TOUR’21 Stage 9: O’Connor Captures a Tour Stage!
Stage win and nearly overall lead for the Australian
Stage Report: Another wet, cold and crazy day in the mountains of the 2021 Tour de France. A big break rode away through the rain to build up a good lead, then it split leaving Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroën) and Sergio Higuita (EF Education-Nippo) at the front for the Australian to add to his Giro d’Italia stage win. Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) easily took care of his yellow jersey.
A hard fought and deserved win for Ben O’Connor
– The final kilometre of Stage 9 and read our full report and pics below:-
Ben O’Connor impressively won Tour de France stage 9 to Tignes. The Australian AG2R Citroën rider was part of a gigantic leading group, he survived the selection to hit the final climb with Sergio Higuita and Nairo Quintana. Tadej Pogačar’s yellow jersey was never in danger.
Stage 9 profile
Tour boss Christian Prudhomme describes stage 9: “We had promised that we would rapidly return to Tignes to erase the frustration of the missed rendez-vous of 2019. The Tour will respect its word by going up the Col du Pré for the second time and of course the majestic Cormet de Roselend before heading up the long final ascent that sneaks up under the dam all the way to the Val Claret.”
Not a good day for Jumbo-Visma – Primoz Roglič didn’t start stage 9 and Wout van Aert couldn’t hang on to the GC group
The Tour de France lost two big names before the start of stage 9. Jumbo-Visma and the injured Primož Roglič decided not to start, while Alpecin-Fenix and Mathieu van der Poel left the Tour to prepare for the Olympic Games. In rainy conditions, Davide Ballerini and Harry Sweeny were the first attackers of the day, but they were caught on the Côte de Domancy. There was then another move by riders who had lost time during the week. World champion Julian Alaphilippe and KOM, Wout Poels, with others, were off the front. A real escape didn’t get away, but the peloton broke into pieces. Michael Matthews and Sonny Colbrelli ought for the intermediate sprint: the Italian beat the Australian.
The leaders this morning in Cluses: Dylan Teuns (Bahrain – Victorious), Wout Poels (Bahrain – Victorious), Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates), Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) and Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma)
UAE Team Emirates took control of the peloton and let a 43-man breakaway pull away to take more than 5 minutes. Poels, Alaphilippe, Sepp Kuss, Dylan van Baarle, Daniel Martin, Michael Woods, Bauke Mollema, Patrick Konrad, Guillaume Martin, Sergio Higuita, Warren Barguil, Nairo Quintana, Matej Mohoric, Dylan Teuns, Esteban Chaves, Jakob Fuglsang, Omar Fraile, Pierre Latour and Pierre Rolland. The best placed rider up front was Cofidis climber Martin, just over 7 minutes from the yellow jersey.
Another wet day for the Tour
On the Col des Saisies (9.4km at 6.2%) it was Poels who tried to go solo, but he had Quintana behind him just before the top. The Colombian also wanted the mountain points and forced Poels to the limit, but the Dutchman just held out. On the descent towards the Col du Pré (12.6 km at 7.7%) they were joined by Woods, Higuita, Ben O’Connor and Lucas Hamilton. The group of Alaphilippe and Mollema followed on the wet descent at 1 minute and the peloton at 6.
Has Tadej Pogačar recovered from stage 8?
It was a hard day for everyone
The Col du Pré was the first Hors Category climb of this Tour. The six leaders managed to extend their lead over the pursuers. Of the attackers, O’Connor (14th at 8:13 from Pogačar) and Poels (15th at 8:51) were fairly well placed in the standings, but the Dutchman couldn’t keep up with the pace. Woods, Higuita, Quintana, O’Connor and Hamilton were left at the front. The Colombian from Arkéa-Samsic had a good day, taking the 20 points at the top and taking over the lead in the mountains classification.
The World champion, Alaphilippe, was in the break again
Pogačar has a good time cushion in the overall
In the peloton it was too fast for Wout van Aert on the Col du Pré; the 2nd overall was dropped. In the leading group it was Woods who let his three fellow escapees go on Cormet de Roselend. Because UAE Team Emirates made no move, O’Connor was in the virtual yellow jersey on that climb. The Australian from AG2R Citroën watched as Quintana once again took the mountain points on the Roselend.
Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) was having a good day
Nairo Quintana was also looking good, until…
The three were 3 minutes ahead of Woods at the top and 8 minutes ahead of the yellow jersey group. The three were not together for long, because Higuita and Quintana took risks on the descent and left O’Connor behind. However, the AG2R Citroën rider fought back.
Pogačar had more teammates with him today
Early on Montée de Tignes (21km at 5.6%) Quintana suddenly blew, leaving O’Connor and Higuita together. Their lead over the Pogačar group was reduced to 7 minutes due to work by UAE Team Emirates. Somewhere in between, there was also a group including Guillaume Martin, Ruben Guerreiro, Sonny Colbrelli, Patrick Konrad and Mattia Cattaneo, but they had no chance for the stage victory.
