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Tour Stage 9: BMC Tops as TTT Solves Nothing

The first important stage is a stalemate.

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Doug Pensinger, Getty

Team BMC successfully defended their status as world champions in the team time trial discipline by winning stage 9 of the Tour de France by a single second over Team Sky and race leader Chris Froome. BMC finished at 32.18 after dropping down to the minimum of five riders on the stage -- seemingly the preferred strategy considering the race's conclusion atop the Côte de Cadoudal, where team discipline gives way to pure climbing power. They unseated Movistar Team, who had held the lead for much of the final half-hour, by a mere four seconds, but looked to be in trouble as the final squad of the day came home. Sky began the climb with a five second lead, but its fifth finisher, Nicolas Roche, sagged a bit and the stage victory that seemed in their grasp was gone.

The entire stage did little to alter the outcome of the Tour de France. It was free of crashes and the time gaps among the top five favorites varied by no more than 35 seconds. Indeed, the teams of Froome, Nibali, Quintana, Contador and van Garderen (now included as a top favorite after a convincing first nine days) finished as the top five on the stage, with van Garderen taking back a single second from Froome and everyone else conceding lreatively unimportant amounts of time.

Movistar were perhaps the big winners on the day, insofar as they were thought to be a team that might concede a bit more time to the Sky machine and its stable of proven cronomen. Instead, they reversed an eight-second deficit to Astana at the first time check and rode a blistering pace the rest of the way, earning a place on the hot seat until the final few minutes of the stage and conceding a meaningless handful of seconds on the day. Nairo Quintana still sits 1.59 back but now lies eighth overall.

BMC were more likely winners, while Astana and Tinkoff-Saxo were not expected to make any gains. Astana and Vincenzo Nibali have gone into a bit of a tailspin over the weekend, and Nibali now sits an uncomfortable 2.22 in arrears, after yesterday's loss of power on the Mûr de Bretagne. It's possible the bruises Nibali suffered on stage 6 have limited him somewhat, and remains to be seen if he can turn the tables as the race hits the Pyrénées on Tuesday. Today's effort, with the team splitting prematurely as Dmitriy Gruzdev lost contact, did nothing to help.

Other teams with top riders saw their dreams of yellow fade a bit, or a bit more. Lotto-NL, Trek, FDJ and Giant-Alpecin all lost well over a minute to BMC and Sky, meaning Robert Gesink, Thibaut Pinot, Bauke Mollema and Warren Barguil conceded time they can't really afford to lose if a Dutch or French rider is to make the final podium. PInot is out of contention at the moment, 8.05 back, while the others sit between 2.30 and three minutes behind, just ahead of last year's runner-up J.C. Peraud.

Results:

1. USABMC RACING TEAM 32' 15''
2. GBRTEAM SKY 32' 16'' + 00' 01''
3. COLMOVISTAR TEAM 32' 19'' + 00' 04''
4. ESPTINKOFF-SAXO 32' 43'' + 00' 28''
5. ITAASTANA PRO TEAM 32' 50'' + 00' 35''
6. SUIIAM CYCLING 32' 53'' + 00' 38''
7. POLETIXX-QUICK STEP 33' 00'' + 00' 45''
8. PORLAMPRE - MERIDA 33' 03'' + 00' 48''
9. NEDTEAM LOTTO NL - JUMBO 33' 29'' + 01' 14''
10. FRAAG2R LA MONDIALE 33' 39'' + 01' 24''

GC:

1. GBRFROOME Christopher 31 TEAM SKY 31h 34' 12''
2. USAVAN GARDEREN Tejay 61 BMC RACING TEAM 31h 34' 24'' + 00' 12''
3. BELVAN AVERMAET Greg 68 BMC RACING TEAM 31h 34' 39'' + 00' 27''
4. SVKSAGAN Peter 47 TINKOFF-SAXO 31h 34' 50'' + 00' 38''
5. ESPCONTADOR Alberto 41 TINKOFF-SAXO 31h 35' 15'' + 01' 03''
6. COLURAN URAN Rigoberto 118 ETIXX-QUICK STEP 31h 35' 30'' + 01' 18''
7. ESPVALVERDE BELMONTE Alejandro 59 MOVISTAR TEAM 31h 36' 02'' + 01' 50''
8. GBRTHOMAS Geraint 39 TEAM SKY 31h 36' 04'' + 01' 52''
9. COLQUINTANA ROJAS Nairo Alexander 51 MOVISTAR TEAM 31h 36' 11'' + 01' 59''
10. CZESTYBAR Zdenek 116 ETIXX-QUICK STEP 31h 36' 11'' + 01' 59''
11. FRAGALLOPIN Tony 71 LOTTO-SOUDAL 31h 36' 13'' + 02' 01''
12. CZEKREUZIGER Roman 44 TINKOFF-SAXO 31h 36' 30'' + 02' 18''
13. ITANIBALI Vincenzo 1 ASTANA PRO TEAM 31h 36' 34'' + 02' 22''
14. FRABARGUIL WARREN 82 TEAM GIANT-ALPECIN 31h 36' 55'' + 02' 43''
15. NEDGESINK Robert 131 TEAM LOTTO NL - JUMBO 31h 37' 04'' + 02' 52''
16. NEDMOLLEMA Bauke 141 TREK FACTORY RACING 31h 37' 08'' + 02' 56''
17. FRAPÉRAUD Jean-Christophe 11 AG2R LA MONDIALE 31h 37' 42'' + 03' 30''
18. ESPRODRIGUEZ OLIVER Joachim 91 TEAM KATUSHA 31h 38' 04'' + 03' 52''
19. USATALANSKY Andrew 161 TEAM CANNONDALE-GARMIN 31h 38' 29'' + 04' 17''
20. SUIFRANK Mathias 181 IAM CYCLING 31h 38' 44'' + 04' 32''

Tomorrow is the Tour de France's first rest day. We will have lots of coverage to get ready as the race enters the high mountains. Stay tuned!

Also this happened today:

Lemond HInault