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Tour de France stage 9 - Live coverage


Bonjour. It's the morning after the night before and there'll be a few sore heads in the peloton after yesterday's events. But we go again, deeper into the Alps with another short route that ramps the climbing up to the tune of 4500 metres. We're heading for our first summit finish of the Tour, up at high-altitude at Tignes, to end what has so far been a spectacular first week of the 2021 Tour de France. 

We're in Cluses, where the skies are leaden and some light rain has been falling. It looks like more of the same after yesterday's wet outing, which will make for a draining day in the saddle and have a lot of riders pining for that rest day.


(Image credit: AG2R Citroen Team)

The roll-out is coming up on the hour, at 1pm local time, and the start proper around 10 minutes after that. 

Before we get going, why not catch up on yesterday's action? 

Dylan Teuns won the first mountain stage but it will be remembered for the exploits of Tadej Pogacar, who crushed his rivals with an astonishing long-range attack. 

Stage 8: Report, results, photos

It's been a vintage first week to this Tour but, despite the latest spectacle delivered by Pogacar yesterday, you can't help feel it has killed this Tour de France as a contest. Where do his rivals - and the race - go from here? We'll start to get some answers today.

One non-starter this morning and it's a significant one: Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix). He yielded the maillot jaune yesterday after a memorable stint in yellow following his stage win at Mur-de-Bretagne. This was his first Tour and he was always likely to leave early to prepare for his season's major objective: the mountain bike gold medal at the Olympics.

Here's our story on Van der Poel

Mathieu van der Poel abandons Tour de France to focus on Tokyo Olympic Games

We're on the move. A short neutral zone and then we're racing, and it should be another fast and furious start. 

See more

Don't know why I said there was one non-starter, and one significant one... There are two with Jumbo-Visma confirming earlier on that Primoz Roglic will not continue. Here's the full story on that.

We're off!

Israel Start-Up Nation move to the front but no attacks yet.

Andre Greipel is on the front, setting pace in a bit of an Israel train. Funny start this. 

We have a flat preamble of just under 20km ahead of the first climb of the day - the short but steep Côte de Domancy. That's where we should see the real fight for the break.  

We do get an attack now. It's Benoit Cosnefroy, the AG2R puncheur.

Cosnefroy looks over his shoulder and sees a bunched peloton. 

The Frenchman appears to be sitting up and waiting now, but here comes a counter-attack.

They are both brought to heel now.

Another attack with one each from QuickStep and Lotto. 

It's Davide Ballerini for Deceuninck-QuickStep and Harry Sweeny for Lotto Soudal.

The pair are 20 seconds clear as Israel continue to control the peloton.

The Côte de Domancy is only 2.5km long but averages 9.4%. It found fame during the 1980 World Championships, where Bernard Hinault won on home soil.

After it, the road continues to rise to Mégève before a brief dip down ahead of the big climbing challenges. First come the Col des Saisies, Col du Pré, and Cormet de Roselend before a longer descent and then the long road up to Tignes.

Ballerini and Sweeny move out to 45 seconds.

Israel are still setting the pace. They are not playing this cool at all. Michael Woods came close yesterday - maybe today is the turn of Dan Martin.

127km to go

Ballerini and Sweeny hit the Côte de Domancy.

BikeExchange come to the front of the bunch now as they take on the climb. That'll be because we have an intermediate sprint coming up beyond Mégève, at kilometre-32. Michael Matthews will fancy picking up some points there. Sonny Colbrelli can also expect to survive this climb and they'll hope to distance Mark Cavendish.

Ballerini drops Sweeny on the climb.

Alaphilippe attacks!

The world champion fell out of the GC picture yesterday so has the freedom to go into breakaways from here on.

Bauke Mollema and Michael Woods go after Alaphilippe.

Patrick Konrad gets across to make it four.

But the move is snuffed out. The peloton is fragmenting now. Cavendish is dropped.

Ballerini and Sweeny are only a few seconds ahead of this advancing bunch now.

Pierre Latour attacks. He sprints to pip Sweeny to the top of the climb to take maximum mountains points.

Latour had a shocker yesterday and was chasing all day. He'd had a lively start to the Tour and was up there on GC but now has to look at other options, and the polka-dot jersey seems to be one of them. 

