Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) made it three victories in the last three grand tours when he took his first Tour de France stage win after a memorable solo ride in torrential rain on the Arcalis climb on stage 9 of the Tour de France. The Dutchman anticipated the climber in a 10-rider group and held Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) and Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) off to take the biggest win of his career. Chris Froome (Sky), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Richie Porte (BMC), Daniel Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) and Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) emerged as the strongest GC contenders but as they failed to distance each other, Froome retains the lead.
We have gathered several reactions.
Tom Dumoulin: I am still not good enough to be top 10 in the Tour
Towards the Arcalis, the highest point of the Tour and the fifth ascent of the day, Tom Dumoulin attacked and climbed at a steady pace to enjoy an one minute advantage on the first chasers, halfway through the climb. In extreme weather conditions, he was able to stay away, to the mountaintop finish to win his first stage at the Tour de France.
"To win the queen stage of the Tour de France here in Andorra is just fantastic. If somebody had told me a few days ago that I would win today I would have said they were crazy. Throughout the stage, I was starting to feel better and I saw the opportunity to join the break as my legs were feeling really good,” he said.
"It didn't matter to me that it was raining on the final ascent, I was just determined to do my best and I barely noticed the weather conditions. I was just in the suffering mode and completely focused on my effort. I am super happy with this performance.
"The first week of the Tour didn’t go too well at all and I was not feeling particularly content with my performances but my team kept my spirits up. So now I have won one of the toughest stages of the Tour and I am very proud of myself and the whole team.
"It was an incredible day. The whole day, queen stage, it was really hard, and I did it.
”It's very very special. I’m a time trial specialist but today I showed I can do more, and I showed it last year at the Vuelta. I’m so so happy, it’s incredible.
"I was really not feeling good a few days ago. I started to feel better and this morning I felt a lot better and decided to go. I didn't do much in the break but I was one of the strongest, if not the strongest, and I’m a time trialist. If I have a gap then it’s difficult to close it.
"I was afraid of the attacks in the leading group from the climb. I let them deliberately ride away on the penultimate climb. It gave me too much pain to respond to all those attacks. I knew if I could get a gap in the valley take it would be difficult for others to get me back. And it turned out that way. I had good legs. What I have done is incredible.
"I still was worried it might come back and I felt my power was going down. I wasn't using a powermeter. I was just going full gas and I was feeling that I was slowing, so I was a bit scared but no one came back. It was a really special day.
"I think it is really special to be the first Dutch rider to win a stage in the three Grand Tours in one year. It was a secret goal to win a stage and to wear yellow. Then I would have won a stage and worn the leader's jersey in all grand tours in one year. The latter did not happen, but it's not a big issue. I'm very happy with this victory.
"The hail in the end made all a bit apocalyptic. But I did not notice whether it was raining or the sun was shining, I was just completely in time trial mode. I hardly noticed the hail."
"This is a dream come true. It's incredible. I can’t describe it with words. I'm so happy that I've won the queen stage! It's special. A few day ago if you had told me that I would have won the stage to Andorra, the hardest stage in the Tour, then I would have said that you were crazy. But suddenly it came together with good legs and an attack at the right time. I’m so, so happy.
"I still have to make another step, or two or three to get to the level of these guys. I wasn't feeling that good in the first week anyway so I couldn't have ridden for the GC but it's also not really worth it for me to ride for 12th place if I can win a stage like this, because it's worth so much more. I also don't think I'm good enough to ride in the top 10 now, but I hope to make a few steps and maybe I will try it in the future. I know that I can pick my days in the Tour and help the team.
"On a good day I can climb well. To do GC at the Tour is still a lot to ask and you need to be on point for three weeks. That's not what I wanted before the Tour and with the Olympics because it's better to pick my days. If I was riding for GC I probably wouldn't have won today. I’m just really, really happy for today.
“It's nice to ride and make history. I don't think any Dutchman won a stage at each of three consecutive Grand Tours. That's very special. It's the kind of thing that makes me get the best of myself.
”I don't want to compare those three wins at Vuelta, Giro and Tour. To win the queen stage of the Tour de France is really big but the time trial of the Giro at Appeldoorn with the pink jersey was also something very nice.
“I've always had the time trial of the Olympic Games at the back of my mind. This is my biggest goal of the season and I haven't changed anything with this regards when I wasn't feeling good at the beginning of the Tour. But today's victory gives me a lot of confidence, also for the rest of the Tour. I can pick my days and help my team.
”I always said I came here aiming for a stage win. Whether it was going to be a time trial or a mountain stage didn't matter. Now I have the confidence and a good level for the upcoming time trials.
“I must say that the Tour is not a preparation race for the Olympics. I want to win one of the two time trial or another road stage. Yes, with confidence, I will go to Brazil with great ambition but I am dedicated to the Tour de France first.”
"It was a tough stage,” sports director Marc Reef told Eurosport. “We were a thinking how Tom would go compared to the rest of the riders. But in the moments on the steep sections of the climb, he was doing his own pace, and when he was on the less steep sections his pace was coming back again. The moment that he went, and had a gap of 10 seconds, we thought he needed to have really good legs to take it.
"I think Tom took the pace he could handle until he got to the top, that is one of his strong points. It was a time trial all the way to the top and he finished it in a great way.
"With a steep climb it is not easy to stay in rhythm but with this climb, and these percentages it was a climb that suited him. We spoke about it this morning and we thought he had a chance to go for it. It’s great that in a strong group like this, who were not the weakest riders with guys like Pinot, Costa, that Tom could keep them at 40 seconds, he did a great job.
"It is a fantastic day for Tom and for the team. It was exciting until a kilometer or three before the finish when we knew we had. We did not worry when he did not always follow the best on the penultimate climb. Tom trusts himself and set his own pace, we knew that. On the final climb, he was better and there was a chance it was going to be a beautiful day. "
Sports director Adriaan Helmantel added:
"It was a hard fight to join the breakaway. When Valverde dropped out of the break then it was clear that the front group would make it to the finish. The gap finally grew quickly and I was confident that they would make it to the finish. But there were still some strong riders in the group but Tom did a great job.
