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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, July 10, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2023 Giro d'Italia

Let your hook be always cast. In the pool where you least expect it, will be fish. - Ovid

Story of the Tour de France Volume 2

Bill and Carol McGann's book The Story of the Tour de France, Vol 2: 1976 - 2018 is available in print, Kindle eBook & Audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Tour de France stage nine reports

We posted the race organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from GC leader Jonas Vingegaard's Team Jumbo-Visma:

Jonas Vingegaard has retained the yellow jersey after the ninth stage of the Tour de France. The leader of the general classification battled with Pogacar on the flanks of the mythical Puy de Dôme and finished eight seconds behind his Slovenian rival. Vingegaard's lead is now seventeen seconds.

It was a historic day in the Tour de France. For the first time in 35 years, the peloton climbed the Puy de Dôme. At the start of the stage, it looked like the fourteen-rider breakaway group would fight for the stage win as their lead quickly grew to about fifteen minutes. Michael Woods won the stage.

A few minutes behind that group, Team Jumbo-Visma took the initiative. Wilco Kelderman, Wout van Aert and Sepp Kuss rode in the service of their leader. After Kuss had to give up on the steep sections in the final kilometres, it was up to the favourites to battle it out. Pogacar accelerated and had Vingegaard on his wheel, but eventually, the Slovenian proved too strong. However, Vingegaard refused to give in and stayed within a few metres of Pogacar. The difference on the line was small.

Jonas Vingegaard finishes stage nine. Sirotti photo

"Tadej was a little stronger at the end today”, Vingegaard admitted. "Of course, this is his favourite terrain. I managed to limit the difference to eight seconds. Luckily I'm still in the yellow jersey. We have to work hard over the next two weeks to take the jersey to Paris. It's an intense battle at the moment. The Puy de Dôme is a pretty tough climb. The last few kilometres are quite steep. There is no time for a breather. It wasn't my best day on the bike. Tomorrow's rest day is welcome, but that will be the case for everyone. I think my best days are still to come in this Tour de France.”

Vingegaard continued: “When we studied the route of this Tour de France, we quickly concluded that the second and third weeks contain several stages that suit me well. In the first block up until the rest day, this was not so much the case. The fact that we now have the yellow jersey is more than satisfactory. I would have preferred to be on Tadej's wheel for the last two mountain stages, but I can live with the way this Tour de France is going. Everyone was at their limit today. I gave everything I had, not least because my family was up on the mountain.”

Kelderman and his teammates took the initiative in the bunch of favourites and did an excellent job. "I think we rode excellently. We made the race hard on the final climb. Together with Wout and Sepp, we accelerated on this brutal but beautiful climb. In the end, Jonas lost a few seconds, but we don’t worry too much about it. This course is not tailor-made for him. It suits Pogacar much more. Jonas prefers some long and hard climbs. That kind of terrain is coming up in the Alps. First, we will enjoy the rest day with the team. They are always welcome during a grand tour”, Kelderman said.

"We decided to give the breakaway some space”, said sports director Grischa Niermann, explaining the battle plan. "In terms of the standings, this group lacked notable competitors. But we wanted to keep the pace high from the start on the final climb. Pogacar finally attacked with just over a kilometre to go. Of course we would have preferred to gain time, but we can live with this minimal gap. It was not a typical mountain stage; we saved our legs all day for a relatively short effort on the final climb. This stage suited Pogacar a little better than Jonas, but for us it was not a stage that could have made a big difference. We are in an excellent position at the moment. The guys are all healthy and in good shape. We are looking forward to the remaining two weeks”, Niermann said.

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Here’s the report from Jai Hindley’s Team Bora-hansgrohe:

With the Puy de Dome, one of the most iconic climbs of the Tour returned after 35 years. A big group broke away early and was almost over 10 minutes ahead of the bunch. In the end Michael Woods took the stage win from the break while behind an epic GC battle ensued. Jai Hindley was in a select group of favorites entering the hardest section of the final climb with 4km to go. He started to struggle on the last 3km and was dropped from a group of 5 riders but still was able to ride a good pace. Tadej Pogacar was the strongest of the GC favorites today and gained 8 seconds on Vingegaard while Jai finished 1:14 minutes down but still is sitting comfortably in 3rd overall.

