What to expect from the gravel stage of the Tour de France


On the second Sunday of the Tour de France the riders will ride fourteen sections of gravel roads in a ride to and from Troyes and they will overcome approximately 2000 meters of elevation. 

The 9th stage will start on normal roads, but after 47 kilometers the first gravel strip appears on the horizon. From Bligny to Bergères the riders ride over the first white road, which is immediately followed by the Côte de Bergères (1.7 km at 5.2%). The second gravel sector also coincides with a climb, the Côte de Baroville (2.8 km at 4.8%).

After 95 kilometers in the saddle, they enter the toughest part of the route. Four gravel sections and three climbs must be passed within 35 kilometers. This deadly section opens with the Côte de Loches-sur-Ource (1.5 km at 5.2%), which takes the riders to section number one. The next two white roads both run uphill, respectively on the Côte de Val Frion (2.2 km at 5%) and the Côte de Chacenay (3 km at 4.3%). A final false flat gravel road rounds off this sector of the course.

The riders still have about seventy flat kilometers ahead of them, in which seven more gravel sections await the peloton. The white roads from Thieffrain to Magnant and from Briel-sur-Barse take the dusty riders to the last thirty kilometers.

There are six sections waiting there in 25 kilometers. The last ten kilometers towards Troyes are on flat paved roads. Top classics riders will have circled this day with red, while GC men will look to survive the day unscathed.

Mathieu van der Poel will be eagerly looking forward to the ride around Troyes. It is a stage that is basically tailor-made for him. The world champion also has several options to win the stage. He can try from far and cross the line solo, but he can also wait and win the sprint from a thinned out group.

While Vingegaard and Primoz Roglic will mainly want to limit the loss, Tadej Pogacar will want to take another advantage. The leader of the Tour de France is without a doubt one of the big favorites for Sunday. The only question is whether Pogacar will show the same attacking spirit as in the classics. If he dares, Pogacar could well be the big winner of the gravel stage. With guys like Tim Wellens and Nils Politt next to him, he is also well protected.

Remco Evenepoel is an enigma for the gravel ride. In 2021, the Belgian had a very bad day in the gravel stage in the Giro and lost more than two minutes to Egan Bernal. Evenepoel must of course avoid that scenario. On the other hand, Evenepoel is also a rider who can surprise and even attack on Sunday. His big boss Patrick Lefevere said in his column that he himself is ‘completely anti’ to the gravel stages, which perhaps shows that the Belgian team is mainly concerned with limiting the damage. Yves Lampaert and Gianni Moscon will play an important role in this.


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