• Heads drop as Astana crosses the finish of Stage 9 at the Tour de France (EPA)Source: EPA
Vincenzo Nibali’s defence of his 2014 Tour de France crown appears to be over after his Astana team lost significant time to rivals Team Sky and BMC on the Stage 9 team time trial.
Cycling Central

13 Jul 2015 - 8:11 AM  UPDATED 13 Jul 2015 - 9:41 AM

Stage 9 wash-up
Quintana all smiles as tough mountains approach
Nairo Quintana will head into the mountains of this year’s Tour de France with renewed confidence after his Movistar team put in a solid performance across Stage 9 of the race to help him recover from a tricky first week.
BMC wins team time trial as Froome keeps yellow
BMC beat Sky by one second to win the 28km team time trial ninth stage of the Tour de France, but Chris Froome kept the race leader's yellow jersey.

The result leaves the Italian in 13th place on the general classification, with challenging mountain stages ahead in the Pyrenees and Alps that will no doubt separate the contenders from the pretenders in the coming weeks.

Astana’s run at the 28km course from Vannes to Plumelec started well enough, but by the finish line the team had dropped two riders of its nine riders, as wellas 35 seconds to the eventual stage victor BMC and 34 seconds to Team Sky, which finished second to keep its leader Chris Froome in the yellow jersey.

Nibali now has 2min 22sec to make up on race leader Froome, which is perhaps the one mountain he is most unlikely to conquer over the stages ahead.

Froome has been in sparkling form so far, and with the memory of his Criterium du Dauphine victory fresh in most minds, Nibali’s defence would appear to be doomed.

Froome flew past BMC’s Tejay Van Garderen in that Dauphine victory, racing up the final climb to rip the winner’s jersey off the American’s back in June.

Having taken the yellow jersey earlier at this Tour than he perhaps would have liked, Froome and his team would have to make some serious errors to allow the shirt to go anywhere near Nibali.

Nibali lost his first chunk of time at this race across a windy Stage 2 from Utrecht to Zelande. He finished 1min 28sec behind stage winner Andre Greipel and the lead group containing Froome.

The tension between the pair boiled over after a crash inside the last kilometre of Stage 6, in which a mistake by Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) took out Nibali, who in turn almost toppled a passing Froome.

Troubles for Nibbles
Bus bust-up averted as Nibali clashes with Froome
Tour de France 2013 champion Chris Froome controversially stepped on to the team bus of defending champion Vincenzo Nibali after the pair finished Stage 6 overnight having to survive a late crash that resulted in a blame game.
Nibali and Quintana curse luck as rivals get the jump
Defending Tour de France champions Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) has some work to do after a blustery, wet and wild Stage 2 lost him a further 1min 28sec on the leaders.

The Italian later took his misfortune out on the Briton, allegedly throwing a bottle at him before they settled their differences in the Astana team bus post stage.

The SBS ŠKODA Tour Tracker is the ultimate TDF app experience
This year’s Tour de France on SBS will offer you more than ever before with exclusive live start to finish coverage of every stage through the SBS ŠKODA Tour Tracker.