After Wout van Aert won Saturday's eighth stage, the mountains are once again calling for the peloton as the first week of this year's Tour concludes with a 193km test from Aigle to Chatel.
|What:||Tour de France, Stage Nine|
|Where:||Aigle, Switzerland to Chatel, France|
|When:||11:30 UK Time, Sunday 10th July, 2022|
|How to watch:||Live on ITV4, Eurosport, Discovery+ & GCN+|
|Odds:||Tadej Pogacar 11/2, Lennard Kamna 8/1, Jakob Fuglsang 14/1, Ruben Guerreiro 14/1, Michael Woods 14/1|
The climbing only really begins to get serious around the halfway point with one second category and two category-one ascents to tackle in the second half of the route - the last of which takes the peloton back into France after spending the majority of the day in neighbouring Switzerland.
It looks like a decent chance for the breakaway to succeed, provided they are given sufficient rope by the general-classification contenders.
Stage nine begins in the Swiss town of Aigle, home to the UCI's world cycling centre, and stays in Switzerland for the majority of the 192.9km route before heading over the border into France for the finish in the ski resort of Les Portes du Soleil outside Chatel.
There are four categorised climbs to tackle along the way, with the toughest three coming in the second half of the stage.
A flat 30 or so opening kilometres precedes the day's first climb, the 4.3km Cote de Bellevue, before a gradual rise through the next 55km to the foot of the second category Col des Mosses - a 13.3km ascent at an average gradient nudging just over four per cent.
The category-one Col de la Croix (8km at 7.6 per cent) comes hot on the heels and then it's down through the valley to the foot of the day's final climb, the Pas de Morgins.
That's where the serious climbing stops but there is still an uphill drag to the line to negotiate.
The German climber was foiled in the dying metres of stage seven, eventually finishing fourth atop La Super Planche des Belles Filles.
It was the latest in a long line of impressive performances from Kamna, who was a stage winner at the 2020 Tour and atop Mount Etna at this year's Giro d'Italia.
His victory into Villard-de-Lans in 2020 took place on a remarkably similar finish, a category-one climb followed by another uphill drag, and on that day he had former Giro winner and current Olympic road race champion Richard Carapaz behind him.
Even though he hasn't lost bundles of time to the yellow jersey, he is not a rider who the overall contenders will be too worried about if he got off the front.
A Tour de France stage win would complete the set of victories at all three Grand Tours for Tim Wellens, who has been conspicuous by his absence so far this year.
Already well down on the general classification, the Belgian climber should have enough time in the bank to be let off the leash by the peloton.
He warmed up for the Tour with a second-placed finish at the Belgium Tour and in February he showed his pure climbing prowess with a stage win at the Tour of the Alps, beating some seasoned climbers such as Nairo Quintana and Bauke Mollema in the process.
Slovenian cycling is on top of the world right now thanks to the exploits of Tadej Pogacar and Primoz Roglic and Bahrain-Victorious star Matej Mohoric has also flown the flag for his country with distinction.
Mohoric was a double stage winner at last year's Tour, completing the Grand Tour set after previous wins at the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana.
He enjoyed an excellent spring with a first Monument win at Milan-San Remo before finishing fifth at Paris-Roubaix.
With no real hopes of winning the Tour, Bahrain-Victorious will be looking for stage wins and in Mohoric they have an innovative rider of proven potential.
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