It was the ‘Hell of the North – Summer Edition’ today in the 9th stage of the 105th Tour de France, and Team KATUSHA ALPECIN’S Nils Politt drew on his fine 7th place finish in 2018 Paris-Roubaix to guide team leader Ilnur Zakarin safely to the finish. Politt took 12th on the stage at 27-seconds to winner John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) and Zakarin was further back in the same group on the same time, losing no time to overall contenders.
“It was really, really hard today,” said Politt after the stage. “Everybody was fighting for position. All of the GC riders were slipping around on the cobbles so there were a lot of crashes in the corners. I am really happy Zak had no punctures or crashes. I had just a small crash but I finished in the first group with him so now we come to the climbs.”
The 15-sectors of pave created havoc in the peloton where many riders lacked wide experience navigating the cobbles. The results were crashes galore, with riders after rider going down in the sectors and on the corners both entering and exiting the cobbles. After losing Tony Martin yesterday, Team KATUSHA ALPECIN was happy to have Lady Luck on her side today.
Degenkolb took his victory in a 3-man sprint, beating yellow jersey Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Quick-Step’s Yves Lampaert, with a time of 3:24:26 (45.93km/h). The stage began in Arras Citadelle and ended in Roubaix at 156.5k. Van Avermaet still holds 43-seconds to Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) on the overall.
“Before the race I was very nervous, but I have a good team and they did a good job and good work for me. I felt good today so this makes me feel hopeful about the climbs to come. All day today Nils Politt pulled with me and helped me and because of this it was easier work for me,” said Ilnur Zakarin.
With no additional time lost for Zakarin today, he and his teammates look to the Alps after the rest day as a chance to gain back position in the general classification. Stage 10 on Tuesday with 5-rated climbs on tap kicks off the first of three days in the high mountains. At 158.5k, the stage begins in Annecy and end in Le Grand-Bornand.