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Vuelta a Espana stage 9: live coverage

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of stage 9. The action is set to get underway in around half an hour.

Today's stage should see a major GC shakeup before the rest day. There are five categorised climbs on the menu, and it will be fascinating to see how the 'big four' fare.

Stage 9 is a veritable Tour of Andorra, starting in the capital Andorra la Vella before heading north to the Coll d'Ordino. Then it's back down south to the capital to the Coll de la Gallina, which brushes the Spanish border. After that, the riders bypass the capital with two second-category climbs before the finish at Cortals d'Encamp.

(Image credit: vuelta a espana)

Here's a reminder of the general classification ahead of today's stage.

1 Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis 8:16:24

2 Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida 0:02:21

3 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 0:03:01

4 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma 0:03:07

5 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar 0:03:17

6 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar 0:03:28

7 Carl Frederik Hagen (Nor) Lotto Soudal 0:03:45

8 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:04:59

9 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 0:05:37

10 Esteban Chaves (Col) Mitchelton-Scott 0:05:53

Can Edet hang on to red? For reference, at the Alto de Javalambre he lost 2:18 to López, while on the Alto Mas de la Costa he was 2:19 behind Valverde and Roglič. Today's stage is a different animal, however.

And more importantly, who will emerge as the strongest of the 'big four' GC contenders? Alejandro Valverde, Primož Roglič, Miguel Ángel López and Nairo Quintana showed they were a class above the rest on the stunningly steep finish on the Alto Mas de la Costa.

With so much climbing on the menu today, we should see more separation than the six seconds we saw on stage 7 though.

And with the Pau time trial coming on Tuesday, Valverde, López and Quintana need to gain time on Roglič wherever they can.

With such a short stage on the menu, and the climbing beginning from the start, it's no surprise that teams are warming up on the rollers and home trainers.

The peloton is all lined up and ready to go now.

There are plenty of mountain classification points up for grabs today, so there should be a fierce fight for the breakaway. KOM leader Ángel Madrazo had this to say before the start.

"Let’s see if I can keep the polka-dot jersey at the end of the day. The start will be full gas. Riders might take points in the first climb and then none in the second. It will be fast for the whole stage. My strategy is to be in the break to take points."

Cortals d'Encamp has featured as a Vuelta stage finish once before, in 2015. Back then, stage 11 featured the Ordino, Gallina, Comella and Cortals d'Encamp climbs, as well as the Rabassa and Beixalis.

The stage saw Mikel Landa take the win, while eventual race winner Fabio Aru took over the race lead from Tom Dumoulin.

Andorra la Vella has featured as a start town nine times in the past.

The peloton have rolled out and are in the neutralised zone now.

With the stage, and the fight for the break, soon to begin, here are the breakaway standings so far.

1. Ángel Madrazo (Burgos-BH) – 451km
2. Jesús Herrada (Cofidis) and Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida) – 276 km
4. David de la Cruz (Team Ineos) – 271 km
5. Sergio Henao (UAE Team Emirates) – 266 km

94.4km remaining from 94.4km

The flag is dropped and we're underway on stage 9!

Four riders are up the road now, with a very small advantage over the peloton.

No moves are sticking just yet.

 Madrazo is in the latest move.

Robert Gesink (Jumbo-Visma) is in the move too.

90km remaining from 94.4km

There are around 20 men off the front. Nothing established yet.

Sprinters are already dropping back from the peloton.

Tao Geoghegan Hart (Team Ineos) is on the move.

Geoghegan Hart is at the head of the race now.

The Brit is the lone leader right now.

He's 15 seconds up on the peloton, while attacks continue behind.

86km remaining from 94.4km

Geoghegan Hart is 8km from the top of this first climb.

(Image credit: vuelta a espana)

25 riders have broken away from the vastly-reduced peloton.

40 seconds from the break to the peloton.

Pierre Latour (AG2R La Mondiale), Omar Fraile and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-Scott), Jesús Herrada (Cofidis), Sergio Samitier and Mikel Bizkarra (Euskadi Basqu Country-Murias), Marc Soler and Antonio Pedrero (Movistar), Robert Gesink (Jumbo-Visma), Daniel Martínez (EF Education First), Amanuel Gebreigzhabier (Dimension Data), Wout Poels (Team Ineos), Nikias Eg (Trek-Segafredo) are among the front group.

More attacks fly further back.

Patrick Bevin (CCC Team) was also in there but has attacked with Bizkarra.

20 seconds between the Bevin-Bizkarra group and the break. 50 seconds back to the peloton.

82km remaining from 94.4km

Cofidis lead the peloton.

The break of the day is established now. We'll get you the full list of names when we can.

1:50 between break and peloton now. Around 30 riders in the break.

Thomas De Gendt is driving a chase group.

Here's the composition of the break, who have now crested the day's first climb.