"During the first category climb he let the others attack and he set his own pace. In the valley before the final ascent, he attacked himself and he immediately created a small gap. Behind him in the chasing group there was a lack of cooperation and Tom's advantage grew to 40 seconds.
"On the final climb he started with a 50 seconds gap, and they didn't close it and I became more confident that he could make it. In the end it was a little bit surreal with the rain and hailstorms and the final kilometre was just amazing.
Laurens Ten Dam: Dumoulin laughed at me when I said he could win
"I said this morning that he (Dumoulin) could go for the win. Tha the does it is completely fantastic. He laughed when I told him this morning that he could win, but I could see that he felt really good,” Laurens Ten Dam told Sporza.
"Actually, Tom was very energetic at breakfast. I saw how he ate two portions of pasta.
"I told him on the bus: Tom will be good today. On the bus he laughed a bit but we saw that he felt good.
"It was a shitty week for him, at first he had a cold so he was at his best. It was not all perfect, but all the work he has done for this Tour, could not just suddenly disappear. He finally starts to ride better and he takes this win. Fantastic! "
Optimistic Warren Barguil: If it hadn’t been for my teammates, I would have lost 15 minutes
Warren Barguil finished in 28th place and is now 15th in the GC.
Warren Barguil said: “Today my performance was much better today, and I reassured myself. Now I am looking forward to the rest day, to recover well and then I can go again and be ready for the Mont Ventoux and the Alpes.
“I was happy with the weather conditions today because I had suffered from the heat during the last stages. During the Tour de Suisse, I experienced the snow and today it was the hailstorm. Once it started to rain I just set my own pace and I was quite happy with my performance on the final climb.
"If I had not Laurens Ten Dam, Simon Geschke and Georg Preidler with me, I would lost taken fifteen minutes. They waited for me on the penultimate climb. I was not really good, I really cracked mentally. But Laurens told me that it was the Tour and that I had to continue to fight.
“We came back in the valley. After it started to rain, my legs came around. I was dropped early on Arcalis. It's a shame because I came back in the end. In any case it bodes well for the Alps. I'm getting better. The rest day comes now, there will be the Ventoux and the Alps. I hope it will go well.
Rui Costa: This stage was my big goal
Rui Costa and Louis Meintjes made the blue-fuchsia-green colors of Lampre-Merida shine in the queen Pyrenean stage. The Florence 2013 world champion knew the course of the stage which was one of his main targets for this Tour de France, so he did not wait long to join a group of 10 attackers who escaped on the first climb. They were soon reached by other attackers and they formed a large group of 48 riders (the members’ list included Rui Costa, Grmay and Bono), which was whittled on the climb and only 21 riders (Rui Costa and Grmay among them) could reach the summit in front.
The penultimate climb (Cote de Beixalis) reduced the front group to ten members and Rui Costa succeeded in being in this small group. The Portuguese talent tried a solo attack with 20 km to go but didn’t get away. In the end, Rui Costa made some attempts to reach Dumoulin but he had to settle for second.
Behind the breakaway, the battle among the general classification contenders started. Meintjes delivered a very good performance which allowed him to follow most of the the attacks and take 19th, losing 21″ to Yates, Froome and Quintana. Thanks to the performance, the South African climber will spend the rest day in 9th in the general classification at 55″. Meintjes is 2nd in the white jersey standing, at 39″.
“The stage was so demanding, with all those climbs and the sudden change of the weather conditions,” Rui Costa explained. “I had focused my ambitions on this stage and I was aware that it was necessary to be in a breakaway to aim for a top result.
“I went clear from the bunch with the first attack, however the early part of the stage was quite complicated for me because I did not have top feelings. In the second part, I was better and I did everything I could to achieve the main goal.
”I attacked 20km from the finish because I wanted to anticipate the opponents but it did not work while Dumoulin succeeded in realizing the winning attack few kilometers later.
”The second place in a Tour de France stage is a good result but I’ll try again to achieve the big target.
“That final climb seemed endless! It was a super complicated day, but the will to win was greater. It is a result that excites me. It was not a victory, but after so much effort and so many attempts I think it was a good reward.
”I am happy and want more. We still have many stages and more opportunities. Let's take the fight.”
Empty Alberto Contador to skip the Olympics and focus on the Vuelta
It was a sad day for Tinkoff on the 184.5km 9th stage of the Tour de France. After a hard first week of the race battling against injuries sustained in the first two days and suffering from fever in the morning, Alberto Contador was forced to withdraw from the race after one of the toughest challenges of his career so far. After a week spent fighting against GC rivals – who had suffered none of the misfortunes he had – and holding his own against them, the strain became too much and the Spanish rider climbed off the bike on the second climb of the day. Picking up the baton, his teammates pushed on hard, with Rafal Majka and Peter Sagan taking points in the climbers’ and points contests respectively, and Roman Kreuziger riding hard with the GC group for the remainder of the day.
There were attacks from the start, first with King of the Mountains, Rafal Majka – for the second successive day – going up ahead with teammate Peter Sagan as part of a large group, before team leader, Alberto Contador also went on the attack. In spite of his best efforts, and after staying with the escape as they built up a 1’30” advantage on the peloton, the Spanish rider dropped back to the bunch.
Contador had started the day suffering from a fever after working hard on the previous stages to recover following crashes in the first two days of the race. Dropping back to the team car after the descent of the Port de la Bonaigua, it was clear that the Tinkoff leader wasn’t feeling comfortable, having tested his legs attacking on the first climb of the day. Climbing off his bike, Contador and the team made the difficult decision to abandon before the ascent of the Port del Cantò made his sickness worse.
