Riccardo Ricco’ rode like a rockstar today to win his second stage at the Tour De France, the first day in the mountains at this years Tour. In Bagnères-de-Bigorre, the same small village where the last Italian winner of the Tour De France Felice Gimondi donned his first Maillot Jaune in 1965, Ricco’ rode to a solo win ahead of the groupe Maillot Jaune after making an audacious attack on the final ascent of the Col d’Aspin with 30km to race.
Ricco’ told RAI-TV’s Alessandra Di Stefano post stage that “Today, I wanted to win all on my own. It was a great stage for me and I have to thank my team, especially Piepoli, who really helped me today”. The supremely confident Ricco’ explained “I didn’t think I would be able to gain as much time as I did today, so that worked out well.” With his second stage win, Ricco’ gained 1’04” and moved up to 21st, just 2’35” from Maillot Jaune Kirchen.
Ricco’ sent out some good vibes to his girlfriend back in Italy, cyclist Vania Rossi. "I want to dedicate this win to my girlfriend because didn’t dedicate the last win to her and she got mad! But today I was really motivated and hope to win another stage, but tommorrow I want to help my teammate Leo Piepoli win the stage to Hautacam. I've got great legs and have shown that I can be competitive at this really high level wth a lot of big rivals." Next stop for Ricco? L'Alpe d'Huez, where his idol Marco Pantani won twice, in 1995 and 1997 and holds the record time for the ascent of 37’35”.
Maillot Jaune Kim Kirchen and his Columbia team learned the hard way today how difficult it is to defend the Tour De France lead. Columbia tried to dominate the race over the last few stages, but today, Kirchen's rivals saw that he could be easily isolated he could be, as his Columbia squad simply fell apart on the final ascent. An angry Maillot Jaune finished in clear denial as he explained post stage “It was a hard day and I was really lucky that we had a headwind because it limited the attacks and I could follow the wheels of the others. I survived what was maybe a bad day. We’ll see tomorrow. In the mountains it doesn’t matter too much if I’m isolated without team support. There are a lot of teams with guys who haven’t done a lot of work in the first week like we have so I think they’ll have an advantage in the next few days. It’s time for them to come forward and do some work."
Kirchen could not help but to admire the win by Italian climber Ricco' today, saying “he did a very good ride. I was impressed. There was a lot of wind on the final climb and for one guy, by himself, to do what he did is proof that he’s very, very strong. You may have seen me at the back a little bit more today. Maybe I was suffering but that’s the Tour and I hope to be better tomorrow. We’re just going to see what happens. I just hope my legs are a little bit better in stage 10. If I feel like I did today, I will be dropped.”
Although he managed to finish 23rd in the groupe Maillot Jaune, Cadel Evans didn't have a great day in Stage 9, for after 115km of racing on the descent of the Cat.4 Col de Buret, Cadel Evans (SIL), crashed hard with several other riders, ripping his jersey wide open on the right shoulder and cut up his left elbow knee and thigh. Evans changed his bike and got back to the peloton with the help of his Silence-Lotto teammates. Dr. Porte later told France 2 television: "He's got numerous scrapes on his elbow, thigh and hip but they're mostly superficial. "He's a bit worried about being able to climb properly. But medically his injuries, for us at least, are not too worrying". Tommorrow on France's national holiday 14 July, Evans faces the daunting ascents of the 17.7km Col du Tourmalet and mountaintop finish atop Hautacam after 14.2km of climbing. When asked for his reaction to the crash post-race, Evans gave his busted helmet, split open at the front left hand corner from his crash , to a reporter, saying "There's your interview."
Silence-Lotto team manager Marc Sergeant admitted post-stage that Tuesday's rest day can not come soon enough. "It would have been better for us if the rest day was tomorrow (Monday), but at the moment I'm not too worried. Cadel told me after the crash that it was nothing serious, just to keep going. Now we will get the team doctor to check him out. Cadel did hurt his collarbone but I believe it is not serious."
CSC-Saxo Bank's young talent Andy Schleck took over the Maillot Blanc of Best Young Rider from Columbia's Tommy Lovkvist with a 27th place finish today, 1'07" behind Ricco' “I remember last year at the Giro d’Italia, I also got the white jersey in stage number nine and I never gave it up so I hope I can do the same thing here. Of course, we have seen that Ricco' is extremely strong the other day and again on the Col d’Aspin and he will surely keep going. Lovkvist had a really bad day today and I feel a little sorry for him because he is my friend but that’s cycling. The white jersey is an objective and if I’m good, then I’ll keep it. When I’m riding for a good result in the general classification then I should be able to defend it."
Garmin's slick Scot David Millar didn't have great legs today, as he came off the groupe Maillot Jaune on the Aspin ascent and finished in a small group at 4'34", ending Millar's Tour gc hopes for good, But once again, his Garmin teammate Christian Vandevelde continued to impress as the Chicago White Sox fan from Lemont, Ill. was 20th on Stage 9 and moved past former Maillot Jaune Stefen Schumcher into 3rd on gc, just 44" from the Maillot Jaune. If Evans and Kirchen both falter on tommorrow's tough stage to Hautacam, Vande Velde could take over the Maillot Jaune at the 2008 Tour De France.
