Keukeleire and teammates recon the cobbled Tour stage
Sunday 15 July, the ninth stage of the Tour de France is scheduled. The 156.6 kilometres long stage takes the riders from Arras to Roubaix and includes fifteen cobbled sections, which totals at around 22 kilometres of cobbles in the ‘Hell of the North’. The resemblance with Paris-Roubaix is indeed striking because the riders will face eleven sectors which are also covered in the famous Spring Classic.
The day after the Belgian Championship in Binche, the Lotto Soudal selection for the Tour did a recon of the major part of that ninth stage. Once started in Cambrai, they set course for Roubaix and rode over all of the fifteen cobbled sections. Jens Keukeleire explains how the recon went.
Jens Keukeleire: “Thanks to the massage, it was not that hard to do the recon of the cobbled stage the day right after the Belgian Championship. Cambrai is also not far away from Binche and we had a good night of sleep. During the recon, we had a little headwind, but riding in a small group made it a lot easier. Each rider did a turn at the front during the cobbled sections and also on the roads between the cobbles, everybody did his part of the work. Nevertheless, we did the recon at a solid pace.”
“It was nice to recon the stage together with some teammates. The first cobbled sections were new to me, but I already knew the other sections from Paris-Roubaix. But I think it’s important to recon those sections once again. It is also interesting to have a look at the run-up to the various cobbled sections.”
It will be crucial to be well- positioned right from the first section.
Jens Keukeleire: “The course somewhat differs from the race in April. I think the most important reason for that is the grass that grows between the cobbles. That way, the rolling resistance is a bit less and the cobbles are not that sharp, which makes it a little easier. The recon was especially important to get the right feeling to ride those cobbles.”
“The weather is better than it is in April, but the race will be tough. It will be crucial to be well- positioned right from the first section. Not all sectors from Paris-Roubaix are included, but it will be selective enough to have a nice finale.”