Tour de France 2017: Chris Froome stays in yellow, Rigoberto Uran wins stage nine

Rigoberto Uran

Warren Barguil (left) was pipped on the line by Rigoberto Uran

Britain’s Chris Froome retained the leader’s yellow jersey as Colombian Rigoberto Uran won an action-packed stage nine of the Tour de France.

Frenchman Warren Barguil cried tears of joy after thinking he had won but a photo finish showed Uran nicked it.

Geraint Thomas, one of Froome’s key helpers, crashed out of the race, breaking a collarbone.

Race contender Richie Porte also crashed on a mountain descent and was taken to hospital in a neck brace.

BMC Racing team doctor Florence Pommieur later said that Porte did not lose consciousness and the neck brace was fitted as a precaution.

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Barguil initially thought he had won – this photo shows he didn’t but he did end the day in the polka dot jersey

Tough day claims its casualties

Sunday’s stage comprised seven climbs – three of them in the hors categorie denoting the most difficult type in the race.

Sections of the 8.5km climb up the Grand Colombier were at 22%, while the descent down Mont du Chat where Porte crashed was regarded as extremely treacherous.

No wonder many had predicted that the 181.5km stage from Nantua to Chambery would be the toughest stage of this year’s Tour – and it certainly claimed its share of victims.

The stage wasn’t all that old before Dutchman Robert Gesink – who finished second on Saturday – and UAE Emirates rider Manuele Mori abandoned after crashing.

Thomas – who wore yellow for the first time in the Tour after winning the opening time trial in Dusseldorf – crashed on the descent of the Col de la Bliche after a surprising but effective attack off the front from the AG2R La Mondiale squad of general classification rider Romain Bardet threatened to blow the race wide open.

Word had come through that Thomas had broken his collarbone by the time the race had reached the treacherous down slopes of Mont du Chat.

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BMC sports director Fabio Baldato said that Porte never lost conciousness

Porte was travelling at 72km/h when he got his line wrong and skidded across the inside of a left-hand bend before bouncing into the path of Dan Martin and bringing down the Irish rider.

While Porte lay on the ground receiving medical attention, Martin remounted and carried on with the descent.

And while 193 riders started the stage, there will be just 181 at the start of stage 10 after eight missed the time cut, finishing the stage almost an hour after Uran.

They included French national champion and stage four winner Arnaud Demare, who has been struggling with illness, Dimension Data’s Mark Renshaw and Quick-Step Floors rider Matteo Trentin, who was caught up in the crash that ended Thomas’ race.

A good day for Froome

It wasn’t a perfect day for Froome, who lost his key lieutenant in Thomas, but he fended off the few attacks launched against him and eventually extended his overall race lead to 18 seconds.

A large group broke away from the off and the scattered remains held off until their resistance was finally broken on the final climb and subsequent descent of the stage.

Froome was in a group of five that eventually caught Warren Barguil with 2km to go and they powered to the line, with Colombian Uran claiming the narrowest of wins, despite his gears malfunctioning.

But Froome collected four bonus seconds for finishing third and took time out of his major rivals, including Nairo Quintana, while two-time Tour winner Alberto Contador, who struggled badly towards the end, now trails by more than five minutes.

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Froome (1) and Aru (51) were part of a five-man group that left the peloton behind and chased down breakaway rider Warren Barguil (143)

‘I found a good moment and attacked’

Froome’s most alarming moment came when Italian Fabio Aru, who is now second overall, launched an attack on the climb up Mont du Chat.

The race leader could be seen furiously signalling for his team car while Aru – and several of the other general classification contenders – shot up the road.

But it is regarded as poor form to capitalise on a mechanical failure and the others refused to help Aru, with Froome soon rejoining them.

“I want to thank the other riders, who did not attack,” said Froome.

“Richie Porte was quite instrumental in slowing that group down, saying this is not the time to attack the leader of the race, so thanks to Richie and I hope he makes a speedy recovery.”

Aru denied trying to take advantage of Froome’s mechanical problems.

“Today, we planned to attack, we had to do it far from the top of the final climb. Thus, I found a good moment on the Mont du Chat and attacked,” said the 27-year-old.

“Honestly, I did not see the moment when Froome had a mechanical problem. I was fully concentrated on my attacking moment.

“Later, I was told by radio that Froome had to stop because of a mechanical. So, I stopped as well to wait for him.”

Shortly after Aru’s attack, Froome had a slight collision with the Astana rider, but the Briton said it was simply a balance problem, rather than retribution.

“I didn’t see him attack there, I just lost the handlebars,” he said.

Who needs a rest?

After nine stages that have taken the riders through four countries, over countless lumps and bumps and across 1,596.5km, the riders get a day off on Monday.

The Tour transfers from the Alps in south-east France to the Dordogne in the west before resuming on Tuesday with a largely flat 178km race from Perigueux to Bergerac. It should be ideal for the sprinters.

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Stage 10 should suit the sprinters

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Stage nine result:

1. Rigoberto Uran (Col/Cannondale) 5hrs 07mins 22secs

2. Warren Barguil (Fra/Sunweb) Same Time

3. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky)

4. Romain Bardet (Fra/AG2R)

5. Fabio Aru (Ita/Astana)

6. Jakob Fuglsang (Den/Astana)

7. George Bennett (NZ/LottoNL) +1min 15secs

8. Mikel Landa (Spa/Team Sky) Same Time

9. Daniel Martin (Ire/Quick-Step)

10. Nairo Quintana (Col/Movistar)

Selected:

11. Simon Yates (GB/Orica)

General classification after stage nine:

1. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) 38hrs 26mins 28secs

2. Fabio Aru (Ita/Astana) +18secs

3. Romain Bardet (Fra/AG2R) +51secs

4. Rigoberto Uran (Col/Cannondale) +55secs

5. Jakob Fuglsang (Den/Astana) +1min 37secs

6. Daniel Martin (Ire/Quick-Step) +1min 44secs

7. Simon Yates (GB/Orica) +2mins 02secs

8. Nairo Quintana (Col/Movistar) +2mins 13secs

9. Mikel Landa (Spa/Team Sky) +3mins 06secs

10. George Bennett (NZ/LottoNL) +3mins 53secs

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/40550183

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