Stage 9: Saint-Léonard-De-Noblat to Puy de Dôme – 184 km
Date: July 9, 2023
Stage type: Mountain
What to watch for: Superb volcano-related puns in Escape Collective headlines.
Stage summary: The last 4 km of this stage average over 11%. Before that, the climb to Puy de Dôme sits at a measly 6-7%.
This is a hard, potentially explosive stage, with one of the most difficult finishes of the entire Tour de France. Puy de Dôme is an ancient volcano and those final 4 km circle the top like some kind of real life Zwift volcano hell route (minus any actual lava).
The climb was the home of one of the Tour’s iconic duels. Raymond Poulidor (grandfather of Mathieu van der Poel) and Jacques Anquetil battled up it on stage 20 of the 1964 Tour de France, a race that had seen the two crack, recover, swap the lead, and then finally battle shoulder to shoulder on Puy de Dôme. Poulidor won the day but it wasn’t enough to overhaul Anquetil in the overall. It was probably the closest the “eternal second” came to winning the Tour.
The stage as a whole is not as difficult as what is coming in the Alps. A string of category 3 and 4 climbs will do little to break up the bunch. It should play out somewhat similar to last year’s Planche des Belles Filles stage, which was similarly flat in the leadup to the final climb. After a few hours of cruising, Puy de Dôme will erupt into a half-hour power test.
Dane Cash’s picks: As usual for a mountain stage, this could come down to the break or the GC favorites. That said, it’s not an obvious day for the escapees like some other stages are, making Tadej Pogačar and Jonas Vingegaard stronger favorites. I like Pogačar slightly more here but it’s close. Beyond those two, Adam Yates, Michael Woods, Felix Gall, Giulio Ciccone, and Neilson Powless are others to watch.
What did you think of this story?