• AG2R bossed the day, particularly on the descents. Local knowledge helped a lot. (getty)Source: getty
Romain Bardet (AG2R) has emerged as the major GC beneficiary from the chaotic and crash-ridden Stage 9 of the Tour de France.
By
Kevin Eddy

10 Jul 2017 - 10:12 AM  UPDATED 10 Jul 2017 - 10:13 AM

Bardet, whose AG2R team was instrumental in driving the ferocious pace on the slippery, technical descents of the Jura, leapt from seventh to third on the general classification, 51 seconds behind race leader Chris Froome. He also took fourth on the stage; a result he was somewhat disappointed with as he had hoped to take a hometown victory.

 

"I was hoping for a lot from the descent off the Mont du Chat," said Bardet. "I am disappointed because we absolutely made the race the way we wanted it, but that just wasn’t enough.

I am in a virtual podium position. But there are still tons of big battles awaiting us in the Pyrenees and in the Alps."

AG2R was a key aggressor throughout the stage, with the team's local knowledge allowing them to push hard on the the Col du Biche in particular.

"I did think of taking the yellow jersey while I was descending," added Bardet. "It is a dream of mine to wear it one day, but I could not take it by surprise. We’ll have to go and get it pedal stroke for pedal stroke, but I was not far from being able to do so today.”

 

The GC winners

Chris Froome said Stage 9 would blow the GC wide open ahead of the stage, and he wasn't wrong. Indeed, the Sky rider was one of the beneficiaries of the stage, extending his lead over Fabio Aru (Astana) by four seconds. However, the loss of key lieutenant Geraint Thomas may cost Froome later in the race.

Despite Dan Martin being involved in the huge crash that ended Richie Porte's race, and then crashing again on a neutral service bike on the descent of the Mont du Chat the Irishman acquitted himself handsomely elsewhere in the stage.

He came in 1m15s after the leaders, securing sixth on GC at 1m44s. While victory may be out of reach (but who knows in this chaotic Tour?), he remains a sold podium contender.

Martin was also scathing about the parcours of Stage 9 while warming down.

"It was so slippery," said Martin. "I guess the organisers got what they wanted. It was so slippery under the trees. I was very, very lucky to get away as lightly as I did."

Kiwi George Bennett is having the ride of his life, finishing the stage alongside Dan Martin to claim tenth on GC (3m53s back). If the 27-year-old can continue to ride 'full-throttle' (his words) for the rest of the race, he's on track for a superb placing. He has indicated that his focus is on the GC.

 

The GC losers

The biggest losers were, obviously, Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte. Running second and third respectively, both riders crashed heavily on slippery corners and were forced to abandon the race. Thomas suffered a broken collarbone, while Porte has fractured one of his collarbones and his pelvis.

 

Nairo Quintana showed yet again that attempting the Giro-Tour double in the modern era is doomed to failure, slipping off the back of the elite bunch on the ascent of the Mont du Chat. He now sits eighth, 2m13s behind Froome.

Finally, Alberto Contador (Trek Factory Racing)'s hopes of a Tour victory disappeared. Contador crashed twice and lost a sizeable chunk of time on the Mont du Chat, finishing more than four minutes back and sliding out of the GC top ten.

"Today has not been a good day," said Contador. "It is secondary to say what is hurting me the most; simply the legs have not been as I would have liked and that's all.

"Now we have to think first of all about where I stand, and then, based on that, rethink the race."