Contador had tried to push on from the first crash to his attack on the stage today – never giving up hope. He spoke about his decision after the race.
“I did my best today. I tried to attack earlier on in the race but it was impossible – my legs simply couldn’t go after the two earlier crashes. Earlier this morning I had a little fever as well as throat pain, but nonetheless I decided to give it a shot. After I tried to attack my legs were really empty, so I dropped back to team car and talk to the Sport Directors. We agreed that the best decision was to abandon the race in order to rest and carry out further medical examinations, and we’ll assess my racing calendar now until the end of the season.
"I couldn't continue. This morning I was feverish after the crash in the first day, I really didn't feel well and it pushed me to make this decision. I must have medical checks to see what's wrong to try and recuperate for the rest of the season.
"I will not go to the Olympics but prepare for the Vuelta.”
Speaking after the stage, Sport Director, Steven De Jongh, explained the difficult decision for Contador to withdraw.
“Obviously it was hard to see Alberto leave today. He had a lot of fever when he got up this morning but still wanted to try and change the situation. He went for the break early on, but was empty and then got dropped. He came to the car and we discussed with him and then with the doctor and decided it was better to stop and leave the race to recover. It made no sense to keep pushing on.”
Further up the road, Majka and Sagan remained in the breakaway and pushed ahead in spite of the sad news. The UCI World Champion was working hard to collect points for the green jersey contest and took all of them at the foot of the Côte de la Comella with total ease – none of the riders in the breakaway even attempting to challenge the strong Slovakian rider. Having taken the full 20 points and re-taking second spot in the points contest, Sagan dropped from the break, his work done, while Majka continued up the road, looking for more climbers’ points.
De Jongh was pleased that after Contador’s departure from the race, the team was still fighting hard.
“The team was in a real fighting spirit. Peter was going for the green jersey points in the break, he picked up another 20, and then Rafa was going for the KOM points and for the stage win too.”
Tom Dumoulin crossed the line, and shortly after came Majka, narrowly beaten to the line, taking 3rd place. In 22nd position came Kreuziger, fighting hard on the final climb against the rain, hail and the GC group.
While Majka lost his Maillot à Pois, he is behind in the climbers’ contest by only 3 points, and there are plenty of opportunities for him in the race to come.
With 1,769.5km raced, the Tour de France goes into its first rest day tomorrow – a welcome relief for riders after nine incredibly hard stages. When the race returns on Tuesday for stage 10, the race will start with a climb of the first category Port d'Envalira before a long and steady downhill for the rest of the 197km stage, interrupted only by the third category Côte de Saint-Ferréol, cresting 7km from the finish. A finish for the puncheurs, this could be a chance for Peter Sagan to re-take the Maillot Vert.
Looking ahead to the days to come, De Jongh was pleased that the team was already pulling together to work for other goals in the race.
“Now we have Roman up there on GC and we will try and help him. Then we have the goal of the green and the KoM jerseys too, so even though it wasn't a good day, we can look forward and refocus.”
Owner Oleg Tinkov told Eurosport
"It was not a surprise to me, because I am in the team and we knew that Alberto was not doing well. When he attacked we were surprised and then he started coming back. But what can I say, it is disappointing of course, but the race goes on and we are going to fight for the mountain jersey and the green jersey and to try to win some stages.
"Rafal is a fighter. He is not feeling well because he's been in two consecutive breakaways, but he was good today. I hope he will have his mountain jersey now.
"Our team didn’t have a good last five days. Our captain was struggling and we had to be around him. It was not an easy time, even though Peter was in yellow we had to sort of manage two goals: to look after Alberto and still manage to keep the yellow jersey. Now, to me, it's kind of a relief, because Alberto is going home to prepare for the Vuelta.”
Sports director Sean Yates told Cyclingnews:
"We could see from his performance numbers that he was well off what he can produce when he's fit and healthy. It was like pushing shit up hill. We obviously always hope for the best and try and keep the rider’s moral up but in the end it wasn't to be.
"We knew that Alberto been suffering for days and ultimately it took its toll. He was recovering from his crash injuries but yesterday was a hard day with the heat, 4500m of climbing. He was still trying to perform but his body clearly didn’t want to know anymore. He woke up with a fever this morning and that's a consequence oh him trying so hard."
"That really emptied his tank, just like last year at the Tour de France when he surviving on courage. If it'd been the last two day of the Tour, he would have continued. Here it was only going to go from bad to worse. Purely for his health, it was better and wise to stop now.”
"He's got objectives up the road which he can focus on and do well. He needs to recover. Then when his wounds heal, he should be okay and back on rtack and train gently.
"It's a great disappointment to lose Alberto because we came here to win the Tour. But our leader is out and now we can only try to our hit our other goals.
"Peter is on track for green and took 20 points back today. We've also got a shot for the polka-dot jersey with Rafa Majka. We've also got Roman Kreuziger, who is well placed overall."
Alejandro Valverde: I feel that Quintana is unbeatable
The Movistar Team tried to turn things around after Saturday's blow in Bagnères-de-Luchon and launched one of its two main GC references into an early fight on stage nine of the Tour de France (Vielha-Andorra / Ordino-Arcalís, 184.5km). Alejandro Valverde was the courageous face of the telephone squad once again, going after Contador (TNK) and Henao (SKY), in search for an enormous, 44-rider escape which included four from the Blue team: the Izagirre brothers, Winner Anacona and Jesús Herrada.
Despite having Anacona, Herrada and Valverde making what was the decisive, 20-man move at the summit of La Bonaigua (Cat-1), with one minute over the peloton of GC leader Chris Froome (SKY), and increasing their gap to two minutes after the descent, Valverde’s presence forced his companions to ask for his exit so they could chase the stage win. The two Movistar Team riders remaining rode bravely in a world-class escape: Winner Anacona came across the line in 5th spot, almost two minutes behind the day's winner Tom Dumoulin (TGA), and Jesús Herrada, committed as usual in the steepest sections, ended up being a luxury witness to his own leader's arrival to the finish.
