SAN DIEGO, July 7, 2013 – Tour leader Chris Froome of Sky Pro Racing was tested on Sunday’s Stage 9 of the 2013 Tour de France by his top rivals, but held firmly to his lead in the race after this challenging mountain stage in the Pyrenees.
The stage win went to Ireland’s Dan Martin, who rides for the American team Garmin-Sharp. Martin and Astana rider Jakob Fuglsang launched an attack from the leading group on the final climb. They held on to their lead through the long descent to the finish. It is Martin’s first stage win in his second Tour.
The Movistar team has two of Froome’s most serious challenges, Alejandro Valverde who was in third place at the start of the day, and young Colombian star Nairo Quintana. The team set a fast pace that cracked the majority of riders off the back, but the majority of riders in the Top Ten stuck with Movistar and lost no time.
After the stage, Quintana said, “I take a lot of pleasure from what we did and I still hope to win a stage by the end of the Tour. Today I missed a bit of strength when I wanted to attack in the finale, but we made a good stage, knowing that our goal is to get to the podium Alejandro Valverde. We know that Team Sky is strong, but we also have a very good level, and so we must show that we are able to upset things. Of course, Chris Froome is very strong, but we are confident that if we can separate him from his teammates, then we can then attack. When they are together, it is very difficult.”
The only rider to suffer a big loss Sunday was Froome’s Sky teammate Richie Porte, who did so much of the pacemaking on Saturday to help Froome take the lead. Porte gave his all yesterday and didn’t have enough left today to keep up. He ws dropped on the second of five climbs today, and finished over 14 minutes behind the leading group.
In addition to Froome, Valverde, and Quintana, Alberto Contador of Team Saxo-Tinkoff, Cadel Evans of BMC Racing, and Andy Schleck of RadioShack Leopard stayed with the lead group. Schleck looked especially good and this is happy news for cycling fans. Schleck suffered a broken pelvis last year. He’s had difficulty getting back into his previous good form, but he looked like the old Andy Schleck today.
The top riders:
Chris Froome, Sky Racing Team: 36 hours, 59 minutes, 18 seconds
Alejandro Valverde, Movistar, 1 minute, 25 seconds behind
Bauke Mollema, Belkin, 1 minute, 44 seconds behind
Laurens Ten Dam, Belkin, 1 minute, 50 seconds behind
Roman Kreuzier, Team Saxo-Tinkoff, 1 minute, 51 seconds behind
Alberto Contador, Team Saxo-Tinkoff, 1 minute, 51 seconds behind
Nairo Quintana Rojas, Movistar, 2 minutes, 2 seconds behind
Andy Schleck sits in 15th place, four minutes behind the lead; Cadel Evans is 16th at 4 mintues and 36 seconds behind the lead. Two weeks of racing are still ahead with wicked mountain stages in the Alps near the finish. Anything is still possible.
American rookie Andrew Talansky remains the highest placed American rider in 22nd place, 9:35 off the leader.
Monday is a rest day for the riders. Tuesday’s Stage 10 will be a blessedly flat stage through Brittany. This is a day for the sprinters, but don’t be surprised if there is a breakway attempt by riders looking for a little Tour glory. Teams of the overall contenders won’t let anyone get out of line here and will zealously protect the lead of their team members. It sets fans up for the excitement of a sprint to the line with the likes of Mark Cavendish, Andre Griepel, Peter Sagan, and Matthew Goss contesting for the prize.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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