Meaty, beaty, big and bouncy. It's the second day in the Pyrenees and we have a proper GC battle on our hands.
Jumbo-Visma looked less than convincing on stage 8, Pogačar clawed some time back, Yates sat tight, Pinot cracked, while Quintana, Landa and Bardet impressed.
Should be a good one. Eyes down for some prediction action with the Cycling Mole
Stage 9: Pau - Laurens (153km)
Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hangrohe) The German is yet to reveal the form that he showed in the Critérium du Dauphiné but with a breakaway likely, Sagan isn't going to need much today and Buchmann shouldn't have any difficulty staying with the GC group, so I hope the (relative) youngster is allowed the freedom to get out front and show what he can do.
Primoz Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) Fingers crossed this is the short, sharp day that Jumbo-Visma choose to go hell for leather and whittle everything down. Only the very best will be left over the Peyresourde, the Slovenian is a handy descender (did you know he used to be a ski jumper?) and he may even have a team-mate with him if it comes to a sprint.
Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates) Just gonna keep repeating my picks until one of them comes in. Pogačar had a bad day in the crosswinds on Friday, but he can still climb with the best of them and that ought to buy him some freedom.
Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates) While it was sad to see him lose decent time on stage 7, it might just free up Pogačar to think about the stages. With some badass mountains today, I could see the young Slovenian getting more time back and winning the stage.
Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic)
He may have unfortunately lost his mountains helper Diego Rosa to a crash on stage 8 but I'm not convinced he needs him. Bernal looks in fine shape so, for the THIRD time in this Tour, go Nairo!
Cycling Mole says...
Another blank drawn, but Peter’s Nan winning was a bit of a surprise. Stage 9 and we’re still in the mountains. Given Mitchelton-Scott’s attitude to catching the break, this one looks like another day to get up the road early. The last climb is a cat 1, but the final 4.3km is at 11.3%, it is brutal. The pressure is not on Jumbo-Visma to chase the break, they already have three stage wins to their name and won’t be keen on burning their domestiques, especially as they weren’t at their very best today. If the break is going to get caught, it will be up to UAE and Astana. It’s one of those days where we’ll just have to wait and see.
Looking at the panel – who must be wondering what’s happening to them – only Ben is going with the break. For the first time he seems to be on the right wavelength, and his pick of Kämna is a good one. Everyone else is favouring the GC riders to fight for the win, which certainly could happen. The rest of the crew are going all Slovenian and have picked the best two riders in the race: Roglič and Pogačar. For me, the final climb is perfect for Roglič, he is a master on steep slopes.
I’ll take a risk and go with the break, which is dangerous, but that’s how I roll! After having already correctly predicted a breakaway winner this week, my chances of getting another are low, but I am the best after all. It’s time for another win for Julian Alaphilippe. Allez!