Antonio Pedrero, Marc Soler (Movistar Team), Pierre Latour, Geofffrey Bouchard (AG2R La Mondiale), Jakob Fuglsang, Gorka Izagirre (Astana), Hermann Pernsteiner (Bahrain-Merida), Felix Grosschaurtner (Bora-Hansgrohe), Lawson Craddock, Sergio Higuita (EF Education First), Kilian Frankiny, Romain Seigle (Groupama-FDJ), Thomas De Gendt, Carl Hagen (Lotto Soudal), Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-Scott), Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier, Ben O’Connor (Dimension Data), Wout Poels, David de la Cruz, Tao Geoghegan Hart, Sebastian Henao (Team Ineos), Robert Gesink, Sepp Kuss, Neilson Powless (Jumbo-Visma), Matteo Fabbro, Ruben Guerreiro (Katusha Alpecin), Wilco Kelderman, Robert Power, Martijn Tusveld (Team Sunweb), Nikias Eg (Trek-Segafredo), Jesus Herrada, Darwin Atapuma (Cofidis) and Sergio Samitier (Euskadi-Murias)

The large break group is catching the lead duo now.

67km remaining from 94.4km

Here's the order of the riders over the summit of the Ordino.

1. Mikel Bizkarra (Euskadi-Murias), 10 pts
2. Patrick Bevin (CCC Team), 6 pts
3. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), 4 pts
4. Neilson Powless (Jumbo-Visma), 2 pts
5. Wout Poels (Team Ineos), 1 pt

Sepp Kuss, Robert Gesink (Jumbo-Visma), Antonio Pedrero (Movistar Team), Omar Fraile, Gorka Izagirre (Astana), Patrick Bevin (CCC Team), Mikel Bizkarra (Euskadi-Murias) have formed a lead group on the descent. They're ahead of the larger breakaway group.

58km remaining from 94.4km

And now the break is all back together.

The Coll de la Gallina is up next. The break is 5km from the start of the climb.

(Image credit: vuelta a espana)

Lotto Soudal's Carl Frederik Hagen is in the break today. Here's what he had to say before the stage.

"So far it’s good, but it’s a long way to go. I take it day by day. It is a bit too early for me to aim the GC top 10, since it’s my first Grand Tour. But I will fight every day and try to ride smart. I will try to hang on for as long as possible, without killing myself because it’s still two weeks to go. I’m not so tired after yesterday: the big fight was only in the last kilometres. I feel fine and I expect to do well today too."

The gap between break and peloton is now up to 4:10.

Movistar lead the peloton. They're pushing the pace as they hit the climb.

Power and Kelderman are leading the break.

Patrick Bevin has been dropped from the break.

Meanwhile, Fabio Aru is struggling off the rear of the peloton.

Geoghegan Hart pushes on in the break.

Esteban Chaves has a mechanical problem, and swaps bikes with Damian Howson. Safe to say it's not a great fit...

(Image credit: eurosport)

Bouchard went with Geoghegan Hart but has now passed the Brit. 30 seconds back to the break, 3:50 back to the peloton.

Elsewhere, the Deutschland Tour has finished, concluding with stage 4 to Erfurt.

Click through to find out who won the stage and overall!

42km remaining from 94.4km

The peloton has completely shattered now as Astana pushed the pace.

Three Astana men are there with López.

Bouchard is still out front alone. He's 30 seconds up on the break with Geoghegan Hart chasing . 3:40 back to the peloton.

Chaves is still chasing back to the peloton, accompanied by a couple of teammates.

The peloton is catching stragglers from the break now. Chaves is 45 seconds down.

Edet has been dropped from the peloton.

Edet has KOM leader Madrazo and a couple of other riders for company.

Dario Cataldo (Astana) has destroyed the peloton on this climb.

39km remaining from 94.4km

Bouchard is in the final kilometre of the climb.

Chaves is just now passing the Edet group, which is 50 seconds behind the peloton now.

Bouchard crests the summit and takes 15 KOM points.

Pernsteiner (Bahrain-Merida) has broken away from the chase group and is almost with Bouchard at the top.

3:15 between the front of the race and the peloton.

Live situation

Leading: Bouchard, Pernsteiner

Chasing: Around 25 riders at 20 seconds

Peloton: Around ten riders at 3:20

Dropped: Edet at 4:20

31km remaining from 94.4km

It's a technical descent, but a dry one, thankfully.

A bit of a lull in proceedings now as the riders make their way down to the valley.

KOM result on the Gallina.

1. Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R La Mondiale), 15 pts
2. Hermann Pernsteiner (Bahrain-Merida), 10 pts
3. Mikel Bizkarra (Euskadi-Murias), 6 pts
4. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), 4 pts
5. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), 2 pts

Astana still lead the peloton in the valley.

1:15 between Bouchard and the break now, four minutes back to the peloton.

Fraile has dropped back from the break, presumably to help López back in the peloton. Fuglsang and Gorka Izagirre remain out front.

20km remaining from 94.4km

Bouchard takes the intermediate sprint ahead of Geoghegan Hart and O'Connor, who are chasing.

Chaves has made it back to the GC group, according to his team.

Bouchard is on the Comella now. It's 4.2km long at an average of 8.6 per cent.

Only around 15 men remain in the GC group.

19km remaining from 94.4km

López attacks! Quintana follows him.

No surprises as Roglič and Valverde are the next men to make it across. The big four are together.

