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Tour de France 2018: Stage 9


It's the last day of racing in the opening week of this year's Tour de France and the riders are about to hit the cobbles. Brew yourself a cuppa and join us for what should be a dramatic day of racing. 

12 of today's 15 cobbled sectors featured in this year's Paris-Roubaix but there are three that will be new to the riders. In April, I made my way around the French countryside and had a look at the route. See what I found with our stage preview, here

The first sector comes after 47.5km of racing and it will be relentless after that. Here is a rundown of today's sectors. 

It's a bright and sunny day this afternoon in Arras, very different to four years ago when the race paid a visit. That will be good news for the riders but it's going to be extremely dusty out there, which holds its own problems. The dust can make the cobbles slippy as well as getting in every orifice. 

The riders will be rolling out in less than 10 minutes. Dan Martin will be lining up despite a dramatic crash near the end of yesterday's stage. The UAE Team Emirates rider says that he's feeling much better than he expected this afternoon. 

Most of the attention today will be on the general classification riders and how they do. However, the stage win is also very much up for grabs. There are several Paris-Roubaix winners past and present in the pack today. Of course, current champion Peter Sagan is present, along with Greg Van Avermaet, Mat Hayman, Niki Terpstra and John Degenkolb. 

Former winners Marc Madiot and Servais Knaven will be in the team cars today for FDJ and Team Sky respectively. 

The riders have set off on today's 7.6km neutral zone. 

As a team, Quick-Step Floors have the strongest line-up for a stage like today's. Team boss Patrick Lefevere was in his usual feisty mood when speaking to the press about stage 9 and says he wants his team to throw a cat among the pigeons today. Read his full comments here

As has traditionally been the case when the Tour has visited the cobbles, today is likely to see a big contender wave goodbye to their hopes of overall contention. We could also see some big gains from some too. This is what the general classification looks like ahead of the start. 

Thomas De Gendt is in his usual position right behind the race director's car. He was there yesterday but chose not to go into the breakaway. Will he do it today? Possibly not, given what he wrote on Twitter last night.

156km remaining from 156km

It's worth noting that we have at least one DNS today with Tony Martin out after being caught up in the crash with Dan Martin at 20km to go yesterday. He suffered a spinal fracture as a result of the fall. Read about it here.

Lawson Craddock is already off the back of the bunch and it's going to be a very long day for the Texan. He's got a broken scapula after crashing on the opening day. 

Despite his protestations about not wanting to ride today, Thomas De Gendt is among four riders that have got a gap on the peloton. With him are Patrick Tolhoek, Jerome Cousin, Damien Gaudin and Omar Fraile. Reinardt Janse van Rensburg is trying to get across. 

Chad Haga is with Van Rensburg but they don't have much of a gap on the peloton. Meanwhile, the five leaders have 24 seconds on the pack. 

We have a crash in the bunch. Is looks like Richie Porte is among the fallers.

Porte is holding his shoulder

Up front, we have five leaders with a 34-second gap. They are Thomas De Gendt is among four riders that have got a gap on the peloton. With him are Antwan Tolhoek, Jerome Cousin, Damien Gaudin and Omar Fraile. Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Chad Haga, Olivier le Gac and Nicolas Edet are trying to bridge the gap.

It looks like Richie Porte's Tour de France could be over. 

He is in tears and who could blame him. A lot of work has gone into getting to the Tour de France in shape and he's not even made it 10km into today's stage. 

It is official, Porte has abandoned. Incidentally, it was a crash on stage 9 that forced him out of last year's Tour de France. 

The gap to the escapees has increased to over two minutes following that incident. The four-man chasing group is just 34 seconds behind them and they should join forces soon enough. 

Andre Greipel was also caught up in that crash and is back with the medical car getting some attention. JJ Rojas has also been confirmed as an abandon. He was to be a key player for Movistar today. 

A mechanical issue for Tom Dumoulin. He has a quick change and he's back on his way. He's alone at the moment. 

Read more on Richie Porte's abandon.

The front two groups have joined up. Calmajane is in that group too, making it 10 riders at the head of the race. Direct Energie have three in the most. Guillaume van Keirsbulck and Dimitri Claeys are a minute behind them with the gap between the leaders and the peloton at two minutes. 

Interesting to see riders such as Haga and Fraile in the breakaway. Are they there as springboards for attacks for their leaders? At least by putting a man up front, you're more likely to have someone to help you in the finale. Particularly with the cobbles, the breakaway is very much the safest place to be. 

