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Tour de France 2014: Stage 9

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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!

Six climbs today, and it is still considered only a “medium mountains” stage. Will we see something happen in GC, or will all the top contenders stick together and eye one another to check out their rivals’ form?

The weather is once again not helping much today. Rain has been forecast for virtually the entire stage, and the wind may play a role as well.

 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.

 

This kind of stage frequently starts out with a flat section before heading up the climbs. Not today. They start out uphill, with the first climb coming at only 11.5km. However, instead of a mountaintop finish, we have a 21 km long flat run-in to the finish line.

The weather is actually better than expected, relatively speaking. It is 16.5°C, and dry at the moment, although heavily overcast. There may be some rain in the mountains, but it ought to be dry at the finish.

Here is a quick look at the climbs today:

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.

 

165km remaining from 170km

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.

 

We are getting some height in these climbs today. The Cote de la Schlucht is 1140 m, and Le Markstein is 1183m.

Among those already struggling are French champion Arnaud Demare and Lotto's Marcel Sieberg. 

160km remaining from 170km

We finally have names, thanks to LeTour! Leading the charge up the first climb are: Danny Pate (Sky), Jesus Herrada (Movistar), Joaquim Rodriguez and Simon Spilak (Katusha), Sergio Paulinho (Tinkoff), Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale), Laurens ten Dam (Belkin), Jan Bakelants (OPQS), Ben Gastauer (AG2R), Tom Dumoulin (Giant), Kristjan Durasek (Lampre), Arthur Vichot (FDJ), Tony Gallopin (Lotto), Amaël Moinard (BMC), Perrig Quémeneur, Cyril Gautier and Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Dani Navarro and Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Michael Albasini (Orica), Danilo Wyss (IAM), Leo König and José Mendes (NetApp) and Brice Feillu (Bretagne). they have a whole 13 seconds in hand....

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.

 

157km remaining from 170km

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.

 

152km remaining from 170km

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.

 

150km remaining from 170km

Some 25 riders have already formed a grupetto, while the two leaders are now up to 20 seconds. 

 

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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....

 

135km remaining from 170km

The pace is so high that Kadri is still not back in the peloton.

 

Yesterday’s stage with the first mountaintop finish saw a survivor of the breakaway group make it through to the end. We look for another break today – but the big drama may come on those closing flat kms. Or will there be some decisive moves amongst the GC contenders on that Cat. 1 climb?

De Marchi and Martin now have 40 seconds, and there is a group of about 21 between them and the peloton. 

132km remaining from 170km

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. 

 

Another update on the ever-changing situation: the two leaders have 38 seconds over Spilak, Montaguti, Van Avermaet, Rolland, Quémeneur, Navarro, Edet, and Machado. Behind them is a group of 19. The peloton is then back at 1:58.

Kadri has only now made it back to the peloton.

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.

 

107km remaining from 170km

 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.

 

We had some changes in the various rankings coming into today’s stage. In GC, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) is still top dog, with teammate Jakob Fuglsang second at 1:44. Riche Porte (Sky) jumped to third (1:58), Michael Kwiatkowski (OPQS) fourth at 2:26, and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) fifth at 2:26. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) finished a few seconds ahead of Nibali yesterday and made a huge jump up to sixth place, only second behind Valverde.

The gaps are growing, but very slowly. The two leaders have 41 seconds over the chase group, with the peloton at 2:20.

102km remaining from 170km

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.

 

No change in the points classification, as Peter Sagan (Cannondale) overwhelmingly leads Bryan Couqard (Europcar) and Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano).

98km remaining from 170km

Looks like De Marchi and Martin are in it for the long haul. Their gap over the large chasing group is now 1:05.

We know what a machine Martin is -- the Panzerwagen, right? De Marchi is learning that right now, as he is having difficulty holding on to Martin's wheel.

Meanwhile, the gap back to the peloton is over four minutes.

Biel Kadri (AG2R) used his stage win to take over the polka dot jersey. He now leads the mountain rankings with 17 points ahead of Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis) and Sylvain Chavanel (IAM). We may well see another change here today.

