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Tour de France 2019: Stage 9

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Good morning. It's Bastille Day, we have a Frenchman in the yellow jersey and we have another exciting Tour de France stage ahead of us. Cyclingnews will have live text coverage throughout today's action, so sit back and enjoy the next 170.5km of racing. The stage starts in around 30 minutes from now.

Before we recap the action from stage 8 - and there's a lot to talk about - here's how things stand on GC coming into the stage. Alaphilippe has moved back in the yellow but Pinot has put in another impressive ride and has moved up to third as a result. We're heading into Bardet country today, so perhaps there will be a response from the AG2R rider. He certainly needs to do something in order to kick-start his race.

We leave Saint in just under 25 minutes from now and head west for most of the stage. It's another 'intermediate' day in the saddle for the peloton with three categorized climbs on the route but in truth this is another tough day in the saddle with barely any flat roads to speak of. It's another finish that should also spark attacks with a third cat climb int he finale before a descent to the line. The last kilometer is ever so slightly downhill. Reduced bunch sprint or another day for the break? We shall see.

You can find our stage preview page, right here.

Alaphilippe is the 32nd Frenchman to wear yellow on Bastille day. Gallopin, Voeckler (twice) have done it since the turn of the century, while Cédric Vasseur was back in 1997. We talked to Vasseur about how he gained and lost the maillot jaune in an exclusive podcast a couple of years ago. You can listen to it right here.

The first hour of racing could define a lot about how the stage will play out. Likely is that QuickStep will decide the make-up of the break and then it will fall back to Bora, CCC (maybe), and Sunweb to set the pace as they're the teams most interest in taking the stage. The breaks in the Tour so far have been high-calibre though, so lets see who goes on the attack first.

We are off. The riders leave the neutralized zone for stage 9 of the Tour de France. The neutralized zone will take about 20 minutes to compete. Politt. He's going to go in the break day, I say simply because he's at the front of the bunch right now. De Gendt is fighting for position at the front right now but surely he's not going to attack again? He might  be trying to set something up for one of his Lotto Soudal teammates though. Wellens is on De Gendt's wheel so it's likely we'll see the KOM leader attack. They might both go in the break today with De Gendt playing a purely supportive role but that would still be a surprise.

Politt follows Wellens. Benoot follows Politt. We start racing in around 5km from now but riders are already bunching right up against the race director's car.

Marcel Kittel is at the Tour right now and doing some commentary for German TV. On his future he says that it's going to be decided after the Tour de France. Jumbo Visman confirmed to Cyclingnews a couple of weeks ago that they're already talking to him about a comeback. Here's the latest on Kittle and why he and Katusha split up.

Prudhomme is out of car sunroof and waving his arms around. I think he wants the riders to slow a bit but with just 1.8km to go until the flag drops no one wants to give up their position. 

Crash for Offredo. He was struggling yesterday but reports are that he hit some road furniture. He's back in the bunch, thankfully but that's not a good start to the day for the French rider.

AG2R are going to send at least one rider up the road. That's clear as they hit the front. We're almost racing.

And AG2R are the first attack. And then Politt follows. The AG2R acceleration lasted all of a few meters but Politt has carried on. EF are in the mix but so are Wanty and a string of other teams. 

Politt is still alone at the front and he has a gap but there's a small chase group trying to hunt him down. The German will want company, that's for sure but can't afford to sit up and wait at the moment.

The stretch of road is downhill and Politt is pushing 75kph as he tucks this body into his bars in order to be as aero as possible. He only has about 5 seconds on the main field right now. 

De Gendt is at the back of the peloton at the moment, so he was clearly a foil for another Lotto rider. We should see a lot more attacks from the main field once the road levels off but at the moment everything - bar Politt - has been closed down.

Crash and a heavy crash for De Marchi. He's face down on the tarmac but he is with the medical support staff. 

158km remaining from 170km

De Marchi is out of the race. He's set to leave and go to hospital. 

Offredo who also crashed earlier today has already been dropped. He was fighting the time cut on stage 8 and it's going to be a repeat on stage 9. We're on an unclassified climb and the bunch has lined out but still no break.

We are seeing De Marchi being lifted onto a stretcher. He appears to be awake and responsive. Up ahead it's one of his CCC teammates who attacks. Sunweb chase with Benoot also in the mix.

156km remaining from 170km

Boasson Hagen is the latest rider who stamps on the pedals and 15 riders go clear. AG2R miss the move so Naessen looks to make the bridge. Impey is there and Herrada. 

152km remaining from 170km

The leaders are Pöstlberger, Naesen, Garcia Cortina, Tratnik, Tony Martin, Clarke, Impey, Stuyven, Roche, Herrada, Benoot, Sicard, Boasson Hagen and Delaplace. They have 2'11 with 146km to go. There's a couple of counter attacks out there, including Rui Costa.

CCC have confirmed that their rider was fully conscious after his crash. He has a deep facial laceration and will have x-rays in hospital. The team will not comment further until they have more facts established. Again, we all hope that the Italian is okay.

Soler is another rider trying to bridge to the break but he has a huge task. The first major climb is coming up so he does have some favourable terrain to work with, at least. 