We're just over 20km into the day and we have a little over 20 until the first pave sector. It is a very tight turn onto the cobbles and that could be another very challenging point for the peloton. 

BMC Racing have confirmed that Porte is on his way to hospital. By his stance, it looked like he'd broken his collarbone but we'll have to wait and see what the results of the examinations are. It's going to be all for Greg Van Avermaet. They also have Tejay van Garderen sitting in third place at the moment just nine seconds down. 

It very much feels like the calm before the storm at the moment. After the initial nerves, which caused Porte's crash, the peloton is looking fairly relaxed. That two-man chase group has been brought back and we have 10 riders some three minutes ahead of the pack. 

Lilian Calmajane is the best placed of the escapees in the breakaway sitting just 3:40 behind the race leader. Van Avermaet shouldn't be too worried about the Frenchman. Unless something drastic happens, Calmajane is unlikely to take yellow. 

When the Tour de France visited the cobbles in 2014, Vincenzo Nibali was one of the GC riders that fared the best. His bike handling skills, no doubt, helped him. He did well at the Tour of Flanders earlier this year and he's hoping for a repeat of what he managed to do four years ago

Jens Keukeleire was another of the riders to get caught up in that earlier crash. 

Fraile leads the breakaway onto the cobbles. It begins. 

The turn into the sector is probably the hardest part. It's long, but it's one of the easier sectors today. 

A puncture for Tolhoek and that's his day in the breakaway probably done. 

Punctures are the biggest risk for the riders today. With so much dust and grit around, any of the big contenders could lose time because of a flat. 

A battle for positions in the peloton as they approach this entrance. 

The road really narrows as they hit the pave and Bora-Hansgrohe are on the front with Peter Sagan looming at the back of that train. 

A few lost and discarded bidons on the pave. They can cause a few issues today too. 

A puncture for one of the AG2R La Mondiale riders, though it's not clear who it was. 

It was Bardet and he's taken a wheel from teammate Alexis Vuillermoz. 

It's hard for cars to get to the riders so you need teammates near you if you have a puncture. 

Wow, Bardet has a minute to make up on the peloton. He's got a teammate with him in Paris-Roubaix runner-up Silvan Dillier, but it's going to be a long day out. 

Bardet and Dillier catch up with Gianni Moscon. He must have had his own issues. He could have been a potential contender for the win today. 

Another problem for Bardet. It looks like he's getting a replacement bike. Meanwhile, the leaders are onto sector 14. 

Bardet is back with Dillier and he gees up the Swiss man. They have a lot to do. 

Bardet now has Latour to help him, along with Dillier. The gap is currently 30 seconds. He's making ground. 

Sector 14 is up for the peloton and Bardet has made it back. That is a huge effort from the French squad to get him back. 

Bora-Hansgrohe continue to control the front of the bunch as the peloton strings out into one long line. The breakaway have a 3:36 advantage at the moment. 

There is a bit of a gap between sectors 14 and 13 as the leaders contest the intermediate sprint. De Gendt takes the points without much of a contest. 

There will be a few points left for the peloton to hoover up at the intermediate. Will the riders contest it? Sagan is likely to get the maximum remaining without too much trouble. 

Here we have the breakaway on the opening sector of cobbles before they lost Tolhoek to a puncture. 

As expected, Sagan didn't have any trouble mopping up the rest of the intermediate sprint points. He moves out of the front of the group and and crosses the line. 

More issues for Bardet and he puts up his hand up to call the car. What's the issue now?

There have been suggestions that he was having issues with mechanical gearing. He has a new bike and they're having to race back to the bunch once again. This is a lot of energy wasted for the AG2R quad. 

Bardet is one the radio and now we've got a mechanic hanging out of the window to try and adjust the bike. It's all going on for Bardet. 

Bardet is back in the bunch as a Direct Energie car gets itself stuck in the middle of the bunch. The riders do not want to give any quarter, even to a team car. 

The car is probably trying to get up to the breakaway, but the roads are just too narrow in places. 

Bahrain-Merida now on the front of the group. Vincenzo Nibali has some strong help in Sonny Colbrelli and Heinrich Haussler. 

After puncturing on the opening sector, tolhoek is now back in the bunch. He brought back some refreshments for his teammates too. My old boss always said, never go anywhere empty handed. 

87km remaining from 156km

The yellow jersey keeping a watchful eye near the front of the peloton. 

A replay shows a couple of riders taking to the pavement on a corner. they could get into some trouble. Remember, Luke Rowe was disqualified from the Tour of Flanders for doing something similar. 

