Stage 9 of the 2018 Tour de France should be the most spectacular of the race yet, as the peloton will face the infamous cobblestones of northern France, with the finish at Roubaix.
The sprinters have mostly dominated this year’s race, but that will change on Sunday. This stage will be one for the specialists, but the added factor of the general classification should make for an even more thrilling ride than the annual Paris-Roubaix race:
Date: Sunday, July 15
Route: Arras Citadelle—Roubaix
TV Info: Eurosport 1, ITV 4, NBC
Live Stream: Eurosport Player, ITV Hub, NBC Sports App
Paris-Roubaix is one of the most popular one-day racing events in the world, characterised by the many cobbled sections the riders face. Mechanical issues, punctures and crashes are inevitable, and late drama usually occurs.
During the Spring Classic, the top contenders try to position themselves ahead of the pack to avoid being taken down if someone crashes ahead of them. It makes for a nervous affair, but Sunday’s stage will be even worse.
Along with those same contenders for the win―Peter Sagan and yellow jersey Greg Van Avermaet come to mind―the team leaders battling it out for the general classification will also want to stay near the front.
One crash here could be the end of their race, and one mechanical issue could all but end their bid ahead of the high mountains. It’s why top teams aren’t taking any chances, as VeloNews highlighted:
Some top riders are bound to lose time on Sunday, while others―like Tom Dumoulin and Vincenzo Nibali―might be eyeing this stage as the one to make a move in the GC before the mountains.
A solid technician could lay the foundation for a Tour win here, giving himself a lead to defend in the high mountains. It’s far easier to lose the race on the cobbles near Roubaix, however.
Sagan and Van Avermaet won the past two editions of Paris-Roubaix, and they are the specialists to keep an eye on for the stage win. France has the second-most wins in the iconic race―behind Belgium―so a local hero could give the home fans a reason to celebrate one day after the national holiday.