2021 Tour de France S9: O'Connor won solo, Pogacar dominated the overall situation
On July 4th, the ninth stage of the Tour de France ended. Ben O’Connor (AG2RCitroën) maintained a steady rhythm in the final climb and persisted to the end to win the stage championship. Wearing a yellow jersey, Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) once again showed strong strength, crushing opponents, and once in control of the game.
The ninth stage is a "back-to-back" mountain stage with a total length of only 144.9km, but the difficulty has increased abruptly. This must be the most difficult day of the first stage. This stage contains two grade 2 slopes (2.5km, 9.4%; 5.7km, 6.5%), two grade 1 slopes (9.4km, 6.2%; 21km, 5.6%) including the top end of the mountain, and one HC Grade climbing (12.6km, 7.7%) and a sprint point on the way.
Tomorrow, the cyclists will have their first rest day, so the pace of the race may be very fast. It has to be said that the climbing difficulty of this stage is very high, and the major teams have enough space to make tactical arrangements. In addition, this mountain stage may also affect the competition for the green jersey. It is not a small challenge for a heavy sprinter to ride to the finish within the finishing time.
Before the start of the game, Primož Roglič (Jumbo–Visma), who was troubled by injuries, knew that he did not need to continue, and chose to retire, hoping that he could recover as soon as possible. And Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) consumed a huge amount of money in the previous stage, completely losing the competitiveness of the leader's yellow jersey, and also withdrew from this Tour de France. However, Mathieu van der Poel has brought us enough surprises, wearing yellow jerseys for many days to comfort his grandfather's spirit in the sky, and then he will make good adjustments to make an impact towards the Olympic mountain bike gold medal.
▲Mathieu van der Poel greeted the fans before the race, but he will not stand on the starting line today
▲Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo–Visma) put on a substitute white jersey
The race officially began. Davide Ballerini (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Harry Sweeny (Lotto Soudal) teamed up to break through 6km after the neutral ride. The Israel Start-Up Nation team led the pursuit. On a level 2 climb not far from the starting point, Davide Ballerini dumped Harry Sweeny and flew away, Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) launched an attack from the main group, Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up) Nation) and Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe) quickly followed up, and Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep) fell behind early.
The main group quickly caught up with the breakout cyclist, Pierre Latour (Total Direct Energie) sprinted to overtake, seized the level 2 climbing point, and took advantage of the trend to open the gap with the main group in the next climb. Daniel Martin (Israel Start- Up Nation) caught up with him, and the two tried to escape, but were soon led by Julian Alaphilippe. During the pursuit, the Ineos Grenadiers team suffered heavy losses. Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas were briefly left behind. Their old friend Christopher Froome was even more behind.
At this time, there was a lot of wind and rain on the field, and Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) launched an attack and brought out a small group of breakouts. The breakout cyclists started a tug-of-war with the main group in the heavy rain.
Six people, including Sonny Colbrelli, Michael Matthews (BikeExchange), and Julian Alaphilippe, once again formed a group to break through. Among them, Sonny Colbrelli successfully seized the sprint point on the way. At this time, there are several groups on the field. The breakout cyclist leads the polka dot jersey group by about 15 seconds, leads the yellow jersey group led by the UAE Team Emirates team by one and a half minutes, and the green jersey group is behind by more than 3 minutes.
After experiencing the dimensionality reduction blow of the previous stage, the GC cyclists knew in their hearts that they had to get rid of Tadej Pogacar early in the race, otherwise they would be unable to parry once they entered the mountain. The UAE Team Emirates team adopted a steady forward strategy, and the whole team protected Tadej Pogacar from chasing the cyclist in front of him unhurriedly. After 37km of the race, the 6 breakouts and 37 chasing cyclists merged into a big group, leading the Yellow Jersey Group by nearly 2 minutes.
Not long after, Sonny Colbrelli launched another attack, but he still couldn't escape the gravity of the big group behind him. Nairo Quintana accelerated to lead out Michael Woods and Omar Fraile Matarranza (Movistar) during the climb, leading the Yellow Jersey Group by 3 minutes. The race entered the first level of climbing. The performance of the Bahrain Victorious team was very eye-catching. Wout Poels, wearing a polka dot jersey, attacked in the last 101km. His goal was to win more climbing points.
Nairo Quintana caught up with Wout Poels before the climb point. The latter successfully won the first-place points for the level 2 climb point. Nairo Quintana launched a solo flight on the downhill section and speeded out. At 83km from the finish line, five cyclists desperately chased Nairo Quintana ahead on a downhill, and the Yellow Jersey Group was 6 minutes behind.
At the bottom of the slope, Sergio Andres Higuita, Ben O’Connor (AG2RCitroën) and Lucas Hamilton (BikeExchange) caught up with Nairo Quintana, and the chase group led by Julian Alaphilippe was 1 minute behind. Waiting for the cyclist in the front are two consecutive high-difficulty climbs of HC level and level 2. During the climb, Michael Woods threw off Wout Poels and caught up with the four people in front. He hoped to win the climbing polka dot jersey from Wout Poels today. There is still 75km away from the finish line, and the five breakouts lead Wout Poels by 20 seconds, 2 minutes ahead of the World Champion Group, and the Yellow jersey Group is 6 minutes 45 seconds behind.
