Mathew Hayman
Team Mitchelton-SCOTT GreenEdge
Data from Garmin

tour de france stage 9
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Modeled after the infamous Paris-Roubaix, stage 9 was always going to be a wild card in this year’s tour. The cobbles around Roubaix are notoriously punishing, both physically and mentally, and after eight days of hard racing, the riders would certainly not be feeling their best.

While the day was thankfully sunny and dry, it was utter chaos watch. There were more crashes than the cameras or announcers could keep up with, leading some to question the race organizers’ route choice. And as predicted, stage 9 led to some significant shuffling of the GC, with nearly every favorite suffering a mishap of some sort.

The biggest winners were Chris Froome (Sky), Adam Yates (Michelton-SCOTT GreenEdge), and Mikel Landa (Movistar). Despite Froome and Landa getting tangled in separate nasty-looking crashes, all three had strong support from their teams and managed to finish together before the race enters the Alps on Tuesday.

Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale), Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First p/b Cannondale), and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) all fared less favorably. Bardet in particular seemed to spend the whole race chasing back on after a near constant string of flats and crashes. Today could come back to haunt him in the mountains. All four riders are sitting around 2-3 minutes back behind Greg Van Avermaet, and ceded over a minute to the Froome group.

In other news, BMC’s Richie Porte abandoned a heartbreaking second Tour in a row, after a crash inside the first 10 kilometers. With Porte en-route to the hospital, the team quickly shifted its focus to  Tejay van Garderen, but the American suffered some terrible luck on the cobbles with his own flats and crashes, ultimately finishing nearly six minutes down in the GC. A bright spot for BMC: Greg Van Avermaet held on to yellow. Porte also reportedly suffered no broken bones, which means that while his Tour is over, he might be able to race later in the season.

The highlight of the day was seeing stage winner John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafred0) celebrating with his team, many of whom could be caught wiping a dusty tear or two. The German had been one of the peloton’s most promising racers before an inattentive driver struck his team on a training ride in 2015. Since that crash he’s struggled to regain his former success, but achieved it today in style. Choking back tears, he dedicated the win to a friend who had died earlier this season.

After today’s excitement riders get a rest day before traveling to Annecy to begin their journey into the Alps.