Meintjes.

However it may be Jacob Fulgsang who offers the best value.  The strongman Dane won a similar stage in a warm-up race by winning the sprint finish in an elite group and this could shape up for a repeat.  He looks a big price.

Recommendations: To win Stage 9,

Pierre Rolland, 1pt win, 16/1 generally available 

Jacob Fulgsang, 0.5pts each way, 50/1 Paddy Power, 1/4 odds top 4.

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