Cycle//Tour de France
by Jonathan Davies
Team Sky's Chris Froome retained the yellow jersey and extended his overall lead over his main rivals as BMC Racing won the team time-trial on stage nine.
BMC Racing completed the 28km time-trial course in 32' 15", putting them in first place with only Team Sky to ride. BMC were hoping for a 13 second lead over Sky to secure the yellow jersey for leader Tejay van Garderen, whom many have tipped as an outside contender. But Sky finished an agonising 0.62 seconds behind the Australian team as Nicolas Roche struggled to keep up in the final metres.
Despite missing out on the stage win, Sky and Froome managed to gain more vital seconds over his GC rivals. Nairo Quintana's Movistar team finished three seconds behind Sky, with Vincenzo Nibali's Astana dropping 35 seconds. Alberto Contador, Froome's closest rival of the 'big four' faired a little better at 18 seconds behind the yellow jersey holder.
But with BMC just 0.62 seconds in front, Roche who ultimately cost Sky the stage win, regrets that it wasn't more.
“Personally, it’s quite difficult for me,” said Roche.
“This was a massive opportunity for me for a stage win. Over the last few Tours I’ve been riding as a domestique and winning a TTT is something very particular, something you work at. There’s no luck, it’s all about sticking together and being there. It’s something that I really dreamed of, so it’s a bit of a tough one. But looking at the bigger picture, Froomey is in top shape, we kept the jersey, we’re in contention and we’re really ready to be in the mountains now.”
“We really can’t be too disappointed with that,” said Chris Froome.
“For everyone’s morale it would’ve been fantastic to have been able to get the stage win today, but more importantly we’ve kept the yellow jersey, we’ve put time into most of our rivals. We’ve got to be happy with that.
“It’s one thing not to lose any time to your rivals, but to actually gain quite substantial amounts on quite a lot of contenders – it’s put us in a fantastic position. Some other rivals – Nibali, Quintana – they’ve both lost quite a substantial amount of time already so the pressure’s definitely on them to attack once we go into the mountains,” said Froome.
“It’s for the other guys to get the yellow jersey from me now.”
Classiciation after stage 9
1 - Chris Froome (Team Sky) - 31hr 34' 12"
2 - Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) - +12"
3 - Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing) - +27"
4 - Peter Sagan (Tinkoff Saxo) - +38"
5 - Alberto Contador (Tinkoff Saxo) - +1' 03"
6 - Rigoberto Uran Uran (Etixx-Quick-Step) - +1' 18"
7 - Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) - +1' 50"
8 - Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) - +1' 52"
9 - Nairo Quintana (Movistar) - +1' 59"
10 - Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-Quick-Stepp) - +1' 29"
13 - Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) - +2' 22"