Tour de France 2022, stage nine
Start location: Aigle
Finish location: Châtel les portes du soleil
Start time: 11:30 BST
Finish time (approx): 16.28 BST
Historically, Aigle gained its prominence as a commercial centre in mediaeval times from its position between northern Europe and Italy. When it joined Canton Bern in the Old Swiss Confederacy (what became modern Switzerland) in 1476, it was the first French-speaking area to do so, helping to build the foundation of the country’s multilingualism.
However, these days Aigle is mainly famous for the fact that cycling’s governing body, the UCI, has its headquarters in the town, in a postmodern edifice of concrete and aluminium (carbon fibre might have been, in retrospect, a more appropriate if more expensive option), set in manicured and landscaped lawns.
The Tour de France makes its first ever visit to Aigle, for the final stage before the first rest day proper of the 2022 event. Though the UCI and the Tour’s organisers ASO have their differences, relations are somewhat warmer than at the advent of the WorldTour (then the ProTour) in the mid-2000s, when the French organisation pulled all of their races from the competition, along with Giro d’Italia organisers RCS. It is not known whether ASO charged Aigle more for hosting the Tour than other stage towns.
The stage heads back down from Aigle to the waterfront of Lac Léman, following the Rhône river into the lake, then skirting the north shore. The peloton will make faster progress than the water in the lake: Lac Léman’s Residence Time (the length of time the water in a lake takes to flow from intake to outlet) is 11 and a half years; the peloton should get to the northward turn at Bourg-en-Lavaux, where they will head up into the hills, in about 45 minutes. The route traces a loop around the cantons of Fribourg and Vaud, including the second-category climb of the Col des Mosses and the cat-one Col de la Croix, before passing back through Aigle. The final 40km of the stage are probably the hardest: the race will head back up into the Alps towards the French border, and cross back into France over the first-category Pas de Morgins. It’s not quite a summit finish, but by the time the race crests the Morgins, after 15.4km of climbing, there’s little respite. There’s no big descent after the top, just five kilometres of downhill, then four kilometres of drag up to the line at the Pré-la-Joux ski station, part of the Portes du Soleil ski domain.
Tour de France 2022 Stage nine map and profile
Starting at the UCI's base in Aigle, Switzerland, the opening 33km of this stage is on the flat lands – premium terrain for a breakaway to establish itself. The Côte de Bellevue is the first climb of the day and it is followed by a false flat until the bunch will reach the Col des Mosses, a 13.3 kilometres climb at 4.1%. The Col de la Croix which follows is a shorter climb at 8.8 kilometres but at 7.6% average gradient, it is steeper.
The riders descend back towards Aigle until they hit the penultimate climb, the, Pas de Morgins, a 15.4 kilometre climb at 6.1%. This won't be where the stage is won, but will definitely indicate who is on a good day and who could struggle.
After the Morgins, the riders will descend to the last climb of the day which lasts just 3.7 kilometres at 3.9%. The finish line lies at the gate of Portes du Soleil at an elevation of 1,297 metres.
Tour de France 2022 Predictions and contenders
The biggest question surrounding this stage is if the GC contenders will see it as a chance to gain time on each other, or if it will be an opportunity for the breakaway. Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) has made it clear that he finds it hard to resist the chance of a stage win if the opportunity presents itself, and if the yellow jersey wearer makes his move, the likes of Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo Visma) and Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) will be forced to follow.
We think that the most likely outcome of this stage is for the breakaway to stay away, however. If this happens, the likes of Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) are riders who we can expect to be in the fight for the stage win. Lennard Kämna (BORA-Hansgrohe) showed impressive fight on the stage to La Planche des Belles Filles with a solo move that almost got him a victory and he could be hoping to pull off a win today.
The home crowd would be delighted if Thibaut Pinot of Groupama-FDJ could take a stage win here, but the Frenchman didn't look to in his strongest form on the stage to La Planche des Belles Filles. Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies) and Warren Barguil (Team Arkéa Samsic) are two other French hopefuls who is are suited to hard, hilly days in the breakaway.
Matej Mohorič of Bahrain Victorious has been surprisingly quiet so far in this year's Tour de France, and the Slovenian rider will be hoping today could be his chance to make it in to the right move. Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM) won a stage of Tour du Suisse earlier this season and is an outside bet for the win here.
We don't think this stage is hard enough for the GC riders to make any serious gains, so we're backing the breakaway to go to the line. If this happens, Lennard Kämna is our pick for the win. He'll have even more motivation after coming so close a few days before and has a strong team to help him to victory.