It’s ironic that one of the fastest stages of this year’s 2020 Tour de France was also one that just kept building an almost slow-motion intensity on every kilometre of every climb, and all the way to the finish line. File under Heartbreak of the Solo Break, when Marc Hirschi (Sunweb) spent 90km out in front by himself, only to be reeled in 1.6km from the finish by a group that included Tadej Pogacar (UAE) and Jumbo-Visma’s Primoz Roglic. In the end, Hirschi once again lost the sprint (just like in stage 2 to Alaphilippe), with Pogacar winning and Roglic in second to take the yellow jersey from a distanced Adam Yates.
For anyone bewildered by the meandering pace of the peloton for much of yesterday’s stage, there was no doubt today that the teams meant business – one team in particular. Jumbo-Visma were having none of the break-building manouevres kicked off by Thomas De Gendt, and the first hour flew by, with almost continual attacks by riders like Peter Sagan, Julian Alaphilippe and Greg Van Avermaet – no slouches in the strength department – that couldn’t break the tractor beam of a peloton clocking around 47km/h for the first hour.
It wasn’t until the first climb, the Cat 1 Col de la Hourcère, that a break got away – and Marc Hirschi got away from that break to go solo with 90km to go in the race. With tension building, the elastic finally snapped in the GC group on the final climb, with some powerful attacks by Pogacar that only Roglic, Egan Bernal (Ineos), Mikel Landa (Bahrain) and … Trek’s Richie Porte (!) … could follow. The rest was settled under the flamme rouge.
Out in front
It was everyone pulling for Hirschi on his Lonesome Ride of Awesomeness™ – including on the almost unwatchable descents, where he was taking no prisoners. Remind us of anyone? (Fabs is also Hirschi’s agent.)
Alas, Hirschi could not help Belinda on this occasion, although I’m sure he did his best.
We’ve been here before with Pogacar and Roglic having all the feels for each other in the name of national pride – remember stage 13 of last year’s Vuelta? Today they reminded the peloton that letting one of them go could be classed as careless, but letting both of them go almost guaranteed you’d be seeing them again as you stumbled across the finish line and they were already showered and changed. Even a potential race-ending blunder by Pogacar couldn’t dampen their ardour.
The Scarlet Pimpernel?
In the red, white and yellow of the mighty ‘dis, it is Guillaume Martin who is France’s hope, now that Pinot and Alaphilippe have had a couple of mare days. Yet no one really seems to be talking about him – even though he’s third. Could he be as stealthy as the Scarlet Pimpernel and steal this race while no one was looking? (Okay, big ask, but drama, people, we want drama!)
‘We will approach the second week with as much desire and motivation.”
Yates met his match
Big and bold talk from the commentators on ITV4 and Eurosport about Yates keeping the jersey into the rest day, possibly being able to hold on to it until … gasp … the final TT and et voila! Home it would go with him! They didn’t *really* think the Jumbo Bees would allow those ski goggles to spoil their garden, did they?
Some serious hyperbole with this tweet – he took the jersey on a technicality and it was other riders who lit up the stages while he had it on his back. Not sure he proved anything out of the ordinary with that.
Bookmark ’em and use them for all the races!
The Last Word
More than a few words for Sky/Ineos DS Nico Portal, who died unexpectedly and far too young, in March. A very emotional tribute to quite an extraordinary man today before the start of the stage.
Stage 9 Top 5
1 Tadej Pogacar (UAE) 3:55:17
2 Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) same time
3 Marc Hirschi (Sunweb) s/t
4 Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) s/t
5 Mikel Landa (Bahrain McLaren) s/t
GC Top 10
1 Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +0:03
2 Egan Bernal (Ineos) +0:21
3 Guillaume Martin (Team Cofidis) +0:28
4 Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) +0:30
5 Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) +0:32
6 Rigoberto Uran (EF) same time
7 Tadej Pogacar (UAE) +0:44
8 Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) +1:02
9 Migel Angel Lopez (Astana) +1:15
10 Mikel Landa (Bahrain McLaren) +1:42
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma)
Points jersey Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe)
King of the Mountains Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R la Mondiale)
Best Young Rider Tadej Pogacar (UAE)
Most Combative of the Stage: Marc Hirschi (Sunweb)
For full race reviews, go to cyclingnews.
Official race website: Le Tour
Header image: ©AFP/ Velo Pool / GETTY IMAGES