A stage that could have a massive impact on deciding the GC, as they race over 21kms of cobbled roads on the way to Roubaix.
<p>When the Tour raced over the cobbles in 2014, Lars Boom was the winner of the stage from Ypres to Arenberg, but Vincenzo Nibali was the big winner on the day, when the Astana captain surprised everyone with a brilliant ride, aided in no small way by Jacob Fuglsang. They finished just 19" behind Boom, but Nibali gained almost 2 mins on Porte, over 2 mins on Bardet and almost 3 mins on Contador.</p><p>This stage and the next three after the rest day will play a major part in shaping the outcome of this race.</p><p> </p><h2>The Route</h2><p>Like a mini Paris-Roubaix, this stage is just 156kms long, but is packed with 15 sectors of cobbles, the first of which comes after just 47kms, shortly after they turn north after passing Cambrai. At 21.7kms of pavé it's the longest total amount of cobbles to be used in Tour in the last five times they've included cobbles.</p><p>The route then zig-zags its way north towards Roubaix, hitting a cobbled sector roughly every 6kms, before finishing in Roubaix. But they are not finishing in the Velodrome this time, but outside it, meaning that we could see another sprint finish, but if it is a sprint it will be from a pretty small group.</p><p><img alt src="https://images-production-753931602578.s3.amazonaws.com/5b4a5b83aa35fe00adec3d87/original-TDF-stage-9" style="width:778px;height:441px" /></p><h2>Analysis and Picks</h2><p>There are two races going on here, with some characters intertwined between the two.. The race for the stage, and the race for the GC.</p><p>Starting with the stage winner then, and it's hard to look past Peter Sagan once again isn't it.. Two wins, three seconds, a third and an 8th place finish so far (and 7th in the TTT) shows that he is in superb form. Spectacular winner of Paris Roubaix in April, outsprinting his breakaway companion Silvan Dillier in the Velodrome.</p><p>His bike handling skills are second to none, his power over the cobbles is immense and he knows just when to turn the screw and put his rivals under pressure to snap the elastic. And his team are super-</p><p>powerful for this challenge too, he will be at the head of affairs when things kick off.. He has to have a massive chance of landing his third stage win of this race.</p><p>My only worry is that he and the team are starting to tire a little after a very hectic opening week..</p><p>His biggest rivals could well be the entire QSF team - they have an unbelievable squad here full of potential winners. They have 2014 Roubaix winner, and winner of the Ronde this year Niki Terpstra, who might just be building his entire Tour around this one stage..</p><p>We haven't seen much of him so far, he's been conspicuous by his absence at the front of the race, but then again, he's not needed to waste energy. He is just one of the multiple punches they could throw to try to land the knockout blow.</p><p>Philippe Gilbert has never won Roubaix, but he has won Flanders, Lombardy, and so much more. He is looking in good form too, he was quite lively towards the end of stage 5 and almost got away from them and attacked late again today. Yves Lampaert is one who could attack earlier in the stage and could go with a little group, he's very strong and familiar with the cobbles too.</p><p>BMC are going to be working on several fronts though and they'll have to think and react quickly to events on the road - Greg Van Avermaet is still in yellow and will want to hang on to it over the rest day, and we know what he's like on these roads, having won Roubaix in 2017, and taking 3rd and 4th in 2014 and 2013. He might have to ride his own race if they let him go for stage victory, as the rest of the team might be asked to look after Porte, but he's capable of looking after himself anyway.</p><p>AG2R have an interesting team here too, with Oliver Naesen a master at the cobbles, and Silvan Dillier who pulled off the ride of his life in April to finish 2nd behind Sagan in Roubaix. Naesen will probably be given the task of looking after Bardet and Latour, they have two men that definitely need looking after here.