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TdF’12 St.9: No Limit For Sky!

Stage Report: Today’s test against the clock was always going to be the stage Bradley Wiggins would show his fortй, but by how much? Who would lose and who would gain time today was the question and the big winner was Chris Froome who leapt over Zubeldia, Menchov and Nibali and onto the podium. A big day for team Sky; the Sky is the limit!

41.5 time trial kilometres from Arc et Senans to Besanзon, the course has a slight rise to the first time check in Abbans-Dessus at 16.5 kilometres followed by a couple of undulations to the second time check in Avanne-Aveny at 31.5 kilometres, it’s technical in places with narrow, twisting roads and river bridges.

Stage 9 preview from IGMarketsCycling

The Early Starters
Not much of a surprise that the early race leader was Tony Martin of Omega Pharma – Quick-Step, he started at 11:57 and topped the leader board with a time of 53:40 for the 41.5 kilometres, the World TT champion was also the fastest at all the intermediate time checks; at 16.5 kilometres his time was 22:16 and then after 31.5 kilometres it was 40:49, which is very good considering he had a puncture not long after the start. The others top finishers were; Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) 54:09, Jeremy Roy (FDJ-BigMat) 54:16, Gustav Erik Larsson (Vacansoleil-DCM) 54:19, Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) 54:32, David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) 55:38 and Steven Cummings (BMC) with 55:47.

Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan) was out to make his mark and was second to Martin at the time checks, 9 seconds at the first and 13 seconds at the second behind his German counterpart. At the finish Voigt came in second with a time of 54:08, just 1 second faster than Westra. Andriy Grivko (Astana) pushed in to the top ten with 54:22 and Philippe Gilbert (BMC) with 55:11.

Next up for a good ride was Christophe Riblon (Ag2r-La Mondiale) who came in just faster than David Millar with 55:21. Alexandre Vinokourov rode a fine race to finish with 55:11 which was fractionally faster than Gilbert, but both of them were shunted down the order by Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) who finished in 55:03.

The green jersey of Peter Sagan didn’t look fast (or very happy), finishing in 58:10, he did point out: “today’s a day I didn’t have to do anything. Goss and Greipel I think will be my biggest competitors for the point’s jersey.”

Fabian Cancellara was solid, but he was pounded by the Sky duo of Froome and Wiggins.

Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) had been tipped by many to do a winning ride here and he launched himself to the first check in a time of 21:37 which took 39 seconds out of Tony Martin. On the way to the second check (31.5 km) the flying Swiss TT champion caught Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) for 3 minutes and recorded another fastest time (at this moment) of 39:40 and went on to record the fastest time, so far, of the day with 52:21 which was 1:19 quicker than Martin.

French time trial champion; Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) did a great 1st section ride in 21:44 only 7 seconds slower than Cancellara, as did Chavanel’s team mate; Peter Velits with 21:50. Sky’s Michael Rogers was also up there with 22:16, the same time as Tony Martin, after 16.5 kilometres.

Chavanel went through the 2nd check in 40:06, 26 seconds down on Cancellara, Velits at 40:25, 45 seconds down and Rogers in 41:12. At the finish Chavanel’s time was 52:48, Velits in 53:23 and a slowing Michael Rogers with 54:45.

The Top Twenty Hit the Road
First of the top 20 down the ramp was Pierre Rolland (Europcar), he will need to watch his place to stay up there. Out on the course Andreas Klцden (RadioShack-Nissan) was going well with a time of 22:05 at the 1st check, but not as fast as the new intermediate leader Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) with 21:34. Klцden was still going well at the 2nd time check with 40:28, but Tejay Van Garderen caught Ivan Basso and set the new fastest time of 39:38 and the young rider’s jersey back. Klцden finished with 53:33 and Van Garderen eased on the final section for 52:30, 9 seconds slower than Cancellara. Astana’s Janez Brajkovic was also on a good day, always in the top 6 throughout and finishing with 53:50.

Chris Froome of Sky was out for a strong ride he set a new 1st intermediate time of 22:01, at the second check his time was fastest at 39:18 and at the finish was the new leader with 51:59 with a fantastic ride.

The GC Top Five Overall at the Start:
Wiggins at 00
Evans at 10 secs
Nibali at 16 secs
Menchov at 54 secs
Zubeldia at 59 secs.

The Top Five on the Ramp
Haimar Zubeldia (RadioShack-Nissan) is 1 second off 1 minute behind Bradley Wiggins on the overall, he won’t be taking any time today, but needs to limit his losses, especially as he has a load of strong riders snapping at his heels on GC, his 1st check of 22:01 was good but not great.

Denis Menchov (Katusha) is in a similar position to Zubeldia in that he needs to watch his back, 21:59 is OK. The Russian TT champion

Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) has based his whole season on this Tour and he needs a good time trial, 22:02 is similar to Menchov.

Last year’s Tour winner Cadel Evans (BMC) has to show that he can ride a good time trial, today is not going to be the day as he was the slowest of the top five after 16.5 kilometres.

Sky team leader; Bradley Wiggins was showing his crushing time trial form with the fastest ride to the 1st check with 21:05, over 1 minute faster than Evans.

GC Top Five at the 1st Check:
(Froome: 21:10)
Zubeldia: 22:01
Menchov: 21:59
Nibali: 22:02
Evans: 22:07
Wiggins: 21:05.

On to the second time check and Zubeldia’s time of 40:34 is very reasonable, but Chris Froome would be jumping over him. Menchov was only 1 second slower than Zubeldia with 40:33, Froome could pole-vault him too. Nibali was still steady at 40:30; where as Evans (40:21) had lifted his speed to be faster than the others, except Wiggins at 39:02.

GC Top Five at the 2st Check:
(Froome: 39:18)
Zubeldia: 40:34
Menchov: 40:33
Nibali: 40:30
Evans: 40:21
Wiggins: 39:02.

At the finish Haimar Zubeldia’s time of 51:59 would not hold off Chris Froome and neither would the time of Denis Menchov at 53:32 or for that matter Vincenzo Nibali with 53:31. Froome now, at this point, will be on the Tour podium in third overall. Cadel Evans rode a good race once he got going to finish 6th, but he is now nearly 2 minutes behind Wiggins with Froome only 14 second behind him.

GC Top Five at the Finish:
(Froome: 51:59)
Zubeldia: 53:44
Menchov: 53:32
Nibali: 53:31
Evans: 53:07
Wiggins: 51:24.

We knew Bradley Wiggins would do a strong ride today, but he crushed everyone, putting time into the whole peloton. Chris Froome also did a wonderful job to jump from 6th to 3rd overall. Nibali rode well to keep his hopes alive, but there will be many questions being asked by the team managers tonight.

Keep it PEZ for all the Tour news and Roadside.

Tour de France Stage 9 Result:
1. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Sky in 51:24
2. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky at 0:35
3. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan at 0:57
4. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC at 1:06
5. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 1:24
6. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC at 1:43
7. Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 1:59
8. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 2:07
9. Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha at 2:08
10. Andreas Klцden (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan at 2:09.

Tour de France Overall After Stage 9:
1. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Sky in 39:09:20
2. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC at 1:53
3. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky at 2:07
4. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 2:23
5. Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha at 3:02
6. Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan at 3:19
7. Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan at 4:23
8. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC at 5:14
9. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto-Belisol at 5:20
10. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 5:29.

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