Sergio Higuita and Ben O’Connor dropped Quintana
Pogačar never looked worried
O’Connor attacked 17 kilometres from the top and left Higuita. In no time the Australian had a lead of more than 2 minutes over his former break companions and was taking time on the GC group who were not pulling too hard. The virtual yellow jersey came close again. When INEOS Grenadiers took over the elite group, the difference went down again.
Not many left in the peloton
INEOS were keeping a close watch on Pogačar
Geraint Thomas and Jonathan Castroviejo, in the service of Richard Carapaz, rode a solid pace in the group, in which Wilco Kelderman, Jonas Vingegaard, Enric Mas, David Gaudu, Alexey Lutsenko and Rigoberto Urán were also there.
It was Ben O’Connor’s day
Thomas was in better form today, but Pogačar was unstoppable
Meanwhile; O’Connor was more than 4 minutes ahead of Mattia Cattaneo. The Italian turned out to be the best of the chasing group and passed Quintana and Higuita on the steepest section. For 25-year-old O’Connor, the stage win over Tignes marks the fifth victory of his career. At the end of last year, with NTT Pro Cycling, he won a mountain stage in the Giro d’Italia.
O’Connor went solo
Could he take yellow?
Stage winner and 2nd overall, Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroën): “Just to be taking part on the Tour de France in the first place is a dream. Then, to achieve a victory like this one is excellent, a great reward to everyone who has supported me over the years: my girlfriend, my parents, my best friend in Australia, and all my friends in Girona… It’s been a wild ride. This is so fulfilling – so much joy. When I crossed the line, I couldn’t hold my tears. I’m thankful to AG2R Citröen. They have put so much faith in me this year. I wasn’t meant to be on the break. But I saw there was a big group going up the road and I crossed to join it. I didn’t know what to do, if it was better to play it cool… but then I reckoned it was not only a chance to gain time and move up some places on the GC, but also for the win. I love these gruelling days. Maybe I suffered a bit on the descents, but it went well in the end. I knew that, if I stayed on a steady pace and didn’t get cramps, I would win the stage. Not panicking was also key, because if you think you are about to win a stage in the Tour de France… A lot of things are going to cross your mind!”
Stage win and nearly the yellow jersey
No yellow, but stage and 2nd overall
Overall leader and 6th on the stage, Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates): “The weather today was really bad – even worse than yesterday. It was super cold, raining all day… I’m sure a lot of guys suffered today. I’m happy to be over it and that there is a rest day tomorrow. I am more worried about the warm stages that are coming than about the cold ones today and yesterday as I suffer more on hot days. [Ben] O’Connor was super strong today – congrats to him! Towards the end of the stage I was scared towards that I might lose the yellow jersey just the day before the rest day… I’m happy to keep it.”
No problem for Tadej Pogačar
Tour de France Stage 9 Result:
1. Ben O’Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën in 4:26:43
2. Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 5:07
3. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious at 5:34
4. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis at 5:36
5. Franck Bonnamour (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM at 6:02
6. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
7. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) INEOS Grenadiers at 6:34
8. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma
9. Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar
10. Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education-Nippo
11. Nairo Quintana (Col) Arkea-Samsic at 6:38
12. Ruben Guerreiro (Por) EF Education-Nippo at 6:47
13. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) BORA-hansgrohe
14. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 7:32
15. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech at 7:36
16. Patrick Konrad (Aut) BORA-hansgrohe
17. Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Bahrain Victorious at 7:59
18. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
19. Geraint Thomas (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 9:41
20. Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R Citroën at 10:23
21. Aurélien Paret Peintre (Fra) AG2R Citroën
22. Pierre Rolland (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
23. Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
24. Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) INEOS Grenadiers
25. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo at 11:15.
Tour de France Overall After Stage 9:
1. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates in 34:11:10
2. Ben O’Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën at 2:01
3. Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education-Nippo at 5:18
4. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma at 5:32
5. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) INEOS Grenadiers at 5:33
6. Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar at 5:47
7. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) BORA-hansgrohe at 5:58
8. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech at 6:12
9. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis at 7:02
10. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 7:22
11. Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Bahrain Victorious at 8:38
12. Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 11:38
13. Aurélien Paret Peintre (Fra) AG2R Citroën at 11:54
14. Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain Victorious at 20:54
15. Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) BikeExchange at 22:22
16. Nairo Quintana (Col) Arkea-Samsic at 24:25
17. Franck Bonnamour (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM at 25:07
18. Wout Poels (Ned) Bahrain Victorious at 25:59
19. Louis Meintjes (RSA) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux at 26:40
20. Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma at 27:23
21. Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) INEOS Grenadiers at 32:23
22. Sergio Henao Montoya (Col) Qhubeka-NextHash at 32:51
23. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo at 36:00
24. Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech at 36:06
25. Ruben Guerreiro (Por) EF Education-Nippo at 36:57.