It was a brutal day of racing for UAE Team Emirates as they battled through Stage 9, a 156.5km route from Arras Citadelle to Roubaix with over 22 kilometres of cobbles to contend with. It was a stage fraught with crashes, but the team rode courageously and no casualties were taken on the pave.
GC Contender Dan Martin, who had sustained injuries in Stage 8, was able to stay safe inside the peloton, well protected by the team during the early parts of the race. As the riders began to split up along the road, Martin was carefully chaperoned to the front of the race by Oliviero Troia and finally delivered to the line with the main bunch after nearly three and half hours of chaotic racing on sections of road known as the ‘hell in the north’. After dropping down the GC table in yesterday’s race, Martin’s impressive effort allowed him to recover seven positions and climb up to the 24th spot. He is now just 3:22 behind the yellow jersey- a time deficit that can be made up when the Tour heads to the mountains next week. Alexander Kristoff also finished in the main group with Martin taking the 11th spot and earning another 8 points in the green jersey standings. Stage 9 was won in a breakaway sprint finish by John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek – Segafredo.
Commenting on the stage Dan Martin said: “That was incredibly hard and I have a new level of respect for the guys that ride Paris-Roubaix. It was an amazing experience and – in a strange way – I loved every minute. It would have been nicer without all the crashes, but at the end of the day my bike was faultless, we made it to the finish line and we’re still in the fight for the podium. Even after the crash yesterday, the team still believes in me 100%, so I have to give it everything. I stayed relaxed and composed, made sure I ate and drank before the cobbled sections and hung back when I needed to, knowing that the team would help me pick my way back to the front when the time was right.”
The peloton will get a well-earned day of rest tomorrow before heading into the mountains for stage 10 on Tuesday. The 158.5km route runs from Annecy to Le Grand-Bornand and features five categorized climbs, including Montée du plateau des Glières, a Hors Catégorie (HC) climb that kicks up to 11.2% and runs for 6kms. In addition to the cruel incline, the section also features 1.8kms of non-asphalted dirt track for the peloton to contend with. After the final 7.5km climb up Col de la Colombiere, which crests around 15km for the finish, the riders will descend into the valley below and traverse the banks of Le Borne for the final run into the line.
Stage Nine Results