On a final day in the Pyrenees that featured both sunshine and rain, the 2016 Tour de France took a detour from domestic roads to begin the day in Spain and finish in Andorra. Along the way, we had our first large-scale abandonments of the race, including some big names in the peloton who had come to this year’s event with big hopes. The general classification shifted a bit, as Chris Froome remained in yellow and increased his advantage on the other contenders. But we did not see the sort of earth-shattering moves that some anticipated on the Tour’s first major summit finish.
Breakaways commenced from the outset of Stage 9, with Daniel Teklehaimanot making the first move off the front of the peloton but soon ceding position to a larger lead group that included climbers Rafal Majka and Thibaut Pinot along with green jersey favorite Peter Sagan. The group expanded as even bigger names such as Spanish powerhouses Alejandro Valverde and Alberto Contador bridged up to the leaders. In the first 45 kilometers, the breakaway built an advantage of nearly two minutes as they climbed and descended the first-category Port de la Bonaigua.
Fifteen minutes into the second hour, Valverde — whose presence in the breakaway threatened the GC contenders and thus made it more likely that the move would be reeled in as quickly as possible — sat up and allowed the other 20 riders to continue down the road without him. With the threat neutralized, Froome’s teammates let up the pace in the peloton and the lead group quickly gained another minute’s advantage. Even with the reduced pace in the peloton, however, Contador — the two-time Tour winner (whose third victory was voided by his positive test for clenbuterol in 2010) who crashed twice in the first stages and was suffering with a fever — dropped back and abandoned the race for just the second time in his career.
At the front, without Valverde in the mix the breakaway continued to enjoy its advantage. On the second climb of the day, the 19-kilometer Port de Canto, Pinot and Thomas De Gendt fought for the King of the Mountains points as both men attempted to win the polka-dot jersey by the end of the day. By the time the leaders were 50 kilometers from the finish line, the gap to the peloton had grown to 10 minutes and the question became whether a catch was even desired by the group of favorites containing the yellow jersey. Sagan snagged the intermediate sprint points, pulling within seven points of Mark Cavendish in the race for the green jersey, before the riders began the third climb of the day.
On the slopes of the Cote de la Camella, Team Sky began to reel the breakaway back in to limit the time gap and consolidate Froome’s yellow jersey for another day. De Gendt attacked out of the breakaway on the slopes of the Col de Beixalis, but his effort maxed out at 40 seconds’ advantage and the Belgian was soon caught and then dropped.
Then the Dutch rider Tom Dumoulin attacked on the foothills leading up to the summit finish on the slopes of Arcalis in Andorra. By the time he reached the actual start point of the 10-kilometer hors-categorie climb to the finish line, Dumoulin had amassed a 30-second lead and went into time-trial mode up the mountain. The peloton hit the base of the climb 10 minutes later, and the field began to fracture further as the first few miles of eight-percent pitches took their toll. Majka and Rui Costa teamed up to try to pull back Dumoulin, and held the gap under one minute all the way to the finish line.
But that was as close as the pair would get, as the Dutchman held off the challenges and soloed to victory. Behind him, the peloton continued to split up as Dan Martin accelerated and only Froome, Richie Porte, Nairo Quintana, and Adam Yates were able to match the effort. With Contador already gone from the race, other favorites such as Fabio Aru, Romain Bardet, Warren Barguil, and Tejay Van Garderen lost further time in the general classification as a result of the move.
Now the riders earn a much-deserved rest day before Tuesday’s Stage 10 ride provides another opportunity for the sprinters to take a stage victory. The third-category Cote de Saint-Ferreol seven kilometers from the finish line should not be arduous enough to prevent a bunch sprint. Of course, a breakaway could ostensibly take advantage of the terrain to stay clear… but it is more likely that we will see a slew of speedsters gunning for Mark Cavendish when the Tour returns to French soil on Tuesday.
Stage Results and Standings after Stage 9
|1||Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Alpecin||5:16:24|
|2||Rui Alberto Faria da Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida||+0:00:38|
|3||Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff Team|
|4||Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits||+0:01:39|
|5||Winner Anacona Gomez (Col) Movistar Team||+0:01:57|
|6||Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ||+0:02:30|
|7||George Bennett (NZl) LottoNL-Jumbo||+0:02:48|
|8||Diego Rosa (Ita) Astana Pro team||+0:02:52|
|9||Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling||+0:03:44|
|10||Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange||+0:06:35|
General Classification (yellow jersey)
|1||Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky||44:36:03|
|2||Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange||+0:00:16|
|3||Daniel Martin (Irl) Etixx-QuickStep||+0:00:19|
|4||Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team||+0:00:23|
|5||Joaquim Rodríguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha||+0:00:37|
|6||Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||+0:00:44|
|7||Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo|
|8||Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Team Sky|
|9||Louis Meintjes (RSA) Lampre-Merida||+0:00:55|
|10||Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team||+0:01:01|
Points Classification (green jersey)
|1||Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data||204|
|2||Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team||197|
|3||Marcel Kittel (Ger) Etixx – Quick-Step||182|
|4||Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie||112|
|5||Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team||90|
|6||André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal||89|
|7||Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-BikeExchange||77|
|8||Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha||74|
|9||Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal||65|
|10||Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo||64|
King of the Mountains (polka-dot jersey)
|1||Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ||80|
|2||Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff Team||77|
|3||Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin||50|
|4||Rui Costa (Por) Lampre – Merida||40|
|5||Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal||36|
|6||Daniel Navarro (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits||36|
|7||Diego Rosa (Ita) Astana Pro Team||27|
|8||Winner Anacona (Col) Movistar Team||26|
|9||George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-Jumbo||23|
|10||Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky||22|
Best Young Rider (white jersey)
|1||Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange||44:36:19|
|2||Louis Meintjes (RSA) Lampre – Merida||+0:00:39|
|3||Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Alpecin||+0:02:35|
|4||Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo||+0:05:12|
|5||Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Argon 18||+0:08:32|
|6||Eduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Fortuneo – Vital Concept||+0:16:41|
|7||Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx – Quick-Step||+0:40:21|
|8||Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Argon 18||+0:57:17|
|9||Lawson Craddock (USA) Cannondale-Drapac||+1:02:20|
|10||Jan Polanc (Slo) Lampre – Merida||+1:07:33|