88km to go
According to one French commentator, Romain Bardet (DSM) is riding with a knee injury. If that is true, that will come as huge blow to the 31-year-old who was in blistering form at the recent Giro d’Italia – arguably the best form of his life – but had to abandon after picking up a stomach bug. Fortunately, he appeared to have carried that form over to the Tour de France, but if he has knocked his knee that will be devastating. He’s a lovely rider, a proper old-school racer.
92.5km to go
UAE Team Emirates have five riders on the front of the peloton, four of those are protecting the fifth who is dressed in the leader’s yellow jersey. The breakaway’s advantage is 3min 19sec. A number of riders have been dropped by the peloton, including Alexis Vuillermoz (TotalEnergies), Max Walscheid (Cofidis) and Caleb Ewan, the latter of whom has Lotto-Soudal team-mate Frederik Frison for company.
95km to go
Absolutely spectacular backdrop to today’s race. When the sun is shining, there are few more beautiful places in the world than the Swiss Alps – only the Dolomites and the rolling Tuscan hills beat it – but I doubt the riders will be paying too much attention to their surroundings right now.
97km to go
The breakaway is onto the Col des Mosses and almost immediately a split forms in the group, but it is soon closed back up. At 13.4km this is the longest climb of the Tour so far, but with a fairly shallow average gradient of 4.1% it shouldn’t provide too many concerns .
100km to go
Interesting to note that there are three Bora-Hansgrohe riders in the breakaway today, while Ag2r-Citroën, Cofidis and Israel-Premier Tech have two each. The peloton is monitoring the size of the gap between the two groups, with UAE Team Emirates riding on the front. There is enough horsepower in this breakaway to go all of the way today, but the presence of Rigoberto Urán may upset a few and determine how the stage is contested once a few grenades begin to drop.
Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic), Franck Bonnamour (B&B Hotels-KTM), Jonathan Castroviejo (Ineos Grenadiers), Benoît Cosnefroy (Ag2r-Citroën), Joe Dombrowski (Astana Qazaqstan), Simon Geschke (Cofidis), Kobe Goossens (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Hugo Houle (Israel-Premier Tech), Ion Izagirre (Cofidis), Bob Jungels (Ag2r-Citroën), Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe), Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe), Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies), Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates), Guy Niv (Israel-Premier Tech), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Luis León Sánchez (Bahrain Victorious), Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-EasyPost) and Carlos Verona (Movistar) currently lead by 3min 14sec.
105km to go | Urán second on virtual standings
If the stage were to end right now, Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-EasyPost) would be second in the general classification as he started the day 3min 24sec behind race leader Tadej Pogacar but is now in the breakaway that leads the maillot jaune by 2min 55sec.
110km to go
The peloton increases it lead to a shade below three minutes.
115km to go
Benoît Cosnefroy (Ag2r-Citroën) drops out of the breakaway briefly having suffered a mechanical issue with his bike, but the Frenchman wastes little time in getting back in the saddle. The breakaway’s lead is holding at around the 2min 25sec mark and has not gone much above that.
126.5km to go
A number of riders were spotted struggling earlier – Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal), Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Ben O’Connor (Ag2r-Citroën) – but they have managed to get back into the peloton. Michael Woods (Israel-Premier Tech), meanwhile, had a nasty looking crash earlier picking up some road rash for his troubles. The Canadian will be smarting from that this evening and will, no doubt, struggle sleeping.
Van Aert extends lead in points classification
It was entirely predictable, but he still had to do it. Wout van Aert rolled through the intermediate sprint in Semsales uncontested to add 20 points to his tally and extend his lead in points classification. Barring any crashes or illness, it is very much looking like the Belgian will be taking home the green jersey a fortnight from now.
As it stands . . .
It has been a fast start to the stage, with the riders making the most of the carpet-smooth roads so common to Switzerland. Interesting to note that Ineos Grenadiers have, thus far, been fairly active sending Jonathan Castroviejo and Dylan van Baarle up towards the head of the field. Castroviejo actually went over the first climb of the day, the category four côte de Bellevue, first to open his account in the mountains classification.
