Tour de France 2023: Woods wins, Stage 9 Report

Following yesterday’s sprint arrival, today saw another mountain stage with a mythic summit to be climbed at the of the day: the Puy de Dôme.

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Danish Jonas Vingegaard of Jumbo-Visma and Slovenian Tadej Pogacar of UAE Team Emirates during stage 9 of the Tour de France 2023, BELGA PHOTO POOL BERNARD PAPON – Photo by Icon sport

Michael Woods takes stage 9 victory after a heroic climb

Starting in the idyllic village of Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat just after lunchtime, the peloton immediately saw the first attacks coming and going. One group of 14 finally got away and though it looked like they would not succeed, they slipped away and opened up a gap of 4 minutes. There were no GC contenders in the group, however. The group featured the current holder of the King of the Mountains jersey, Neilson Powless, who looked to extend his lead in this ranking. However, headlines were to be made by a rider no one really had foreseen.

Results of the intermediate sprint after 30,4 km

1. Jonas Abrahamsen, 20 pts
2. Matej Mohoric, 17 pts
3. Jonas Gregaard, 15 pts
4. Pierre Latour, 13 pts
5. David De La Cruz, 11 pts
6. Neilson Powless, 10 pts
7. Matteo Jorgenson, 9 pts
8. Alexey Lutsenko, 8 pts
9. Clément Berthet, 7 pts
10. Mathieu Burgaudeau, 6 pts
11. Michael Woods, 5 pts
12. Guillaume Boivin, 4 pts
13. Gorka Izagirre, 3 pts
14. Victor Campenaerts, 2 pts
15. Jasper Philipsen, 1 pt

That one point assured that Philipsen will wear the green jersey at least until Tuesday. However, he looks unassailable with a lead of over 100 points over his nearest rival, Bryan Coquard.

Peloton slows down, escapees profit

Soon after, it looked as though the main pack would slow down as the lead of the top 14 increased to 9 minutes. Still, there was nothing to worry about for Jonas Vingegaard, the man in yellow. The best placed in this group at this early stage was Clément Berthet with about half an hour behind the top spot in the overall classification.

Powless extends KOM lead

To give an indication of how fast those men were: they rode 45,2 kilometres within the first hour of cycling today! With just over 100 kilometres to go, the gap grew to more than 10 minutes, thus increasing the chance of those at the front for a stage win to more than 70%. The first climb of the day was Neilson Powless‘ to take. Likewise for the second and the third. Before the final climb up the Puy de Dôme, he had amassed four points, extending his lead.

Two Races at the same time

At this point, it was clear that there were two races going on simultaneously: the one for the stage and the other for the yellow jersey. The former was all about getting up that hill as quickly as possible, while the latter was about the best strategy to avoid dropping valuable seconds in the overall standings. And how it played out!

Probably sensing that the best way to get something out of this stage was by attacking. The one that looked the most promising was that by Matteo Jorgenson, who powered away from his fellow escapees with 47 km remaining. Daredevil or fool? It looked good. Four men gave chase: Mohoric, Powless, de la Cruz and Burgaudeau. Soon there were only three as with de la Cruz having to stop to switch bikes due to a mechanical problem.

The unstoppable climb of Michael Woods

With only three kilometres to go, Jorgenson was 1‘20 minutes ahead, but his pursuers scented blood. At first, it was Mohoric who passed Jorgenson, but he was later also left behind by the man with the strongest legs of the day, Michael Woods. This comeback was remarkable. He pulverised the gaps and seemingly got stronger the closer he edged to the summit. With 500 m to go, he was alone and had the finishing line awaiting him, crossing it. He did so in 4h 19‘ 41“ and became the first non-European rider to win a stage on the Puy de Dôme.

Pogačar takes 8 seconds off Vingegaard

Further down, all seemed quiet, all contenders for the overall win together in one group. This changed 1,5 kilometres before the finishing line when Tadej Pogačar attacked and established an eight-second gap over Vingegaard. The yellow jersey managed to limit the damage, but those eight seconds mean that the gap between the top two has narrowed down to a mere 17 seconds.

The top ten after stage 9 look like this

1. Jonas Vingegaard
2. Tadej Pogacar +17
3. Jai Hindley +2:40
4. Carlos Rodriguez +4:22
5. Adam Yates +4:39
6. Simon Yates +4:44
7. Thomas Pidcock +5:26
8. David Gaudu +6:01
9. Sepp Kuss +6:45
10. Pello Bilbao +7:37

Deserved rest day

Tomorrow will be the first rest day – well deserved after the Pyrenees and today’s climb. The Tour continues on Tuesday, 11th July with another hilly stage in the Massif Central.

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