All of the teams have got plenty of extra helpers with spare wheels and bidons. it's something they do during the classics because it is so hard to get past in the team car. 

A big crash for Dylan Groenwegen as he leaves the cobbles. He's tangled with on of the Sunweb riders. He looks like he's winded himself and he's in a bit of pain. 

He limps as he walks along the road in search of his team car. He endures a long wait before he finally gets a replacement bike. 

Groenewegen has a two-minute deficit on the bunch now. He just needs to think about getting through and making the time cut now. 

79km remaining from 156km

Groenewegen after his fall a little earlier.

Valgren near the back of the bunch. He's obviously been in the wars today and a large chunk of his shorts has been sacrificed to the tarmac/cobbles. He's a tough cookie the Dane. 

The riders are onto sector 12 Warlaing to Brillon, a three-star sector. It's the longest so far at 2km. 

A Team Sky rider has crashed. 

It's Egan Bernal. He slipped out quite heavily on a corner just as they approached the cobbles. Fortunately, the Colombian is back on his bike and making his way back through the peloton. 

Another crash but the riders are up and ok. It's getting nervous in the bunch again and Team Sky have moved up to the front of the pack. 

Vichot was one of the riders down. He's got a rip to his shorts but he's back on his way. 

In the break, Le Gac is having a devil's own job keeping in touch with his companions. 

There are lots of twists and turns on this sector and that in itself can be a big problem. Go in too hot and you end up like Bernal. 

Edward Theuns has pushed on at the front of the peloton. Meanwhile, there has been a big crash in the bunch. 

Fuglsang has been caught out and his bike is trapped in another rider's bike. He seems ok though. 

We're onto sector 11 with the leaders. It's the first of three four-star sectors. 

That crash has caused a big split in the bunch and Team Sky have put the hammer down. They've got less than 30 riders in this move at present. 

Gorka Izagirre must have been caught in the crash. He was trying to ride on with a broken wheel while he waited for the team car but he eventually stops. The wheel was quite badly buckled. 

It looks like Nibali has missed out on that split. 

Nibali, Uran and Yates are in a group 20 seconds behind this Team Sky-led group. 

The full list of riders in the yellow jersey group is: Froome, Kwiatkowski, Moscon, Rowe, Thomas, Bardet, Dumoulin, Theuns, Quintana, Amador, Bennati, Landa, Valverde, Van Avermaet, Gaviria, Richeze, Sagan, Bodnar, Burghardt, Kruijswijk.

We have another crash and Niki Terpstra has gone down.

60km remaining from 156km

The leaders are onto sector 10 with the peloton just two minutes behind. 

We get a visual on Tejay van Garderen and he's a minute back on the yellow jersey group. He is BMC Racing's GC leader after Porte abandoned earlier today. 

It really has gone all to pot for BMC Racing today. Their only hope at the moment is Greg Van Avermaet. 

Riders getting distanced from the breakaway, as Edet loses the wheel. 

A mechanical problem for one of the LottoNL Jumbo riders. Appears to be Kruijswijk. 

Sagan has been left on his own in the yellow jersey group as the rest of the Bora-Hansgrohe team drop back to assist Rafal Majka, who was dropped a little while earlier. 

Dan Martin is in the yellow jersey group. No news on where Fuglsang is after being involved in that crash. 

A puncture for Bauke Mollema and he's being brought back. The peloton has gained quite a few riders ahead of the next sector. 

Fuglsang has made it back to the yellow jersey group and Van Garderen is about to. We have a bit of a lull before Auchy to Bersee. 

The leaders are onto Auchy a Bersee, the longest sector in this stage at 2.7km.

Le Gac has been brought back to the peloton from the breakaway. He had issues on the cobbles right from the start. 

Van Garderen crashes just as he's about to gain contact with the peloton. He's taken Sonny Colbrelli with him. 

Both are up but very much covered in dust. 

49km remaining from 156km

An attack from Greg Van Avermaet.

Valgren is in his wheel but the peloton has blown to pieces. Fuglsang is there too. 

While his teammate is attacking, Van Garderen radios back to the team car to say he's got a puncture. 

More mechanical issues for Bardet. He's getting help from Dillier again. 

The peloton leaves sector nine. Van Avermaet, Stuyven, Valgren, Fuglsang, and Thomas are there. I can't see Froome but I assume he is there. 

Another frenetic chase from Romain Bardet. He's lost a minute with that issue. He's going to be very happy with the rest day tomorrow. 