Once beyond the côte de Bellevue, a strong-looking 15-man group formed at the front. Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic), Franck Bonnamour (B&B Hotels-KTM), Jonathan Castroviejo (Ineos Grenadiers), Joe Dombrowski (Astana Qazaqstan), Simon Geschke (Cofidis), Kobe Goossens (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Hugo Houle (Israel-Premier Tech), Bob Jungels (Ag2r-Citroën), Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe), Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe), Guy Niv (Israel-Premier Tech), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Luis León Sánchez (Bahrain Victorious), Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-EasyPost) and Carlos Verona (Movistar) currently lead the stage by 1min 38sec. The highest placed rider on the general classification in that breakaway is Urán at 3min 24sec, so that cause concern for some.
Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), perhaps thinking about taking some points at the intermediate sprint, attacked off the front of the peloton taking with him five others – Benoît Cosnefroy (Ag2r-Citroën), Ion Izagirre (Cofidis), Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies), Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) and Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe) – to increase that group to make it 21-strong.
By the way, there were three non-starters today with Kasper Asgreen (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl), Ruben Guerreiro (EF Education-EasyPost) and Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) all abandoning. Asgreen hobbled out of the race having failed to recover from a knock to the knee at the recent Tour de Suisse, while Guerreiro has a non-Covid-related illness. Martin, however, has Covid with the Frenchman joining the long list of riders to have tested positive. I heard from colleague Tom Cary a short while ago, he said the dreaded Covid was the main subject of discussion around the team buses this morning.
And welcome to our live rolling blog from stage nine of the 109th edition of the Tour de France, the 192.9-kilometre run from Aigle to Châtel Les Portes du Soleil.
The race finally heads in to the Alps this afternoon, but before we have a look to see what’s up for grabs let’s see what my colleague Tom Cary had to say about yesterday’s stage.
The stage itself was notable for a big early crash which brought down many of the race favourites, including Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) and Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers). Both were able to remount their bikes. Kevin Vermaerke of DSM and Astana Qazaqstan’s Gianni Moscon were not so fortunate.
There was also a bizarre moment later in the stage when Groupama-FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot crashed on the descent of the Col de Pétra Félix got up only to be smacked in the face by the arm of a Trek-Segafredo team helper passing drinks to his team’s riders from the roadside.
After Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious) was reeled in Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) won the sprint for the line from Michael Matthews (BikeExchange-Jayco), with Pogacar third, claiming another four bonus seconds to stretch his lead in the general classification to 39 seconds over Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma).
Tom Pidcock led the Ineos Grenadiers contingent over the line in 10th, with Thomas just behind in 11th and Yates in 18th place, with all three retaining their positions in the top 10 of the general classification.
Van Aert added 61 points to his tally in the race for the green jersey to tighten his vice-like grip on that particular garment, leading Fabio Jakobsen (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl) by a whopping 115 points.
Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost) managed to keep top spot in the mountains thanks to Pogacar finishing no higher than third yesterday and will wear polka dots for a seventh successive day.
Pogacar also leads the young rider classification, but his white jersey will be worn by Britain’s Pidcock. Must say, I think somebody’s suggestion – I believe it was a viewer who contacted Daniel Lloyd of GCN+ fame (and a former Cervelo Test Team rider) – that a rider can only win the competition once was not a bad idea.
So, what’s on today’s menu?
Following a flat start the the stage, the bulk of the day will see riders battling with gravity as they gain 3,700 metres in vertical elevation over four categorised climbs –
Côte de Bellevue, Col des Mosses, Col de la Croix and Pas de Morgins – before a short 4km drag to the line that should not test the riders too much. In fact, the uphill finale could probably be raced in the big ring.
Historically, you would look at a stage like this and say it was ideal breakaway territory, but such is the appetite of the modern-day Cannibal that is Pogacar, who knows? Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Qazaqstan) or Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious) may fancy their chances in a breakaway, or is this an opportunity for Ineos Grenadiers to make those numbers start paying?
Having lost Vegard Stake Laengen ahead of yesterday’s stage, UAE Team Emirates are already a man down and Marc Hirschi appears to be half the rider he was when he burst on to the scene back in 2020. Should someone like Daniel Martínez attack early on, or get himself into the breakaway, then Pogacar’s already weakened team would be forced to chase. For this strategy to work, it may require some collaboration with Jumbo-Visma, but I think somebody has to do something sooner rather than later if they want to test Pogacar’s resolve. Sitting, waiting and watching rarely pays dividends, if Ineos Grenadiers really want to challenge then they need to start investing, and where better to start than the first proper day in the mountains? All that said, I really wouldn’t be surprised if we were to see yet another stage win for Pogacar.
And finally, the weather . . .
Follow Telegraph Sport’s live coverage from 1pm (BST).