• Tadej Pogačar wins Stage 9 of the 2020 Tour de France (Getty)Source: Getty
Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) won Stage 9, after splitting up the race on the final climb of the Col de Marie Blanque then sprinting to the win from the elite group that formed. Roglič finished just behind his countryman in second, enough to take the yellow jersey.
By
SBS Cycling Central

7 Sep 2020 - 12:59 AM  UPDATED 7 Sep 2020 - 1:12 AM

A group of four favourites, Pogačar, Roglič, Mikel Landa (Bahrain McLaren) and Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) hauled in early escapee Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb) in the final two kilometres then fought it out for the win in the sprint. Hirschi sprinted first, but Pogačar got in his slipstream and was able to pass in the final 30 metres to claim the win, with Roglič pipping Hirschi on the line. 

“It’s really crazy... after that hard day to win the stage," said Pogačar. "Thanks to the teammates, they did a really good job all day. I’m really happy to pull it off."

"I actually wanted to gain as much time as possible but in the last 800 metres I knew that the stage win is ten seconds also. I was focusing for the sprint and I don’t know what happened, I just went full-gas sprinting."

Pogačar's win came in the peloton's first return to Laruns since 2018, when Roglič won into the same town. The Slovenian pair nearly came to grief on top of the Col de Marie Blanque as they overlapped their wheels when attacking over the top of the steep ascent.

“Primož is a really good winner," said Pogačar, "he’s won here before and he’ll win more again. I hope we can do together great things."

“I’m really happy with what I’ve done so far. Only one stage (Stage 7 where he lost over a minute in the crosswinds) was a little bit of a mistake. We take two stages, so it’s really good so far."

For the opening 50 kilometres, the peloton put their foot on the throttle, many riders attempting several attacks including bigger names like Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Dan Martin (Israel Start-up Nation), Remi Cavagna,  Julian Alaphilippe (both Deceuninck-QuickStep), Matteo Trentin (CCC), Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo), Hirschi, Soren Kragh Andersen, and Tiesj Benoot (both Team Sunweb). But each move was chased hard and nothing stuck. 

Finally, Dylan van Baarle (INEOS Grenadiers), David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), Warren Barguil (Arkea-Samsic), Carlos Verona (Movistar), Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), got up the road a little on the Col de la Hourcère.

Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Hirschi formed the first real move up the road, six kilometres from the summit of the Hourcère, but Kämna soon faded falling back to a chasing group containing Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates), Barguil and Sebastian Reichenbach (Groupama-FDJ).  Gaudu and Daniel Martinez (EF Education First) bridged to this group and set off to chase Hirschi.

Hirschi crested Hourcère in the mist alone, leading his pursuers by just over a minute and the peloton by a minute and a half. 

With 28kms to go, Robert Gesink and four remaining Jumbo-Visma teammates set a brutal pace for Roglič as the main bunch approached the final climb. 

Tadej Pogačar attacked on the steepest inclines of the Col de Marie Blanque with 20.5 kilometres to go, initially going solo with Dumoulin chasing. Dumoulin faltered and Primož Roglič, Mikel Landa, Egan Bernal and Richie Porte bridged over to the young Slovenian.

The quintet continued to grind their way up the steep sections to the summit of the climb, with Pogačar surging over the top, looking the wrong way and nearly crashing as Roglič passed him to claim the second time bonus in place on the KOM, cresting just 15 seconds after the early escapee Hirschi. 

Porte was dropped by the final attack, falling back to a chasing group that included Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic), Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale), Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Guillaume Martin (Cofidis).

Hirschi's descending skills were on display as he built a lead out to 30 seconds on the downhill. Once down into the valley, the Roglič group steadily ate into Hirschi's advantage, catching the Swiss rider with two kilometres remaining.

Hirschi was the first to launch the sprint, attacking from the back of the group with Pogačar latching onto his wheel and then stepping out to sprint to the win. Roglič just passed Hirschi on the line for second, meaning the yellow jersey would pass from Yates to him.

The group of Porte finished 11 seconds behind the front group, with the yellow jersey of Adam Yates coming in 54 seconds behind the winner.

The Tour de France continues after the rest day with a pancake flat stage on the western coastline of France from Île d’Oléron to Île de Ré. Watch the action on SBS, with the race starting on the SBS ŠKODA Tour Tracker at 9.20 AEST and the broadcast beginning at 9.30 AEST on SBS VICELAND, switching to SBS HD at 10.30pm.