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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, September 7, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

I told the doctor I broke my leg in two places. He told me to quit going to those places. - Henny Youngman

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Tour de France stage nine reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Tadej Pogacar's UAE-Team Emirates:

Twenty-one year old Tadej Pogačar added his first stage win at the Tour de France to his palmares, adding it to the trio of successes obtained in the Vuelta a Espana in 2019.

Tadej Pogacar

Tadej Pogacar takes the ninth stage. Sirotti photo

The Slovenian from the Emirati squad won the 9th stage of the Grande Boucle, 153 km Pau-Lauruns, outsprinting the group containing the new yellow jersey Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), Marc Hirschi (Sunweb), Egan Bernal (Ineos-Grenadiers) and Mikel Landa (Bahrain-McLaren).

The UAE Team Emirates rider becomes the youngest Tour stage winner in the 21st century.

Marc Hirschi had led the race for 80 km, before being caught in view of the finish line by the chasing quartet on the ascent of the Col de Marie Blanque The group of the favourites was influenced by two attacks of Pogačar, with only Roglic, Bernal and Landa able to follow the UAE Team Emirates leader who had a near crash when he made contact with Roglic over the top of the climb.

Pogačar: “It is incredible to have won at the end of such a hectic day. Firstly I thank the team for the excellent work done throughout the stage. I am very happy, in the final my goal was to recover as many seconds as possible in the general classification, also aiming for bonuses, but the concentration was then turned to the sprint: I don’t remember exactly how I won the sprint, I just thought about pushing as hard as possible.

"I arrive on the first rest day with a stage win, which is added to the one obtained in the first stage by my teammate Kristoff. I am happy with what we have done so far in this Tour, with only one off-day on the 7th stage”.

In the general classification, Pogačar gains another two positions and climbs back to 7th place (+44″ from Roglic), while in the youth ranking the Slovenian is 23″ behind Egan Bernal (Ineos-Grenadiers).

Unfortunately it was a less positive day for Fabio Aru who found himself in trouble early in the day and was unable to finish the stage.

Tomorrow will mark the first rest day, before beginning again with a flat trip from Ile de l’Oléron to Ile de Ré (168.5 km).

Here's the report from new GC leader Primoz Roglic's Jumbo Visma team:

Primoz Roglic has sprinted to second place in the second Pyrenean stage of the Tour de France. In addition, he took over the yellow jersey from Adam Yates. The Slovenian has a 21 second lead over runner-up Egan Bernal.

PRimoz Roglic

Primoz Roglic is the new Yellow Jersey. Sirotti photo

For a long time it looked like the Swiss Marc Hirschi would successfully complete his solo. He was taken back just a few kilometres from the finish line. As a result, a select group fought for the victory. Roglic’s compatriot Tadej Pogacar took the win. Roglic won in Laruns in 2018, now he had to settle for second place.

On the last steep climb of the day, the Col de Marie-Blanque, Roglic was still perfectly surrounded by his teammates. Despite a few attacks, Roglic never was in trouble. The reward that followed was conquering the ‘maillot jaune’.

The new leader was over the moon with his yellow jersey. “It was a fast and difficult stage. Everyone was extremely motivated to go for the yellow jersey. The guys did a great job all day long. It is a beautiful jersey to have. I feel very happy. Everyone dreams of having it in their hands. It also means appreciation to the whole team. We must continue to do our best. Hopefully I still have the jersey around my shoulders in Paris. After this tough stage we have deserved a rest day.”

Tom Dumoulin is also happy with the conquest of the yellow jersey. “We worked hard to get the jersey. Today was a good time to do it. It was a big fight, but we showed how strong we are. I was already feeling better than yesterday. Moreover, I am happy to have had a part in the conquest of Primoz’s yellow. I am confident that we can hold this position.”

Adam Yates' Mitchelton-Scott team on losing the Yellow Jersey:

British climber Adam Yates’ four-day run in the yellow jersey came to an end of stage nine on the Tour de France as the general classification contenders came to the fore.

After doggedly retaining the race lead on yesterday’s first venture into the Pyrenees, the 28-year-old was eventually distanced on the final climb of the day, ending his stay at the top of the standings.

adam Yates

Adam Yates is now eighth in the GC. Sirotti photo

It was a relentless start to the stage with no breakaway forming before the peloton reached the first category Col de la Hourcère. Finally a small group edged clear as the race blew apart on the slopes and reduced the peloton to around 40 riders.

Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb) then took off solo from the nine-rider breakaway group, while the bunch behind regrouped on the descent. Team Jumbo-Visma were leading the pack and the remaining eight riders from the original breakaway were caught with 40km to go on the penultimate climb of the day.

The lone leader opened up a maximum gap of 4’30” over the peloton, but the gap soon began to fall as the pace increased on the approach to the final climb. Team Jumbo-Visma continued to drive the tempo on the ascent as the group of favourites was whittled down kilometre after kilometre.