With or without Soler and Rui Costa, that's a really powerful break up the road. Roche is the best placed on GC but there's real firepower in the mix. Sunweb and Bora are present so they will not chase today. Who will? 

141km remaining from 170km

QuickStep are on the front but there's no real urgency in the main field as the gap continues to go out. We could quickly be looking at a stage-winning margin but there's still a long, long way to go.

A reminder of the riders in the break:

Soler is still trying to catch the break but he's 1'30 down. Costa is about 20 seconds further down. The gap between the 14 leaders and the peloton is at 5'34. The break will not want a rider of Costa's class in the mix, that's for sure.

We are onto the first climb of the day as we see Rui Costa on the radio - probably asking what the point of all this is. 

12 per cent slopes for the break at the moment and already some of them are struggling. Costa is closing in on Soler for the meantime. 

135km remaining from 170km

Rui Costa still has a minute to make up but he has 1.1km of the climb to do it before the descent begins.

So the leaders now are :

Up ahead and Benoot is leading the break. He goes over the top first and then gets on the radio to break the news to his team car and Wellens. Costa continues to close the gap and he's really turned it around on the climb. He's made a huge effort though.

131km remaining from 170km

Costa remains at 25 seconds. The UAE team car comes up and he waves them away before eventually taking a bottle. The 15 leaders are not waiting though and even Soler has started to take turns. 

126km remaining from 170km

9'40 for the break with 123.5km to go. Costa has drifted back to 2'15 and it's only a matter of time before he's back with the peloton. A complete waste of energy and no mistake. 

120km remaining from 170km

10'22 for the leaders. A reminder of their names:

Sicard has always fascinated me as a rider. He won the Tour de l'Avenir ten years ago, along with the U23 world road title but he never really kicked on and brought that success into the WorldTour - for a number of reasons. Now 31, he a solid domestique and this is his sixth Tour de France.

Poor Rui Costa. Still stick between the bunch and the break. He will be swept up soon enough though, probably to tell his colleagues that he didn't fancy it much anyway.

QuickStep are just setting the tempo and holding the gap at 10'27. It's looking increasingly likely that the break will survive today as we see Ineos line out behind Alaphilippe and his teammates.

The results are in from the Giro Rosa. Vos has won the stage and Van Vleuten has taken the overall. Click here.

93km remaining from 170km

It's so hard to pick a winner from this break. There are riders who have the legs to go clear on the climb but if a group come to the finish perhaps Naessen and Boasson Hagen can make the difference. Impey will want the race to become super selective while Benoot will need to be alone if he wants to win. Stuyven is fast but may suffer on the final climb while Cofidis will be confident that Herrada can do the business and end their stage win drought that goes back to 2008. The race wasn't even in colour back then. 

We've not mentioned Clarke but he's another solid all-rounder, having won in the Vuelta and taken the KOM there too. He's a respected road captain at EF these days but on his day he can be up there with the best, as his results this season have shown. At the intermediate sprint Boasson Hagen takes maximum points. The Norwegian has saved Dimension Data so many times over the years, can he do so today and turn around their Tour de France?

The 15-rider break hit the feed zone and several riders immediately look for their favourite snacks. It looks like Soler missed his feed but he can always drop back to the car.  75km to go and the gap holds at 10'04.

Richeze leads the peloton over the line at the intermediate sprint some 9'50 down on the break. The lead has dipped below ten minutes for the first time in a while but without any help on the front from rival teams this one is going to stay away. 

A reminder of the riders in the break:

Geraint Thomas has spoken about his crash on stage 8.  

 

 

We're now climbing the third cat Cote des Guillaumanches. It's around 5km in length but we shouldn't see the break slip up at this stage. They're working well together. 

Morkov and Richeze continue to swap turns on the front of the peloton. It's about containment for QuickStep right now as they look to protect yellow and their legs for tomorrow when their attentions will turn to helping Elia Viviani in the sprints.

Approaching the top of the climb and the leaders hold a 10'13 gap on the bunch. Impey comes over the top and take the points ahead of Benoot.

Over the top of the climb and there's a split in the break. A couple of riders have clipped off the front . Tratnik and Clarke are there, now it's five and Soler is going to close it all down. Some tired legs there with 61km to go.

The big debate from stage 8 was over the motorbikes with several riders complaining that Pinot and Alaphilppe had assistance during their late break. You can read all about it, right here.

47km remaining from 170km

Actually the gap has moved out to 10'40 with 45km to go. There are a few missed turns and there are some attacks. Cortina goes and Stuyven goes with him. And then Benoot. Roche missed the move and he's chasing at the head of the break.

The riders are descending but it's all change at the front with Postlberger now leading with 41km to go. 

Just nine seconds for the lone leader as we see Asgreen leading the peloton at 10'59. 

Postlberger isn't holding back at all and he now has 17 seconds on the chasing group. There's still a long way to go but the Bora rider is intent on a long, and lone, break.

33km remaining from 170km

The chase from the rest of the break isn't that committed. There is a slight headwind and the second group might be willing to see Postlberger burn is matches before the final climb.

