Rigoberto Uran staked his claim as a GC contender with a photo-finish on Stage 9, beating Warren Barguil (Sunweb) on the line by a matter of centimetres.
Uran was part of an elite group containing just 6 riders including the maillot jaune Chris Froome who had escaped on the descent of the Mont du Chat, a descent fraught with danger which saw Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas both crash out of the race. Warren Barguil was part of the day’s early beakaway and managed to hold onto the Froome group and look like he was about to take the stage before Uran’s late surge.
Porte and QuickStep’s Dan Martin were part of the Froome group but Porte took a wrong line out of a corner and hit a grass verge, causing him to lose control and go sliding across the road taking out Dan Martin, who was able to continue but finished ore than 1′ down on the Froome group. Porte was seriously injured and had to be taken to hospital where it was revealed he had broken his right clavicle and the right side of his pelvis.
In a stage jam-packed with action and drama though the photo finish was quite low on the list of talking points as crashes and controversy reigned in what many were calling the Queen stage of the Tour, which is unusual for the first week of racing.
The stage profile was a snapshot of just how hard a day it was with three HC climbs throughout the day along with several other classified climbs to contend with.
The tough day ahead began with the climb of the Cote des Neyrolles (Cat 2) – the summit of which was just 3.5km after the start of the race. Despite the uphill start there were several attacks with Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) managing to escape with Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) going with him and taking the first mountain points at the top.
The climbing continued despite the summit being reach with the Col de Berentin (Cat 3) coming after a hardly-noticeable descent which put Wellens and Pinot back in the bunch. The first of the crashes involved Manuele Mori (UAE), Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Angelo Tulik (Direct Energie) on the newly resurfaced roads which were clearly slippery when wet. The crash caused Mori and Gesink to abadon the race.
At just 7km into the stage a breakaway of 38 riders escaped on the Col de Berentin including Wellens and Pinot again along with Jan Bakelants, Axel Domont and Alexis Vuillermoz (AG2R), Jesus Herrada and Carlos Betancur (Movistar), Bauke Mollema and Jarlinson Pantano (Trek-Segafredo), Alessandro De Marchi and Amaël Moinard (BMC), Bakhtiar Kozhatayev and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Kristjian Durasek and Vegard Stake Laengen (UAE), Michael Albasini (Orica-Scott), Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step Floors), Pawel Poljanski (Bora-Hansgrohe), Robert Kiserlovski and Tiago Machado (Katusha-Alpecin), Thomas De Gendt and Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal), Michael Matthews, Nikias Arndt, Warren Barguil, Simon Geschke and Laurens ten Dam (Sunweb), Nicolas Edet and Dani Navarro (Cofidis), Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo), Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie), Pierre Rolland and Dylan Van Baarle (Cannondale-Drapac), Javier Moreno (Bahrain-Merida), and Brice Feillu, Pierre-Luc Périchon and Eduardo Sepulveda (Fortuneo-Oscaro).
As the group went over the climb the rest of the field were 1’49” behind them and included Froome and the rest of the jerseys. There were several crashes and splits in the leading group on the descent but on the flat before the next climb they managed to regroup as they faced the prospect of the first HC climb of the race – the Col de la Biche.
Laurens ten Dam took over at the front of the break and set the pace which began to shell riders including De Gendt, who had set a high pace on the flat between climbs beforehand. The peloton was now 3’30” back and the sprinters were going backwards with green jersey hopefil Arnaud Demare already 11′ behind the peloton after being dropped early on.
Despite their large number, the group worked well together and they managed to increase their lead on the peloton on the climb, their lead being 7′ by the time they reached the top where Roglic attacked and took full points at the top of the climb.
On the descent of the Biche there were several more crashes including the one which involved Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe), Herrada (Movistar) and Thomas (Team Sky) which saw Thomas have to abandon the race with a broken collarbone. The descent saw several groups splinter and re-form throughout the race with the leaders splitting up and the peloton behind fracturing also, with Froome ending up in a group of around 20 riders.
After the chaotic descending the Grand Colombier (HC) loomed immediately which helped the leading group of seven riders which had formed on the descent: Bakelants, Domont and Vuillermoz of AG2R, Pantano (Trek-Segafredo), Poljanski (Bora-Hansgrohe), Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) and Barguil.
The leaders were beginning to suffer though and it wasn’t long before it was just Barguil and Benoot alone at the front of the race, which is how it stayed to the top with Barguil sprinting to take full mountain points at the top of the Colombier. The Froome group was 4’16” behind at the top of the climb with remnants of the breakaways and various groups scattered all the way down the mountain.
