Published July 07, 2013
SAINT-GIRONS, France (AFP) – After a dramatic Saturday in which Chris Froome seized the Tour de France yellow jersey with a stunning ride to the finish at Ax-Trois-Domaines, there is a risk that Sunday's ninth stage will be something of an anti-climax in comparison.
The peloton will complete their weekend in the Pyrenees with a short ride of 168 kilometres from Saint-Girons to Bagneres-de-Bigorre in the final stage before the first rest day of this year's Tour.
The finish at Bagneres-de-Bigorre sits just at the foot of the famous Tourmalet, although that climb does not feature on the menu for this Sunday.
A daunting total of five climbs do await the peloton, though, including four category-one ascents, among which is the particularly steep Col de Val Louron-Azet.
Temperatures are again expected to be fine, although they should be a little fresher than in previous days, with maximums of 27 centigrade forecast.
Unlike Saturday, the finish to the stage does not feature a climb, with the final ascent on La Hourquette d'Ancizan coming 30 kilometres from the line.
That means that, unless Alberto Contador decides he has to attack and reduce his deficit down to overall leader Froome, this may not turn out to be a decisive day in the general classification.
Instead, it could be perfect for a breakaway, and appears suited to those riders eager to get their hands on the polka dot jersey for the King of the Mountains - a competition which is currently led jointly by Pierre Rolland and Froome.
Froome's Sky teammate Richie Porte lies just behind, though, while Movistar boss Eusebio Unzue hinted that Colombian climbing specialist Nairo Quintana may attack again after his stunning showing on the Col de Pailheres on Saturday.
Meanwhile, home hopes may rest with Thomas Voeckler, who has struggled in the heat over the last couple of days but may consider this stage to be cut out for him.