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Luxembourg's Bob Jungels surges past France's Pinot to win ninth stage

By RFI
Cycling REUTERS - CHRISTIAN HARTMANN
JUL 10, 2022 LISTEN
REUTERS - CHRISTIAN HARTMANN

Luxembourg's Bob Jungels has won the Tour de France ninth stage, a 192km Alpine race through Switzerland to the French border, while Slovenia's Tadej Pogacar gets to keep the yellow jersey. Meanwhile, a third rider has had to bail out due to Covid.

Luxembourg's Bob Jungels powered to victory in stage nine of the Tour de France on Sunday holding off Thibaut Pinot to cross the line alone after a 192km race through Switzerland to the French border.

Defending champion Tadej Pogacar of UAE Team Emirates made a late burst for the line to gain a few seconds on some rivals as the two-time defending champion further tightened his grip on the overall lead with a fifth-place finish.

"This is one of the most beautiful days of my career," said Jungels a day after one of his AG2R teammates pulled out with Covid-19.

"I went down that last hill at top speed, and that made the difference."

Mountain slogs

Andy Schleck was the last man from Luxembourg to win a Tour de France stage eleven years ago.

On a hot day with over 40km ascent as the peloton rolled into the Alps, past Charlie Chaplin's long-time residence at Vevey on the north shore of Lake Geneva, the stage was a prelude for three up-coming mountain slogs.

Jungels raced a full 62km on his own after going solo from an early breakaway as the riders rolled out of Aigle over three relatively challenging climbs.

Some 20km from the finish line at the ski resort of La Port de Soleil on the French border, Frenchman Pinot chased after him, gradually eating into a two-minute lead but never getting closer than 20sec adrift before giving up.

Ineos Grenadiers' Jonathan Castroviejo eventually finished second with Carlos Verona of Movistar third and Pinot fourth.

Jumbo's Wout van Aert maintained his stranglehold on the sprint points green jersey, but his bid for a solo escape lost steam on Sunday.

Monday's rest day will be followed by three consecutive Alpine mountaintop finishes as the riders desperately jostle for position in the overall standings on climbs such as the gruelling Alpe d'Huez.

Stage 10 runs from Morzine to Megeve, stage 11 Albertville to Col du Granon and stage 12 from Briancon to Alpe d'huez.

Spectre of Covid

Meanwhile, a third cyclist has had to abandon the race due to Covid.

Guillaume Martin, from the Cofidis Team was forced to bail out on Sunday after testing positive for the virus.

The highest-placed French finisher last year in seventh place, was 14th before pulling out ahead of stage eight from Aigle on Sunday.

"It's such a shame because I only felt a slight sore throat and I was on good form yesterday," said the former philosophy student who has published two books 'Socrates on a bike' and the 'Society of the peloton', a study of the individual within a group.

The peloton left raced under a cloud on Saturday after Norwegian Vegard Stake Laengen from Pogacar's UAE Team Emirates and Frenchman Geoffrey Bouchard of AG2R Citroen tested positive for the virus and were withdrawn.

Pogacar said after Saturday's stage that he fears Covid-19 could wreak havoc on this year's Tour.

"It's a big scare, the pandemic is still there with us, and we can't risk racing with it," said the 23-year-old.

The Tour de France doctor said the entire peloton would be tested on Monday during the rest day. 

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