As Valverde struggled following his fantastic effort and the dramatic weather change - from heat to hailstorm - on the final climb of Arcalís, finishing 42" behind the lead to trail back to 10th overall (+1'01"), Nairo Quintana glued to every single move by his rivals to come across the line together. That action takes him into fourth in the GC, 23" behind the yellow jersey. Movistar is now in the lead of the TDF's teams' classification and will enjoy, together with the rest of the Grande Boucle's convoy, a well-deserved first rest day on Monday before action resumes over Envalira (Cat-1) and to Revel on Tuesday.
Alejandro Valverde said:
"It was a really demanding stage. The team behaved well overall; we tried to go after that move with Contador, knowing that we had team-mates at the front, but once Alberto wasn't able to keep up the pace I couldn't be there either, because if I did, the break just wouldn't go forward. All in all, Nairo did his job well, keeping Froome's wheel; my job, in turn, got way harder with the final pace, the rain and the efforts from the day, and I could just go on my own, staying with Kreuziger's group and pushing with all I had until the finish.
“Froome unbeatable at the moment? So I feel Nairo is, too. There's still a long way to go in this Tour - you must attack when it's your real time. You never know when it comes.
”Contador's abandon? It was sad; he had already told me he was suffering from fever this morning. All my best wishes to him!"
Frustrated Thibaut Pinot: I am not getting better
“It's the glass half full, half empty,” said Thibaut Pinot after having taken the mountains ersey. “I'm really disappointed because I targeted the stage victory. That was my priority and I was convinced that I was able to make it until we reach the last climb. I'm not sure what happened there. I possibly had a hungerflat.
”But I've not lost everything since I now have the polka dot jersey. It can become an objective even though I'd really like to win a stage. The Tour is not over.
"I tried but as usual, I had no legs. I do not cheat, I cannot do more than this. I gave the maximum but again, I'm disappointed.
"The weather in the final did not bother me. I was very happy that it rains because it was again hot. I broke completely down four kilometers from the finish, I simply had nothing left in the legs. Now I will recover well and try to find good sensations. There will be other breakaways and I'll try again in the Alps.
”Today I had to score points and the best way was to win this stage. I am really disappointed because it was the objective and it is a great opportunity that was missed. I used a lot of energy in the valley but there were riders who did not cooperate. It is always the same, but it's like that. I hope to spend three days easily and then I'll try to defend this jersey.
”I knew that once a rider got 30 seconds it was over. Dumoulin did and he won. There was no cooperation. Just look at the images. It is always the same anyway. I could not count on anyone.
”The key for me was to win today and the polka dot jersey would follow. It does not get better. On a day like this, with my usual level, I should got for the win.”
Strong George Bennett pays for lack of experience
George Bennett finished seventh in the ninth stage of the Tour de France today in Andorra. The Team LottoNL-Jumbo rider from New Zealand was part of the early breakaway during the queen stage through Spain and Andorra, and managed to finish ahead of the peloton. Tom Dumoulin (Giant - Alpecin) attacked before the final climb and won solo.
“George Bennett delivered a beautiful stage and gave everything,” Sports Director Merijn Zeeman said. “Before the Tour de France, we chose this stage for him to give it a try. George is a lightweight, so it’s difficult for him to be part of the breakaway when the profile is flat. When the race starts uphill, like today, he has a bigger chance. He already showed that in the Dauphiné and in the Vuelta, and he was there today again.
“George was familiar with the penultimate climb and you might say that he was too eager in that part of the race, but I have to say that that climb suited him better than the last one, as well. George is developing and he should be proud of what he showed today.”
Bennett was one of the riders from the breakaway who survived the mountainous stage and just before the top of the Col de Beixalis, he tried to escape from the others in his group.
“I had the feeling that I was able to win this race today and enthusiasm took the better of me,” he said. “I might have done too much at that point, so I have to learn from it. It was awesome that the team gave me the chance to try it. It didn’t work out exactly like what I dreamed of, but it’s a start. Next time, I will wait to make a move until the final part of the race.”
In the beginning of the final climb to Arcalis, Bennett clashed with a spectator.
“He stepped forward and didn’t look at me,” he added. “I clashed with him, so he fell. I managed to stay on my bike, but I feel bad that this happened. The fans need to realise that we need a little bit more space.”
Wilco Kelderman loses ground after crashing in stage 8
Behind the breakaway, Wilco Kelderman wasn’t able to stay with the overall contenders.
“Wilco fought, but obviously struggled with the damage from yesterday’s crash,” Zeeman added. “He isn’t able to ride how he should go when he’s fit, so that leaves a sour feeling. The rest day comes at the right moment for him. He has to recover.”
“I have a lot of pain, but in the adrenaline of the race, you manage to get through it,” Kelderman added. “I expected a heavy day, actually, but you’re always hoping that it goes better. I was dropped immediately on the final climb and rode to the top at my own pace.”
The queen stage of the Tour de France was a big struggle for sprinter Dylan Groenewegen, as well.
“He had to push through his limits,” Zeeman said. “He had to fight to get back into the gruppetto quite often. Dylan rode his first heavy mountain stage in the Tour de France, so he should be proud of surviving the Pyrenees.”
Vincenzo Nibali: Today I was feeling better
"Today's final was really tremendous, the hail came down strongly and it hurts. Fabio [Aru] has lost something, but tomorrow we will have a day of rest and we can regain strength for the rest of the Tour. Now I will run to change my clothes, or I will get sick" commented Vincenzo Nibali after the stage.
"It was a hard, difficult stage. We all felt tired. Yesterday I was not feeling well. Today I was in better shape and I tried to help Fabio Aru. In the end it was so so. The rest day will help us recover."
