The ninth stage arrives, without climbing it, to the Puy de Dome, magical mountain of the Tour. It is a privately owned mountain. Since 1988, when Johnny Welz won, this volcano has disappeared from the Tour route. Pity. It is part of its history. It is enough to look at the name of its conquerors. It was inaugurated by Coppi in 1952. Bahamontes followed in 1959, when he won the gala round. And then Julio Jiménez came in 1964, in that edition that saw Anquetil and Poulidor there shoulder to shoulder. In the Puy de Dome, the arms of Gimondi, Ocaña and Arroyo were also raised.
Despite the absence of this crater that is now a forest, the stage again offers the typical menu of the Central Massif. Heat and not a flat meter. Near the exit from Saint-Etiene awaits the Aurec-sur-Loire Wall, 3.2 kilometers at 11% gradient. If the leak is formed there, it will be high level runners. In the final section, just before going down to the Brioude finish, there is the Saint-Just level, from 3.6 kilometers to 7.2%. It seems an impossible route for sprinters, although within reach of SUVs like Matthews and Sagan. But it will not be easy to control the escaped.
In addition, it is July 14, French national holiday. The Gallic cyclists will be even more motivated, especially Romain Bardet, who was born in Brioude. The leader, Julian Alaphilippe, will parade with the yellow jersey through the heart of France, around the Puy de Dome, one of the mountains that are part of the best memory of this race and which is a symbol of the Central Massif, perfect territory for that the race erupts.