40 seconds now for the lone leader and former wearer of the maglia rosa. I don't think he's won a race outside of Austria since that Giro stage in Olbia back in 2017.

26km remaining from 170km

Martin and Roche swap turns but more riders in the chase are skipping turns. The gap drops though to 41 seconds.

Soler has taken off and he's taken three riders with him. 24km to go.

Boasson Hagen is forced to chase and Clarke is losing ground at the moment. 22km to go and the chase group has blown apart on the rolling roads even before the final climb. 

Martin, Boasson Hagen, Clarke and several others have been dropped. Only 4km to go before the lone leader hits the final climb of the day. 

19km remaining from 170km

Onto the final climb for Postlberger who continues to lead onto the Cote de Saint-Just. They're going to catch him. 

It's only a 3.6km climb but the gradient averages at 7.2 per cent and rises to 9 in places. The chase have the Bora rider in their sights. 

The chase line out and Tratnik leads the way. Stuyven is struggling as Benoot attacks. Postlberger has been caught and we've 15km to go. 

The Bora rider is dropped and so is Soler. That's a shock. 

Stuyven digs in and comes back but at the moment Roche and Benoot look the strongest as they try and push clear. Tratnik is in contention too. 

14.5km to go and Roche leads Benoot. Tratnik is about 5 seconds back and then we have a few other riders. 

1.4km to go until the top of the climb and Benoot starts to set the pace. These two can sense the opportunity. 

Roche kicks again and Tratnik was about to make contact but he's losing ground once more. Impey has now attacked and he's going to try and bridge to the leaders. Roche and Benoot will lose to him in a three-man sprint. They can't allow the Mitchelton rider back into contention.

Impey has made it. That three leaders with 13km to go. If those three reach the line then Impey should clean up in the sprint. He's even taking over on the climb and leading over the climb. That's a huge sign of intent and he clearly doesn't want Stuyven and Naesen coming back. 

It's three versus four out there on the road as Tratnik is caught. He needs to make the faster riders in that move do all the work. 

16 seconds for the three leaders as we race down the descent with 10km to go.

The road rises and Benoot attacks. 8.4km to go and I think Roche has cracked. 

Even the Soler/Stuyven group can see the leaders as we see back in the bunch AG2r set a furious pace onto the final climb. Welcome home, Romain Bardet.

Porte is alive to the move and he goes too. 

Up ahead and Impey is leading Benoot.  7.5km to go.

Ineos are chasing Porte and Bardet. 

Roche is not giving up either and he's about 100m back. If the two leaders hesitate then the Irishman could be back in contention.

Porte, Bennett and Bardet are about to be caught. 

Roche has been caught by the Soler group while the sting goes out of the yellow jersey group.

14 seconds for the two leaders now with 3.1km to go. It's all Impey on the front as the chase start to attack each other.

Still Impey on the front with 2km to go. He flicks his arm and the Lotto rider comes through. Can Lotto make it two wins in two days?

1km to go for these two leaders. Can Benoot pull of a huge shock?

Impey on the front with 500m to go.

Will Benoot go early?

Benoot goes!

Impey takes the win. Benoot is second and Tratnik is third.

Massive win for Impey, South Africa and Mitchelton Scott. He's worn yellow but this is different. 

Herrada comes over the line in another chase group. Surprise to not see him in contention given the stage profile but he was dropped early on the final climb. 

Back down the road and Ineos lead with around 9km to go.

The main field are over the last climb and on the descent to the line. We saw a token attack from Bardet but it faded so quickly. 

Here are you stage results


1 Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott 4:03:12
2 Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal
3 Jan Tratnik (Slo) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:10
4 Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
5 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
6 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Sunweb 0:00:14
7 Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:21
8 Ivan Garcia (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 0:01:50
9 Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Education First
10 Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Arkéa Samsic 0:02:42

Martin and Boasson Hagen  -  once teammates  - come over the line together. Surprised that the Norwegian was dropped so early. 

So Alaphilippe will wear yellow  - probably into the rest day too. He currently in the main field as is about 4.5km from the finish.

Here's our brief report for the stage.

Alaphilippe moves to the front, so too do a number of French riders as they ride home to the finish on Bastille Day. 

Nothing to report as the yellow jersey group come over the line. 

And the GC: 

 

A reminder of our top-10 today.

Let's hear from our stage winner Daryl Impey (Mitchelton Scott)

Richie Porte, after crashing out of the Tour de France two years in a row on stage 9, has finally broken the jinx.

Julian Alaphilippe might be France's golden child of the moment, but he is not fooling himself about having eyes on the overall victory.

After the scare on stage 8, Team Ineos were more than happy to let the breakaway go and have smooth sailing on stage 9.

Only Romain Bardet, native of the finishing town, opted to push his chips in - followed by Porte and George Bennett, but the wind was not in his favour.

The Tour de France lost animator Alessandro de Marchi to a crash. The Italian suffered multiple injuries and is in the hospital in Saint-Etienne.

That's it for our coverage of stage 9. Be sure to come back on Monday for stage 10 - the rest day is not until Tuesday!

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