Fabio Aru: If it hadn’t been for Nibali, it would have been a lot worse
“It wasn’t my best day but we managed it and we lost only one minute to the GC contenders,” said Fabio Aru after the finish.
“I paid a little bit for the high rhythm and on the final climb when it started to rain and then to hail, I lost some seconds. Thanks to my team mates and to Vincenzo Nibali in the final km we did well to limit the loss to the yellow jersey to one minute
“Tomorrow is the first rest day and I think it comes in the perfect moment for me. I’m not worried because the Tour is still very long, we have two weeks ahead of us.
"The last climb was tough and I suffered a lot. Fortunately I had Vincenzo alongside me and he gave me some precious help. I’ve got to thank him and all the team today because they were all there for me.
"Unfortunately it wasn't a great day for me in the finale of the stage. In the last six kilometres, I didn't have the speed and rhythm to stay up front with Froome and the strongest riders. I can only thank Vincenzo who help me chase and limit my losses. Without him it would have been much worse."
"That's cycling, you have good and bad days. I can only carry on fighting and I will do.”
Diego Rosa fights back from bad day to take 9th in the Pyrenees
Diego Rosa finished 9th.
"I had a difficult day yesterday and was afraid of missing the time cut,” he told Rai. “I was not good, but today was better. Perhaps I missed the energy in the end but we are growing and I'm happy. "
"We needed to have two men in front because we did not know how the GC riders would react. Today we were there for Fabio. That's okay."
IAM and Frank bounce back with strong ride in the Pyrenees
Three IAM Cycling riders made it into the day’s main breakaway. Stef Clement, Jérôme Coppel, and Mathias Frank found the opening to go with another twenty-plus riders.
“The team did a great job for me today,” Frank said. “Stef Clement and Jerome Coppel went hard all day in the break. I worked to keep contact with the leaders for as long as possible. I really gave everything. However, my legs were not good enough to hope to finish much better in the finale. After my bad day yesterday, I am pleased to have found a good feeling again. And there will be more chances to go into a good break before the end of this Tour.”
"I went on the attack, hoping to serve as bridgehead for Mathias Frank in the final," commented Jérôme Coppel, who was absorbed just before cresting the third of five categorized climbs of the day.
Stef Clement was a tireless and effective engine in the day’s breakaway.
“IAM Cycling managed to close ranks after the difficulties we suffered yesterday. The team spirit has allowed us to pull together and put in some pretty strong performances, even if we weren’t playing for the win. This is encouraging and will make it possible for us to enter the rest day with a feeling of accomplishment,” he said.
Arriving at the stage finish in pouring rain 32’03” after winner Tom Dumoulin, Jarlinson Pantano took the time to grab an umbrella, and finished his day with a big smile.
Adam Yates: I am still not going 100% for GC
Tour de France white jersey Adam Yates produced an intelligent and mature performance for ORICA-BikeExchange on stage nine of the Tour de France today. Brilliantly following the attacks on the final climb before accelerating to lead the overall favourites over the line.
The tough and unforgiving ninth stage included five categorised climbs on the third consecutive day in the Pyrenees but that did not faze 23-year old Yates. A measured performance saw the Briton retain the White jersey and second on the general classification.
Yates rode intelligently throughout, well protected by his ORICA-BikeExchange teammates until halfway up the final climb when the group of overall favourites began to seriously increase the pace.
“It was a difficult start to the stage with the attacks of Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) on the first climb,” said Yates. “Then on the last climb it started to rain and cooled down quite a bit.
“For me when it cools down like that I feel a lot more open and it enabled me to go a little bit deeper, so it was good timing really.
“We all have the rest day tomorrow and some time to recover so we will see how everyone comes out of that and continue to take the race day by day.
“Yesterday I felt better but I didn't lose anything to the best rider and it makes me very satisfied. Today at the beginning it was very complicated. With the breakaway and Contador's attack, we didn't know where to look.
”I had no problem with the rain at the end. I actually prefer the rain that racing with 45° and not being able to breathe.
”I'm very happy. I reach the rest day in a very good position. I just need to recover well. I'd like to win a stage but as long as I have options on GC I follow that goal.”
“It’s not too bad for a second go at the Tour de France, but still I’m not 100 per cent riding GC. I’m not too bad where I am and yeah, we have the rest day tomorrow, so I’ll rest up and see how the legs come out after,” he told Cyclingweekly.
“I’m still going for stages, I came to the race for stages. I am doing good on GC, but it’s a background objective. There are still two time trials. It’s well known that I’m not good at them. One of them is a mountain time trial, where I won’t lose as much time, but still, to get on the podium in the Tour you have to be good at riding a time trial.”
Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) took the stage victory with a winning move from the breakaway whilst Yates crossed the line in 10th after an audacious push to the line.
Sport director Matt White was pleased with how the stage went for ORICA-BikeExchange.
“It was another very pleasing ride by Adam (Yates) and the team today,” said White.”Especially when you consider the last forty-eight hours that Adam has had.
“The guys did a great job again today, looking after Adam and maintaining our position going into the finale.
“Ruben Plaza and Daryl Impey both played important roles on the stage and stayed with Adam for as long as possible after Daryl had tried to get into the earlier breakaway moves.
“We are happy with our position going into tomorrow’s rest day and looking forward to stage ten on Tuesday.”
Chris Froome: I was waiting for Quintana’s attack
Chris Froome battled through torrential rain on the first summit finish of the Tour de France to maintain his 16-second lead at the top of the General Classification.
Froome saw off attacks from Dan Martin (Etixx - Quick-Step), Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) and Richie Porte (BMC) on the final climb of stage nine to finish at the head of the GC group, closely followed by Nairo Quintana (Movistar).
Up ahead Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) emerged from the day's breakaway to take a fine solo stage win, six minutes and 35 seconds ahead of Froome, who came home 11th.
