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Le Tour Stage 9: Martin Mashes the Mountains

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Could any stage have "breakaway" written on it more than this one? Six categorized climbs through the Vosges could be treacherous for general classification riders, but the fifty kilometers of flat and downhill to the finish meant no attacks stood a chance at surviving. And so, by the end of the first 90 minutes of racing some 26 riders were up the road.

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JEFF PACHOUD/AFP/Getty Images

Tony Martin and Alessando De Marchi were the leading duo, not much in front of a strong chase group of 24 riders including Joquím Rodríguez, Pierre Rolland, Tony Gallopin, and almost half the Europcar team. But despite the power of the chase group, Martin and De Marchi only increased their lead to the chasers behind, having over 1:30 in hand as they hit the first Category 1 climb of the Tour at 65 kilometers to the finish. Shortly afterwards, Martin seemed to echo the words of Henry David Thoreau that "I have never found a companion that was as companionable as solitude" and set out to tackle the last 60 kilometers by himself.

Behind Martin, De Marchi was absorbed by the chase and Rodríguez set out to claim some mountains points. Shortly after, Tony Gallopin, sitting in 11th overall at the start of the stage and in the virtual yellow jersey, attacked on the descent and pressed on solo, and then with Matteo Montaguti of AG2r, in an attempt to claim as much time in the overall as possible. Even after the duo was caught later Gallopin worked tirelessly to ensure the pace stayed high. Incredibly, the three minute gap between Martin and the tirelessly chasing Gallopin and Pierre Rolland remained constant all the way to the final kilometer. And so, Martin celebrated from well over a kilometer out after riding practically the whole stage by himself.

Behind, Gallopin would take the yellow jersey from Vincenzo Nibali by 1:34 , relieving Astana from the burden of defending the jersey through the next few stages.

TOP 10 Stage 9:

1. GERMARTIN Tony 75 OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP 04h 09' 34''
2. SUICANCELLARA Fabian 163 TREK FACTORY RACING 04h 12' 19'' + 02' 45''
3. BELVAN AVERMAET Greg 148 BMC RACING TEAM 04h 12' 19'' + 02' 45''
4. NEDDUMOULIN Tom 106 TEAM GIANT-SHIMANO 04h 12' 19'' + 02' 45''
5. ITAMONTAGUTI Matteo 88 AG2R LA MONDIALE 04h 12' 19'' + 02' 45''
6. ESPROJAS GIL José Joaquin 18 MOVISTAR TEAM 04h 12' 19'' + 02' 45''
7. NEDKRUIJSWIJK Steven 64 BELKIN PRO CYCLING 04h 12' 19'' + 02' 45''
8. FRACHEREL Mikael 83 AG2R LA MONDIALE 04h 12' 19'' + 02' 45''
9. FRAFEILLU Brice 211 BRETAGNE - SECHE ENVIRONNEMENT 04h 12' 19'' + 02' 45''
10. PORMACHADO Tiago 206 TEAM NETAPP-ENDURA 04h 12' 19'' + 02' 45''

TOP10 General Classification:

1. FRAGALLOPIN Tony 134 LOTTO-BELISOL 38h 04' 38''
2. ITANIBALI Vincenzo 41 ASTANA PRO TEAM 38h 06' 12'' + 01' 34''
3. PORMACHADO Tiago 206 TEAM NETAPP-ENDURA 38h 07' 18'' + 02' 40''
4. DENFUGLSANG Jakob 42 ASTANA PRO TEAM 38h 07' 56'' + 03' 18''
5. AUSPORTE Richie 7 TEAM SKY 38h 08' 10'' + 03' 32''
6. POLKWIATKOWSKI Michal 74 OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP 38h 08' 38'' + 04' 00''
7. ESPVALVERDE BELMONTE Alejandro 11 MOVISTAR TEAM 38h 08' 39'' + 04' 01''
8. FRAROLLAND Pierre 151 TEAM EUROPCAR 38h 08' 45'' + 04' 07''
9. ESPCONTADOR Alberto 31 TINKOFF-SAXO 38h 08' 46'' + 04' 08''
10. FRABARDET Romain 82 AG2R LA MONDIALE 38h 08' 51'' + 04' 13''