• Chris Froome after stage 9 of the 2018 Tour de France (Getty)Source: Getty
For all the sound and fury of the day with its multiple crashes and mechanicals, most of the big GC contenders finished the day relatively unscathed and with minimal time losses.
By
Cycling Central

16 Jul 2018 - 10:28 AM  UPDATED 16 Jul 2018 - 3:40 PM

But the results sheet belies the formidable performances some of the major contenders unleashed on a brutal day. 

The main favourites (The Froome group) finished 27 seconds behind stage winner John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo). Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) finished just seven seconds later. 

The Chris Froome group (all finished the stage @ +27 seconds)

Team Sky - Froome and Thomas

The language coming out of the camp prior to today's stage was never laced with trepidation. Sky were up to the mental game of the pavé and it showed in their performance.

The team barely put a foot wrong, its biggest misstep was Gianni Moscon's crash with 45 kilometres to go, taking down Froome who flew dramatically over the handlebars. But he was back swiftly on again and easily paced back into the main bunch. 

WATCH: Chris Froome's crash on Stage 9

"I'm fine," Froome said of the crash. "Just one of those things some gravel going into a cobbled section." 

Sky often drove the pace but it took its toll.  

“It was tough because there were times where we were in front and we did push on a little bit," Froome said. "But we also knew there was a long way to go."

In his post-stage interview, former classics specialist Geraint Thomas looked like a kid at Christmas. 

"It was just a series of sprints into every sector and then it was just hard on it all day from kilometre zero. It was only three and a half hours full gas. 

"It's a weird one: in Roubaix everyone races for the win but in this you've got (riders with) team mates who don't want to ride because they've got GC guys behind. 

"When the three guys went I was maybe six or seventh wheel and I was "maybe i could go" but I decided to wait maybe if i'd gone though everyone would've followed anyway."

"We were unlucky to lose Gianni to that crash and Luke through a puncture in all of two seconds. But (we got) through unscathed."

Where they sit now on GC:

Thomas: +43 seconds. Froome: +1:42. (59 seconds separate the pair)

Injury report:  

No major injuries confirmed at this time despite the crashes of Moscon, Michal Kwiatkowski and Egan Bernal.

Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott)

Unlike Team Sky's DS Servais Knaven, Mitchelton-Scott director Matthew White made no secret he wasn't a big fan of the cobble stage. But the team performed as strongly as Sky. 

Yates was only troubled by mechanicals and crashes happening around him and his team built for the classics brought him back to the main GC bunch every time. 

“It was about what we expected really," Yates said. "It was a big group of GC guys there at the end.

“The guys looked after me really well. There was a couple of sections there where guys had mechanicals or punctures and we were caught behind but they worked to bring me back. It was a great performance by the guys, we didn’t lose any time so it was a good day.

His Aussie team mates and classics specialists Luke Durbridge and Mathew Hayman had nothing but praise for their GC leader.

"Yatesy did it himself too," Hayman said. "Hats off to all those GC guys who were up there. That was a full on...that was a Roubaix and we helped him out a couple of times but he put himself there."

Unlike Thomas, Durbridge couldn't contain his excitement about a style of race he relishes. 

"F**k! Good day! (Yates is) a bike racer so it's nice to have a guy like that who just sacrifices everything and gives his all and all we can do is be there to support him.

WATCH: a classic interview with Aussies Luke Durbridge and Mathew Hayman

Where he sits now on GC:

+1:42. (on the same time as Chris Froome)

Injury report:  

None. 

Movistar - the Landa, Quintana, Valverde triangle 

Mikel Landa's crash

Some pundits weren't expecting Nairo Quintana to perform well on the rough stuff. But he finished with the favourites - including Froome and Vincenzo Nibali - in the equivalent stage in 2015 and raced Dwars door Vlaanderen with Alejandro Valverde earlier this year. 

So it was no surprise he performed excellently along with Valverde to finish in this group. 

“We got through a very difficult stage for us, and rode really focused, the entire team," the Colombian said.

"I had some sort of problem at the one of the early sectors and we had to go on the pursuit, but thanks to my team mates, I could bridge back.

"After that, I always remained near the front, doing things well, in a very diffcult terrain for us against such talented specialists. I hope to make this gap up in the mountains, because my legs feel great at the moment."

Team mate Mikel Landa wasn't so lucky. At 33 kilometres to the finish, he hit a pothole with one hand on his bike, the other holding a bidon and came down hard. But the Spaniard fought hard to get back to the Romain Bardet pack, finishing just seven seconds behind his team mates. 

“I’m happy, because we got through a very difficult situation," Landa said. "My team mates were impressive after my accident, and not only pushing there for me but also during the whole stage: taking care of us three. I can’t credit them enough for their incredible job."

Where they sit now on GC:

Valverede +1:31 (11 seconds ahead of Froome). Landa +1:42 (same time as Froome). Quintana +2:50 (1:08 behind Froome). 

Injury report:  

Juan Jose Rojas abandoned the race after crashing with Richie Porte, suffering a blow to his left shoulder. Later testing showed no fractures. Landa's bruised and battered with any serious injuries not yet confirmed. 

Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates)

After his crash on Stage 8, the Irishman could barely get up the stairs of his team bus. But he and his team safely nursed his injuries through the stage, a major feat he finished at all let alone finishing with the main GC contenders. 