The day started in frantic circumstances with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) infiltrating the day's break, forcing Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard and Vasil Kiryienka to ride hard at the front of the pack to bring it back.
Speaking after the 185km stage a soaking wet Froome admitted that it had been a gruelling couple of days in the saddle.
He said: "That was a tough old day out there. It was really hard yesterday and then another tough day today. Going from pretty extreme heat, really hot, stuffy weather, to 10 degrees and a hailstorm at the finish - that made it quite a difficult day too.
"I'm really happy with that though. It would have been nice to take a bit more time and have more of a buffer in the yellow jersey but all in all I'm really happy going into the first rest day in yellow."
And Froome was quick to heap praise onto his team-mates, who led the peloton from start to finish across every one of the day's five categorised climbs.
He added: "I've got a fantastic team around me and the guys have done everything. They've ridden from start to finish almost every day now. I couldn't be in a better place."
"I've said it a few times coming into the race that this is going to be the biggest battle of my career. That's what it's turning out to be. By no means did I expect this to be easier, that I would ride away from everyone. I felt that the level is higher and that I'll need to fight for every second that I can.
"In the back of my mind I was waiting for Quintana’s attack. All the way up to the last kilometre and into the last kilometre I felt that he might be saving it for one big move but that never came. I'd like to think that he was on his limit. It was a tough day out there but it looks like he stuck to my wheel like glue out there.
"That was a tough stage and the weather made it even tougher. At one stage we were pouring ice and water over our heads and the next minute we had ice falling from the sky with the hailstones and the temperature dropping. It was from one extreme to another. It made the race harder but it's still a great day for us. I'm happy to still be in yellow. My team-mates did a good job from start to finish.
“We were put under pressure by Contador and Valverde in the first climb but we didn't panic. We went after them. I owe to my team-mates to still be in yellow.
"I have to admit that I was quite surprised to hear that Contador got into the car today and withdrew because he attacked on the first climb and was up front. He obviously wasn't feeling too bad at the start but he's obviously still suffering with injury. It's a shame that he's no longer in the race. With him here he's only going to make the race more exciting than it already is. It's a big loss from the Tour but no doubt he'll be targeting big goals for the rest of the season.
"We're not going to have to chase his attacks from 100 kilometres out. It's one less thing for us to worry about but it's a shame for the race."
After Mikel Landa had produced a stunningly long stint at the front of the peloton in the second half of the stage it was over to Sergio Henao and Geraint Thomas to guide Froome up the final climb for as long as they could.
Speaking afterwards Thomas also paid tribute to the work of the team, and joked that the rain came as light relief to him.
He said: "It was actually quite nice! It was like being back in Wales. But it's been a tough week. It was hard to control when Valverde went up the road early on today but we stuck together well, rode as a unit, and then it all came down to that last climb. It wasn't quite hard enough for big gaps I don't think."
Martin and Yates sit second and third on GC now, with Quintana fourth, and Thomas was happy to admit that they are genuine overall contenders, before highlighting how much racing is still to come.
The Welshman added: "Everyone within a couple of minutes is a threat at the minute. They're good climbers but it's only stage nine and a lot can happen in Grand Tours. There's two time trials to come as well."
Richie Porte: I know where I am and that’s in a good place
A brutal stage 9 of the Tour de France saw the peloton face five category climbs, with Richie Porte and Tejay van Garderen testing their legs on the toughest day of racing so far.
Porte and van Garderen spent the day in the peloton with the support of their BMC Racing Team teammates. At the front of the race, multiple breakaways formed, from which Tom Dumoulin (Team Giant Alpecin) emerged to take the solo win in Andorra.
On the final climb, the reduced number of General Classification riders put in attack after attack to split the group in the final kilometers. Porte crossed the line in 13th place just behind race leader Chris Froome (Team SKY) and van Garderen followed in 21st place.
The final stage before the first rest day saw a shake up of the General Classification, with van Garderen now sitting in 11th place, 1’01” behind Froome, and Porte in 14th, 2’10” back.
Richie Porte said:
“I put some time into some other General Classification guys so it’s a good day. I need to get time back so that’s what I was thinking [when I attacked in the final]. The team was fantastic today, we worked quite well together. It would have been nice to get a bit more of a gap but I’m guessing that they’re not just going to let me ride away like that. I feel good. It’s nice to get the first proper block of racing done. Physically I know where I am and that’s in a good place.”
Tejay van Garderen: Obviously Porte was a lot better than me
Tejay van Garderen said:
“It was long and super hot and then it got super cold at the finish. It was just a hard day off the back of a hard day so I think Richie [Porte] and I did pretty well. Richie was obviously a lot better than me, but we just look forward. It’s been nine hard days of racing so fatigue definitely starts going into play but it’s still the first week. The first real mountain day of the Tour I always tend to struggle more than the other ones so I think it can only get better from here. Any one of the stages could be an opportunity to gain back time, the mountains, the time trials, so I’ll just take it as it comes.
"Contador’s withdrawal was a little interesting because he put in a really big attack at the beginning so it seemed like a go for broke and try to get back into GC or pull the plug and he did the latter. I think that, if he was smart, he could have stayed in the gruppetto, lost 30 minutes, recovered on the rest day and maybe in the final week win two stages and the mountains jersey. I think that for him it was GC or bust."
Daniel Martin: I don’t consider myself a contender
Sergio Henao (Team Sky) decided to test the favourites and Daniel Martin – fourth at the start of the day – was the first to respond, his strong acceleration forcing a selection. Just like a boxer, Martin channeled his inner strength and launched one jab after another, attacking overall leader Chris Froome (Team Sky) on numerous occasions, hoping to dispatch him and seize the coveted yellow jersey. Despite the black ominous clouds that covered the sky and the rain which was pelting down, the 29-year-old kept attacking the other conteders, emptying himself and leaving it all on the final stage of the Pyrenees triptyque. His impressive effort couldn't distance his opponents, but it left him satisfied at the end of the day, as he jumped one place in the overall classification and will now go into the race's first rest day – after nine stages and almost 1800 kilometers spent in the saddle – in third position, less than 20 seconds behind the GC leader.
