Tour de France #9: Tough day in the mountains

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Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka and the rest of the peloton were in for a hard day in the Jura mountains on stage 9 of Tour de France.

Today’s stage started out with two categorized climbs within the opening 16 km. A strong group of riders quickly got away and opened up a big gap on the peloton, which seemed to be content with the situation. As the front group crowned the fifth of the day’s seven categorized climbs, the pack was nearly six minutes down. However, on the following 50 km, the distance shortened rapidly and at the bottom of the final climb, only three minutes separated the first riders from the group of the overall favorites.

On the sleep slopes towards the top of Mont du Chat, several of the GC riders tried to put in a few attacks, which thinned out the group significantly. At the top, only a handful of riders were left in the group of the yellow jersey. The biggest drama on the stage however, happened on the technical descent as Richie Porte (BMC) and Daniel Martin (Quick Step Floors) both crashed hard. Porte had to abandon the race, while Martin was able to continue.

Ultimately, the stage ended in a sprint within a very select group of favorites. Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb) first seemed to have taken the win but after a photo-finish, Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) was awarded the stage victory. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka’s Serge Pauwels paid the price for his impressive performance yesterday and crossed the line in 50th place. He’s now 32nd overall as Chris Froome (Team Sky) continues to lead the race. Unfortunately, the team lost Mark Renshaw as the Australian sprinter didn’t make the time cut. Neither did the former stage winner and French champion Arnaud Démare (FDJ) who finished in the same group as Renshaw.

On Monday, the riders will be able to enjoy a well-deserved rest day before the Tour de France continues with another stage for the sprinters on Tuesday.