Sunday, 30 June—Stage 9 of the Tour de France is a hilly test punctuated by fourteen gravel sectors. The start and finish are in Troyes, and the race is 199 kilometres long.

Half of the dust roads are situated in the first 145 kilometres, which is the hilly part of the route. All in all, the riders face 32 kilometres on gravel, while the elevation gain adds up to roughly 2,000 metres.The first dust road appears after 47 kilometres, followed by the first climb, Côte de Bergères (1.7 kilometres at 5.2%). The second gravel sector also coincides with a hill, Côte de Baroville, 2.8 kilometres long and averaging 4.8%.

After 95 kilometres in the saddle, the riders enter the hardest part of the route. Within 36 kilometres, they face four sectors of gravel and three hills. The section opens with a 1.5-kilometre climb at 5.2% and a dust road. The two succeeding gravel roads run uphill, respectively 2.2 kilometres at 5% and 3 kilometres at 4.3%. Another white road, which is not entirely flat, rounds out this part of the race.

At this point, there are still some 70 kilometres remaining. After 20 kilometres on two gravel roads, the riders continue onto five flat gravel sections within 18 kilometres. The last unpaved road then appears 10 kilometres before the line.

Troyes has hosted the Tour de France sixteen times before. The last time was in 2017 when stage 6 finished and stage 7 started in the town on the banks of the Seine.

Climbing Defined by the Number

You’re either going up, down or flat when you’re riding.

For every 100 feet, you go forward, you will also travel vertically for a certain number of feet.

You’ve got your grade if you put a percentage sign after that vertical distance.

For example, suppose you go up two feet as you go forward 100 feet. That’s a 2% grade. Suppose you climb eight feet as you go forward 100 feet. That’s an 8% gradient.

If you want to determine the status of climbs by the numbers, we can look at the classification system used in most professional races.  That would mean climbs are classified as 4, 3, 2, 1 (and Hors Categorie or “HC” in the Tour de France.)  This determination is made by a combination of length in kilometres and average gradient, with the position of the climb in the route and the degree of road surface being lesser determinants.  See below:

  • Category 4 – the lowest category, climbs of 200-500 feet (70-150m). Length is usually less than 2 miles (3km)
  • Category 3 – climbs of 500-1600 feet (150-500m), between 2 and 3 miles (3km and 4.5km) in length.
  • Category 2 – climbs of 1600-2700 feet (500-800m), between 3 and 6 miles (4.5km and 10km) in length.
  • Category 1 – climbs of 2700-5000 feet (800-1500m), between 6 and 12 miles (10km and 20km) in length.
  • Hors Category (HC) – the hardest climbs of 5000+ feet (1500m+). Usually more than 12 miles (20km) in length

As for gradients, typically, the average gradient has to be above 4% to classify a climb.  Hors Category (HC) generally climbs on average of>10% or has an extreme length at a slightly lesser grade.

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