"I don't consider myself a contender, Chris and Nairo are the big favourites for the win, but I wanted to see what I can do, so I attacked a few times. In the final kilometer it was a headwind, and because of that it became difficult to try something there", said Martin, who moved to Andorra last year and began using the Andorre Arcalis climb as one of his regular training grounds.
"Overall, I can't say the weather had an impact, but I'm sure it looked cooler on TV. I'm third overall now, but I still want to take it day by day and try to get a stage win. I like riding again in the high mountains, Etixx – Quick-Step reminded me how to enjoy what I am doing and I can't say enough times how great this team is.
“I'm an aggressive rider, that's my nature, and I like to attack and fight for the win even if this means getting dropped, instead of sitting behind and fighting for second."
"Martin feels good here, this is his training ground,” sports director Wilfried Peeters told Sporza. “He knows the climb, he knows every turn. He tried. He can compete with the best, but it's a long race.
”The peloton did not pass his house but he trains a lot here. And it does a lot to him that he can train on the climbs. He was super motivated."
Romain Bardet: This is my best Tour start ever
"There was a significant difference in temperature during the stage. At first the heat was stifling, and then we ended up in a hailstorm. It is an outdoor sport. We are subject to climatic hazards. It was the same for everyone and I had to hang on. There were a lot of attacks. I took part in some. I'm happy with my final climb and how the legs are at the start of the Tour de France.
“If I had been smarter, I think I could have been with the four riders in the yellow jersey group which finished ahead of me. I missed a bit of bravery. However, I did lose more than twenty seconds.
“The outcome of this first part of this Tour de France is pretty good. I had planned to improve gradually for the third week and I'm really glad about my first week. I only lost some 20 seconds today and had I raced a little better, I could have finished with the yellow jersey group. It's my best start to the Tour, my best first ten days. It's a morale booster even though everything remains to be done. Now the Pyrenees are over and I will focus on Ventoux and the Alps.
“This is my fourth participation and these are my best 10 days.”
Bauke Mollema: So far I am happy
The GC rivals traded blows as they valiantly tried to crack each other in the final kilometers of the summit finish of stage nine and the elastic in the small elite group stretched taut, very close to snapping.
A cold rain pelted down. Chris Froome (Sky) attacked. Then Richie Porte (BMC). Then Dan Martin (Etixx-Quick Step). And then Martin again. It was GC war and the last climb in the 184-kilometer mountain stage the perfect setting for a fierce battle.
Bauke Mollema clawed his way across the gap that had formed to six riders, the elastic still intact, and the contenders regrouped again.
Then Mollema calmly accelerated past.
Only four kilometers remained to the finish line where Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) was on his way to the stage win, the strongest of the day's 20-rider breakaway.
But the yellow jersey-clad Froome wouldn't let the wiry Dutch climber go; the time differences amongst the top riders too close. Mollema was drawn back into the clutches of the group, and the accelerations continued.
Mollema collected his breath and attacked again. And again Froome, on the defensive to retain the yellow jersey, closed the gap.
"I felt good on the last climb, and I tried to attack a few times, but Froome chased me. After I had attacked I needed to recover a little bit, then Richie Porte went, and I just couldn't follow the first GC guys," explained Mollema.
Finally, the leading group split. Froome, Porte, Martin, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Adam Yates (ORICA-BikeExchange) pulled away in the last 2000 meters as Mollema followed with four men seconds later.
"In the last kilometer we had a small gap from them, I was with Bardet and Rodriquez. I think in the end it was a good day, and it has been a good first week for me. Tomorrow's the rest day; time to recover. Still two weeks to go. So far I am happy about the form, and hopefully I can keep this in the next two weeks."
Mollema's group crossed the line 21 seconds behind the yellow jersey, enough to launch Mollema into 7th overall at 44 seconds. Despite the small time loss, the hunt for the overall classification is still close between the top rungs of the leaderboard.
"It was a hard race," concluded Mollema. "First it was really warm, and then on the last climb it was raining, and hail. It was a special day, really hard. I had a lot of support from the boys again today, and in the final climb they brought me to the front in good position."
Tomorrow the Tour has its first rest day.
Katusha expect Joaquim Rodriguez to shine in the third week
On Sunday the Tour left France and headed overnight into Andorra, ending in a summit finish for the first time in this year’s race. Team KATUSHA’s Joaquim Rodriguez rode with the yellow jersey group of favorites and lacked just a little to finish with that group atop the Arcalis. The Spanish rider, who resides in Andorra, stayed in the top five on the general classification with plenty of racing still to come.
”I’m feeling not so bad. The rivals tried a few times in the end, so I lost a bit of time, but fortunately I am not feeling too tired after the race. This is a good sign. The long breakaway was good for us; otherwise the stage would have been even crazier. It was already crazy enough at the start. There were many attacks on the Port de la Bonaigua and Team Sky had to keep the pace so high. Later Alberto Contador abandoned and then came that crazy climb of the Col de Beixalis. The race still has two weeks to go. There are hard stages to come,” said team leaderJoaquim Rodriguez.
The yellow jersey group of Froome crossed the finish line at 6:35 with Team KATUSHA’s Rodriguez in 20th place at 6:56.
“There are still only small differences among the top ten. Joaquim lost two places, but we have a goal and are still fighting for this goal to be in the top 10. We come to the first rest day after this complicated week where it is always dangerous, there is tension in the peloton, the risk of crashing and now we are past the Pyrenees. He is fifth now and normally his level gets better in the last week as some of the others start to feel tired. We are happy with our result. It’s too early to say if the top five will stay as they are. Next week we have the ITT, a stage to Mont Ventoux before the Alps and that last week is very complicated. Only one day is flat before Paris. ‘Purito’ has experience in these big tours. He has been on the podium in the Tour, in the Giro and in the Vuelta, so we will go day by day. We have a plan and we will stay calm and stick with it,” explained sports director José Azevedo.
