• Marc Hirschi of Team Sunweb during Stage 9 of the Tour de France (Getty)Source: Getty
Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb) took his second podium finish of the 2020 Tour de France, this time hauled back in the final kilometres by the general classification riders.
SBS Cycling Central

7 Sep 2020 - 4:13 AM  UPDATED 7 Sep 2020 - 4:20 AM

A clearly emotional Hirschi was inconsolable after the finish of Stage 9 of the Tour, after working so hard throughout the stage he had just come up short in the final dash to the line.

"I feel pretty sad, I was so close," said Hirschi. "On the last climb I did really believe I could go for the win, they came so fast. But then at the end to be beat so close in the sprint... yeah, I'm pretty sad.

"I knew my victory on this stage was not up to me, but to the peloton. I could only focus on my pacing."

After only just being beaten by Julian Alaphilippe on Stage 2 of the race, Hirschi led the way on the mountainous stage, cresting the final climb with 15 seconds advantage and 19 kilometres remaining to the finish.

"I went full gas on the descent," said Hirschi. "With three kilometres to go, my (team) car told me to wait for the guys, try for a bit of recovery and beat them in the sprint. But just... just.. Pogačar was strong in the sprint.

Hirschi was active in the early breakaway attempts before finally jumping free of the peloton for good along with Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe), six kilometres from the summit of the Col de la Hourcère.

Kämna soon faded falling back to a chasing group containing Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates), Warren Barguil (Arkea-Samsic) and Sebastian Reichenbach (Groupama-FDJ). Gaudu and Daniel Martinez (EF Education First) bridged to this group and set off to chase Hirschi.

It would prove to be a futile chase as the 22-year-old Swiss rider was too strong, in addition to being technically proficient on the descents from the climbs. He hit the base of the final climb of the day, the Col de Marie Blanque, with over three minutes advantage on the chasing peloton, but the 7.7-kilometre, 8.6 per cent gradient climb would prove to be a massive obstacle to maintain the Swiss rider's lead. 

He was doing well until the first attack from eventual stage winner Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) brought the group of favourites rapidly towards him in pursuit but he managed to crest the summit in first, about 15 seconds ahead of the chasers.

Hirschi began a rapid descent from the col, taking aggressive lines through the corners in an extreme aero position.

He pushed out his advantage to 30 seconds by the base of the descent, with still a false flat uphill to the finish of six kilometres left to negotiate. 

The GC riders were keen to take time on their rivals, so worked well together and set a searing tempo in pursuit of Hirschi. He was steadily losing ground and would likely have been caught with about a kilometre to go, so the team car gave him the call to drop back to the chasers and save his legs for the sprint. 

He tried to get the jump from the rear of the group with 250 metres to go, but the length of the sprint meant he faded slightly on the run to the line and Pogačar was able to come round him to take the win, with Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) beating out Hirschi for second place.

Porte nearly hangs onto winning group, moves up on GC
Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) was on good form during Stage 9 of the Tour de France, nearly matching it with the best climbers, finishing just behind new yellow jersey wearer Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma).
Slovenian pair dominate stage as Pogačar takes the win with Roglič in yellow
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.

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.