I spy with my little eye, something beginning with F. Froome is midway down the group, which has at least four Team Sky riders, including Thomas. 

Interestingly, Gaviria is still in the peloton. He could be a decent bet if he makes it through the carnage. 

A crash for Chris Froome. He lands in the grass on the side of the road and one of his teammate is down with him. He's back with the group, though. 

44km remaining from 156km

Sagan is quick on his wheel, as is Valverde. 

Thomas missed that Froome crash and is with the yellow jersey group and, in fact, the group that Froome is with is actually a chasing group. The group also contains Dumoulin and Uran. They are 20 seconds back. 

Valverde is my outside bet for today. He managed the cobbles very well earlier this season and I wouldn't bet against him attacking in the finale. 

The breakaway has just one minute now. 

Movistar now pushing the pace with Mat Hayman. Meanwhile, Chris Froome is back with the peloton. 

AG2R la Mondiale have pulled in the big guns with Oliver Naesen dropping back to help out his team leader. They are 40 seconds off the yellow jersey group.

In the breakaway, Jerome Cousin has been dropped. 

Fuglsang has put the hammer down on the next sector of cobbles. He doesn't want to be involved in any more crashes.  

Fuglsang now has some assistance in the form of a teammate and they have strung out the group. Bardet is still 40 seconds back and fighting hard. 

Janse van Rensberg has attacked the breakaway and has Gaudin in his wheel. 

The gap was only 35 seconds when Janse van Rensburg attacked. The peloton is closing on them quickly. 

35km remaining from 156km

Another attack from Gilbert but Sagan counters and passes him before the Belgian suffers a mechanical. 

Fraile has sat up and is dropping back to the peloton. 

Fraile will be a welcome extra man for Fuglsang after keeping his nose clean in the breakaway. 

33km remaining from 156km

Gilbert is back in the peloton after that mechanical and his shot at getting something out of the day is not gone. 

Back int he Bardet group, he only has Naesen with him. The pair are sharing the work, a good move from Bardet I think. It's too much for Naesen to do on his own. 

Another crash in the bunch. Landa has crashed. 

The Spaniard was taking a drink and crashed. Perhaps a dip in the road. He's taken a Wanty rider with him. 

Landa was not getting up quickly. I'll keep you posted on how he's doing when I get some information. 

Another crash on the exit to some cobbles. A Sunweb rider ends up in a ditch. He's ok and back on his way. Meanwhile, Tom Dumoulin puts in a little dig. 

A Quick-Step rider is down and up again almost as soon as he hits the deck. Not too sure who it is. 

Uran has some dirt on his back as he makes his way through the cars. He must have had a fall. He now has another issue and Sep Vanmarcke has to wait. 

Meanwihle, Landa is back on his bike and chasing back onto the peloton. 

25km remaining from 156km

Landa is between the peloton and the Uran group. 

Landa has three teammates with him to help him back to the yellow jersey group, leaving their two other leaders on their own. The gap is about 50 seconds at the moment. 

Stuyven attacks the peloton

The gap to the two leaders is just 17 seconds. 

Up front, Gaudin has distanced Janse van Rensburg a touch. They're on sector 3. 

Lampaert leading the chase in the peloton with Sagan in his wheel. 

Stuyven holding a very small advantage at the moment. 

Kragh Andersen now leading a very reduced peloton. Janse van Rensburg has got back to Gaudin. 

Valvere and Quintana are very close to the front of the peloton. They're in front of Van Avermaet. 

Stuyven has joined up with the two leaders but the peloton is just seven seconds back. 

All of this action has forced a split in the bunch. 

Gaudin and Janse van Rensburg shake hands, they've been caught by the peloton, as has Stuyven. 

Landa is still 50 seconds behind with Uran a further 20 seconds back. 

We have more attacks and it is Direct Energie again. Gaudin and Chavanel.

Sagan brings it back together. 

Van Avermaet moving towards the front as they go through the bonus sprint. He nabs the three seconds and slows up. 

Marcus Burghardt is in the Landa group and he's unhappy with how close the TV moto is and he waves it off. 

Attack fro Lampaert on Camphin en Pevele. Van Avermaet and Stuyven are with him. 

Sagan is back in the bunch at the moment. No movement from him. 

Sagan is now leading the chase with Gilbert in his wheel. Thomas is up there too. 

My apologies, it is Degenkolb in that leading group. 

The German was so gutted to lose out in 2015, when Tony Martin won. I remember him screaming and thumping his handlebars as he crossed the line. 