Yates found himself alone in the leading pack with the speed too much for Mitchelton-SCOTT teammates Mikel Nieve and Esteban Chaves. It was then Yates himself who was distanced as Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates) launched an attack and the general classification hopefuls were forced to chase.

The race leader was unable to go with the change in pace and instead set his own rhythm up the climb. The GC contenders continued to attack each other over the top, with Primož Roglič (Team Jumbo-Visma) taking the bonus seconds over the summit to move himself into the race lead on the road.

Meanwhile, Yates formed part of a chase group around one minute back on the select group of favourites. Hirschi was eventually caught inside three kilometres to go by the chasing GC group, with Pogačar taking the victory in a reduced sprint.

Yates crossed the line in 15th place, 54 seconds behind to end a four-day run in the jersey as the focus now turns to hunting stage victories when racing returns after tomorrow’s rest day.

Adam Yates:
"The break didn’t go until the climb really and I did my best, I knew coming into the race that I wasn’t 100% and I gave everything I could to hang on. I think we can be proud of what we did. We’ll freshen up now on the rest day and go after some stages.

"The pace was a little bit faster [today]. Like I said, I did what I could, but there’s some guys in better condition than me, so it is what it is. It’s a big honour riding in yellow, it was good fun while it lasted.

"The next couple of days are flat, there might even be crosswinds so it could be pretty easy to lose time and then we’ll see what happens. I said from the very beginning that there’s a lot of stage in the last week that suit me quite well, wo we’ll have a go and see what we can do."

Matt White (Head Sports Director):
"It was an incredibly hard first hour, no breaks got more than five seconds, so we went into the bottom of the category one climb with the whole bunch together after 50km of racing, and then it was pretty clear that Jumbo-Visma wanted to take the stage and take the jersey.

"There were breaks that went up the road but they were all over everything for the rest of the stage and had a clear objective to take the jersey today.

"We came into this race with the objective to go hard in the first week, that turned into a yellow jersey, we kept it for a few days and now we can go back to the original plan and that’s to target some stages.

"We’ve got the rest day and a couple of easier days, the next real test for the GC guys doesn’t come until next Friday. There are some good stages for that intermediate rider on stage 12 and stage 14, but I think with Adam’s position there [on GC], it’s probably not going to be so viable until we get back into the mountains next weekend."

Marc Hirschi was third in stage nine. Here's the report from his Team Sunweb:

The final stage before the first rest day saw the peloton faced with another tough day in the Pyrenees, including several brutally steep climbs. Yet, the opening 50 kilometres were predominantly flat which resulted in an incredibly fierce battle to try and make the breakaway.

As in previous stages, Team Sunweb were incredibly active at the head of the race, with almost everyone in the team making one of the groups that looked to get clear. Despite the team’s best efforts, a breakaway wasn’t able to materialise and as the race hit the foot slopes of the Col de Soudet the bunch completely exploded. After some fantastic work from the team to position him near the front of the peloton, Marc Hirschi danced on the pedals and made his way across to a group of riders that had gone clear.

Not happy with the pace that was set, Hirschi continued to apply the pressure on the steep ramps and set off alone at the head of the race – beginning an incredible 90 kilometre long assault at the head of the race. Utilising his climbing and descending skills, he built up a lead that reached a maximum of over four minutes as the bunch regrouped behind.

Heading towards the final brutally steep climb of Col de Marie Blanque the peloton started to eat into his lead but Hirschi kept to his own pacing plan, riding within his limits. The gap continued to tumble on the steep slopes and as attacks flew from the GC contenders, Hirschi didn’t tremble, cresting the climb with an 18 second gap over the chasers.

Taking the sinuous descending perfectly, the former Development Team Sunweb rider once again built on his gap and as he hit the flat roads with five kilometres to go he held onto a 22 second lead. However, the chasing quartet used their combined power and reeled Hirschi in with two kilometres to go. Undeterred Hirschi tightened his shoes, a sign of his fighting spirit, as the stage headed towards a five-up sprint.

Sitting off the back of the group, Hirschi launched from behind in the final few hundred metres with an impressive turn of speed, taking a brilliant third place on the line; an incredible feat after his day out ahead in the breakaway.

Marc Hirschi

Marc Horschi (center) was third. Photo: Alex Broadway

“We knew that I had to focus on my plan as we couldn’t influence what the peloton did,” said Hirschi after his heroic efforts. “The only thing I could do was to focus on the plan and go as fast as possible to the finish. Today wasn’t like yesterday where they gave time to the breakaway so that’s a bit of a shame. I’m super happy about how my form is and how I’m going but now I’ve been really close to a win two times so I feel pretty sad that we didn’t win today. There are still two weeks to go so we’ll give it another go.”