Nairo Quintana was also up there looking for the points, indicating that he'll also be in the hunt for the dots.

Latour continues his effort as the road continues to rise, and he's joined by Dan Martin

Alaphilippe attacks again behind. 

Colbrelli is there in this Alaphilippe move, as is Wout Poels in the polka-dots after his ride yesterday.

They catch Martin and Latour, and now Colbrelli attacks.

Geraint Thomas has been dropped again and, more surprisingly, Richie Porte has lost contact too. A miserable Tour so far for Ineos.

Colbrelli has been joined by Anthony Perez and Sergio Higuita.

The three leaders are joined by a Total rider as Alaphilippe kicks off a new wave of attacks behind. Another small group is coming across. 

Higuita attacks

He doesn't last long as that larger chase group comes back. Matthews is there and his teammate Chris Juul-Jensen is setting pace for him.

Juul-Jensen is going so hard he forces a three-man split, with Matthews and Alaphilippe.

Colbrelli is going across in a small group.

Crash. It's Enric Mas.

Movistar's leader is back on his feet. We didn't see it but he appears to have slid out on a downhill bend. Mas started the day 8th overall, well in the main GC mix (excluding Pogacar of course).

Yesterday's winner Dylan Teuns got across with Colbrelli, along with Stefan Kung. Here comes the sprint.  

Colbrelli and Matthews open up. Colbrelli takes it.

110km to go

That lead group is followed 25 seconds later by a large breakaway of around 30 riders that has formed. UAE are marshalling the main peloton at 1:15.

Here are the new points classification standings after that sprint

1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Deceuninck-QuickStep 168

2 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange 130

3 Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 102

4 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic 99

5 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious 96

The lead Alaphilippe-Colbrelli-Matthews group has been caught by that larger breakaway group. We're nearing the start of the Col des Saisies.

Colbrelli attacks! There are no more intermediate sprints but the Italian champion is in form and he's away.

Warren Barguil gets across to Colbrelli on a short downhill ahead of the Saisies, and the rest of the group is coming back as well.

The Col des Saisies begins and Quintana attacks. 

This climb is 9.4km long with an average gradient of 6.2 per cent, mitigated by a couple of plateaus.

Woods goes after Quintana. Omar Fraile is up there too. He was incredible yesterday, doing the work in the main group of GC favourites, where Alexey Lutsenko managed to hang on to move to third overall. 

Those three ride away. There are some 40 riders in the main move behind them, with the GC peloton at 2:50. 

Ruben Guerreiro attacks to make it over to that trio. 

Poels attacks now!

The Dutchman zips through as the leaders come back, and he's away.

Poels is out for the mountains points but he's not so far down on GC - 15th at 8:51. In terms of the other GC threats in this move, Guillaume Martin appears to be best placed overall - 12th at 7:28. Those gaps are to Pogacar, and it has to be remembered that most of the main GC contenders are themselves at five minutes.

Ben O'Connor is also in there - 14th at 8:13.

Here's the full list

Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), Dylan van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers), Dan Martin, Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation), Julien Bernard, Kenny Elissonde, Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Julian Alaphilippe, Kasper Asgreen, Mattia Cattaneo (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Patrick Konrad, Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Guillaume Martin, Simon Geschke, Anthony Pérez (Cofidis), Ruben Guerreiro, Sergio Higuita (EF Education-Nippo), Ben O’Connor (Ag2r-Citröen), Warren Barguil, Élie Gesbert, Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic), Harry Sweeny (Lotto-Soudal), Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ), Matej Mohoric, Wout Poels, Dylan Teuns, Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious), Lucas Hamilton, Luka Mezgec, Chris Juul Jensen, Michael Matthews (BikeExchange), Jakob Fuglsang, Alex Aranburu, Omar Fraile (Astana-PremierTech), Pierre Latour, Víctor de la Parte, Fabien Doubey (TotalEnergies), Louis Meintjes (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert), Franck Bonnamour, Quentin Pacher, Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels-KTM) 

A selection process in the break now on the Saisies. 11 riders join forces in pursuit of Poels.

The riders in pursuit of Poels are Fraile, Martin, O'Connor, Kuss, Cattaneo, Quintana, Hamilton, Woods, Guerreiro, Higuita.

