‘Mon­ster’ Mont du Chat looms for Chris Froome

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

It’s been de­scribed as “sav­age” and a “mon­ster” and the Mont du Chat climb on yes­ter­day’s ninth stage of the Tour de France has the pelo­ton quak­ing in its boots. It is 8.7km long and has an av­er­age gra­di­ent of 10.3 per­cent, but it is its po­si­tion at the end of the 181.5km stage from Nan­tua to Cham­bery that makes it most daunt­ing, ac­cord­ing to race leader Chris Froome, be­cause it will be the sev­enth climb of the day-and third hors cat­e­gory one. “Given where Mont du Chat is in the stage, com­ing after four big climbs al­ready, and es­pe­cially after the stage we’ve just had (on Satur­day), it could be a very de­ci­sive climb of the Tour,” warned Froome, the reign­ing cham­pion. “Most of the time the gra­di­ent is around 10 per­cent and it’s not a short climb either-it takes over half an hour to get up there, 30-35 min­utes or so. “I think we could see some re­ally big dif­fer­ences, es­pe­cially know­ing from there it’s just de­scend­ing and then 10 kilo­me­tres of flat to the fin­ish. “I’m ex­pect­ing the gen­eral clas­si­fi­ca­tion to get blown wide open!” Froome and many of his ri­vals tack­led the Mont du Chat at the Cri­terium du Dauphine last month, with Den­mark’s Jakob Fuglsang win­ning the stage there, which also ended in a val­ley.

But Froome, Ital­ian Fabio Aru, cur­rently third over­all, and Aus­tralia’s Richie Porte, who is fifth, all fin­ished along­side the Dane in a four-man sprint fin­ish. Aru, who won Wed­nes­day’s fifth stage of the Tour, the only sum­mit fin­ish so far, was ac­tu­ally first over the Mont du Chat so may have the edge in con­fi­dence com­ing into the stage, al­though it’s far tougher than the stage in which the climb fea­tured at the Dauphine.

“It’s re­ally a mon­ster of a stage, for sure there’s go­ing to be some changes on GC (the over­all stand­ings),” said Bri­ton Si­mon Yates, the young rider leader. He fin­ished more than two and a half min­utes be­hind Fuglsang on that softer stage six of the Dauphine.

“It’s right up there with the hard­est stages (of the Tour),” added Froome. The Mont du Chat has earned every­one’s re­spect. “That climb’s sav­age, es­pe­cially com­ing quite late in the race,” added Froome.

Satur­day’s stage was faster and tougher than most con­tenders were ex­pect­ing, cov­er­ing more than 46km in the first hour of rac­ing, de­spite its lumpy na­ture. “We’ll feel that one in the legs for sure (on Sun­day),” said Porte. Two-time for­mer win­ner Al­berto Con­ta­dor con­curred: “We fin­ished ahead of sched­ule be­cause it went fast all day. We’ll pay for that (on Sun­day).” And with rain pre­dicted, al­though cooler tem­per­a­tures to ac­com­pany that, the change in weather could also have an impact after the last four bak­ing hot days.

—AP

CHAM­BERY: Bri­tain’s Chris Froome, wear­ing the over­all leader’s yel­low jer­sey, speeds down­hill dur­ing the ninth stage of the Tour de France cy­cling race over 181.5 kilo­me­ters (112.8 miles) with start in Nan­tua and fin­ish in Cham­bery, France, yes­ter­day.

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