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There is climbing today! Six ranked climbs, including the first Cat. 1 climb, are along the 170 km from Gerardmer to Mulhouse. This is another one for a break group!
We have a full house today, so to speak. All the riders who finished yesterday have signed on today -- 184 in all.
As always, things kick off with a neutralised section, They should be leaving now for that, and the sharp start should be in another 10 minutes.
And they have now officially taken off! How long until we have escapees?
Surely you have thoughts about this race! Share them with me and everyone else by tweeting me at @WestemeyerSusan.
And the first to take off is -- Peter Sagan! The Cannondale rider shoots away after 2 km. Guess he is eager to finally get his first stage win this year!
You didn't really think they were going to let him go, did you? Although a 168 km solo break would have been cool......
He has been caught again and now Brice Feillu (Bretagne) is amongst those trying to get away.
As you might expect, things have gotten off to a very hectic start. About a dozen riders are trying to establish a break. The pace is so high on this first climb that already some riders are falling off the back, as well.
5 km into the day, we have 17 riders with a 10 second gap. Let's see if this gets away or gets caught back.
Now there are said to be 23 riders in the group, but they still have only a very minimal lead.
Among those already struggling are French champion Arnaud Demare and Lotto's Marcel Sieberg.
Rodriguez and Voeckler are busy in the group, and Trek is leading the chase to bring them back, as they approach the first mountain ranking.
The first mountain points of the day go to Voeckler, followed by Edet and Rodriguez.
And with that, this break group is history. Everyone together again.
There is a long semi-flat section here, before they start descending. And once down, they will immediately start climbing again.
Another Cannondale rider has taken off, and this time it is Alessandro De Marchi, and he has been joined by world time trial champion Tony Martin (OPQS). They have 10 seconds at the moment.
Some 25 riders have already formed a grupetto, while the two leaders are now up to 20 seconds.
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This is just so not one for the sprinters! Multi-stage winner Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) is already two minutes behind.
Yesterday's stage winner and KOM Biel Kadri suffered a mechanical, and is now scurrying to catch up with the field again. He wants more points!
Oleg Tinkov is sure of who will win, and no surprise, his pick is Alberto Contador.
30 seconds now for De Marchi and Martin, as the second ascent looms. And more attacks out of the peloton....
The pace is so high that Kadri is still not back in the peloton.
De Marchi and Martin now have 40 seconds, and there is a group of about 21 between them and the peloton.
Lots of action today! Di Marchi and Martin are still in front. Their first follower is Simon Spilak (Katusha). Behind him is a group with, amongst others, Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Fabian Cancellara (Trek), Greg van Avermaet (BMC), Sylvain Chavanel (IAM), Tiago Machado (NetApp). The gaps aren't large, the peloton is one minute behind the two leaders.
The gap to the peloton is now 1:10. Astana is at the head of the field.
The second climb has been conquered. De Marchi was first over and took two points, foliowed by Martin with one point.
World Champion Rui Costa was disappointed to lose time yesterday when he suffered a mechanical. He said it was a tough stage, and the pounding rain didn't help.
Here is the large chasing group: Rojas (Movistar), Rodriguez (Katusha), Paulinho (Tinkoff), Koren (Cannondale), Boom and Kruijswijk (Belkin), Chérel (AG2R), Dumoulin (Giant), Valls (Lampre), Ladagnous (FDJ), Gallopin (Lotto), Moinard (BMC), Gautier, Pichot, and Reza (Europcar), Cancellara (Trek), Meier (Orica), Chavanel (IAM), and Feillu and Bideau (Bretagne).
Astana, around GC leader Nibali, is leading the peloton. They are easy to pick out today as they are all wearing bright yellow helmets.
If we understand this correctly, we still have our two leaders, followed by Lars Boom (Belkin), with the 27 rider chase group at 30 seconds, and the field at 2:00.
Boom is 22 seconds behind De Marchi and Martin.
Boom is now caught by the chasers.
The gaps are growing, but very slowly. The two leaders have 41 seconds over the chase group, with the peloton at 2:20.
We are already on the third climb of the day, the cat. 3 Col du Wittstein.
There is yet another group underway today: The Kittel group is already five minutes down.
Looks like these groups are going to be the groups of the day, in one form or another. Astana seems to have decided to let them all go, as the gap has suddenly gone to the three minute mark.
Once again De Marchi takes the two points at the mountaintop, with Martin right behind him.
Darwin Atapuma of BMC had some successful surgery for his fractured femur. The Colombian was a stage 7 crash victim.
The Feed Zone has been reached. Gentlemen, the buffet is open!
No time today for a leisurely lunch. The next climb is coming up, the cat. 2 Côte de Gueberschwihr.
The gaps are now 1:42 to the chasing group, and 4:36 to the peloton. Kittel & Co are somewhere further back, gap unknown.
Kadri dropping off the back of the peloton. Not what one expects to see from the man in the KOM jersey.
Alejandro Valverde lost a handful of seconds yesterday but was not dissatisfied.
Five and a half minutes for the peloton, with Kadri dropping further back every minute. And a whopping 11 minutes already for the Kittel group.
Meanwhile, Rodriguez wants to make his mark, and jumps from the chase group.
Purito sees that it isn't going to happen and drops back. Navarro is now a few meters ahead.
Oops, Edet and not Navarre. And they jumped to gather some mountain points. First over was De Marchi, again, followed by Martin, Rodriguez and Edet.
The peloton has a gap of 5:53 at the mountaintop.
Kadri has been able to rejoin the peloton on the descent.
De Marchi seems to have a problem with his left hand. He shakes it frequently, and just poured a bottle of water over it.
