Stage 9: Nantua to Chambery (181.5 kms)

Today’s day was going to be a Tough test. For me. I had a HUGE workout and then I had to come and blog! Also for the riders, because in the 1st 9 days, this was their 3rd Mountain stage and this one have 3 Haute Category climbs!

I mean, who starts the day with a Category 2 climb? As soon as it started, Arnaud Demare (FDJ) was dropped and he had his 2 teammates : Mickaël Delage and Ignatas Konovalovas as Tim Wellens(Lotto Soudal) attacked. Very soon Wellens was joined by FDJ’s french hero Thibaut Pinot who was very soon able to take the 1st climb at côte des Neyrolles. It was a day of crashes, with the 1st one involving Manuele Mori (UAE), Robert Gesink (Lotto-Jumbo) and Angelo Tulik (Direct Energie). 60 riders moved to the front with 32 of them forming the lead, 1:30 ahead of Team Sky who lead the Peloton today.
Team Sky leading the Peloton.
Pinot scored two more KOM points at the 2nd climb, Col de Bérentin (km 11). 38 riders moved to the front : Jan Bakelants, Axel Domont and Alexis Vuillermoz (AG2R-La Mondiale), Jesus Herrada and Carlos Betancur (Movistar), Bauke Mollema and Jarlinson Pantano (Trek-Segafredo), Alessandro De Marchi and Amaël Moinard (BMC), Bakhtiar Kozhatayev and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Kristjian Durasek and Vegard Stake Laengen (UAE), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Michael Albasini (Orica-Scott), Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step Floors), Pawel Poljanski (Bora-Hansgrohe), Robert Kiserlovski and Tiago Machado (Katusha-Alpecin), Thomas De Gendt, Tony Gallopin and Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal), Michael Matthews, Nikias Arndt, Warren Barguil, Simon Geschke and Laurens ten Dam (Sunweb), Nicolas Edet and Dani Navarro (Cofidis), Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo), Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie), Pierre Rolland and Dylan Van Baarle (Cannondale-Drapac), Javier Moreno (Bahrain-Merida), Brice Feillu, Pierre-Luc Périchon and Eduardo Sepulveda (Fortuneo-Oscaro). In the 2nd crash of the day : Sepulveda (Fortuneo) and Stake Laengen (UAE) went down. Riders kept falling behind from the front as De Gendt took the Category 3 climb, Côte de Franclens at 38k. In between some mechanical issues for Jakob Fuglsang(Astana), Primoz Roglic passes the col de la Biche(HC climb) in first position taking 20 points in the KOM competition. Herrada, Kozhatayev and Lutsenko crashed on a downhill. And then there was a BIG crash involving Geraint Thomas(Sky) and Rafael Majka(Bora). Thomas, who had held the Yellow jersey for the 1st 4 days and was Froomey’s right hand man, had to abandon with a broken collarbone. Up the Grand Colombier, Alberto Contador(Trek Segafredo) crashes but gets back on his bike. 7 riders were in the lead: Jan Bakelants, Axel Domont and Alexis Vuillermoz (AG2R-La Mondiale), Jarlinson Pantano (Trek-Segafredo), Pawel Poljanski (Bora-Hansgrohe), Tiejs Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) and Warren Barguil (Sunweb). But as the 2nd HC climb approached Bakelants, Poljanski and Domont were dropped off. And soon Jarlinson Pantano followed the suit. And then it was Alexis Vuillermoz. Warren Barguil took the HC climb at Grand Colombier and moved virtually into the Polka Dot Jersey. With crashes being the order of the day, Nairo Quintana too got a bike change. Today’s intermediate sprint was taken by Michael Matthews after some impressive attacking. Gallopin, Bakelants and Barguil played the game out cat and mouse as they tried to go up Mont du Chat. behind. Yellow jersey group was at 2.30 behind the lead group.
The lead pack going up Mont Du Chat.
Barguil caught Gallopin and continued solo 6km before the summit. Till today, I had respect for Fabio Aru(Astana) and no respect at all for Quintana. But today I lost all respect for Aru. Froome had a mechanical issue with his bike and just as he signalled with his hand to the team car, Aru attacked! And even having Toilet paper shoved in his mouth by Tom Dumoulin in the Giro, Quintana followed. It was Richie Porte(BMC) who stopped Aru and told him to follow the race etiquettes. Froome changed his bike and rejoined the group. Meanwhile up ahead Barguil lead the race closely pursued by Fuglsang. Contador was dropped. And then began the attacks. Aru was the 1st one attacking on the steep part of the climb after Contador and Meintjes were dropped. Yates too was dropped. Porte, Froome and Quintana responded to Aru's acceleration. Aru, Porte, Froome, D. Martin, Quintana, Bardet and Uran formed the yellow jersey group. That was followed by attacks from Porte and Martin. And then Froomey attacked! Only Porte, Uran and Bardet followed. Aru was initally dropped with Quintana but he came through. They rejoined Fuglsang. And again, Quintana was dropped. “Potential winner”(my ass) didn’t have a wheel to suck on and suffered. Barguil was 35 seconds ahead of the Yellow jersey group. And took the Mont Du Chat! With that Polka Dot jersey was confirmed for him. On the descent there was a horrific crash involving Richie Porte(BMC) and Dan Martin(Quickstep Floors). Porte had to abandon but Martin was safe and got back on the bike. Uran’s bike had some grit in his rear derailleur because of the crash. However Martin crashed again and had to join Quintana’s group. Meanwhile at the front Bardet went faster than Froomey’s group and caught Barguil who would have been the heroic winner in this crash marred day. But with his lead a mere 9 seconds, the yellow jersey group caught Bardet with 1.9k to go. With all corners safely covered, soon a sprint began for the finish line. Uran attacked with Barguil still not giving up and as they crossed the line Barguil was celebrating.
But sport is a heartbreaker for those who celebrate without knowing what really went down.
Just at the finish line, it was Rigoberto Uran who pipped Warren Barguil and took Stage 9. So, Today’s result:
Overall Standings(No more Thomas or Porte )
Jersey wearers after Stage 9.
And after 1596 kms of riding in 9 days, the Tour takes its 1st rest day tomorrow. #TDF2017


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