Joaquim Rodriguez is 5th at +0.37 after nine stages of racing.
Mark Cavendish loses Mark Renshaw after tough day in the Pyrenees
For Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, the stage did not get off to a great start as Mark Renshaw had to abandon the race due to illness picked up overnight. Renshaw was instrumental in the opening week success, delivering Mark Cavendish to his 3 stage victories. The Australian took the start but after less than 5km of racing it was clear that Renshaw could not continue.
The stage went on though and the African Team wanted to be part of the action despite the sad news. Daniel Teklehaimanot was one of the first riders of the day to attack as the race went up the first of 5 categorised climbs for the day. A number of counter attacks followed while Team Sky also kept a consistently high tempo going in the peloton. Eventually it was 20 riders who were allowed clear and Natnael Berhane was representing Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka in the move.
With so much climbing throughout the day, it was a nervous stage for Cavendish and the African Team with the time cut being a constant threat. After the first big climb, Cavendish and Bernhard Eisel were 2 minutes behind the rest of the race and so apart from Berhane in the break and Serge Pauwels in the yellow jersey group, the rest of our riders went back to help pace Cavendish and Eisel back to the pack. It was a strong show of teamwork which proved successful.
As the race made its way into Andorra for the final 50km and where the final 3 climbs of the stage awaited, Berhane was still present in the lead group, Pauwels was riding well in the 35 rider yellow jersey group and a large grupetto of more than 70 riders had formed containing the rest of the African Team.
Berhane slowly started to fade on the final climb and was eventually caught by the select yellow jersey group with 3km to go. It was still a good showing by the Eritrean, and one from which he would have gained much experience. The grupetto came in a little over 30 minutes down on Dumoulin and Cavendish was able to retain the lead in the Green Jersey points competition as we head into the first rest day of this year’s Tour de France.
Natnael Berhane said:
“From the start many riders wanted to be in the break. We were 35 riders at first, Contador and Valverde were there as well and the peloton didn’t want them to go away. Finally, they dropped back to the peloton and we started to pull harder on the front to get a gap. In the final the attacks started and I tried to follow as much as I could because I was hoping to make a top 10 result. I couldn’t do it today but I hope to have a good rest now so that I can try again to get a good result.”
Mark Cavendish said:
“I keep the green jersey for the first rest day, I can be happy with that. I just want to enjoy my time with my family during the rest day. There are some opportunities left for sprinters but the stage that appeals to me is the last one in Paris. It's a shame that Mark Renshaw had to pull out but he was very sick last night. There was no other solution.”
Thomas De Gendt: Pinot said that the KOM points were for him
Lotto Soudal had Thomas De Gendt and Tony Gallopin in the break. De Gendt showed himself in the breakaway and he fought for the KOM points. He won the second KOM sprint, on the third climb of the day he accelerated. De Gendt rode alone in front for a while and he was able to win the third KOM sprint. Unfortunately, he was reeled in on the penultimate climb by what was left of the front group and he was dropped a few moments later.
De Gendt rode an aggressive race today and he was the first Belgian rider at the summit in Arcalis.
“I felt really good before the start of today’s stage so I decided to attack immediately,” he said. “Before the first climb of the day in the beginning of the stage, more than 40 riders were still in the front of the race. In my opinion, that was a bit too much so I accelerated again. Eventually twenty riders were part of the break and as I promised beforehand, I tried to obtain as much points as possible for the KOM classification (he was able to get 23 points for the KOM classification today, ed.).
“When I attacked on the third climb of the day, I hoped to remain in front till the summit of the penultimate climb, but that was a bit too optimistic. I was reeled in by the strongest climbers in the front group and after that I was dropped rather quickly.
“The first three hours of the stage were really hot, but on the final climb the weather changed entirely and it started to rain and hail. Personally, that wasn’t a big problem for me.
”I’m confident that I’ll be able to show myself the next two weeks, I feel very good. But first I will enjoy the first rest day in this Tour.
"I scored many points but I couldn’t take the polka dot jersey today. Pinot came to tell me that the points for the mountain classification were for him, but that’s not how it works. So it was more of a sprint for the prestige. I would like to stay in the battle for the mountains classification, if only to be third or fourth. That also brings a nice sum of money. It’s not possible to win the jersey, especially with the double points at the end.
"To take the stage victory, I had to try early. I knew the last climb from last year and knew there was a section that is too steep for me. I had attack and hope that they would catch me after that section but it happened quickly. I tried to anticipate, but it was not to be.
"The last kilometer was really not nice. I was there all the way and the last long climb was miserable. Heavy hail made matters worse. But after Liège-Bastogne-Liège I'm not afraid anymore. It was pretty big hail balls, but we only had to deal with them for 4 kilometers. We cannot complain, otherwise the weather was fine. "
Emanuel Buchmann: I am happy with my first week
Many attacks after the official start opened the stage. On the climb to the first KOM, a group of 45 riders could escape. From BORA – ARGON 18 it was Patrick Konrad, Paul Voss and Cesare Benedetti in the first group but they could not follow when the pace increased a second time.
Emanuel Buchmann had some problems in the beginning but came back to the peloton and was there until till 5.5km remained. He reached the finish 10 minutes behind race winner Tom Dumoulin und only 3 minutes behind Chris Froome. He is 22nd on GC.
"My leg were really bad on the first climb and I had to suffer a lot. But then during the stage the legs got better and in the end I could stay with the best until with around 5k to go. I am happy with the first week, the time gaps are small and my position is good now for the next weeks,” said Emanuel Buchmann
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