ysobelle: (Kayli)
[personal profile] ysobelle
Stage 9: Vielha d'Aran, Spain to Arcalis, Adorra, 184km

Turn on the night’s recap for bad news: we’ve had another abandonment, and this time, it’s fucking Alberto Contador. G-d damn it. Former two-time Tour champion, but he never recovered from not just one but two crashes in as many days at the very beginning of the race. Watching him give up and get into his team car is just…ugh. So sorry, man. That just sucks.

Sigh. So. We have twenty men in a breakaway about ten minutes up the road, and they’re so far ahead, they’re in another flippin’ country. Team Sky is, as usual, controlling the pace of the peloton, but the story of the moment is with the breakaway. There’s a whole bunch of sprint points up ahead, and who’s going to— oh, man, well. Peter Sagan, best sprinter in the group, almost casually looks over his shoulder, and decisively leads the group, strung out in a long line, over the line. 20 points for him moves him right up behind Cav. He won’t take green today, though. And in a group this large, I don’t think there are any sprint points left for the peloton to snap up.

I just saw YET ANOTHER stupid spectator with a fucking flag in front of the cyclists’ wheels. One of the riders reached out and yanked it out of the way, as the person holding it was obviously too stupid to figure out it was a problem. My G-d, people, did you all fail physics?

The riders are on the most glorious switchback climb up the Col de Beixalis, and the scenery is spectacular. Down the far side of yet another climb— the second to last— and the breakaway is still away. The riders are all still in the bright sun, but the weather at the finish line is not quite so cheery. So that’ll be fun.

Well, this was inevitable. Further up the road in the rain, a spectator stepped into the road on a blind corner, and George Bennett slammed right into him, laying him out. Again, I feel very bad for the spectator, but seriously: what the fuck were you thinking?

It’s raining, now, and up ahead, Tom Dumoulin has gone off ahead of the breakaway just a little. He’s a good climber, and if he can get some time, he may take this. He’s not high enough in the standings to challenge the Maillot Jaune, so the GC guys aren’t really chasing him. Dumoulin’s now about a minute over his closest chaser, and he’s looking good. The group behind him has splintered— there’s no organized chase. He’s far enough ahead that there are cars in the gap behind him. Were that gap higher, or closing, race officials would pull all the vehicles.

Under the 10km for the largest group that holds Chris Froome. Peter Sagan has fallen off the back— he’s done, and it’s not a sprint finish, today.

Ooooh, Thibault Pinot’s cracked. Ugh. This is not a pretty stage, here. There are 50 points to be won at the top of this climb— the and Rafal Majka is pushing for it. There’s a shot at the finish line, and oh my G-d, there’s HAIL. You poor bastards.

Sky is keeping the pace so high that Nairo Quintana, latched onto Froome’s wheel, will have no chance of an attack. They know precisely what they’re doing. Up ahead of them, the breakaway is…not. It’s in scattered drips of one and two riders. Miserable riders, as they’ve hit that horrific weather.

Oh, no! I’ve just seen a note that Mark Renshaw has withdrawn. Dammit. Well, with Cav’s job pretty much done, I can understand. I just hate to see guys go out. I’m also seeing that on top of all his injuries— and perhaps, not surprisingly— Alberto Contador had a fever this morning. I hope he gets a lot of sleep.

Rafal Majka is fighting to regain the King of the Mountains jersey— Thibaud Pinot has definitely been challenging him for it today, taking over in the standings on the last climb. Can Majka get it back? He has the look of a man in pain, covered with determination. He and Rui Costa are alone, now chasing Tom Dumoulin who made a break at the 12km-to-go mark— and oh my FUCKING G-D. There’s some asshole in a lime green gimp suit, STANDING IN THE ROAD. Majka and Costa, concentrating on their job, have to GO AROUND HIM, as this idiot suddenly realises he’s in the way, and can’t figure out which way to go. Oh, my G-d, people! If you’re that stupid, STAY HOME.

Oh! Richie Porte is taking off from the Froome group— can he drag himself up the GC? Froome is right on his tail, and the rest of the group is pulling back. Dan Martin has tried to break away— he’s only 17 seconds ahead in the GC, so Froome can’t afford to let him go.

Rui Costa and Rafael Majka are only 42 seconds behind Dumoulin, but the real fight is behind them. Porte and Froome and now Adam Yates are battling for placement as they climb up the final peak of the day, Andorre Arcalis. The back of this group is Alejandro Valverde. On the back! This is an elite group. Don’t screw with them.

One kilometer to go for Tom Dumoulin, who is soaking wet.

Porte attacks again, and Froome is right there. Nairo Quintana is hanging slightly back, conserving energy. Malcolm Oliver is breaking out, but he’s pulled back.

Dumoulin is at the line in the pouring rain— the official’s car is sending up sheets of rain to either side, but nothing can dim his smile.

Sprint for second— Majka and Costa are close, but at the line, there’s no huge fight. Costa, then Majka on his wheel. It should be enough to keep the latter in Polka Dots.

Here comes the rest of the group. Daniel Navarro of Cofidis— G-d, I can barely see his wheels for the rain. Winner Anacona, then Thibaud Pinot, and all I can think is “Please, please someone get these guys warm and dry.”

George Bennett. Matthias Frank. Diego Rosa. A few others. The remnants of that twenty-man breakaway. But the group with Froome is still climbing, and it’s so dark and grim on the mountain. Dan Martin is pulling hard. But Richie Porte is not giving an inch. Froome, one of his best friends, is right on his rear wheel— they’re beating the hell out of each other today.

They’re finally just a few hundred meters away— Adam Yates makes a breakaway and Froome is right on him! Quintana locks onto them, but there’s the slightest gap back to Porte now, so there may be a second or two loss. Tejay Vangarderen is several seconds back, yet— ouch. The final standings will have changed again. Majka has indeed lost the King of the Mountains jersey to Thibauld Pinot, but Majka clawed back enough points on the final climb to put him a mere three points back, so that fight goes on.

It’s still absolutely bloody disgusting weather out there, and thank G-d there’s a rest day tomorrow.

Tom Dumoulin heads towards the finish line in pouring rain. Photograph: Peter Dejong/AP, via https://www.theguardian.com/sport/live/2016/jul/10/tour-de-france-2016-stage-nine-updates-live

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