Samuel Sanchez Wins Ninth Stage of Tour de France 2011 after Long Breakaway

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07/10/2011| 0 comments
by AP and Roadcycling.com
Team Rabobank's Luis Leon Sanchez Gil wins stage 9 of 2011 Tour de France. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Team Rabobank's Luis Leon Sanchez Gil wins stage 9 of 2011 Tour de France. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.

Samuel Sanchez Wins Ninth Stage of Tour de France 2011 after Long Breakaway

Spanish rider Luis Leon Sanchez won Sunday's crash-marred ninth stage of the Tour de France after forming part of a long breakaway in the mountains, while Frenchman Thomas Voeckler took the yellow jersey.

Spanish rider Luis Leon Sanchez won Sunday's crash-marred ninth stage of the Tour de France after forming part of a long breakaway in the mountains, while Frenchman Thomas Voeckler took the yellow jersey.

Voeckler finished the stage in second place and took over the race leader's jersey from Thor Hushovd.

The 27-year-old Sanchez is second overall, while Australian Cadel Evans is third overall.

"I'm so happy to win this stage as it was important for me and my whole team," Sanchez said through a translator. "It was really a hard stage today. The roads were thin the whole day long."

Veteran Kazakh rider Alexandre Vinokourov abandoned the race after crashing near the halfway point of the 208-kilometer (129.2-mile) trek from Issoire to Saint-Flour in the Massif Central.

Spanish rider Juan Antonio Flecha was hit by a car late on, and took down Dutch rider Johnny Hoogerland with him as he flew sideways off his saddle. Both recovered and continued the stage.

"Even before the accident a lot of cars brushed right past us," Sanchez said. "I understand that guests want to have a close look at the race, but we need to get a message across to the organizers so that the drivers are more careful."

Flecha did not speak to reporters as he boarded the team bus, but Sky team manager Dave Brailsford is considering making a formal complaint.

"We might bring the matter forward tomorrow, but tonight we are not making comments," he said.

Defending champion Alberto Contador fell early on, but the Spaniard was unharmed and rode on.

The 32-year-old Voeckler once defended the yellow jersey for nine days during the 2004 Tour, but he could not match Sanchez as he turned out of a corner and accelerated in the last 300 meters.

"These are good times. I wouldn't have bet on taking the yellow jersey today," Voeckler said. "Time passes and I appreciate this one even more."

Frenchman Sandy Casar finished third, and all three had been part of a breakaway early in the stage.

Flecha and Hoogerland had also formed part of the same early break, but their chances of a stage victory ended with about 36 kilometers to go when the car swerved into Flecha's side.

Hushovd had worn the yellow jersey since his Garmin-Cervelo team won last Sunday's team time trial, but the burly sprinter looked tired as he rolled over the line several minutes behind Voeckler.

This year's Tour has already seen several spectacular crashes, but none as wild as those on Sunday.

Vinokourov, who has said he will retire from cycling at the end of the season, was caught in a heavy crash that sent him and about 30 other riders tumbling like a house of cards. Several other riders retired as well.

Vinokourov was carried back up a small bank by an Astana teammate and staff member. They had rushed to his aid as he lay momentarily next to a tree, and helped him up on his feet by putting their arms around him.

Contador, having survived that early scare, stayed bunched

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