Result: PORTUGAL’S RUI COSTA claimed his second stage victory of this year’s Tour after escaping the clutches of the peloton on the fifth and final climb of the day.
Chris Froome once again owed Australian teammate Richie Porte a debt of gratitude as he helped the race leader over the line despite Saxo’s best efforts to blow Team Sky apart.
How it happened: Many riders on this year’s Tour had described today’s stage, a 204-kilometre marathon which featured the two HC climbs of Col du Glandon and Col de la Madeleine early on, as the hardest they would face, and that was before the deluge of rain descended.
The day was marked by a lack of significant moves from Froome’s rivals though Saxo’s efforts on the front of the peloton did manage to drop most of Team Sky. However, Porte and Froome were able to stay close the main GC contenders in Contador and Quintana and even when the two made a desperate bid on the last climb, the two Sky riders were quick to close the gap.
The couldn’t catch Rui Costa though as the Portuguese rider raced up the last climb of the day to overtake stage leader Pierre Rolland to finish nearly nine minutes ahead of Froome’s group.
The big winner: Pierre Rolland. The French rider faded badly towards the end of the stage but still picked up enough points to move within one of the Polka Dot jersey in the mountain classification.
The big loser: Everybody not named Chris Froome. Teams have tried almost every tactic now and they just can’t seem to shake the British rider.
Who is wearing what jersey?
- Yellow (Overall): Chris Froome
- Green (Points): Peter Sagan
- Polka-Dot (Mountains): Chris Froome
- White (Young Rider): Nairo Quintana
What about the Irish? Dan Martin’s illness has ruined his tour in recent days and the stage nine winner came home nearly half an hour after Costa, finishing 129th and dropping to 32nd overall. Nico Roche put in a good shift for team-mate Contador but still slipped one place to 43rd overall.
What happens tomorrow then? Saturday is the Tour’s final day in the Alps, a the 125 km stage from Annecy to the summit of Annecy-Semnoz.