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Smooth sailing for Thomas and Bernal on stage 9 of Tour de France

In contrast to the hectic end to stage 8 of the Tour de France, Team Ineos enjoyed a more controlled, and certainly less strenuous, finish to stage 9 in Brioude.

On Bastille Day, the breakaway finished over 16 minutes up on the peloton, but even with the stage victory well out of sight, it didn't stop several riders going on the attack on the final climb of the Côte de Saint-Just.

Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) led the charge on home ground, while Richie Porte (Team Sunweb) and George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) followed. But with Ineos on the front of the peloton, they didn't get far before being pulled back.

"It was not a bad day," said co-team leader Egan Bernal after the finish. "I think that it was a good day for us. The principal objective was not to lose time in the general classification, so we did it and we should be happy with this."

It was a sentiment echoed by Geraint Thomas, the reigning Tour champion who shares leadership with Bernal this July. After a shower and change of clothes, Thomas stepped off the bus to give his opinion on the day.

"We had to be aware of [Bardet's attack]," Thomas said to the waiting reporters. "He's quite far down on GC but Bennett and Richie were there, so you don't want to give time back to all three of them if you don't have to.

"We just wanted to control them and bring them back slowly, which is what we did."

Bernal had much the same opinion on the late attack, adding that it wasn't the most arduous task to shut the trio down.

"In the final, we just kept it in mind to try and control every attack of the big GC guys," added Bernal. "It was not too hard to close, so it was all good.

"It's going very good, very well," he said about his first Grand Tour as a team leader. "I feel that I am recovering well."

Thomas also expounded on the idea of 'taking it day-by-day' as the cliché goes. After a relatively easy day – "quite a nice ride" the Welshman said – he gave off the aura of a man with far fewer worries than his present situation must demand.

"It's nothing to stress about, is it?" he joked about the Tour. "It's just a bike race. It's all good. We're in a decent position, we've had a good start so we'll try and maintain that and then try to enjoy a bit of downtime on the rest day."

Nearing the halfway mark of the Tour, it's so far, so relaxed for Team Ineos, then. Despite the spill on Saturday, the British squad have largely come through the tricky mid-section of the race unscathed.

Two sprint stages remain before the real hard work begins in the Pyrenees, and Bernal, Thomas and co. look more than ready to take on the challenges of the Tour's second half.

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Daniel Ostanek
Daniel Ostanek

Daniel Ostanek is production editor at Cyclingnews, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later being hired as staff writer. Prior to joining the team, he had written for most major publications in the cycling world, including CyclingWeekly, Rouleur, and CyclingTips.

 

Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France and the spring Classics, and has interviewed many of the sport's biggest stars, including Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Mark Cavendish, Demi Vollering, and Anna van der Breggen.

 

As well as original reporting, news and feature writing, and production work, Daniel also runs The Leadout newsletter and oversees How to Watch guides throughout the season. His favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Volta a Portugal, and he rides a Colnago C40.