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.

86km remaining from 170km

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. 

 

84km remaining from 170km

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.

 

RT @gallagherbren: Stephen roche confirms that Saxo Tinkoff thought they were riding for the win until 200m from the end yesterday. Ds shd …

@SadhbhOS Sun, 13th Jul 2014 14:25:57

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.

 

In the team ranking, Astana leads over Belkin and Sky.

The large chasing group is falling apart. Chavanel and Reza have been caught by the peloton, and Boom is said to be dangling in between.

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.

65km remaining from 170km

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.

 

This is not the only large sporting event in the world happening today. Germany faces Argentina this evening in the finals of the soccer world championship. Are the German riders at the Tour interested? Well, yes.

Time now for the first Cat. 1 climb of this Tour! Le Markstein is the next obstacle in the way.

Astana doesn't look like they are worried about this huge gap. IN fact, the whole peloton looks like they are rather enjoying a leisurely ride.

With 59 km to go, Martin is tired of goofing up and picks up the pace. De Marchi tries but can't, so the German takes off alone.

The Kittel group, which is around 20 riders, finally made it through the intermediate sprint. We weren't given a time gap, though.

John Degenkolb and Marcel Kittel are both happy about the game tonight, but not just because they want Germany to win. Argentina beat the Netherlands in the semi-finals, and it might have been awkward for the German riders on the Dutch team, if the two lands had gone up against one another in the final.

A mini-crash in the middle of the field. Matthew Busche's bike seems to be the main victim. Geraint Thomas was also involved but was quickly on his way again.

Now the gap to the chasing group is getting smaller, only two minutes.

More riders dropping off the back of the peloton as they go up the cat. 1 Le Markstein, including Kadri once again.

Martin has 5 km to go to the Cat. 1 summit, and unfortunately we see the first raindrops.

45 seconds now to De Marchi, 2:43 to the chase group, and 7:07 to 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.

 

Happy Birthday to Andreas Schillinger of NetApp-Endura. The German has turned 31 today.

Speaking of NetApp, the team is holding a press conference on Tuesday’s rest day to announce a new title sponsor. And not just a new sponsor, but a German firm which is signing up for five years. A lot of other teams are probably jealous of that right now.

26km remaining from 170km

Martin is flying along at 50 km/h.

Tony Gallopin can all but taste the yellow jersey. He stands to take it over, and can hardly wait, so he jumps from the chase group. He wouldn't mind catching his namesake and taking the stage win, as well.

Pinault is still ahead of the field, but just barely. They have him in their sights now.

Someone else has jumped to catch up with Gallopin, but we can't make out who it is. He is still 3.12 behind Martin with 21.6km to go.

It is Cherel from AG2R who has joined Gallopin.

 

19km remaining from 170km

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.

 

8km remaining from 170km

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.

 

RT @Procyclingeu: #TDF Rolf Sørensen reports from the moto that there is cross wind on the last flat 15 km

@bambula Sun, 13th Jul 2014 16:14:23

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:

1 Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 4:09:34

2 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing 0:02:45

3 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team

4 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano

5 Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale

6 José Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team

7 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling

8 Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale

9 Brice Feillu (Fra) Bretagne - Seche Environnement

10 Tiago Machado (Por) Team Netapp-Endura

Gallopin now leads the race, with Nibali second and Machado third.

 

General classification after stage 9

1 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto-Belisol 38:04:38

2 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:01:34

3 Tiago Machado (Por) Team Netapp-Endura 0:02:40

4 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:03:18

5 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky 0:03:32

6 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:04:00

7 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:04:01

8 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 0:04:07

9 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:04:08

10 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:04:13

Incroyable!!!! 3rd in the GC of @letour (prov.). What a great ride @Tiagomachado85 !!! Huge congrats! #TDF #dream #speechless

@NetAppEndura Sun, 13th Jul 2014 16:40:16

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.

 

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