The Tour de France peloton will have no respite on Sunday July 4, the day after a Dantesque first alpine day, during which the Slovenian Tadej Pogacar (UAE Emirates) disgusted the competition. On paper, the route of this ninth stage between Cluses (Haute-Savoie) and Tignes (Savoie) was already dizzying with five listed difficulties, including the Col du Pré (outside the 12.6 km category at 7.7%). We had to add the cold and the rain – like almost every day since the big departure from Brest.
Australian Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroën) wins his first Tour de France solo. The Italians Mattia Catanneo (Deceuninck Quick-Step) and Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious), completed the podium of the day – respectively second at 5:07 and third at 5:37. Slovenian Tadej Pogacar (UAE Emirates) retains the lead in the overall standings, after having cleaned up the competition a little more.
O’Connor will have long been a virtual yellow jersey on Sunday. Pogacar, after his mind-boggling performance the day before, seemed to be procrastinating. His team worked hard at the front of the peloton to control the gap, and for a while we wondered if their goal was not to give up first place overall while staying in contact. But the Slovenian, who was for a time 9 minutes behind the breakaways, finished sixth in the stage, 6:02 behind the Australian.
The Colombian duo Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) and Sergio Higuita (EF Education Nippo) will have been in the lead all day, closely followed by Ben O’Connor… At the start of the climb to Tignes, it’s running out of fuel for the first one, dropped. Then it was Sergio Huiguita’s turn to lose track 17.5 km from the finish. Nairo Quintana will finish 11e at 6 min 38 s.
A Tour now without Roglic and Van der Poel
Grimacing faces, frozen fingers, wet clothes… The riders fought to overcome this second alpine day – like the world champion, Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck Quick-Step), shivering, who stopped for a few minutes to put on dry clothes and had to rely on his staff to help him put on his gloves.
They will only be 172 to cross the finish line: the Belgian Tim Merlier (Alpecin Fenix), winner of the third stage between Lorient and Pontivy (Morbihan), the French Nans Peters (AG2R Citroën), the Belgian Jasper De Buyst (Lotto-Soudal) retired during the stage.
It was already a private peloton of two of its leading figures – Mathieu Van der Poel (Alpecin Fenix) and Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) – which started Sunday from Cluses. “VDP” has passed “An incredible week” on the Grande Boucle, but it had warned: his goal of the year is the gold medal in mountain biking at the Olympic Games (Olympics) in Tokyo. Raymond Poulidor’s grandson, who gave up his yellow jersey the day before the arrival at Le Grand-Bornand, has therefore decided to throw in the towel: “We made the decision this morning with the team”, he explained.
The Dutchman has largely fulfilled his “contract” for his first participation, dominating the general classification for six days – since the second stage, Sunday June 27, between Perros-Guirec and Mûr-de-Bretagne (Côtes-d’Armor) – and thus succeeding where his ancestor had failed.
“There is no point in continuing like this”
The Slovenian Primoz Roglic, he spent a hellish week: “There is no point in continuing like this”, summarized the leader of the Jumbo-Visma, second in the Tour in 2020. Victim of a fall, Monday, about ten kilometers from the finish of the third stage between Lorient and Pontivy (Morbihan), he was since worth it, pointing Saturday night to the 51e place in the provisional general classification 39 min 45 s from the yellow jersey Tadej Pogacar. “Now is the time to recover and focus on my new goals”, argued the former ski jumping champion who will also be lined up for the Olympics, in road racing and the time trial.
Roglic, who had spent several weeks in Tignes as part of his preparation for the Tour, was however awaited by a crowd of massed spectators, with a large reinforcement of Slovenian flags and “Rogla” banners, in the rise of Tignes, the last one. difficulty of the day (category 1).
Tomorrow, Monday: day of rest – well deserved – for the peloton and the followers. Before the resumption of the Grande Boucle, Tuesday July 6, with some 190 kilometers of flat between Albertville (Savoie) and Valence (Drôme). The day before the double ascent of Ventoux.
Our selection of articles on the 2021 Tour de France