Woods, O'Connor, Quintana, and Higuita move clear now but Poels is still up the road.

Poels is 2km shy of the summit and he hits that plateau, which actually dips downhill. He's 12 seconds up on that four-man chase group. 

UAE have their whole team on the front of the main peloton at five minutes back.

Quintana attacks and hunts down Poels. 

Quintana reaches Poels in sight of the summit and.... bike throws and a photo finish!

It looks like Poels just about hung on there to take the maximum haul of points atop the Col des Saisies. 

Quintana drops Poels on the wet descent.

Confirmation that Poels was first to the summit and collects the maximum 10 points to extend his lead in the mountains classification.

Hamilton has caught up with the chase group over the top, so he's now with O'Connor, Woods, and Higuita. 

The peloton reaches the top of the Col des Saisies, 6:05 behind the front of the race.

Here are the new mountains classification standings. 

1. Poels - 33 

2. Woods - 29

3. Quintana - 24

Woods, O'Connor, Higuita, and Hamilton catch Poels on the descent. They're 15 seconds behind Quintana.

As for the rest of the breakaway, they're all at least a minute down.

Higuita drags his way over to Quintana. Small gaps in that group as they continue down this soaking wet descent.

Poels and Woods are the weaker descenders here and they're lagging. Hamilton and Higuita look strong and they're with Quintana as the road plateaus. O'Connor is trying to get across, and he does so.

78km to go

They're onto the valley road now and Poels and Woods have been placed on the back foot.

Around 20 riders are in the next breakaway group on the road, at 1:10. Alaphilippe, Kuss, and Guillaume Martin are there.

The peloton is at 6:15.

The Col du Pré begins. This is our first Hors-Catégorie climb of the Tour. It measures 12.6km at an average gradient of 7.7%. There's a big haul of 20 points for the first rider to the top.

Woods leaves Poels behind on the lower slopes.

This climb will be key to the breakaway's chances of stage victory. UAE have been simply controlling so far at a steady tempo. If that continues, the escapees will start to lick their lips. But if UAE or another team takes it up more seriously, things could change quickly. The final climb is high but it's also a steady slog of a climb that would suit a mountain train and be tough work for a solo rider trying to hang on.

UAE might decide they want the stage win but in the race for yellow they don't have to do too much. It's up to their rivals to make the moves, and it's going to take something pretty spectacular. There'll be a lot of head-scratching after yesterday and you sense - given the conditions here and the attritional nature of this first week as a whole - many will simply be happy to make it to the rest day, take stock, and reset for week two.

Woods reaches the leaders, so that's five out front now, with Higuita, Quintana, O'Connor, and Hamilton. Poels is still chasing and isn't too far back. 

The larger breakaway group is slipping back, at two minutes now.

Meanwhile the peloton is at 7 minutes now. Nevermind the stage win, there are also GC implications for this break. O'Connor is now virtually second overall...

Poels is back. Six in the lead once more.

O'Connor started the day 8:13 down on Pogacar but only three down on most of the GC riders. Any gap will come down once the yellow jersey group hits the final climb but, after losing time in crashes in the opening days, he could be set to put himself right back in the mix. Still, a long way to go and many variables - not least how O'Connor holds up on what's a hugely demanding stage. 


Vegard Stake Laengen is on the front for UAE. He's their big flatland workhorse and that shows that it's a steady tempo in the main peloton, which is still large. 

Poels is dropped again

Nans Peters and Tim Merlier have abandoned the race.

The rain continues to come down and the mountain is shrouded in mist. We're climbing up to 1750 metres and will be heading further up to the Cormet de Roselend.

Mikkel Bjerg takes over from Stake Laengen at the head of the bunch.

Van Aert losing contact now!

The Belgian champion is second overall and some have even talked about him as a possible GC contender. He appears to be putting an end to that as he waves goodbye to the camera.

Van Aert did a huge ride in the mountains yesterday to hang on to second place, and he started the day 1:48 behind Pogacar but three minutes up on everyone else. 

UAE have certainly upped the tempo here. The gap max-ed out at 7:30 but it has stabilised now. 

Hamilton dropped from the front of the race.

Richie Porte is dropped again from the main peloton. He was in trouble earlier on and seems to be struggling today, so will be of no assistance to Carapaz.