How It Happened
170 riders took the start of Stage 9 of the 2008 Tour at 11:20am, a difficult 224km stage with seven climbs on the menu du jour. The weather was partly cloudy and cool, with the possibility of afternoon thunder showers in the mountains. Stage 9 rolled southwest across the Haut-Garonne with with four Cat.4 climbs, the Cote de Saint-Pey after 42km, the cote de Sainte-Quitterie after 46km, then the cote de Mane after 91km and col de Buret after 113.5km. The Cat. 3 col des Ares was next after 123.5km with the first of two Cat. 1 climbs of Stage 9, the col de Peyresourde after 166.5km and the final ascent of the day, the col d’Apsin after 198km. There were also two intermediate sprints in Saint-Sulpice-sur-Leze after 29.5km and Sengouagnet after 111km.
There were many early attacks but eventually a trio of riders got a gap and the peloton let them go. Lang (GST), Kuschynski (LIQ) and Jalabert (AGR) got away after 22km and by 37km, they 5’40”. Average speed for the first hour was 45.6km/hr and the break had gained a huge margin of 14’20” after 55km, when the orange jerseys of Euskaltel began to chase. came to the front and started to chase. The average speed for the second hour was 40.9km/h. Atop the cote de Mane after 91km, the gap was 10’55”.
Cadel Evans crashed around the 105km on the tricky descent of the col de Buret, sustaining abrasions to his left elbow. He changed a bike and quickly rejoined the peloton, even though the Euskaltel team continued to set a rapid tempo. He did consult the race physician, Dr. Porte, who said the wounds were not too deep but that he expected the Australian would have problems climbing because of the injuries sustained.
First climbed in the Tour in 1910 and scaled today for the 60th time in Tour history, the break began the day's penultimate ascent of the col de Peyresourde 9’10” ahead of the peloton, with Euskaltel still chasing hard on the front. Lang's hard tempo first dropped Jalabert and then Kuschynski, while Saunier Duval's Maillot Pois De La Fuente attacked the peloton with 6km to climb, followed by Montfort. Lang was first over the summit, followed by Kuschynski at 40”, Jalabert at 3’40” and De La Fuente and Montfort at 4’50”. Stage 7 winner Luis Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne) attacked the peloton just before the summit, with the groupe Maillot Jaune 5’25” behind Lang.
On the final ascent of the Col d’Aspin, there were several attacks in the groupe Maillot Jaune by Schumacher, Casar, Nibali, Kreuziger and Gonzalo, but as soon has his teammate De La Fuente was absorbed, Ricco' made his move and what a move! The Saunier Duval man gained over 20 seconds a kilometer up the Col d’Aspin as the favorites in the groupe Maillot Jaune just looked at each other. Ricco' blasted by Lang in the last kilometer of the ascent and had 35” on Lang and Nibali with 1’15” on the group Maillot Jaune, a gap he maintained all the way to the finish in Bagnères-de-Bigorre. Gutsy break driver Sebastian Lang finished in the groupe Maillot Jaune in 11th for a superb ride after a 150km break.
Tour de France / Stage 9 Results
1. Riccardo Ricco (ITA/SDV) 5h39’28”
(39,592 km/hr average speed)
2. Vladimir Efimkin (RUS/A2R @1’04”
3. Cyril Dessel (FRA/A2R) @ 1’17”
4. Dmitriy Fofonov (KAZ/C.A)
5. Christian Knees (GER/MRM)
6. Maxime Monfort (BEL/COF)
7. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/GCE)
8. Roman Kreuziger (CZE/LIQ)
9. Damiano Cunego (ITA/LAM)
10. Yaroslav Popovych (UKR/SIL) @ same time
Tour de France / Overall Standings after Stage 9
1. Kim Kirchen (LUX/COL) 38h07’19”
2. Cadel Evans (AUS/SIL) @ :06”
3. Christian Vande Velde (USA/GAR) @ :44”
4. Stefan Schumacher (GER/GST) @ :56”
5. Denis Menchov (RUS/RAB) @ 1’03”
6. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/GCE) @ 1’12”
7. Stijn Devolder (BEL/QST) @ 1’21”
8. Oscar Pereiro (ESP/GCE) @ 1’21”
9. Samuel Sanchez (ESP/EUS) @ 1’27”
10. Carlos Sastre (ESP/CSC) @ 1’34”
For Complete Tour De France Results, Click HERE
Monday 14 July
Stage 10: Pau–Hautacam: 156km
This stage on France’s national day is short, sharp and decisive. Starting with rolling roads across the Pyrenees foothills, the steep climb of the Col du Tourmalet (17.7km at 7.5 percent) will make the first selection before the final mountaintop finish atop the 14.2km ascent to Hautacam. After his crash on Stage 9, there will pressure on Cadel Evans to maintain his position in the race, but not as much as on Maillot Jaune Kim Kirchen, who may be deprived of his race lead on Monday.