A guide to the Tour de France
Stage 9 of the Tour de France 2018 is 156.5km from Arras Citadelle via Cambrai to Roubaix. There are 15 sectors of cobbles after Cambrai, totalling 21.7km, notably Camphin-en-Pévèle near the end. It'll either be sunshine and dust, or rain and mud. Once they have completed this course, the riders will merit the rest day which follows. Read about Stage 9 of the Tour de France 2018 here.
John Degenkolb won Stage 9, sprinting from a group of three. These are the video highlights:
Read the Hedgehog Stage 9 diary.
This is the official map of Stage 9.
The official Tour de France stage profile for Stage 9:
Profile of Stage 9, Tour de France 2018, © ASO/Tour de France
Sunday 15th July 2018 (also the day of the football World Cup final).
The publicity caravan sets off from Arras at 1035, and the peloton at 1235. The projected average speeds are 43, 45, and 47kmh, and depending on which is most accurate, the riders are expected at the finish line in Roubaix between 1609 and 1628.
◾️◾️Rendez-vous sur @Paris_Roubaix avec @OliverNaesen 🇧🇪 en avril & sur @LeTour avec @romainbardet 🇫🇷 en juillet ◾️◾️— AG2RLM Cyclisme (@AG2RLMCyclisme) January 26, 2018
◾️◾️See you in April in @Paris_Roubaix with @OliverNaesen 🇧🇪 & in July in @LeTour with @romainbardet 🇫🇷◾️◾️#ALLEZALM pic.twitter.com/ZKY05bz8fn
Romain Bardet rode the 15 sectors of cobbles on Friday 26th January 2018. He told l'Equipe, 'It will be a real, real mess at the Tour - without doubt the hardest stage, the one that will create the biggest gaps between the favourites. With the succession of sectors, you'll pay dearly for any mishap or pause. I enjoyed it. Even if I'll feel vulnerable at the Tour, it will give some definition to the race.'
Thomas Voeckler (now an ex-rider) told his former team, Direct Energie: 'The total distance of cobbled sections is impressive, and has to be taken into consideration, because it will definitely be extremely selective. The presence of the cobbles is a factor that makes the peloton nervous, even before the first sector...so after 8 days of racing, that's going to cause some damage. The mere fact that this stage is part of the route will influence the composition of the teams: certain teams will have to bring specialist riders to help and protect their leaders at this key moment of the Tour de France.'
FloBikes have made a video preview of Stage 9. It says (wrongly) that Chris Froome crashed on the cobbles in 2014, and it's more general racing over cobbles than specific to the Stage 9 route, but it gives a flavour of what to expect:
Mark Cavendish looks forward to the Tour de France for the BBC, and names his 'one to watch' - his prediction for the stage win.
'This is a stage for one of the one-day Classics specialists in the peloton. Fifteen cobbled sections totalling 22km doesn't sound much over a 160km stage, but they definitely add up. It's the accelerations you have to do into the cobbles, and the constant fighting for position before each section that makes a big difference.
We don't do any of the hardest five-star sectors that feature in the Paris-Roubaix one-day race, but there are definitely some four-star sectors. They contain some big, big cobblestones, and the hardest thing is fighting for position. Every one of the general classification favourites will be up there with their teams, trying not to lose time.
This stage could have a shake-up to GC, but it's not hard enough to make Peter Sagan an obvious winner, like he was at the year's Paris-Roubaix.'
His one to watch? Edvald Boasson Hagen. 'I'd love to see my team mate succeed after he missed out at Paris-Roubaix this year.'
The stage starts in Arras. The départ fictif will take place at the Citadelle, and the riders will go through the Porte Royale, as in 2015. This video (in French) is a France 3 report on the start in Arras, how the news has been received locally, and whether the €70,000 paid to ASO is a worthwhile investment:
There's a significant neutralised section in Arras: past the Jardin du Gouverneur, into the centre of town and past the belfry and the place des Héros, past the Grand'Place d'Arras and the town hall, then the Cathédrale Saint-Vaast. The race leaves town on the D63, which takes the riders over the Scarpe. After crossing back over the Scarpe, the départ réel is on the D258 avenue de l'Hermitage.
The route between Arras and Cambrai takes in Athies, Fampous, Roeux, Plouvain, Biache-Saint-Vaast, Hamblain-les-Prés, Sailly-en-Ostrevent, Tortequesne, Hamel, and Arleux. Between Arleux and Palleul. The route swaps from the Pas-de-Calais département to the Nord, then back again into Pas-de-Calais. It crosses the Canal du Nord, then passes Oisy-le-Verger, and Epinoy, before entering the Nord again
Approaching Cambrai, the race passes through the northern suburb of Neuville-Saint-Rémy, and skirts around the town to the north on the D243 (a major, wide road). The riders leave Cambrai on the D630 avenue de Valenciennes, heading for Escaudoeuvres. Positioning will be important here, before the first cobbled section from Escaudoeuvres to Thun. The top teams and riders will want to make sure that they are at the front, because moving up will be difficult on the narrow, cobbled roads to come - but not everyone can be at the front.
Team Sky on the cobbles, Paris Roubaix 2014 (public domain)
The cobbles begin at Escaudoeuvres.