In the tough rain battle, Julian Alaphilippe fell behind from the chasing group. Wout Poels briefly caught up with the lead five, but was quickly thrown away. Nans Peters (AG2RCitroën) and Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) retired. At this time, Ben O’Connor in the breakout group trailed Tadej Pogacar by 8 minutes and 13 seconds, leading the yellow jersey group by 7 minutes and 35 seconds. If this momentum is maintained, he will enter the leading position after the game. With 3km from the climbing point, Lucas Hamilton fell behind.
Less than 2km away from the first HC-level climbing point of this Tour de France, Nairo Quintana flew away solo, holding a 10-second advantage and successfully won the first climbing point, and the climbing points rose to the top of the list. In the last 60km, Nairo Quintana, Sergio Andres Higuita and Ben O’Connor formed the leading group, ready to start the next level 2 climb. In the last 55km, the breakout cyclist led the Yellow Jersey Group by 8 minutes and 24 seconds, and Ben O’Connor topped the virtual total score list. Soon, Nairo Quintana won the first level of grade 2 climbing point. The breakout cyclist entered the long-distance downhill section in the cold rain.
▲Level 1 climb before the end
Nairo Quintana and Sergio Andres Higuita joined forces to go downhill. Ben O’Connor failed to keep up with the two Colombian cyclists, falling behind and struggling slightly. In the last 25km, before the final level 1 climb, Ben O'Connor caught up with the two in front. Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) in the main group crashed. The chase slowed down and was 9 minutes behind the leading cyclist. Jasper De Buyst of Lotto Soudal retires.
In the last 22km, as soon as the climb was about to start, Nairo Quintana burst and fell behind. He was quickly thrown away by Ben O’Connor and Sergio Andres Higuita, completely withdrawing from the competition for the stage championship. At this time, the UAE Team Emirates team began to pursue their vigorous pursuit. Tadej Pogacar steadily moved forward under the protection of many teammates and took off his windbreaker before climbing, seemingly ready to do a big job. In the last 20km, the breakout duo led Nairo Quintana by 50 seconds and the Yellow Jersey Group by 7 minutes and 40 seconds. Can they stick to the finish line of the mountain?
With 17km away from the finish line, Ben O'Connor released his accumulated fighting spirit and shook off Sergio Andres Higuita's solo attack. Ben O'Connor was unable to win the yellow jersey today, and he is bound to give it a go for the champion of the stage. . In the last 12km, Sergio Andres Higuita is 2 minutes and 05 seconds behind Ben O’Connor, and the main group is 7 minutes and 30 seconds behind. Ben O'Connor is fully fired. The 25-year-old Australian cyclist leads the main group by 7 minutes and 45 seconds into the final 10km. If Ben O'Connor continues to expand his lead by more than 8 minutes and 13 seconds, he will wear the yellow jersey after the race.
Tadej Pogacar squeezes out his opponents, who else can face it?
Ben O’Connor continued to expand his lead and once again came to the top of the virtual total score list. At this time, the lieutenants of the UAE Team Emirates in the main group completed their tasks. Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas, Richard Carapaz and Geraint Thomas of the Ineos Grenadiers team were in front of the main group. They became the lieutenants of Tadej Pogacar in disguise. They seemed to be more anxious than Tadej Pogacar. Close the time gap.
Less than 5km from the finish line, Mattia Cattaneo (Deceuninck-QuickStep) caught up with Nairo Quintana, 4 minutes and 40 seconds behind Ben O’Connor in second place. Ben O’Connor successfully won the last level 1 climbing point. In the last 2km, Geraint Thomas began to lead Richard Carapaz, and Tadej Pogacar still maintained a stable riding rhythm. Speaking of late, then soon, Richard Carapaz launched a wave of attacks, Tadej Pogacar easily bite. After this tentative offense, Tadej Pogacar seemed to figure out his opponent's hole cards, and he shook his car directly, and relentlessly shook off the opponent who was unable to face off.
Ben O’Connor flew solo to the finish line and successfully won the stage championship, enjoying the joy of victory alone. Tadej Pogacar once again showed great strength, surpassing multiple breakout cyclists along the way, and galloped towards the finish line. In the end, Mattia Cattaneo was 5 minutes and 07 seconds behind Ben O’Connor and finished second in the stage, Sonny Colbrelli was third, Tadej Pogacar was 6 minutes and 02 seconds behind to be sixth in the stage, and Richard Carapaz was 32 seconds behind Tadej Pogacar to cross the line.
After the stage, Tadej Pogacar kept his yellow jersey and best young cyclist white jersey. Ben O'Connor rose to second in total, 2 minutes 01 seconds behind Tadej Pogacar and Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-Nippo) third . Mark Cavendish retains the sprint green jersey, and Nairo Quintana becomes the new owner of the climbing polka dot jersey. Ben O’Connor also won the Combativity award for the stage.
▲Ben O’Connor’s teammates cheered for him