López tries again as more riders made it back.

López is away. Jumbo-Visma lead the chase.

Bouchard crests the summit alone. Pernsteiner and Higuita attack the remains of the break.

López is 14 seconds up on the GC group.

Gorka Izagirre has dropped back to help López. Roglič is driving the GC group on his own now.

Roglič, Quintana, Valverde, Pedrero, Majka, Ion Izagirre, Pogačar are in that chase group.

The riders are on the Engolasters (4.8km at 8.1 per cent) now after a short descent. Just the gravel section and final climb after this climb.

14km remaining from 94.4km

López is alone again now. He's almost 40 seconds up on the chasers.

Now Fuglsang drops back to help López. Great tactics, but obviously they have the team strength capable of executing them.

Bouchard has been joined by O'Connor and Geoghegan Hart.

Valverde puts in an attack. No response from behind. Roglič takes to the front of the group.

13km reamining from 94.4km

Quintana goes after Valverde is brought back. Roglič makes the catch, though.

Roglič has Kuss from the break now. Quintana, Valverde, Majka, Ion Izagirre and Pogačar are in the group too.

The leaders are almost on the gravel section. Here's a preview, courtesy of Dan Martin.

It'll be a bit damper for the riders though – it has started to rain.

López is 35 seconds up on the chasers now. The storm has knocked out tv coverage.

Geoghegan Hart has reportedly attacked the lead trio.

It's pouring rain and hail at the finish.

López and Fuglsang are 40 seconds down on the leaders, 20 seconds behind the remains of the break.

Brutal conditions at the finish. The road looks like a river.

Yikes...

Yikes...

(Image credit: eurosport)

López is almost with the leaders now.

The gravel section looks pretty treacherous in this weather.

Valverde and Quintana have attacked the chase group and are with López now.

Here's the profile of the climb to the finish.

(Image credit: vuelta a espana)

5km remaining from 94.4km

Roglič chases.

Quintana leads the race ahead of López, Valverde, Pogačar and a few riders from the break.

Correction: Marc Soler is at the head of the race. Not sure why he hasn't just waited for Quintana though...

Soler is 30 seconds up on Quintana. 

3.5km remaining from 94.4km

Valverde attacks to try and tire out López. Pogačar is with Quintana 25 seconds behind Soler.

Movistar are holding all the cards here, but I don't know what game they're playing.

Marc Soler shot a caustic look back, clearly instructed to wait for Quintana against his wishes.

Meanwhile further back, Valverde is putting in attacks while he has two men up the road and López on his wheel...

Now Pogačar has attacked and left Quintana behind. Soler finally drops back to work for the Colombian

Soler and Quintana work, a few seconds down on Pogačar.

Valverde is 25 seconds down. López 40 seconds down. No time check to Roglič yet.

Around a minute back to Roglič.

2km remaining from 94.4km

Roglič has passed López now.

Roglič is with Valverde now! What a recovery. They're 35 seconds down on Pogačar, and 20 down on Quintana.

López is cracking here. What a crazy finale to this stage.

Quintana is off alone. Soler has done his job.

López is with Higuita and Kelderman, 50 seconds down.

1km remaining from 94.4km

Final kilometre for Pogačar. He's 20 seconds up on Quintana.

Pogačar is a really special rider. He'll take the win here at his first Grand Tour.

Pogačar wins stage 9 of the Vuelta a España!

Quintana finishes second, 22 seconds down.

Roglič and Valverde finish at 49 seconds.

López crosses the line 1:04 down

What a finish.

Quintana is leading the overall by six seconds from Roglič, by my calculations.

Stage result

1    Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates    2:58:09
2    Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team    0:00:23
3    Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma    0:00:48
4    Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team    0:00:48
5    Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team    0:00:57
6    Hermann Pernsteiner (Aut) Bahrain-Merida    0:00:59
7    Sergio Higuita (Col) EF Education First    0:01:01
8    Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb    0:01:01
9    Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team    0:01:01
10    Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Sky    0:01:38

López reportedly crashed at some point on the gravel section while the live tv coverage was down. That would explain his struggles on the final climb.

Our brief stage report is up now, with results, a gallery and a full report to come.

Click here to read.

General Classification after stage 9

1    Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team    35:18:18
2    Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma    0:00:06
3    Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team    0:00:17
4    Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team    0:00:20
5    Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates    0:01:42
6    Carl Fredrik Hagen (Nor) Lotto Soudal    0:01:46
7    Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    0:02:21
8    Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe    0:03:22
9    Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb    0:03:53
10    Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida    0:04:46

Here's what Pogačar had to say after the finish.

"This stage was incredible. I was looking at it since I started. Yesterday when I saw the weather I was happy that it was going to rain.

"I tried to follow the attacks and I went full gas on the gravel section. It was great."

Roglič also crashed on the gravel section today. A great comeback by him today.

Our full stage report is up. Click through to read the story of stage 9.

Tadej Pogacar

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Here's a shot of López after the finish, bearing the marks of his crash.

We'll have more news and reaction from the Vuelta a España throughout the evening, so be sure to check back on cyclingnews.com.

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