Kittel may have been dropped long ago, but rival German sprinter Andre Greipel (Lotto) is still in the peloton. Or at least, he would be if he wasn't back getting bottles for his teammates at the moment.
We have a new race leader! Well, virtually, anyway. The gap between the chase group and the peloton is large enough that Tony Gallopin is now wearing the virtual yellow jersey.
Two riders suffered fracture femurs on stage seven, and both have now had successful surgery. IAM was happy to report that Mathias Frank came through with no complications.
Martin and De Marchi come to the intermediate sprint, and Martin takes the points.
The gaps are growing. Nearly three minutes now for the chasers, and 6:36 for the peloton.
The rain is really coming down on the riders as they climb.
Martin is looking quite comfortable on the climb. He's getting closer to the top. He will then descend and then start the final climb of the day before a long and flat run-in to the finish line.
Astana is leading the peloton with its race leader Vincenzo Nibali looking comfortable, and keeping a watchful eye on his rivals.
Martin is reaching the top of the climb where cycling fans have lined the streets to cheer him onward.
Martin has gone under the banner and crested Le Markstein ascent. He is on the descent and has one more climb to go over -- Grand Ballon.
The chase grow comes to the mountaintop, and Rodriguez and Edet sprint for the next points.
Martin now has 2:10 over De Marchi, with the chase group at 3:32, the peloton at 8:23 and the Kittle group at 15:00.
If Tony Martin wins the next mountain ranking, which is coming up in only a few more ams, then he will move into the KOM lead. And if he comes over that with a good gap, he will probably win this stage.
The day's final climb is Ballon. There is no descent from the Cat. 1 climb, this is sort of a continuation, and comes only 7 km after Le Markstein.
As it stands, Rolland and Konig would move back into the top 10. Gallopin would be race leader by almost 2 minutes. #TDF
@SadhbhOS Sun, 13th Jul 2014 15:36:30
Rodriguez has jumped from the chase grow and caught De Marchi. Let's make that, caught and passed.
Rodriguez and De Marchi are together now, and they are about to be joined by the chase group.
Further back, Movistar moves up to help with leading the peloton.
Tony Martin did of course win that last mountain ranking, and Rodriguez had jumped to get the other one available point.
Cobblestones on a descent in the rain. We don't like this.
Feillu slips a bit on a curve, has to take one foot out of the pedal.
Shortly before the peloton comes to the mountain ranking, Thibault Pinot jumped. He has built up a tidy little gap.
Martin takes about three minutes into the final descent and long closing flat stretch. Will that be enough for the three time world time trial champion?
Romain Bardet punctured but is now continuing on his way.
Martin keeps on going, in his usual way: very untroubled, methodical.
Two AG2R riders have dropped back to help Bardet back up to the field.
It is Cherel from AG2R who has joined Gallopin.
19km for MArtin to go, with three minutes over Gallopin. Ordinaritly that would be enough for Martin, but has he used up to much power already?
Egoitz Garcia of Cofidis has abandoned. He was injured, and in this stage was behind even the grupetto.
61km/h for Martin now. We guess he hasn't lost his power.
15km to for Martin. He also has sunshine at the moment but we must admit the sky doesn't look entirely friendly.
13km and still three minutes for Martin. The time gaps are holding quite steady.
Martin takes the short way on a roundabout and simply bunny hops on and off the raised cobblestones in the middle.
Gallopin already has a huge smile on his face, as he knows he will be moving into yellow.
He and Cherel are now being caught by the chasing group.
3:10 for the chasers and 8:06 for the field. So, basically, no change.
This is actually been ideal for Martin. There is only one time trial in the Tour this year. This way, Martin was able to give himself some more TT training and win another stage along the way (we assume!)
The OPWS car pulls up to Martin and Davide Bramatti shouts out encouragement to the German.
NetApp's Machado is doing much of the leadwork of the chasing group in this closing phase.
Only three km left for Martin.
This will be Martin's third Tour stage win, and his first non-time trial win.
Last KM for Martin!
Finally he shows his emotions, making a fist, waving to the team car, and smiling.
One last look back -- nope, no one there -- and hr raises his arms in joy as he solos across the finish line.
The next Tony will also have something to celebrate.
Europcar is leading the chase group into the finish.
Last km for the chase group. Gallopin holds himself out of the race for the remaining podium places.
BMC opens the sprint, but it is Fabian Cancellara who takes second. So first and second places for time trial experts!
5 German victories out of 9 #TDF2014 stages so far. German cycling is dead, really! #wakeuppublicbroadcasters
@KonstanzeHaue Sun, 13th Jul 2014 16:29:36
Gallopin is surrounded as he crosses the finish line. An emotional moment for the 26-year old.
The peloton is still underway. Astana and Nibali do not look upset to have lost the yellow jersey. This will make a little less work for them now.
What Nibali cares about more right now is the time difference between him and his top rivals, of whom Gallopin is not really one. As it now looks, those time differences will remain the same.
Last km for the peloton now, and more than seven minutes.
It is 7:46.
Top ten for the stage:
1Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quick Step4:09:34
2Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing0:02:45
3Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
4Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano
5Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
6José Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team
7Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling
8Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
9Brice Feillu (Fra) Bretagne - Seche Environnement
10Tiago Machado (Por) Team Netapp-Endura
Gallopin now leads the race, with Nibali second and Machado third.
General classification after stage 9
1Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto-Belisol38:04:38
2Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:01:34
3Tiago Machado (Por) Team Netapp-Endura0:02:40
4Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team0:03:18
5Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky0:03:32
6Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step0:04:00
7Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team0:04:01
8Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar0:04:07
9Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo0:04:08
10Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:04:13
What an exciting Tony day we had! Congratulatons to both of them, and of course to all.
Join us again tomorrow for more fun and games before the first rest day on Tuesday.