The Tour de France hits the cobblestones on Stage 9, with the peloton sure to be nervous on what is the most anticipated stage of the race. Join The Roar for live coverage from 9:15pm (AEST).
There are quite literally going to be two races within a race as the race moves over a distance of 156.5 kilometres to Roubaix, the finish of the most famous classic on the cycling calendar.
The first of those races will be for the stage, while the second is the battle between the teams to protect general classification riders at the head of the peloton.
There are 15 sections of cobblestones on the route totalling 21.7 kilometres.
The second last sector at Camphin-en-Pévèle, stretching a distance of 1.8 kilometres is likely to be the one where the race cracks in half. The final sector going from Willems to Hem is a three-star section, but it’s 1.4 kilometres in length and just seven from the finish line.
When it comes to the stage, it’s hard to look past Peter Sagan. He is the best rider in the world bar none on the flatlands and has handled himself on the cobbles before. If he gets to the sprint, he will win.
Greg Van Avermaet, in the yellow jersey, will also be a favourite for the stage. He has to defend the jersey though as well as rely on limited support as BMC try to protect Porte.
Niki Terpstra is the other to watch for. He has formerly performed well in the cobbled classics, winning Paris-Roubaix.
Sky will also have a big part in the stage as they try to protect Chris Froome, while all the other general classification teams will try to stay at the front.
This is impossible to predict. I’ll go with Sagan for the stage and at least one high-profile general classification rider to lose time on the run into Roubaix.
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