</p><p>Normally you'd be looking to the likes of Lotto-Soudal too for a stage like this, but with Benoot out already after crashing, they are without their great hope for it. Jens Keukeleire could go ok, but he hasn't got a great record in PR, Jasper de Buyst, Marcel Sieberg, and even André Greipel can go well and hang in there for most of it, but I can't see any of them being good enough.</p><p>Another potential stage winner is Sep Vanmarcke, but will he be asked to look after his team leaders, what with Uran having lost time on Thursday, he won't want to lose any more. Vanmarcke though would have to be on the shortlist, were he given the freedom to do something.</p><p>Team Sky - what do they do? Geraint Thomas has a big chance of pulling on the yellow jumper on Sunday afternoon, depending on how the stage pans out, but in order to do so he needs to be right at the front of the race. Most of the team will be looking after Froome though, anything could happen with him tomorrow.</p><p>Mitchelton Scott is packed full of engines, and in Matt Hayman they have the 2016 winner of Roubaix. Hepburn, Howson, Impey, Bauer and Durbridge will form a formidable defensive wall for Yates, but hard to see any of them winning it.</p><p>Movistar will be all about just getting through today unscathed I think, but they have two pretty fragile creatures in Quintana and Landa, neither of which can afford to lose time. Alejandro Valverde is made of sterner stuff and did surprisingly well in Flanders this year, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see him in the mix.</p><p>Team Sunweb will I think be completely focused on getting Tom Dumoulin home safely, especially in light of his time loss on Thursday. But they do have some guys who would be considered longshots for a win here if they are let go up the road. Edward Theuns, Simon Geschke, Soren Kragh Anderson and Nik Arndt could all have chances, Arndt's best chance would probably come if they can take a small group to the line without the likes of Sagan and he can then win the sprint..</p><p>UAE will be looking after Dan Martin, as he was going really well until his crash today cost him just over a minute more. So it's hard to know what they do with Kristoff, he might be told to just go follow Bora or QSF.</p><p>Tony Martin might be one to watch for Katusha, but they don't seem to have a whole lot of other guys to look out for today - except maybe Nils Politt, the big German machine finished 7th in Roubaix this year and has finished 5th in Le Samyn.</p><p>Wanty Group Gobert will be looking to the likes of Guillaume Van Keirsbulck who will be looking forward to this and looks to have good legs, and also Dimitri Claeys who could go well at a big price.</p><p>Trek Segafredo will be looking after Mollema as he seems to have great legs, but they have two outsiders for this too in John Degenkolb and Jasper Stuyven. Degenkob has finished 1st and 2nd in this race when he was at his peak, his win in 2015 was incredible, he was just so powerful and smooth over the cobbles.</p><p>He was ‘only 95%’ I was told a few days ago, but also that they were targeting this stage for him and they hope to get him to the finish with a shot at victory. It might be that he is one of the few sprinters left if he can stay with the main move.</p><p>Arnaud Demare could be another sprinter left though, he isn't the worst over the cobbles, but always seems to find bad luck. Groupama FDJ don't have any GC men to look after, and Démare has a slim chance of hanging in there and sprinting to the win, so I think they will be all in for Démare for this. He finished 6th in PR last year, and 2nd in the Juniors race in 2009.</p><p>This is a really hard one to call, as the GC men might reign in some of their team-mates who might ordinarily have a good chance of winning here. I'm going to scatter a number of bets around, involving break candidates, cobble masters and tough sprinters to hopefully see if we can land a winner.</p><h2>Selections</h2><p><strong>0.2pts win on Nils Politt at +$20000 <a href="https://www.sportsbookreview.com/Sportsbook/?v=4702&book=Bet365" title="live odds for this game">with Bet365</a></strong></p><p><strong>1pt e/w on John Degenkolb at +$2500 <a href="https://www.sportsbookreview.com/Sportsbook/?v=4702&book=Bet365" title="live odds for this game">with Bet365</a></strong></p><p><strong>0.2pts win on Dimitri Claeys at +$12500</strong></p><p><strong>1pt e/w on Niki Terpstra at +$800</strong></p>