We've got an update on Lachlan Morton's progress in his solo 'alt' Tour de France. He's nearing the half-way mark and heading for Mont Ventoux. Here's the story

Accelerations up front as they head into the final 2km of the Col du Pré. Woods raises the tempo before Quintana launches a sharper injection of pace.

Quintana kicks again.

Woods sets off in pursuit but can't get on terms. Quintana is breezing away here.

Quintana keeps rising from the saddle as he moves further clear. He's had a rough time since his crash at last year's Tour, and is already well down on GC, but he's looking good today.

Quintana reaches the summit and helps himself to 20 mountains points - a rich reward on the first HC climb of the Tour.

Higuita leads O'Connor and Woods over the top several seconds later.

63km to go

O'Connor nips ahead of Woods for this descent, having learned the lesson from the previous one. It's only a short dip downhill and then we'll be onto the Cormet de Roselend. 

Anthony Perez is working for Guillaume Martin in the next breakaway group, and they're almost up with Poels as they head over the summit 2:23 behind the front of the race.

Higuita is looking really good going downhill and he's made his way over to Quintana. 

Hirschi takes over from Bjerg (who's still up there) in the main peloton. They've upped the intensity and the group has dwindled significantly, but they're not gaining time on the leaders. 8 minutes is the gap now with 60km to go.

Woods has been dropped and O'Connor is trying to chase Quintana and Higuita. In these wet conditions, descending is a key part of the fight for stage honours today. The finish is uphill but, even if Woods makes it back, he'll have had to make those supplementary efforts that may end up counting against him.

Alaphilippe has stopped to get some new layers on.

O'Connor is back with the Colombians but Higuita eases away and the Australian waves his arm in remonstration at Quintana, who he clearly feels should be helping out.

O'Connor and Quintana catch back up with Higuita just as the Cormet de Roselend ascent begins.

This is a category-2 climb, measuring 5.7km at 6.5%.

56.5km to go

Woods is already a minute down, and looks to be out of this. The next chase group with Guillaume Martin is at 2:45, and the main peloton is at 8:25.

Quintana strips off, getting a new jersey and now putting on a rain cape. It's been another day of constant rain. 

As the gap rises to 8:30, O'Connor is now the virtual leader of the Tour de France.

Over at the Giro Donne, Marianne Vos has just won stage 3. Click here for our report.

After Alaphilippe decided to drop away, the riders in that main chasing breakaway group are: G.Martin, Perez, Barguil, Cattaneo, Konrad, Guerreiro, Colbrelli, Poels. 

UAE continue to answer those doubting their collective strength. They still have five riders with Pogacar in this main peloton, and not many other teams boast those numbers. Things are under control for now.

UAE won't be overly worried by O'Connor out front, but other teams might start to see a threat to their podium positions/top-fives/top 10s. As I said, though, no one seems have have big numbers to launch a proper chase. 

Ben O'Connor rides for AG2R but he blogs for Cyclingnews. His latest entry is in the works but he'll be in the headlines either way tonight. Have a read of his first blog at the link below, in which he talks about what his Tour debut means, and how he's turned things around after a rough couple of years.

Ben O'Connor blog: A Tour de France debut and a new lease of life

Woods, so close yesterday, continues to slip away. He's nearly two minutes down now and will soon be back in the Guillaume Martin group. 

That group also contains Sonny Colbrelli, who's putting in one of the rides of the day here. Did no one tell him this finishes up at 2000 metres?

It's still rain cape time in the peloton. Keeping warm looks to be the priority of the day for most. 

51km to go

The three leaders come to the top of the Cormet de Roselend. Quintana again helps himself to maximum points, sprinting ahead of Higuita. 

Now for a 19-kilometre descent. It's still raining and the road's soaking wet. It's a treacherous one, from a point of view of getting down in one piece but also getting down warm.

The Colombians are once again proving the superior descenders. O'Connor is distanced.

Woods is caught at the top of the Cormet de Roselend by the Guillaume Martin group.

UAE Team Emirates lead the yellow jersey group to the top of the climb. Around 30 riders are left in that group and the gap has reduced slightly to eight minutes.

O'Connor claws his way back over to Higuita and Quintana.

