Luis Leon Sanchez Wins Stage 9 of Tour; Voeckler Takes Yellow Jersey
Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) has won Stage 9 of the 2011 Tour de France.
Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) has won Stage 9 of the 2011 Tour de France. The Spaniard took a three-up sprint from Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) and Sandy Casar (Francaise des Jeux) to win the hilly, crash-marred, 208-km ride from Issoire to St. Flour in 5:27:09. Voeckler finished second at 0:05, and Casar settled for third at 0:13. Voeckler contented himself with the maillot jaune, which he last wore in 2004.
After numerous abortive sallies, Voeckler escaped on the Category 3 Cote de Massiac (43.5 km). Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank), Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky), Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil-DCM), Casar, Sanchez, and Niki Terpstra (Quick Step) joined him later. Ten Dam dropped back, but the other six riders led the field by nearly four minutes at 64 km. Behind the break, however, more important things happened.
At 84 km, Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) and Vladimir Karpets (Katusha) collided, and the two-time defending champion had to change bikes. Worse happened at 102 km, when a crash occurred on the descent of the Category 2 Col de Perthus. Alexander Vinokourov (Astana), Jurgen van den Broeck and Frederik Willems (both from Omega Pharma-Lotto), and David Zabriskie (Garmin-Cervelo) abandoned, and many other riders were delayed. Ahead, a truce was called to allow delayed riders to get back on. The truce allowed the escapees' advantage to reach nearly eight minutes.
With 36 km left, more carnage took place. A French television vehicle struck Flecha, who took out Hoogerland. The Dutchman cartwheeled into a barbed wire fence. Both riders were bloodied. Voeckler, Casar, and Sanchez waited for a time and then increased the pace.
Casar and Sanchez saw the opportunity for a stage win, while Voeckler saw the chance for a bigger prize--the yellow jersey. With 20 km left, the escapees led Flecha by 3:00, the peloton by 4:24, and Hoogerland by 6:35. Two km later, the bunch absorbed Flecha.
With 15 km left, the fugitives led the field by 4:05. Voeckler paced the group, as he had done for some time. Casar led the trio into the last km. Voeckler broke past Sanchez, but the Spaniard lunged into the lead and easily held off the Europcar man.
In the overall, Voeckler leads Sanchez by 1:49 and Cadel Evans (BMC) by 2:26. Tomorrow will be the Tour's first rest day, and the riders can use the rest. Many teams must formulate new strategies because their GC men have abandoned because of crash-related injuries.
Many riders will require a day to allow their wounds to heal to some degree. Stage 10 will see the field back at work, however. The 158-km, rolling ride from Aurillac to Carmaux will feature four categorized climbs that might allow breakaways. Who will be in the breaks? Who will win the stage? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and www.roadcycling.mobi to find out!