World champions BMC Racing won the stage 9 team time trial in the Tour de France, just nudging Team Sky out of the stage victory by fractions of a second when the maillot jaune had to drop back for his fifth rider in the run to the finish line. The Movistar team came in third, another four seconds behind.
"We knew we were on a really good ride," Tejay van Garderen (BMC) said. "In a perfect world, we would have taken the stage and the yellow jersey. But we will take the stage win. Honestly, I couldn't be happier."
Chris Froome maintained his overall lead in the Tour de France thanks to a strong ride from his Sky squad in the team time trial to Plumelec, Yet even the well-drilled British team weren't able to chip away more than a handful of seconds on their rivals on the hilly 28km course.
"We would have loved to win today's stage but we can't be disappointed by our performance," Froome said. "I expected something similar from Team Sky and BMC. With a difference of point six of a second, we can't know where we've lost and what have we missed. At the end everyone has seen that Nicolas Roche was struggling a bit but this is the nature of team time trial. He has given so much before!
"BMC did better than us and that's it. The first phase has gone better than any of us in the team could have imagined. I haven't lost anything and I even gained time during the first week. It puts us in a fantastic position. The pressure is certainly not on my shoulders. It's up to my rivals to make it up. My tactic can be more defensive than I expected. I didn't expect Vincenzo Nibali to have lost so much time by now. To be totally honest, before the Tour I thought he'd be the one of my rivals who would have gained the biggest time in the first week."
Tejay van Garderen looked set to become the first American to wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France since Floyd Landis, but BMC were not able to gain time over Froome. In the end, they earned just fractions more than a second. Peter Sagan, whose Tinkoff-Saxo team fell far short of putting him into the race lead by coming in fourth place, slipped down the standings to fourth behind Greg Van Avermaet (BMC).
Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) continued his slow hemmorhage of seconds, losing another 18 seconds to Nairo Quintana and 34 seconds to Chris Froome, with Alberto Contador also slipping behind by 28 seconds to Froome.
How it happened
Orica-GreenEdge was the first to take off, at 3 p.m local time. The Australian team would normally have been a hot favourite, having won the opening team time trial at the Giro d'Italia. But crashes and injuries have decimated the team, leaving only six riders, many of them also battered, to take on this difficult stage. Their weakness was apparent from the start, but still, they made it to the finish with all six riders, which had not necessarily been expected. The team later said they rode slowly on purpose, to keep Michael Matthew with them and to be sure he made the time cut. In the end, they were nearly five mintues down.
For most of the teams, it was a matter of getting to the finish line without problems. All were tired after an exceptionally tough opening week of the Tour, and Orica-GreenEdge was far from the only team whose riders were still suffering from crashes. Lotto-Soudal’s seemingly indestructible Adam Hansen, riding with a shoulder dislocated on stage 2, used his usual road bike for a more comfortable position.
Few, if any, of the teams arrived with full force at the finish line. Lampre-Merida put in an excellent time early on, and sat on the hot seat until IAM Cycling blasted their way to the finish, 10 seconds faster.
The first of the title contenders’ teams to go was Astana. They lost two men early on, and although they set a new best time, it was one which obviously would not hold up.
Movistar looked as if it would pull an upset, putting in an exceptional time at the first time check. However, they fell apart on one of the climbs, with the team splitting into three separate groups. They all came back together, but it cost precious time. Five of them, including Nairo Quintana, came in 31 seconds quicker than rivals Astana.
Both Alberto Contador and Peter Sagan put in strong work for Tinkoff-Saxo, but it didn't really pay off. The Russian team finished seven seconds ahead of rivals Nibali and Astana, but they finished behind Quintana and Movistar, and ultimately BMC and Sky.
BMC, riding for Tejay van Garderen, really put the hammer down, and with only five men, came in with 11 seconds on Movistar. But they knew that a very strong and determined Sky team was close behind them.
Sky was also flying along and set best times during the check points. They too dropped riders along the way, with Froome frequently looking back to see how many were still there. The race leader set the pace most of the way, almost always turning up the speed on each of his pulls.
This may have worked against him, as at the very end, Nicolas Roche was lagging behind, as the fifth man. Froome himself waited to pace Roche back to his teammates, with only some 100 metres left to go – which probably cost Sky the win, as they finished one second behind BMC.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|5||Astana Pro Team||0:00:35|
|10||AG2R LA Mondiale||0:01:24|
|11||Trek Factory Racing||0:01:25|
|21||Cofidis, Solutions Credits||0:02:32|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky||31:34:12|
|2||Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team||0:00:12|
|3||Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team||0:00:27|
|4||Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo||0:00:38|
|5||Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo||0:01:03|
|6||Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx - Quick-Step||0:01:18|
|7||Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team||0:01:50|
|8||Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky||0:01:52|
|9||Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team||0:01:59|
|10||Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx - Quick-Step||Row 9 - Cell 2|
|11||Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal||0:02:01|
|12||Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo||0:02:18|
|13||Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team||0:02:22|
|14||Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Alpecin||0:02:43|
|15||Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo||0:02:52|
|16||Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek Factory Racing||0:02:56|
|17||Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||0:03:30|
|18||Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha||0:03:52|
|19||Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team||0:04:17|
|20||Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling||0:04:32|
|21||Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||0:04:38|
|22||Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale||0:05:08|
|23||Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida||0:05:20|
|24||Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team||0:05:22|
|25||Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team||0:06:17|
|26||Dominik Nerz (Ger) Bora-Argon 18||0:06:28|
|27||Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Movistar Team||0:06:40|
|28||Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||0:06:49|
|29||Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr||0:08:05|
|30||Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team||0:08:35|
|31||Daniel Martin (Irl) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team||0:09:21|
|32||Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling||Row 31 - Cell 2|
|33||Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN - Qhubeka|