Team Sunweb coach Matt Winston added: “It was a really special ride from Marc today. He committed from a long way out and pushed full gas to the finish, never giving up. He rode across to a big group and the went straightforward from that group, and ended up going solo. We didn’t really expect him to be alone in the front for so long, but in the end we just committed. We saw the gap and thought if we could get to the top of the last climb with one minute then we could make it. Marc had roughly 20 seconds at the bottom of the descent and then it came down to 12. All together we made the decision to wait, rather than being caught 300 metres from the line and getting fifth, gambling on the sprint. If they had been looking at each other behind then we would have carried on but they were working really well together so we gambled on the sprint a little bit. It was a really good effort from Marc and the guys today.”

GC third-place Egan Bernal's Team INEOS posted this report:

Egan Bernal produced another impressive performance at the Tour de France to move up to second place after nine stages.

The Colombian forced his way into an elite group of favourites on the day's final climb, the Col de Marie Blanque, with the move staying clear to the finish in Laruns.

Egan Bernal

Egan Bernal has been movin' on up. Sirotti photo

After catching lone escapee Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb) with two kilometres to go, Bernal was able to sprint to fourth, and with a number of contenders distanced on the run-in, he continued to move up the general classification.

Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates) edged out the sprint to win the stage ahead of compatriot Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), with the latter moving into the race lead. Bernal now sits 21 seconds behind Roglic as the race arrives at the first rest day.

The day began in Pau, with the INEOS Grenadiers lining up at the head of the race, joining Sir Dave Brailsford and the family of Nico Portal in a tribute to the much-missed Sport Director.

When racing began a long battle ensued to get into the breakaway. Dylan van Baarle made his way into a move on the Col de la Hourcere before Jonathan Castroviejo finally managed to get clear as part of a second group.

The peloton began to thin out on the final climb, with Bernal able to follow the attacks when they came as the GC situation changed once again.

Egan Bernal:
"I think it was a good day again. It’s not just about the time you gain and the time you lost. In this part of the race it’s important the feeling you have on the bike. The feeling I had today was better than yesterday. I’m really happy for that and I enjoyed a lot the last climbs. Realistically on the short climbs you can’t make a big difference on a climb like this. It gives me a bit of confidence looking at the next part of the race.

"I know that I have lost time to Roglic and Pogacar again, but I should be patient, stay focused and try to go day by day. Because this is a race for two more weeks and it will be hard the last 10 stages."

And Emanuel Buchmann's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this:

Five categorised climbs dotted the parcours of stage 9, from the fourth category Côte d’Artiguelouveo to the first category Col de la Horcère – the first of which looked like a mound alongside the newcomer to the Tour, which towered over it.

While the finish in Laruns, 153km later, was fairly flat, only the strongest climbers would be in a position to take the win here. With a rest day tomorrow on which to recover, it was full on from the start, with the pace high and immediate attempts to break away – including from Maximilian Schachmann – before Lennard Kämna went on up the road in a large group, the membership of which was changing every few kilometres with riders bridging across and dropping back.

Lennard Kamna

Lennard Kamna (shown winning a stage in this year's Dauphine) left the break to help his team.

Once the break decided to stick with eight riders, they set about building an advantage – albeit with a rider attacking from within this select group making things harder. While Lennard was feeling good about the break’s chances and went with the attack, it was going to be hard for a duo to last the entire stage on the front. On the descent of the Horcère, his companion on the front created so much distance that Lennard decided to drop back to the peloton to support his teammates, riding with Emanuel Buchmann, Felix Grossschartner and Gregor Mühlberger before dropping back ahead of the final climb.

The Col de Marie Blanque was tough and Emu wasn’t feeling good. The climb’s slopes averaged 8.6% over a distance of 7.7km and with its harder gradients – a massive 13.6% nearer the top – it was going to hurt. Several of the GC contenders, including the yellow jersey and Emu, were forced to ride at their own pace rather than go into the red and risk losing more time. The German rider came in with Gregor, ready to make the most of the race’s first rest day and look ahead to the coming weeks.

From the Finish Line:
"I felt really bad all day. I was at the limit already in the first climb and throughout the stage, I really gave it my all. It wasn't possible to give more." - Emanuel Buchmann

"Our plan today was that I went in the breakaway group with a two-pronged strategy, either to try my chance at fighting for stage win or help Emu in the finale if he had problems. The first part of the stage was very hard but I was able to jump into the break in the climb. When Hirschi and I were alone in front, I decided to wait for the chasing group behind us because I thought we were too far from the finish to go just the two of us. So, I went back to the group but then Hirschi rode extremely fast downhill and was able to build a very big gap that the chasing group couldn't close. Later on, the bunch caught us well before the interesting part of the stage, something that limited my options. Unfortunately, I spent my energy and it didn't pay off but at least I tried." – Lennard Kämna

"We saw already yesterday that Emu was at the limit and, unfortunately, we paid for that today. Emu was far away from reaching 100%, so we lost time in the GC. We'll have a rest day tomorrow and then keep fighting in the next stages." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director

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