On the descent riders were able to get back up to Barguil and Benoot with Barguil acquiring teammates Geschke and Matthews along with Betancur, Bakelants, Navarro, Pantano and Gallopin making up the new leading group. Matthew’s presence meant he was able to contest the intermediate sprint at Massignieu-de-Rives and easily take maximum points to close the gap to Kittel at the top of the points classification.
Bakelants and Gallopin accelerated off the front after the sprint to take advantage of the brief lull in the group and the pair tackled the Cote de Jongieux (Cat 4) alone with Bakelants taking the single point on offer and the rest of the group coming over 1′ later with the Froome group a further 3’30” down.
After a short descent came the final challenge of the Mont du Chat (HC) and as soon as the road began to rise Matthews paid the price for his exertions and dropped back, his work for the day done. Several other riders went the same way in all groups on the road and it wasn’t long before Mollema attacked the leaders from the chase group, going past Gallopin and joined by Barguil and Bakelants to form a leading three. Barguil attacked the other two and was able to get away on his own as he rode out of the saddle up the climb.
On the slopes of the Chat Froome had a mechanical and dropped to the back of the group to get a bike change, which prompted Fabio Aru (Astana) to attack the yellow jersey whilst he was waiting for a bike change. Quintana and Porte went with him as thethreee Sky riders in the group dropped back to help their leader. Quintana and Porte slowed the pace down and refused to work with Aru until Froome was back in the group, and once he was back on there was an attack from Fuglsang (Astana) who was able to join the Mollema group who were pursuing Barguil.
Froome continued on up the climb as Contador, unable to keep up with the pace, dropped off the back of the group. The Froome group was now 1’30” behind Barguil with only the yellow jersey, Aru, Quintana, Uran, Bardet and Martin left as Porte tried attack after attack but was unable to get clear. An attack from Froome put paid to Quintana and brought the group back up to Fuglsang who was still chasing Barguil.
With 1km to the summit Barguil’s ;ead was down to 35″ over the Froome group and this got shorter and shorter as the Frenchman eventually reached the summit with 10″ on the chasing GC riders. The points on the Chat confirmed Barguil’s lead in the King of the Mountains classification after the stage.
Then began the descent which saw Barguil valiantly trying to stay away from the GC men who were only a handful of seconds behind when Porte crashed, taking out Martin too. Martin was able to get back on the bik but couldn’t rejoin the Froome group and had to try to limit his losses. The crash had clipped Uran which had broken his rear derailleur leaving him stuck in a large gear that he used for descending.
With 17km to go Barguil had pushed his lead out to 24″ and Bardet attacked, going clear of Froome and setting off in pursuit of Barguil. Despite trying to stay away Barguil was caught with 11.7km to go by Bardet and almost immediately went again in a bid for solo victory. Bardet was able to stay away until 2km when Froome and the rest of the GC riders managed to haul him back and it looked like it would be a GC sprint.
Froome led the way into the final km with Fuglsang launching his sprint with 350m to go but that was too early and Bardet was able to pass him. Uran was still stuck in the huge gear and was able to haul himself around Bardet to lunge for the line as Barguil did the same, resulting in the photo finish.
Along with the riders having to abandon the race there were several who missed out on the time gap, most noticably sprinter Arnaud Demare who would have been a contender for the green jersey competition.
Tour de France 2017 Stage 9: Nantua>Chambery 181.5km
|Position||Name (Team – Nationality)||Time|
|1||Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac – Col)||5:07:29″|
|2||Warren Barguil (Sunweb – Fra)||s.t.|
|3||Chris Froome (Team Sky – GBr)||s.t.|
|4||Romain Bardet (AG2R – Fra)||s.t.|
|5||Fabio Aru (Astana – Ita)||s.t.|
|6||Jakob Fuglsang (Astana – Den)||s.t.|
|7||George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo – NZl)||+1’15”|
|8||Mikel Landa (Team Sky – Spa)||s.t.|
|9||Dan Martin (QuickStep – Ire)||s.t.|
|10||Nairo Quintana (Movistar – Col)||s.t.|
|Position||Name (Team – Nationality)||Time|
|1||Chris Froome (Team Sky – GBr)||38:26:28″|
|2||Fabio Aru (Astana – Ita)||+18″|
|3||Romain Bardet (AG2R – Fra)||+51″|
|4||Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac – Col)||+55″|
|5||Jakob Fulgsang (Astana – Den)||+1’37″|
|6||Dan Martin (QuickStep – Ire)||+1’44″|
|7||Simon Yates (Orica-Scott – GBr)||+2’02″|
|8||Nairo Quintana (Movistar – Col)||+2’13”|
|9||Mikel Landa (Team Sky – Spa)||+3’06”|
|10||George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo – NZl)||+3’53″|