The Tour de France made a triumphant return to the Puy de Dôme and its brutal upper slopes on stage 9. It was a race of two halves with the day going the way of the breakaway, but all eyes were on the GC favourites as they hit the iconic finale.
Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar) came agonisingly close to victory after almost 50 km solo, but he was caught and passed by a triumphant Michael Woods (Israel-Premier Tech) in the last 500 metres, the Canadian riding away to take a long-awaited first Tour de France stage win of his career.
On the same roads that pitted Poulidor against Anquetil in 1964, there was the inevitable boxing match between yellow jersey Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogačar, though not until the last 2 km. Vingegaard’s team laid down the gauntlet, as is their way, but it was Pogačar who capitalised in the end, accelerating hard and keeping the pressure on until his rival lost grip on his wheel. The race lead stays with Vingegaard, but by an eight-second slimmer margin – the momentum is firmly with Pogačar.
How it happened:
- Whether it would come down to a day for the breakaway or another chance for the GC favourites was a big question before the start. The first indication came with the establishment of a strong 14-man move, and as the Jumbo-Visma-led peloton let the elastic stretch towards breaking point, all signs swung in favour of those up the road.
- The breakaway worked well together until the last 60 km when the group became fidgety. Attacks continued with little respite until Matteo Jorgenson broke free just inside 50 km to go. A small chase group formed behind comprising Matej Mohorič, Neilson Powless, David de la Cruz and Mathieu Burgaudeau, with the remaining chasers still in contention about 15 minutes ahead of the peloton.
- By the foot of the Puy de Dôme, Jorgenson had found himself a minute’s advantage over the first chase group – now down to three after De la Cruz suffered a mechanical – and 1:43 to the second, the peloton still 16 minutes from Clermont-Ferrand.
- Jorgenson still had 1:20 over his nearest rival as he hit the steep final few kilometres, but there was danger behind. Mohorič was best from the chase, but it was Michael Woods who was fresher, steadily catching and passing his fellow breakaway riders littering the mountain. The Canadian finally caught Jorgenson in the last kilometre and attacked with 450 metres to go, to no response.
- As Woods celebrated, Jorgenson was continuing his heartbroken crawl to the line. And it got worse, as Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies) and Mohorič passed him in the last few hundred metres to steal the podium. “It wasn’t even the plan to be in the break today,” said Jorgenson at the finish. “But I found myself up there and you have to make a plan on the fly.”
- The anticipated GC battle got underway 15 minutes after the breakaway hit the climb. The combined efforts of Jumbo-Visma and UAE Team Emirates whittled the group down in fairly short order, leaving just eight for the showdown on the steeper slopes, Sepp Kuss and Tom Pidcock joining the top six on GC.
- Inside the last 2 km, Simon Yates (Jayco-AlUla) jumped forward, looking for a response but not really going anywhere, and then Pogačar made his move, launching a characteristically punishing acceleration with 1500 metres to go. Vingegaard was the only one who could follow, but even the yellow jersey couldn’t hold on, and he was forced to watch his arch-rival push on up the violent gradient. It was all about limiting losses for the Dane, as Pogačar continued his climb that began on stage 6, chipping another eight seconds off Vingegaard’s lead going into the first rest day.
- Michael Woods (Israel-Premier Tech) 4:19:41
- Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies) @ :28
- Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious) @ :35
- Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar) @ :36
- Clément Berthet (AG2R Citroën) @ :55
- Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) 38:37:46
- Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) @ :17
- Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) @ 2:40
- Carlos Rodríguez (Ineos Grenadiers) @ 4:22
- Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates) @ 4:39
- Stage 9’s breakaway was expected to be one of the most hotly contested of the Tour so far, but with 14 clear after only a few kilometres, it looked like it was all over. After a brief lull, attacks resumed in the bunch with interest from teams that had missed out, including Lidl-Trek and Soudal Quick-Step, determined to bring the gap close enough to jump across. But in vain. It was a 25 km-long hiding to nothing.
- Like many others, Jorgenson did a recon of the Puy de Dôme when it was opened for the pros before the Dauphiné – it’s usually only open to cyclists in the early hours of the morning, or during an annual sportive – and the American claimed the Strava KOM, so he’s likely had his eye on this climb ever since. On that day though, he gave himself only 15 kilometres of run-up in contrast to today’s 170, more than 30 of them solo at the front of the race. *sigh*
- 17 seconds separate the top two on GC, with Jai Hindley sitting 2:40 down in a comfortable third place. 22-year-old Rodríguez can be found 1:42 further down in fourth at the head of three riders within 22 seconds of one another – the other two the apparently inseparable twins Adam and Simon Yates, just three seconds between them.
- While the top two GC riders get ever closer together, it becomes more and more a fight for third in the lower standings. That said, it was a pretty good day for the Ineos Grenadiers youngsters, with Carlos Rodríguez holding fourth and Tom Pidcock leapfrogging two Frenchmen to move into seventh. Romain Bardet would have liked to do better in his locale, but he and David Gaudu both suffered on the climb, finishing over two minutes after Pogačar.
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L’Équipe recreated an iconic image of Jacques Anquetil and Raymond Poulidor in anticipation of the Tour’s return to the Puy de Dôme, last used in 1988.
Speaking of Poulidor, Mathieu van der Poel and his team paid tribute to his late grandfather with an impressive frame paint job and a special kit with details reminiscent of Poulidor’s Mercier colours. The organisers also had plans to commemorate the day.
Frederik Frison showed off an entertaining talent at this morning’s team presentation…
A pretty good finale to the last stage before the first rest day.
- Matteo Jorgenson came to the Tour to support teammate Enric Mas, but Mas’s stage 1 crash DNF forced a change of plans. Read more about the talented young American’s rise in our deep-dive profile.
- At the Giro d’Italia, Mark Cavendish announced 2023 would be his last season. But that was before he got tantalisingly close to breaking the all-time record for Tour stage wins and then crashed out. Is another season an option?
- Netflix camera crews are at the Tour filming a possible season two of Tour de France: Unchained. Iain Treloar gets the inside story.
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