Stage 15 in last year’s Tour de France made it plain and clear: you don’t have to go to the Alps or Pyrenees for captivating mountain stages. Jarlinson Pantano took the win ahead of Rafal Majka because he was the best descender and the finish was downhill after climbing a sheer endless series of Jura cols.
The Grand Colombier was in the roadbook twice in last year’s stage 15 and in stage 9 of the 2017 Tour de France the climb also pops up. The mountain is tackled from the toughest side, meaning grades at 22%. Col de la Biche and Mont du Chat are on the ‘Menu du Jour’, too.
The start is easy – or so it seems. Côte des Neyrolles is a 3.2 kilometres climb at 7.2%. Doable, one would argue. But after ‘cresting’ Neyrolles, at an elevation of 825 metres, there is no such thing as a descent as the climb goes on to Col de Bérentin, peaking at 1,144 metres. An average gradient of 4.25%. Still no descent but a false flat leading to the Col de Cuvery. And then, finally, the drop.
The race is 16.5 kilometres underway and that’s just the beginning. Col de la Biche makes its presence felt with around 50 kilometres done. The climb is 10.5 kilometres at 9% and comes with a surprise at the top. Following a short decent the road goes up again for 1 kilometre at 3.5%.
Following the descent of the Col de la Biche the next monster is tackled on the steep west side. This way the Grand Colombier 8.5 kilometres at 9.9% with a steepest stretch at 22% almost halfway. The first half of the climb is hardest, while the average grade biased by 1 kilometre at 3.4%.
After the Grand Colombier the riders arrive on the route of the 6th stage of the Critérium du Dauphine, a race that came down to a clash between Fuglsang, Porte, Froome and Aru. They crossed the line in that order, although Porte would have won the sprint if Froome had not closed the door to his former team mate along the barriers.
After the passage in Culoz the ensuing route of stage 9 in the Tour travels on the same roads as above-mentioned Dauphiné stage. The village lies 19 kilometres before the top of Côte de Jongieux, which is a minor climb of 3,9 kilometres at 4.2%. Following a short descent the route starts to climb, although this is not yet part of the official Mont du Chat ascent. After some 6 kilometres the riders arrive on a small plateau and only then the last climb of the day is in full swing. Mont du Chat is a 8.7 kilometres drag, running from an elevation of 606 metres to 1,504 metres, thus averaging 10.3%. Kilometres 5 to 8 are steepest, while the last kilometre is going up at 9.5%.
A technical descent, in which Froome put huge pressure on his rivals in the Dauphiné, plunges down into the valley. The riders fly over a small hill before a final stretch of 8 (flat) kilometres run to the line.
The first three riders in Chambery take time bonuses at 10, 6 and 4 seconds.
Read also: results/race report 9th stage 2017 Tour de France.
Tour de France 2017 stage 9: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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