“That was incredibly hard and I have a new level of respect for the guys that ride Paris-Roubaix," Martin said. "It was an amazing experience and – in a strange way – I loved every minute.

"It would have been nicer without all the crashes, but at the end of the day my bike was faultless, we made it to the finish line and we’re still in the fight for the podium.

"Even after the crash yesterday, the team still believes in me 100%, so I have to give it everything. I stayed relaxed and composed, made sure I ate and drank before the cobbled sections and hung back when I needed to, knowing that the team would help me pick my way back to the front when the time was right.”

Where he sits now on GC:

+3:22 (1:40 behind Froome)

Injury report:  

None for the team on the day. 

Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb)

The Dutchman sounded disappointed the stage wasn't harder.

“I was one of the strongest of the GC guys today and so I hoped for more differences on GC.

"There was a lot of head wind out there so it came back together all the time. I started with hoping to make differences today, but that didn’t work out.”

Where he sits now on GC:

+2:03 (21 seconds behind Froome)

Injury report:  

Sunweb's Nikias Arndt hit the tarmac not far from home but he is said to be OK. 

Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida)

He floated over the cobbles in 2014's Tour and performed strongly at the Tour of Flanders this year. No surprise he finished here. But only after fighting back from a split caused by a crash with 67 kilometres to go. 

“Fortunately we managed to retrieve," Nibali said. "Then I stayed at the front, but it was really hard because everytime we were on the cobblestone sectors everybody pushed to take it at the front and the speed was always high.

"It was a hard day. I’m tired, but happy"

Where he sits now on GC:

+1:48 (6 seconds behind Froome)

Injury report:  

None confirmed for the team at this time. 

LottoNL-Jumbo - Primoz Roglic and Steven Kruijswijk 

The team experienced a major crash with sprint star Dylan Groenewegen, but other than fighting back after a Steven Kruijswijk puncture, the team got their GC leaders safely to the line with the main contenders. 

“It went very well," Kruijswijk said. “You have to keep fighting all day and for every cobblestone section you have to be in the front. The team worked really well for me today. I was feeling good and that’s nice. I’m glad that this stressful week is over and that we are now heading into the Alps. I’m looking forward to it.”

Where he sits now on GC:

Roglic +1:57 (15 seconds behind Froome). Kruijswijk +2:06 (24 seconds behind Froome)

Injury report:  

No serious injury confirmed for Groenewegen. 

Jakob Fuglsang (Astana)

WATCH: Fuglsang's crash

The Dane chased back to the main bunch after he came down in the crash that held up the likes of Nibali at 68 kilometres to go. 

"I wanted to get more from today, to take some time from my rivals. I just gave my best, fought until the finish line and in the final I was a bit empty. That’s how it was. Anyway, I think I did a good race and I am still there"

Where he sits now on GC:

+1:33 (9 seconds ahead of Froome). 

Injury report:  

Fuglsang's key classics helper Michael Valgren came down with Porte and rode much of the stage looking like he'd wrestled a bear. No serious injury is confirmed at this time. 

Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) [finished @ 34 seconds]

Much was expected of Bardet on this stage given his performance at the Strade Bianche this year and his participation at the Dwars door Vlaanderen in addition to his team bursting with classics talent like Oliver Naesen and 2018 Paris-Roubaix runner up Silvan Dillier.

Bardet was let down by mechanicals, personally suffering several punctures and other issues. But his own cobbled competency and his high calibre team mates saw him finish within seven seconds of the main contenders. 

“I wanted really to race, but I had three punctures and we constantly had to chase from behind," Bardet said. "Luckily we managed our efforts, we did not panic, I certainly have world-class teammates.

"I knew that the guys in front of us couldn’t be going faster. It’s a miracle that I’m still in the thick of the race. I did not puncture once during the reconnaissance. It’s no one’s fault, just bad luck.

"It’s a shame because I really was having a lot of fun. These are the types of stages that write the legend of our sport."

Where he sits now on GC:

+2:32 (50 seconds behind Froome). 

Injury report:  

None. 

Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First-Drapac) (finished the stage @ 1:55)

The worst affected by the cobbles was Uran who came down with around 30 kilometres to go. 

“There was a crash, but it was saved thanks to the team,” said Uran. “We had to change bikes because my bike broke, and after we had to chase.

“I have injuries all over, but we’re used to that,” he added. “I’ll recover and we’ll keep working.”

Where he sits now on GC:

+2:53 (1:11 behind Froome). 

Injury report:  

No serious injuries confirmed at this time. 

Summary of GC - major contenders

Thomas: +43 seconds (59 seconds ahead of Froome)
Valverde: +1:31 (11 seconds ahead of Froome)
Fuglsang +1:33 (9 seconds ahead of Froome).
Yates: +1:42
Froome: +1:42
Landa: +1:42
Nibali: +1:48 (6 seconds behind Froome)
Roglic: +1:57 (15 seconds behind Frooome)
Dumoulin: +2:03 (21 seconds behind Froome)
Kruijswijk +2:06 (24 seconds behind Froome)
Bardet: +2:32 (50 seconds behind Froome)
Quintana: +2:50 (1:08 behind Froome)
Uran: +2:53 (1:11 behind Froome)
Martin: +3:22 (1:40 behind Froome)

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