These are the fifteen cobbled sections:
The intermediate sprint is at Wasnes-au-Bac, after the first two cobbled sections.
From Ecaillon until just after Beuvry-la-Forêt the race is in the Parc Naturel Régional Scarpe-Escaut. This is France's oldest Regional Natural Park, and it's based around the Scarpe and Escaut (or Scheldt) rivers. The landscape includes wetlands, farmland, and what remains from mining here, including slag heaps.
The bonus point is after Wannehain, on the rue de Camphin, very close to the border between France and Belgium: time bonuses of 3, 2, and 1 second for the first three riders across the line.
The finish of the stage is in Roubaix. The finish line will be by (but not in) the Velodrome.
There's a description of the route to the finish line in Roubaix on Open Agenda. Arriving at the southern suburb of Hem, the race route takes boulevard Clémenceau, then avenue Charles de Gaulle/avenue Alfred Motte. It then goes along rue de Lannoy, rue Robert Schuman, and avenue de Verdun, before reaching the finish line at avenue Maxence van der Meersch, by the Velodrome.
The favourites for the stage win include the Classics specialists who ride Paris-Roubaix in the spring. John Degenkolb won Paris-Roubaix in 2015, and would be delighted to triumph here. Peter Sagan was victorious in 2018, but I can't put him down as the likely winner of every stage. Maybe the favourite for Stage 9 is Greg van Avermaet, 2017 Paris-Roubaix winner.
Stage 10 of the Tour de France 2018 is 159km from Annecy to le Grand Bornand. This first stage in the Alps comes after a rest day.
Read about Stage 10 of the 2018 Tour de France.
Arras is the capital of the Pas-de-Calais département, within the Hauts-de-France region. It is the historic centre of the county of Artois, and is situated at the confluence of the Scarpe and Crinchon rivers.
The first known settlement here was by the Gauls, and they called it Nemetocenna, meaning 'sacred place'. It was a a garrison town under the Romans. In 667, the Abbey of Saint Vaast was founded, and the basis of the modern town grew up around it as a grain market. The name Arras was used from the C12th, and its origin is uncertain.
Arras was close to the front line during much of World War I, and around three quarters of it was destroyed. Arras is about 7 miles away from Vimy Ridge, where the Battle of Vimy Ridge took place on 9th April 1917. There's a memorial to Canadian soldiers there.
In World War II, Arras was the scene of an unsuccessful counterattack by the British in May 1940, as the Germans advanced towards the Channel coast.
The local population is around 43,000, and it attracts many more visitors for its historic architecture.
There are two squares in the centre of Arras, the Grand'Place and the Place des Héros. They are surrounded by Flemish Baroque style town houses, originally built in the C17th and C18th, but re-built after World War I. The town hall has a belfry, originally built from 1463 to 1554, but re-built after the first World War.
The Boves is a network of underground tunnels which can be visited. The tunnels were designed to connect the cellars of residents, and they were used as bunkers to protect people and possessions from bombs during both wars.
The Citadelle, where Stage 9 starts, was built by Vauban between 1667 and 1672. It has never been involved in heavy fighting, but members of the French Resistance were shot there during World War II.
Maximilien de Robespierre, a key character at the time of the French Revolution, was a deputy from Arras.
Arras is twinned with Ipswich (UK).
This was the first of France's regional natural parks, created in 1968. It's also the smallest, and the most densely populated.
Scarpe-Escaut park is based around the Scarpe and Escaut (or Scheldt) rivers, and consists of marshes, flat agricultural land, and landscapes with a history of mining and industry.
Cambrai is a town in the Nord département and the Hauts-de-France region. It's on the Scheldt river (known locally as the Escaut). The population is around 32,000.
The Romans had a town here, which was the capital of the province of Nervii.
The history of this area during the Middle Ages is complicated. Cambrai was part of the lands to the east of France, belonging to the Holy Roman Empire, until 1677 when it was captured for France by Louis XIV. Prosperity in the Middle Ages came from weaving, particularly woollen cloth and linen.
Two legendary figures, Martin and Martine, are said to have protected Cambrai in the C14th. They appear as bell-ringer statues on Cambrai's bell tower, and giant Martin and Martine figures are paraded through the town during the summer festival in August.
Cambrai was the Duke of Wellington's HQ, when he led the British Army of Occupation after Waterloo (1815 to 1818).
The Germans occcupied Cambrai during World War I, and burned the town centre before leaving. The Battle of Cambrai took place nearby in late 1917, and it was notable for the use of tanks.
There was further destruction of buildings in Cambrai during World War II, with bombing by the Germans during the Battle for France in May 1940, and by the Allies in April to August 1944.
Cambrai is twinned with Gravesend, Kent (UK) and Houma, Louisana (US).
Roubaix is a town of about 96,000 people within the Lille metropolitan area. It grew rapidly in the C19th as the textile industry expanded. The Canal de Roubaix crosses the town.
The name Roubaix probably comes from the Frankish rausa (reed) and baki (brook).
In cycling, Roubaix is famous as the finish of the Paris-Roubaix race. Also known as the Hell of the North, the finish line is in Roubaix's velodrome.
Roubaix is twinned with Bradford, West Yorkshire (UK).
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