The 2012 Tour de France is about to get much harder as the long time trials start in Stage 9. The Tour began with a short time trial “prologue,” which lasted only 4 miles, but now the cyclists are headed to the big leagues for the 25.8-mile ride from Arc-et-Senans to Bescancon.
You can watch Stage 9 of the Tour on NBC Sports Network on Monday July 9 at 8 a.m. EDT.
Time trials mean no teammates, no pack and no hiding. These trials hold more weight in this year’s Tour because of the added length totaling 62 miles. This favors riders who are great at sprinting and creating distance from the pack because the pack predominantly rides as a giant group during the flat stages.
So who are those riders that are great at building leads? Let’s take a look.
Wiggins will enter Stage 9 with the yellow jersey, motivated by his ambition to be Britain’s first Tour winner and, apparently, anger. Wiggins lost his cool after Stage 8 when a reporter asked him about the belief that cyclists have to be doping to win the Tour.
The three-time Olympic track gold medalist has never been linked to doping, but he does admit that he had a problem with alcohol.
“I drink nothing now,” Wiggins said via Boston.com. “Before, in 2004, I was almost an alcoholic after the Olympics.”
In order to prepare for the Tour, Wiggins has had to employ willpower to change his training, diet and lifestyle in order to improve his climbing skills.
With that level of disciple, as well as his speed and much-improved climbing abilities, Wiggins should do well in Stage 9, and hopefully hold on to the yellow jersey for another stage.
The defending Tour champ looks to be Wiggins’ biggest competition, as Evans' late attack for the lead almost gave him the yellow jersey after Stage 8.
However, this is not the first time Evans has come second to Wiggins. Just last month in the Criterium du Dauphine, Evans demolished Wiggins, beating him by 1 minute and 43 seconds in a similar time trial of 33.2 miles.
Obviously a Tour win proves that the Australian is capable of performing well again this year, but with a longer time trial, he’ll have to work a little bit harder.
Stage 9 features a few quick turns and one big hill, and with the riders averaging around 30 mph, the riders should have just under an hour to build leads for the rest of the Tour.
Tuesday marks the first rest day for the Tour, so expect the riders to give it all they have in Stage 9.