Tour de France 2017: Stage 9
by Katie Haskins
Stage type: Road Race – mountains
Length: 181.5 km/112.8 miles
Route: Nantua to Chambery
Welcome to the Queen stage. That is what they call the hardest stage of a race. Today has a total of 6 climbs, 3 of which are beyond classification.
39 riders broke away at the start of the race, including five from Team Sunweb, and when the broadcast picked up, the peloton was about 3.5 minutes behind. They had already gone over one Category 2 and two Category 3 climbs. There was also a crash that took out two riders due to damp roads.
The first HC (beyond classification) climb was the Col de la Biche (Climb of the Doe). 105 km, 2979 ft elevation, 9% avg. gradient, 13.8% max gradient. The leaders were 5 minutes ahead of the peloton. By the time the leaders reached the top of the climb, they have 7 minutes on the peloton. On the descent, another crash happened, this time taking out Geraint Thomas.
The 2nd HC climb was the Grand Columbier. 8.5 km, 2714 ft elevation, 9.9% avg. gradient, and 18.1% max gradient. By this point, the breakaway had split into 7 riders, with 10 behind them by about 30 seconds, and other 15 about 2 minutes behind them. The peloton was about 6 minutes behind. The roads were dryer on the descent and there weren’t any major crashes. At the bottom with 73.6 km/45.7 miles to go, the front group was down to 5 riders, with another 5 behind them by 30 seconds, 2 almost a minute behind, the peloton was 5 minutes behind. The group off the back was 31.5 minutes behind. By the announcer’s calculations they had to get to the finish within 42 minutes, or they would be forced to abandon.
There was a small Category 4 after the sprint point and feed zone, but it was almost inconsequential compared to the last two climbs and the one coming up.
The Mont du Chat (Mountain of the cat) is 8.7 km long, 2815 ft of elevation, 10.3% avg. gradient, and a max of 14.8%. This was the part where the most defining attacks occurred. At the start of the climb the very reduced peloton was 5.5 minutes behind the 3 leaders on the road. With 32.8 km/20.4 miles to the finish, Tony Gallopin attacked but could not keep up as he was caught and passed by Warren Barguil. While this battle was going on, Fabio Aru attacked while Christ Froome had a mechanical problem. Thankfully it was fixed quickly and Froome caught back up with the help of 2 of his remaining teammates. At 24.9 km/16.7 miles to go, Froome attacks when his group was about a minute behind Barguil. It’s a group of 6 riders when they pass the 1k to the top of the climb banner.
The descent was narrow and tricky and caused probably the most serious crash of the day. Richie Porte ran off the inside of the road and then gets thrown across the narrow road, taking out Dan Martin. Martin gets up and rides off, but Porte is eventually taken away on a stretcher by ambulance.
Roman Bardet get ahead of the Froome group, which is now down to three riders, and bridges across to Barguil with 11.9 km/7.3 miles to go. Barguil can’t keep up with him as Bardet passes him. Rigoberto Uran has a mechanical issue from his bike being kicked by Martin as he passed. The Froome group picks up Barguil and they race to catch Bardet. They catch him with 2.2 km/1.3 miles to go on the stage. It’s a fight to the finish. Another photo finish, on a mountain stage no less. It finally goes to Rigoberto Uran with a time of 5:07:22. Barguil managed a 2nd place. Froome came in 3rd and gets a 4 second time bonus.
The leaderboard had a slight shake up.
- Chris Froome – 38:26:28
- Fabio Aru – +:18
- Roman Bardet – +:51
- Rigoberto Uran – +:55
- Jakob Fuglsand – +1:57