Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) went clear on the descent of the day’s first climb, hotly pursued by Cannondale’s Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale), whom he dropped on the main climb of the day with just under 60km remaining. The Panzerwagen then powered to the finish to take a well deserved victory and his first Tour de France road stage.
Meanwhile, after 35km a bumper 28-man break formed behind the leading twosome which contained a number of French riders who’d slipped down the overall, in particular Pierre Rolland (Europcar) and Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol).
Gallopin had started the day 3:27 down on race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and had moved into the provisional overall lead with 70km remaining – with Astana’s blessing. The team was happy to hand over the yellow jersey into Gallopin’s safekeeping. He’s not a rider they consider a threat to the overall. The French crowd were delighted, as there will be a Frenchman in yellow on their national holiday, Bastille Day, for the first time since 2011. All the other contenders were only too happy to keep their powder dry for tomorrow’s showdown on La Planche des Belles Filles.
Adieu to yellow
It was a surprise when Nibali took the yellow jersey on the second stage. It was expected that he would surrender it on the cobbles, but he didn’t. Maybe he just wanted to silence the doubters and show he really was a Tour contender.
However, as we saw yesterday, it’s physically draining to defend the jersey day in, day out. Plus the demands on the race leader include daily doping controls, trips to the podium and interviews with the press, all of which take their toll on energy and eat into the time available to rest and recuperate. What’s important is not how many days one spends in the race leader’s jersey but whether or not one is wearing it for the valedictory ride into Paris.
Astana team director Giuseppe Martinelli confirmed:
We did not lose the jersey, we left it. It was a good move because we need to keep strength for tomorrow. It will be the toughest stage in this first part of the Tour. Before the start we couldn’t have dreamt we would lead Contador by 2:30 at this stage.
As a consequence of Astana’s gesture, the overall has been temporarily reshuffled with Gallopin at the top of the leader board, Tiago Machado (NetApp-Endura) third and Rolland eighth overall.
Riders, please note, a full spotty ensemble should be reserved only for the podium in Paris!
VeloVoices rider of the day
It has to be Tony Martin, a rider who lets his legs do the talking and who treated us to a virtuoso performance. Was there anything wider than his smile on the finish line as he recorded his first road stage victory in the Tour de France, his team’s second stage win and the fifth by a German in this Tour? He also took over the polka dot jersey and was rewarded with the day’s combativity prize.
In the 1990 Tour de France, fellow countryman Olaf Ludwig won the stage on the same day (West) Germany defeated Argentina in the World Cup final. Maybe that’s a good omen for the match this evening!
Stage 9 result
1. Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) 3:36:39
2. Fabian Cancellara (Trek) +2:45
3. Greg van Avermaet (BMC) s/t
4. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano) s/t
5. Matteo Montaguti (Ag2r La Mondiale) s/t
1. Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol) 38:04:38
2. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) +1:34
3. Tiago Machado (NetApp-Endura) +2.40
4. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) +3:18
5. Richie Porte (Sky) +3:32
6. Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) +4:00
7. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +4:01
8. Pierre Rolland (Europcar) +4:07
9. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) +4:08
10. Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) +4:13
Points leader: Peter Sagan (Cannondale).
King of the Mountains leader: Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).
Best young rider: Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).
Team classification: Astana.