Stage 10 (Annecy – Le Grand-Bornand)
The first mountain stage of the tour – there is a lot of climbing, but I think someone like Dan Martin could relish that. The last climb, Colombiere, I have done before and it is a really hard one. The final downhill stretch is very technical with lots of twists and turns. The whole day is so hard and I expect there to be no big groups when they start the last climb.
Stage 11 (Albertville – La Rosière)
This is quite a short race, but we could see attacks on the opening climb. Normally when the stage is so short like this, it’s difficult for the breakaway to keep the distance because everyone is going out full gas. It will be an important battleground for the GC guys, but I know that there will be sprinters who will look at this stage and hate it. For them it will be about surviving!
Stage 12 (Bourg-Saint-Maurice Les Arc – Alpe d’Huez)
The Alpe d’Huez is one of the most famous climbs in the Tour de France – but a super hard climb! The stage in general is hard to reserve any energy, with just 20km before the first climb starts. When I look at a stage like this, it could be a good one for the breakaway.
Stage 13 (Bourg d’Oisans – Valence)
We have had a few days in the mountains by this point, so this one is certainly for the sprinters. The teams will group and work together to try and ensure a sprint finish and get the victory. The breakaway might have some opportunities to go, but I can’t look past the sprinters, especially Alexander Kristoff who I think will be so keen to fight for the stage win.
Stage 14 (Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux – Mende)
This route could be a perfect opportunity for the breakaway. If Darwin Atapuma goes with the main group, and can stay with them, we could see a repeat performance of his impressive attempt at victory in last year’s Stage 18.
Stage 15 (Millau – Carcassonne)
It is going to be a tough day at the saddle. The route is up and down, until you come to the finish, where the quicker riders on the downhill could make a break for it. But I know there is a sharp turn going into the final kilometre which could make the race interesting should there be a small group sprinting for the win. Riders will go all out knowing they have a rest day tomorrow.
It was a brutal day of racing for UAE Team Emirates as they battled through stage nine with over 22 kilometres of cobbles to contend with.
General Classification contender Dan Martin, who had sustained injuries in Saturday’s eighth stage, stayed safe in the peloton peloton and finished 32nd.
The Irishman was carefully chaperoned to the front of the race by Oliviero Troia and finally delivered to the line with the main bunch after nearly three and half hours of chaotic racing.
After dropping down the GC table in Saturday’s race, Martin’s impressive effort allowed him to recover seven positions and climb up to the 24th spot.
He is now just 3 mins 22 seconds behind the yellow jersey leader Greg van Avermaet – a time deficit that can be made up when the Tour heads to the mountains next week.
Alexander Kristoff also finished in the main group with the Norwegian taking 11th spot and earning another eight points in the green jersey standings.
Commenting on the stage, Martin said: “That was incredibly hard and I have a new level of respect for the guys that ride Paris-Roubaix. It was an amazing experience and – in a strange way – I loved every minute.
“It would have been nicer without all the crashes, but at the end of the day my bike was faultless, we made it to the finish line and we’re still in the fight for the podium.
Even after the crash on Saturday, the team still believes in me 100%, so I have to give it everything.
“I stayed relaxed and composed, made sure I ate and drank before the cobbled sections and hung back when I needed to, knowing that the team would help me pick my way back to the front when the time was right.”
John Degenkolb won the Arras-Roubaix ninth stage of the Tour de France on Sunday ahead of Greg Van Avermaet as dozens of falls and multiple withdrawals made for a slapstick spectacle amidst clouds of dust.
Van Avermaet kept hold of the overall leader’s yellow jersey on a day when his team captain Richie Porte withdrew after a fall and the main contenders all finished more or less together.
More to follow…