The queen stage of the Tour de France proved to be a brutal day for the general classification riders and not just for the metres climbed. Crashes took out two members of the top 10, while several more made contact with the tarmac along the way.
Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) was one of those, hitting the deck twice and losing a substantial 4:19 on the leading group, which has seen him drop outside the top 10. Contador's first fall came with more than 100 kilometres remaining when Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) fell and left him with nowhere to go.
Unlike Geraint Thomas (Team Sky), Contador was able to carry on, but six kilometres further down the road he was picking himself up again after tangling with Nairo Quintana (Movistar).
"Today has not been a good day," a battered and bruised Contador said after the finish. "Majka fell right in front of me, and I could not avoid him. At that moment, I felt a little powerless, but I tried to recover until Nairo hooked with my bike and I was again thrown to the ground. Although, that, in the end, was not as bad."
Contador had started the day in eighth overall with a deficit to the yellow jersey of 52 seconds. He had come through much of the first week unscathed, and stage 9 would be a chance to begin to bring his general classification bid back on track. Contador had already said, after the first time trial, that he would have to go on the offensive and many expected that he would try something on this day, and he had hoped too.
When the real action in the peloton kicked off on the Mont du Chat, Contador could only watch his rivals go up the road. Pouring water over himself as the heat took hold, it suddenly became a damage-limitation day. He admitted that his legs had not been up to snuff and a new plan will have to be drawn out over the rest day.
"The truth is that I awoke well this morning, and was starting the stage with very good sensations," said Contador. "In fact, we went into the break with Bauke and Jarlinson thinking about a possible attack, since yesterday I was restraining myself not to attack, but in the end, it turned out the opposite.
"It is secondary to say what is hurting me the most; simply the legs have not been as I would have liked and that's all. Mollema was a great help today. Now we have to think first of all about where I stand, and then, based on that, rethink the race."