Here's where the stage finished, near the summit. Sirotti photo

“It was a tough day and a really hard final climb, super steep and unforgiving. The temperature also played its role and I suffered a lot on the Puy de Dome. I didn’t have the best legs today and felt I need to ride my own race. I didn’t hang on to the guys as long as I could but let them go and paced myself to the finish. That worked out well and I am quite happy with the outcome of the day.” – Jai Hindley

“It was of course difficult after a few flat stages to climb up a wall like the Puy de Dome today. The team did a great job in positioning Jai at the beginning of the climb and after that it was up to the legs. I think Jai didn’t have his best day today but still he did very well. He limited his losses and now we all are looking forward to the first and well deserved rest day.” – Christian Pömer, Sports Director

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Here's the report from Fabio Jakobsen's Team Soudal Quick-Step:

Puy de Dôme (13.3km, 7.7%), the mythical climb which witnessed a memorable victory of Federico Bahamontes at the 1959 edition and an epic duel between Jacques Anquetil and Raymond Poulidor in front of hundreds of thousands of fans fifteen years later, returned at the Tour de France after 35 long years as the first ever climb in the Massif Central ranked as Hors Catégorie.

Just like in 1988, the last time it was visited by the race, the day belonged to the breakaway, Michael Woods (Israel-PremierTech) taking the victory from the large group at the front after surging away in the last kilometer of the race. For the sprinters it was another brutal day which they had to overcome to remain in the game, and that included Fabio Jakobsen, who put once again an admirable effort together with his Soudal Quick-Step teammates, making it inside the time limit with plenty of time to spare.

The day's first breakaway, from which stage winner Michael Woods emerged. ASO photo

The Tour de France takes a break now for a rest day in Clermont-Ferrand, the hometown of Rémi Cavagna, before resuming on Tuesday with a medium mountain stage to Issoire.

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And here’s the report from Mark Cavendish’s Team Astana Qazaqstan:

It was a shocking day for Astana Qazaqstan Team after its leader Mark Cavendish abandoned the Tour de France after breaking his collarbone in a crash amid the peloton with 60km remaining on stage 8.

“This really hurts. Especially one day after coming so close to a stage win. It’s like this, we need to accept it, but it’s hard after all the sacrifices he did to get to his current level. He had a fair good chance to win a stage in this Tour. In last Giro he crashed more often and in the end he won a stage, now his first crash immediately ends in a nightmare for him”, said Team Manager Alexandr Vinokurov.

Mark Cavendish at the start of stage eight. Sirotti photo

“Every day he felt better, he was such a motivator for his teammates. He was responsible for the team spirit in the race but at the dinner table as well. It’s a huge disappointment for Cav but for all cycling fans as well. Everybody wanted to see him win a 35th stage”, continued Alexandr Vinokurov.

Mark Cavendish broke his right collarbone but because of the fracture an osteosynthesis screw in the acromioclavicular joint (being there since his crash in the 2017 Tour de France) became loose and is floating in his shoulder, causing extra pain. Cavendish returns to England on Sunday where he will undergo surgery later. He was too disappointed to comment for the moment.

For Astana Qazaqtan Team, the race goes on with six riders after earlier in the race also Luis Leon Sanchez crashed out with a broken collarbone.

“We need to change our strategy from now on. Today will be hard for all of us but we still have two weeks ahead of us. We will go in the breaks and try to win a stage. For Mark. I hope we will see him soon back in the race. Now it’s too early to say something about his race program. For sure, in my opinion, his career cannot end here. I crashed out in the Tour of 2011 but I came back to win Olympic Gold one year later. It would be nice if Mark comes back to the Tour for a 15th time and win that 35th stage. We joked already about it yesterday evening”, concluded Alexandr Vinokurov.

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