O'Connor is dropped again.

Higuita has moved clear now, riding away from Quintana.

O'Connor is violently shaking out his arms. He might have cold fingers which doesn't make for good bike handling or braking.

Higuita is flying down this descent. He could take a head start onto the final climb and may need it, as Quintana and O'Connor are arguably stronger on paper on a long climb like the one to Tignes.

Here are the KOM standings after the Cormet de Roselend. More points on offer at Tignes but Quintana will almost certainly be in the polka-dots tomorrow. 

1. Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic), 49
2. Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation), 42
3. Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious), 39
4. Sergio Higuita (EF Education-Nippo), 22
5. Ben O’Connor (Ag2r-Citröen), 14

Higuita takes on some food and that allows Quintana to come back to him. 

Crash! A UAE rider is down off the side of the road.

It's Brandon McNulty and he literally rides off the road. He's looking around and drifts onto the grass, falling down the banking. Hope he's ok but that's a schoolboy error.

O'Connor is already 35 seconds down.

Quintana and Higuita finish the descent and emerge in the valley. They have 12km of false flat before the long final climb up to Tignes.

The McNulty crash has already been clipped up

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30km to go

So, on the approach to the final climb, we have a Colombian duo out in the lead in the form of Quintana and Higuita. O'Connor was with them but was dropped on the descent and is chasing at 25 seconds. Another breakaway group with Guillaume Martin has slipped back to 4:15, while the 30-rider yellow jersey group of GC riders is at 8:45.

O'Connor is in the wind, digging in at 25 seconds. He'll start this climb on the back foot but it's not all about the stage win for him. With the peloton now 9 minutes back, he's the virtual leader of the Tour de France. That won't be the case at the finish, but he stands to make a big leap up the standings nonetheless.

O'Connor is closing in. 10 seconds now. This is a great ride from him after a rough start to the Tour. 

Puncture for Vingegaard.

25.5km to go

O'Connor makes it across. It's a leading trio once more.

The leading three all visit their team cars. This is the final chance to feed ahead of the final climb. 

Rui Cota hits the front now for UAE and they've started to bring the gap down on the valley road. It's down to 8:35 down.

Here we go then! The final climb to Tignes officially begins. It's 21km long at 5.6%.

Quintana is dropped! The Colombian simply can't hold the pace on the lower slopes and he won't be contesting for stage honours today. That'll be between O'Connor and Higuita.

Bjerg is back on the front and grimacing wildly as he keeps the pace high on the approach to the climb. He's done a great ride today for Pogacar.

Another great ride? Perez, who's still driving this Guillaume Martin group on. They're four minutes down but just over four up on the peloton, so Martin could still make GC gains. But he'll soon want to open the taps himself. 

O'Connor and Higuita, gilets, open, are working together on the road to Tignes. Quintana is down at 40 seconds already.

Pogacar removes his rain cape. It's go-time.

Bjerg pulls off. His work is done. UAE lost McNulty to that crash but still have Costa, Majka, and Formolo with Pogacar.

19.5km to go

The increase in tempo has brought the gap down to 7:20.

O'Connor removes his gilet and takes on a gel. He's no longer the virtual maillot jaune and he'll lose time from here on in but he will still make significant gains.

3:40 down the road, Guillaume Martin thanks Perez and makes his move. The gap to the front has reduced and he should in theory have more in the tank after spending so long in the wheels. The stage wins seems out of the question but he could still gain time. 

17.3km to go

O'Connor attacks!

It's not a huge attack, but simply an easing away from Higuita. It's just down to strength after such a demanding day and O'Connor, who had to drag his way back alone in the valley, looks to be the strongest rider out there today.

O'Connor is already 30 seconds up on Higuita, who has faded rapidly. Still 15km to go but the Australian looks very good for the stage win today. 

Majka is setting pace in the yellow jersey group, which is now 6:45 behind O'Connor.

There was a lot of talk about UAE's collective weakness but they've done well today and it's hard to see anyone taking the race to Pogacar here. A lot of risk for little potential reward. Pogacar, on the other hand... what's to stop him going again and gaining more time? He doesn't seem to know how to race anything other than full-gas.

Mechanical problem for Guillaume Martin. He has to stop for a bike