Tour de France 2013 Stage 9
Saint-Girons to Bagnères-de-Bigorre 169km

The 100th Tour de France concluded its visit to the Pyrenees with a classic five-col day, with the mountains long, steep, and spread out evenly on the route. The ride started in Saint-Girons and finished 169km later in Bagnères-de-Bigorre. No summit finish, but with the pain expected to be handed out every kilometer, a weary chase was less likely to gobble up any attack that survived the final summit. Adding to the difficulty was the fact that tomorrow is the first rest day of the Tour; few will need to hold back.

With many top riders taken out of contention by poor rides yesterday, and teams shut out of the prize bounty thusfar eager to make an impression, there were going to be few gifts today.

Cannondale Pro Cycling had one objective for the day. Do everything possible to get Peter Sagan to the line at the intermediate sprint at Bagneres-de-Luchon 73km into the stage. Chances are, his rivals for the Green Jersey won't be able to contest, and if he can get points, he'll pad his lead in that race.


Sure enough, the pace was hot from the start. Attacks went, were neutralized, and then some more. Sagan was in the mix. The first summit, the Col de Portet d'Aspet was contested by a large group and Arnold Jeannson of FdJ beat Garmin-Sharp's Dan Martin for the points.

The pressure remained on. And neither Sagan nor any of his rivals for the Maillot Vert could hang with the leaders. The race for points wasn't going to experience any drama today.

Martin's teammate Ryder Hesjedal, who came into the race as a possible contender, and now way out of the running, went on the attack. He was joined by Pierre Rolland of Europcar who was sitting second on the King of the Mountains classification, but wearing the Polka-Dots of the best climber, as overall leader Chris Froome can only wear one jersey at a time. They led a huge break away from the field, but with the overall race far from decided, the peloton didn't let them go.

At the intermediate sprint, the break took most of the places, and the Yellow Jersey group of Chris Froome led the rest. Strikingly, Froome's Sky team, all powerful yesterday was all but a ghost today. His top lieutenants, chief among them second-placed Richie Porte, were having a disastrous day and nowhere to be seen.

With Froome isolated, the Movistar team of third-placed Alejandro Valverde and wearer of the Maillot Blanc Nairo Quintana kept the pressure on. They didn't want Porte to come back and hoped to wear Froome out on the final climbs.

Onto the last climb, the category one La Hourquette d'Ancizan, Movistar ate up the remainder of the break. Mission accomplished for Rolland, who won enough points to reclaim the dots. For Movistar, taking the lead gave Quintana a free hand to start attacking the lead group, both shedding riders off the back and testing the legs of Froome. Froome responded to every acceleration, as did Contador and Valverde. When Quintana turned off the jets, Garmin's Martin attacked. Jakob Fuglsang of Astana waited a few seconds and followed. As neither were direct threats to Valverde or Quintana, Movistar let them go.

Over the summit, with 31km remaining, Martin and Fuglsang had a 46 second gap. They rocked the descent and kept going. Team Belkin, thinking of their men Laurens Ten Dam and Bauke Mollema, whose positions in the overall were threatened by Martin, sent Robert Gesink to the front to chase. As Gesink received very little help from anyone, the gap only slowly came down. Into the final kilometer, it wasn't enough, and Fuglsang and Martin had time to slow down for tactical games before Martin jumped to the right side of the road and won easily. The chase group came in en masse, with Michal Kwiatkowski of Omega Pharma-Quickstep leading the bunch gallop.

As the dust settled, the overall standings shifted. Froome stayed in Yellow, with Valverde moving into second and Mollema third. For their efforts, Martin moved up to eighth and Fuglsang twelfth.

Peter Sagan came in with a large grupetto, a group of riders looking to finish within the time cut, 22:45 down on the winner. His lead in the Points Competition remained unchanged.

As he cooled down, Sagan seemed to rue his day, if just a little bit. "I was a little stupid at the start, I attacked too much in the opening kilometers. I wanted to go to the breakaway, but Sky kept the race close, and then on the first climb I went to the breakaway, and there were too many leaders at the front so my move was wiped out. After the first hour, I was little better, I recovered a little, and then I was with the grupetto and it was ok." 

Tomorrow will be more recovery time, as the race has a rest day. The riders will sleep in, catch up on social media, put in a few hour ride and enjoy sleeping in one bed for two nights. Cannondale Pro Cycling will need all the rest they can get, as Tuesday's stage, 197km from Saint-Gildas Des-Bois to Saint-Malo is one for the sprinters. There are lots of little ups and downs, so paying attention and staying near the front is the only way to make sure gaps don't open.


Tour de France 2013
Stage 9: Saint-Girons to Bagnères-de-Bigorre 169km

Stage Results

1. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp                                   in 4:43:03             
2. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team                         ar same time
3. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step      0:00:20             
4. Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha                           same time
5. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha                           same time


Stage Results Cannondale Pro Cycling

85. Fabio Sabatini (Ita)                                                            0:22:43
104. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita)                                             same time
105. Peter Sagan (Svk)                                                            same time
111. Kristijan Koren (Slo)                                                      0:25:12
118. Alan Marangoni (Ita)                                                       same time
124. Moreno Moser (Ita)                                                        same time
140. Maciej Bodnar (Pol)                                                        0:26:20
144. Brian Vandborg (Den)                                                    same time


General Classification

1. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling                        36:59:18           
2. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team            0:01:25             
3. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team                0:01:44             
4. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team            0:01:50             
5. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff                      0:01:51           


General Classification Cannondale Pro Cycling

76. Peter Sagan (Svk)                                                              0:52:01           
81. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita)                                               0:54:02           
88. Kristijan Koren (Slo)                                                        1:00:13           
103. Moreno Moser (Ita)                                                        1:10:38           
110. Alan Marangoni (Ita)                                                       1:14:20           
116. Fabio Sabatini (Ita)                                                          1:18:06             
117. Maciej Bodnar (Pol)                                                        1:18:56           
154. Brian Vandborg (Den)                                                    1:40:10           


Points Competition

1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling                 234 pts
2. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol                                       141       
3. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step           128       
4. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha                                      111       
5. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step      90