Samuel Sanchez Wins Ninth Stage of Tour de France 2011 after Long Breakaway
Spanish rider Luis Leon Sanchez won Sunday's crash-marred ninth stage of the Tour de France after forming part of a long breakaway in the mountains, while Frenchman Thomas Voeckler took the yellow jersey.
in with the main pack, along with other Tour contenders such as two-time runner-ups Evans and Andy Schleck.
They all crossed the line safely, choosing not to chase Voeckler - who is not a Tour contender.
Voeckler and Casar, both former stage winners, upped the tempo in the first big climb of the day - the 7.7-kilometer (4.8-mile) ascent up Col du Pas de Peyrol - and the small front group was more than three minutes clear when they reached the top.
As the pack approached the second category 2 climb of the day up Col du Perthus, a mass crash had stricken riders picking themselves off the ground.
They included Jurgen Van Den Broeck and Frederik Willems, both Belgian riders on the Omega Pharma-Lotto team, and American David Zabriskie of the Garmin-Cervelo team. All three quit the race injured.
At the front of the peloton, in a show of solidarity, Philippe Gilbert and Fabian Cancellara asked the pack to wait for other fallen riders - which included Garmin-Cervelo's David Millar, who struggled on.
That extended the lead of the front five riders - and Voeckler's group was more than seven minutes clear after completing the 4.4-kilometer (2.73-mile) Col du Perthus.
Voeckler and Hoogerland took turns going in front down the descents and up smaller climbs like Col de Cere and Cote de la Chevade - with Casar, Sanchez and Flecha still in the mini-group of five.
After completing the final tough climb of the day up Col de Prat de Bouc, Voeckler's group led the pack by 4:40.
After a Tour de France car took down Flecha and Hoogerland, three riders were left to contest the stage, which culminated in a short, twisty and sharp 1.5-kilometer (0.93-mile) climb up to Saint-Flour.
"It's a shame for them because they rode hard with us all day," Sanchez said. "It's a pity they had to give up the stage win because of the crash."
Monday's rest day comes at a perfect time for the battered riders.