Martin Wins Stage 9 of Tour de France
Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) has won Stage 9 of the Tour de France. Martin took a two-up sprint from Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) to win the mountainous, 168.5-km ride from Saint Girons to Bagneres-de-Bigorre in 4:43:03. Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) towed home the maillot jaune group at 0:20, and Chris Froome (Sky) remains the maillot jaune.
From the start, the racing was aggressive. A series of attacks occurred before 15 riders got clear on the Category 1 Col de Mente. The break included Steve Morabito (BMC); Arnold Jeannesson (Francaise des Jeux); Jesus Hernandez (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff); Mikel Nieve and Gorka Izaguirre (both from Euskaltel-Euskadi); Yury Trofimov (Katusha); Pierre Rolland (Europcar); Jonathan Castroviejo, Ruben Plaza, and Rui Costa (both from Movistar); Ryder Hesjedal, Tom Danielson, and Martin (all from Garmin-Sharp); and Maxime Mederel (Sojasun). Cadel Evans (BMC) was dropped, but he would get back on. Richie Porte (Sky), Froome’s lieutenant, was dropped and would cross the finish line at 17:59, falling from second to 33rd on GC. At the summit, the break led the bunch by 0:55.
On the descent, Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Leopard) and Evans rejoined the maillot jaune group. In that group, Froome found himself without teammates. They had paid for yesterday’s efforts, and one rider, Peter Kennaugh, crashed early in the stage and spent many km attempting to rejoin the maillot jaune group, while Vasil Kiriyienka finished out of the time limit. Movistar and Garmin-Sharp were in the break in numbers, and the two squads pressed their advantage.
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) attacked on the descent, but Froome caught him. Castroviejo waited for his captain, while Perez attacked from the maillot jaune group. Perez’s move split the group, but Froome was able to follow the attack. The stage now had five leaders: Hesjedal, Rolland, Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM), Bart De Clercq (Lotto-Belisol), and Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale).
On the lower slopes of the Category 1 Col de Peyresourde, the five leaders led the maillot jaune group by 0:48. Five km from the summit, De Gendt was dropped. Three km later, Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEdge) attacked from the maillot jaune group and vaulted into the lead. At the base of the Col du Val Louron-Azet, the Australian led the chase group by 0:30 and the maillot jaune group by 1:45. Five km from the summit, he led Rolland, De Clercq, and Bardet by 0:20.
Behind, Porte, who was less than 2:00 behind the maillot jaune group, attempted to rejoin that group. When the Movistar men in the group realized it, they accelerated to distance the group from the Aussie. With 53 km left, the Rolland group joined Clarke. Fourteen km later, the four leaders were 0:20 ahead of the maillot jaune group.
At the base of the day’s last climb, the Category 1 La Houquette d’Ancizan, Bardet attacked, but the maillot jaune group, which had already reeled in his erstwhile companions, caught him with 38 km left. Five km from the summit, Martin made his move, and Fuglsang joined him. At the summit, the pair led the maillot jaune group by 0:45.
A determined chase and series of attacks would have put paid to the break and might have put Froome in difficulty. Neither was forthcoming, however. Martin and Fuglsang cooperated well until the last km, when they began playing cat and mouse, Fuglsang led out the sprint, but Martin jumped the Dane with 250 m left.
Garmin-Sharp had planned its aggression. According to directeur sportif Charly Wegelius, “The whole team was committed from the beginning. Jack Bauer was the first to attack and the first to be dropped. I told [the journalists] the Tour wasn’t [over], and that’s what we saw today.”
Martin said that the last 30 km were hard, but that having a breakaway companion and knowing the course helped him. “I knew the last 30 km of the stage, and I was lucky Fuglsang came with me,” the Irishman said. “I don’t know if I would have survived alone. We gave everything we could. Legs were hurting at the end. It was an incredible day for us. From the very beginning, we had David [Millar] and Jack in the break.
“I knew that last corner was crucial and that I would be the faster sprinter, but you never know what is going to happen.”
Read Roadcycling.com's April interview with Martin here.
In the overall, Froome leads Valverde by 1:25 and Bauke Mollema (Belkin) by 1:44. Tomorrow will be the Tour’s first rest day. On Tuesday, the Tour will move to Brittany. The riders will tackle a flat, 197-km run from Saint-Gildas-des-Bois to Saint-Malo. A sprinter should win this stage. Who will it be? Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)? Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano)? Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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