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Tour de France 2019: Stage 9: Sagan for repeat

Tour de France 2019: Stage 9: Sagan for repeat

What’s the stage like?

Whereas Stage 8 – where, by the way, I tipped a [30.00] winner, although hardly emphatically – looked like it was made for the puncheurs, but really wasn’t, Stage 9 looks like a stage for them, and really is.

A slight complication will be caused by the early Category One climb up the Mur d’Aurec-sur-Loire, which has sections where the gradient is 19%. The peloton will certainly be split apart by the time they reach the top, but it’s likely that things will come back together soon enough.

As long as they are able to get over the two remaining Category Three climbs, then, the puncheurs should be able to fight out the downhill finish into Brioude.

If they don’t, it will be because someone has gone for it early: either a breakaway crew on that first big climb; or a solo attacker on the final lump, the Cote de Saint-Just.

Who are the favourites?

Assuming that his beefed-up team can control any such breakaway or attack, it’s hard to look past Peter Sagan for another win at around [3.00], on a stage that presents a similar challenge to that which saw him prevail on Stage 5. Except for the full-on sprinters – the likes of Dylan Groenewegen and Caleb Ewan – Sagan has had the legs on everyone else in bunch finishes, and as a good descender, too, the finish will hold no fears. And given none of the sprinters will survive the climbs, Sagan is the solid choice.

Who are the most likely outsiders?

Any number of the punchier bunch could conceivably challenge, but the likes of Michael Matthews ([10.00]), Greg van Avermaet ([20.00]), Wout Van Aert ([20.00]) and Matteo Trentin ([12.00]) will all need to try something different here, as Julian Alaphilippe did on Stage 3.

Those looking for longer odds might be better to look beyond the obvious, though. It feels as if Vincenzo Nibali ([150.00]) will pop up unexpectedly at some point in this year’s Tour, although at only four-or-so minutes down, he might not yet be considered risk-free enough for the peloton to let him go. It wouldn’t be the biggest surprise if an out-of-contention GC rider of his type went for something unexpected, though. Otherwise a rider willing to attempt an unlikely breakaway – like Steve Cummings ([200.00]) perhaps – could cause a shock. All of this is reaching somewhat, though. It’s hard to see past Sagan.

What effect will the stage have on the overall markets?

Very little. A day for the Yellow Jersey lot to stay out of trouble while the likes of Tim Wellens will presumably target some more polka-dot points and Sagan will continue his relentless march onwards to Green Jersey success.

*Odds correct at the time of writing

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