clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Stage 9 Preview: A TTT to Remember

Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Stage 9: Vannes -- Plumelec, 28km TTT

The final race against the watch for the 2015 Tour is a team event. Short and fast, it should be exciting!

About Plumelec

Gonna keep it short today. Plumelec is a village of a few thousand Bretons, at most... and yet it's memorable to cycling fans, as the Grand Départ of the 1985 Tour de France, an auspicious one considering it was the Tour of Revival for the region's most famous son, Bernard Hinault. Hinault obliged by winning the prologue that day (the first of FOUR time trials -- and guess what Hinault's greatest strength was?) and leaving town in yellow. Stage 2 began in Vannes, and the rest is history.

AmyBC's food and drink pairings:

Drink: More cider or cidre to be precise: Cidre Rhuys

Since 1928, three generations of the Nicol family have been working to perfect the exceptional natural terroir of Brittany, utilizing their respect for tradition and unparalleled knowledge of the cider-making process. Made from 100% apples, their ciders are unpasteurized and contain no preservatives. The Rhuys estate consists of 13 hectares of apple orchards in South Morbihan, exclusively hand-harvested.

Food: Gateau Breton

Hey, look. It is another stage without cheese! Instead, as one does, we bought French butter and made a Gateau Breton. What is Gateau Breton? Essentially, a very buttery and very simple cake, relying heavily on the quality of Brittany butter. We used this recipe. The verdict? We'll make this again. K liked it best fresh and warm from the oven, whereas I enjoyed it as a substitute for my usual Tour viewing 5 am toast.

Stage Details

An utterly fascinating course for a team time trial.

Profile TTT

The course rolls all the way to the line. Here's the Côte de Cadoudal at the finish line:

cote de cadoudal

Course Analysis

Most team time trials respect the need for teams to get into a very precise rhythm to maintain order and maximum speed. This course doesn't merely fail to respect that, so much as it laughs in its face. It's not just the end point. From Kermabolivier (I love breton names) to the second time check, it's a one-percent false flat, and from there it's another four percent incline to La Croix Peinte. That's not terribly hard, even for fat amateurs (ahem!), but it's not pacelining territory either. [N.b., I left out the map today, since it is almost completely straight and only has three or four turns, so in that sense this TTT is not technical at all.] Weather is expected to be mild with winds about 8mph (12kph) -- not enough to make things too troublesome.

Add to that the short distance, and you've got a completely wide-open affair. I literally have no idea who will win. This is probably the most fascinating Tour de France TTT I can remember in thirty years of paying attention.


General Classification

Maillot Jaune Tour

Chris Froome and his Team Sky already possess the yellow jersey and aren't likely to relinquish it, given their firepower and generally healthy status. And in fact I don't view this as a decisive stage, being under 30km. However, it is the first critical general classification event, and it will be incumbent on the other GC teams to challenge Sky, or at least not get swamped by them. Movistar have brought Alex Dowsett, Jonathan Castroviejo, and a veteran team, so the hilly course may help Nairo Quintana stay in contact. Astana have Lieuwe Westra and Lars Boom, among others, to usher Vincenzo Nibali onward. Alberto Contador has Michael Rogers, with three TT world titles from back in the day, as well as other powerful dudes alongside. BMC are the world champions in the discipline, so Tejay van Garderen's position is pretty solid, and he could even sniff yellow if Sky misfire. Nobody is planning to concede much among the Big Four. Same can't be said for some other contenders like Thibaut Pinot.

Points Competition

Maillot Vert

Not a factor today. Sagan's rampage can get put on hold.

King of the Mountains

Maillot a Pois

Daniel Teklehaimanot can rest easy, no points given here.

Young Rider

Maillot Blanc

Peter Sagan rides for Contador's team, so they should keep him in white again.

Stage Favorites

I'll have to ask for your help with some analysis of recent TTTs beyond a few tidbits. BMC hold the world title, so they're a bet to challenge Sky. Cannondale-Garmin have a pretty lengthy history in the discipline, but they have turned over a lot too. Orica GreenEdge might have been a favorite but they've crashed three guys out. Etixx-Quick Step could be described in similar terms-- regular competitor in the worlds, but likely to misfire without Tony Martin.

I'll take BMC for the win, by a minuscule margin over Sky.