BMC prevailed on a short but tricky team time trial, but couldn’t quite steal the maillot jaune from the shoulders of Chris Froome. The last two teams to hit the course, BMC set a benchmark pace that took its toll on Sky, causing their fifth man, Nico Roche, to unhitch just yards from the line. However, the Irishman dug deep to limit the loss and helped keep Tejay Van Garderen out of yellow.
Rider of the Day
Difficult as it is to select a single rider from a team time trial, I really felt for Nico Roche today. Cracking so close to the line, it would have been very easy to give up, but he fought on, didn’t lose heart and somehow hauled himself over the finish line along with his four teammates. It’s easy enough to remark that Nico’s slower time cost Sky the stage (although what about the other four who got dropped earlier?), but I admire his determination and commitment to the cause when he was so obviously on the rivet.
Three Things We Noticed
1. Safety in limited numbers Orica GreenEDGE have suffered terribly over the opening days of Le Tour. Stage 3 in particular was a terrible day for the team, with Simon Gerrans and Daryl Impey breaking bones and Michael Matthews crashing hard, having to ride all week wrapped like a mummy. Follow that up with Michael Albasini breaking his arm in stage 6 and you can imagine just how glad they’ll be to have a rest day to lick their wounds and recover. Usually fierce contenders in team time trials (they won the last Tour TTT in 2013), the Australian outfit took it steady today so as not to lose Bling off the back. Hopefully they’ll be back stronger and challenging for stages after tomorrow’s breather.
2. Big Four No More? Although they held the fastest time for a short while, Astana didn’t have the stage they were hoping for, with Nibali losing a further 30sec to Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana. At a hefty 2.22 down on Froome, it’s pretty clear that the defending champion will need something very special to pull himself back into GC contention this week. More worrying for him, however, was the loss of strong riders relatively early into the time trial, suggesting that his team won’t have the same firepower in the mountains as they did in May when they were fighting Contador in the Giro.
3. Colombian hopefuls Far from being a bad start to the Tour, Quintana will be quietly satisfied with the last few days of racing. Having been caught out in echelon action on stage 2, the diminutive climber has held his own over terrain that should really have put him under pressure. Today’s result saw him take back nearly 30 seconds from Contador, which certainly gave him something to smile about.
Meanwhile, another familiar face has been stealthily consolidating a nice platform from which to mount a potential podium challenge. Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-QuickStep) now sits a mere 1:18 off the lead, exhibiting some good form – well, if we notice him. As the likes of Greg van Avermaet and Peter Sagan drop out of the top 10 once there are mountains to climb, the one we call Jagger will be in a great position to capitalise.
NB: While I certainly noticed Sagan’s green/camu skinsuit and Katusha’s fluorescent feet, I really don’t think I can bring myself to talk about them.
Stage 9 result
1. BMC 32:15
2. Sky +0:01
3. Movistar +0:04
4. Tinkoff-Saxo +0:28
5. Astana +0:35
1. Chris Froome (Sky) 31:34:12
2. Tejay van Garderen (BMC) +0:12
3. Greg van Avermaet (BMC) +0:27
4. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) +0:38
5. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) +1:03
6. Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-Quick Step) +1:18
7. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +1:50
8. Geraint Thomas (Sky) +1:52
9. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +1:59
10. Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-Quick Step) +1:59
Points leader: Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo).
King of the Mountains leader: Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka).
Best young rider: Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo).
Team classification: BMC.
Link: Official race website