Martin Wins Stage 9 of Tour de France; Gallopin Takes Yellow Jersey
Tony Martin (Omega Pharma - Quick Step - Specialized) has won Stage 9 of the 2014 Tour de France. The German broke away to victory, soloing away from a daylong escape to win the hilly, 170-km ride from Gerardmer to Mulhouse in 4:09:34. Fabian Cancellara (Trek) outsprinted Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) for second at 2:45. The break included Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol), who took enough time to become the maillot jaune.
Because of the stage’s topography—six categorized climbs but none near the finish—and the GC contenders’ desire to save themselves for Stage 10, which will be the first high mountain stage, a breakaway was on everyone’s mind. So, when after a number of abortive sallies, 30 riders got clear, the peloton did not lift a pedal to stop them. Astana decided that today would be a good day to let go of the maillot jaune, at least temporarily. So, the escapees went.
On the approach to the Category 3 Col de Wettstein, Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale) attacked his companions, and Martin joined him. The pair remained together until they reached the Category 1 Le Markstein. The German dropped the Italian and set out on his own.
With 50 km left, Martin led De Marchi by 1:45, the chase group by 3:15, and the maillot jaune group by 8:07. Seven km later, Martin led De Marchi by 2:30. The chase group included Gallopin, who begin the day 3:27 behind Vincenzo Nibali. At this point in the stage, Gallopin was maillot jaune virtuel.
With 30 km to go, Martin led the chase group by three minutes. Behind, Gallopin took a dig. With 22 km left, the Frenchman was 3:15 behind Martin, with the peloton being 8:10 in arrears.
Mickael Cherel (Ag2r-La Mondiale) joined Gallopin, but the chase group overtook them with 10 km left. The Lotto-Belisol man, however, had what he wanted—the maillot jaune.
Martin soloed home, and Gallopin finished in the chase group at 2:45. The maillot jaune group finished at 7:46, with Nibali probably not unhappy to spare his team some work by giving up the yellow jersey.
Gallopin had thought about taking the yellow jersey for several days. "After the cobblestone stage [Stage 5], I started thinking about today's stage and the possibility to take the yellow jersey,” the Frenchman said. “The team gave me the freedom to join a breakaway, although that wasn't easy. It took a while before we had a sufficient gap. I didn't have a super day, but I knew it was possible to close the gap on Nibali. I responded to all attacks, because I didn't want to miss the break of the day.
"There was nothing to do against Tony Martin. When the stage win was gone, I had to go full to enlarge the gap with the peloton. When did I start believing in it? When we reached the top of the Grand Ballon, the last climb of the day, with five minutes lead I knew yellow was within my reach. Luckily, the guys of Europcar cooperated, they rode for their leader Rolland, to take time on the peloton."
For Gallopin, wearing the maillot jaune on Bastille Day will be moving. "There's a big difference between dream and reality. But my dream came true. This is a fantastic feeling I will cherish for a long time. It's amazing to wear the yellow jersey on Bastille Day. Tomorrow it will definitely be a tough stage to La Planche des Belles Filles. I will feel today's efforts and those of the past days. I have a minimal lead on Nibali, but I have nothing to lose. My yellow dream is fulfilled and I will enjoy it tomorrow."
In the overall, Gallopin leads Nibali by 1:34 and Tibor Machado (NetApp-Endura) by 2:40. Stage 10 will be a standing shaker. The first of the 2014 Tour’s high mountain stages will be a 161.5-km ride from Mulhouse to La Planche des Belle Filles. It will feature seven categorized climbs, including five Category 1 ascents, and will end with a first category climb to the finish. The true GC contenders will reveal themselves tomorrow. Gallopin is not likely to keep his yellow jersey. Who will take it from him? Will a Frenchman win on Bastille Day? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!