Tour de France wrap for w/e 15th July
Degenkolb claims 1st Tour de France win on favourite terrain
Two years after suffering a career-threatening accident, former Paris-Roubaix champion John Degenkolb claimed his maiden Tour de France win on his favourite terrain when he tamed the cobbles and powered to victory on Sunday’s ninth stage.
The German, who won the Queen of the Classics in 2015, was one of three riders to jump away from the main pack 19km from the line and he was the fastest in the final sprint, beating overall race leader Greg van Avermaet of Belgium.
Another Belgian, Yves Lampaert, took third place after a 156.5-km ride from Arras featuring 21.7km of bone-shaking cobbled sectors, some of them featuring on the Paris-Roubaix route.
“It is very emotional, I went through such a difficult period so today is pure happiness,” said Degenkolb, who suffered several fractures and a serious finger injury after he and some team-mates were hit by a car during a training ride in January 2016.
Frenchman Warren Barguil, a former team-mate of Degenkolb’s who was also in the 2016 accident in Spain, said: “Everybody was saying he was finished, I’m so happy for him.” Among the contenders for the overall win, last year’s runner-up Rigoberto Uran lost one minute 28 seconds on his main rivals after crashing about 30km from the finish. Australian Richie Porte pulled out after an early crash.
Monday’s first rest day, after an 800-km transfer by plane to the Alps, will be much appreciated by the riders, who crossed the line in Roubaix, their faces covered by a mixture of dust and sweat after three and a half hours in scorching heat.
Four-time winner Chris Froome crashed but recovered to finish with the other main general classification contenders.
Porte was forced out of the race with a suspected broken collar bone after crashing before the cobbles arrived.
Trek Segafredo's Degenkolb, Van Avermaet and Lampaert broke clear with 20km to go and, although Van Avermaet had to settle for second, the Belgian now leads Team Sky's Geraint Thomas by 43 seconds in the yellow jersey.
Degenkolb was forced to lead out the sprint but the German had enough power to hold off Van Avemaet and Lampaert and claim his first Tour stage victory.
The stage across the north of France contained 15 cobbled sections, with Froome running wide on the entrance to the eighth sector and tumbling over his handlebars on to a grass bank alongside team-mate Gianni Moscon.
However, with 45km to go at that point, the Team Sky leader had enough time to rejoin the main group and is now up to eighth overall, while fellow Briton Adam Yates, riding for Mitchelton-Scott, is ninth.
They are both one minute and 42 seconds behind BMC Racing's Van Avermaet. Degenkolb has pedigree on the pave. He won Paris-Roubaix in 2015, the famous one-day cobbled classic known as the 'Hell of the North', and this stage followed a similar route.
The route from Arras featured 21.7km of cobbled sections, in which the climbers had to grind their way to the finish. There were scares and crashes, but defending champion Froome, his lieutenant Geraint Thomas as well as Spain’s Alejandro Valverde, twice runner-up Nairo Quintana, Dutchman Tom Dumoulin and 2014 champion Vincenzo Nibali all escaped unhurt.
“It’s a big relief to get through that stage, the guys did a great job keeping me and Geraint safe, chapeau to them. I’m looking forward to the rest day tomorrow,” said Froome, who finished 27 seconds behind stage winner John Degenkolb.
“The GC (general classification) guys got through. Richie crashed out before the first section, it’s never nice to see a rival go like that.”
The best-placed overall contender is Thomas, who is second and 43 seconds off the pace.
“It’s a good position to be in,” Froome said. Colombian Uran dropped down the rankings to 22nd, 2:53 behind Van Avermaet while France’s Romain Bardet is 17th, 2:32 off the pace. “I had misfortunes today with the punctures but the legs are good and it’s a good sign before the Alps,” the Frenchman said.
Stage 9 result
1. John Degenkolb (Ger/Trek-Segafredo) 3hrs 24mins 26secs
2. Greg van Avermaet (Bel/BMC Racing) same time
3. Yves Lampaert (Bel/Quick-Step Floors)
4. Philippe Gilbert (Bel/Quick-Step Floors) +19secs
5. Peter Sagan (Svk/Bora-Hansgrohe) same time
6. Jasper Stuyven (Bel/Trek-Segafredo)
7. Bob Jungels (Lux/Quick-Step Floors)
8. Andre Greipel (Ger/Lotto-Soudal) +27secs
9. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor/Team Dimension Data) same time
10. Timothy Dupont (Bel/Wanty-Groupe Gobert)
General classification after stage nine
1. Greg van Avermaet (Bel/BMC Racing) 36hrs 7mins 17secs
2. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Sky) +43secs
3. Philippe Gilbert (Bel/Quick-Step Floors) +44secs
4. Bob Jungels (Lux/Quick-Step Floors) +50secs
5. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar) +1min 31secs
6. Rafal Majka (Pol/Bora-Hansgrohe) +1min 32secs
7. Jakob Fuglsang (Den/Astana) +1min 33secs
8. Chris Froome (GB/Team Sky) +1min 42secs
9. Adam Yates (GB/Mitchelton-Scott) same time
10. Mikel Landa (Spa/Movistar)
(Sources: BBC Sports, Reuters, Sky Sports).
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