Only 12 seconds between the lead group and the chases but nobody is interested in helping Sagan. 

13km remaining from 156km

Fernando Gaviria has attacked the group. Could Quick-Step get two riders in the move?

Landa still around a minute back on the main GC group and he's not making any ground. 

Sagan flicks his elbow to ask someone to pull through but nobody is going to help him. 

Bardet and Roglic have put in a small attack. Froome is wise to it and brings them back. Dumoulin is up there too. 

Another attack, this time from Valverde. 

Kristoff and Thomas join up with Valverde. Janse van Rensburg there too. 

They are pulled back but the peloton is now in one long line. 

10km remaining from 156km

The chase really has slowed and it looks like the winner of this stage will come from that three-rider group. It is helping Landa, who has the gap down to 40 seconds now. 

The three leaders have entered the final sector with a 49 second advantage. 

On paper, Degenkolb should be the quickest from his leading group but Van Avermaet has a pretty fast finish. Lampaert would more than likely have to attack late on if he wants to win. 

The peloton is onto the final cobbled sector with Astana leading the way. 

6km remaining from 156km

Bardet has another mechanical problem and he has to stop yet again for a wheel. It's a really slow change. 

He's back on ahead of the Landa group but he has a lot to make up and no teammates to help him. 

Attack fro Chris Froome but Landa is on his wheel. 

This cat and mouse could help Bardet make up a bit of time. He's about to be caught by the Landa group, which has Naesen in it. 

Another attack in the GC group from Tom Dumoulin

Sagan attacks but he's got a minute to make up. 

Bardet and Landa are 20 seconds behind the GC group and Bardet is giving it everything. His face is contorted into a picture of pain. 

Two kilometres to go for the three leaders. Who will dare strike first?

Sagan has taken Jungels, Stuyven and Gilbert with him. Curiously, Jungels is helping to pull Sagan back. 

Van Avermaet leads the way and the riders are looking at each other now. 

They're under the flamme rouge

It's cat and mouse games now. Nobody wants to blink first

Degenkolb is at the front and he keeps looking over his shoulder. 

The chasing group is close behind but they won't catch them

Degenkolb goes

Degenkolb wins

Degenkolb was the first to go and he managed to hold it all the way to the line. Van Avermaet attempted to go around him but he didn't have the power. 

That is a massive result from John Degenkolb

It is, in fact, Degenkolb's first ever Tour de France stage win

Bardet and Landa cross the line 30 seconds behind the winner but it's not clear what the time gap is to the other GC contenders. We'll have to wait and see. 

Rigoberto Uran has lost a lot of time. He comes over the line a massive 1:58 back on the winner, which is around 1:30 down on the other GC contenders. 

This is how it finished on the stage

Here is the GC after that manic day. Uran has plummeted out of the to 10, while Landa actually moves into it despite his crash. 

That was an emotional win for Degenkolb. 

Yves Lampaert finished third in the sprint. This is what he had to say to Eurosport at the finish.

The post-stage interview with John Degenkolb was an incredibly emotional one. 

A very dusty Chris Froome after crossing the line a short while earlier. 

Greg Van Avermaet kept yellow for at least another day but his team leader abandoned following a crash in the opening 10 kilometres. This is what he had to say after the stage. 

Van Avermaet signs some yellow jerseys after another appearance on the podium.

There has been no concrete update on Richie Porte's condition but directeur sportif Fabio Baldato says they suspect it was a broken collarbone. 

We had 167 finishers today with Dimitri Claeys the last man over the line 19 minutes after Degenkolb. There was one DNS in Tony Martin and two DNFs with Richie Porte and Jose Joaquin Rojas. 

Read through a selection of quotes from the finish line, here, including Degenkolb, Van Avermaet and more. 

We also have a full recap of today's action with an extensive report along with plenty of photos and results. You can find it all here

Don't forget, it was also the final stage of the Giro Rosa today. I won't spoil the results for you but you can find all you need to know here.

Mercifully, the riders will enjoy a rest day tomorrow. Though, it is a long journey for them to get where they need to be with Tuesday's stage set to start in the Alpine town of Annecy. Thankfully for them, they will enjoy a plane ride, but many of the support staff and media will have to make the long drive down the length of the country. 

That's it from our live coverage of today's dramatic trip over the cobbles. I'm off to the Alps and beyond for the remainder of the Tour de France, see you out on the road. For now, I'll leave you with this picture of John Degenkolb following his victory today.