Published on: Amended:
On Sunday, Luxembourg’s Bob Jungels took victory in the ninth stage of the Tour de France, preventing Thibaut Pinot from crossing the line alone after a 192 km race through Switzerland to the French border.
UAE Team Emirates’ Slovenian Tadej Pogacar took a late burst to gain seconds over some rivals as the two-time defending champion further tightened his grip on the overall lead with a fifth-place finish.
“It’s one of the best days of my career,” Jungels said the day after one of his AG2R teammates withdrew with Covid-19.
“I went down that last hill at full speed, and that made the difference.”
Andy Schleck was the last Luxembourger to win a stage in the Tour de France eleven years ago.
On a hot day with over 40km of climbing as the peloton rolled through the Alps, past Charlie Chaplin’s longtime residence in Vevey on the northern shore of Lake Geneva, the stage was a prelude to three slogs of mountain to come.
Jungels ran 62km alone after going solo after an early breakaway as the riders climbed out of Aigle on three relatively tough climbs.
Some 20km from the finish line at La Port de Soleil ski resort on the French border, the Frenchman Pinot chased him, gradually nibbling a two-minute lead but never coming closer than 20 seconds before giving up.
Jonathan Castroviejo of Ineos Grenadiers eventually finished second with Carlos Verona of Movistar third and Pinot fourth.
Jumbo’s Wout van Aert maintained his hold on the green sprint points jersey, but his solo breakout attempt fizzled on Sunday.
Monday’s rest day will be followed by three consecutive finishes at the top of the Alps as riders desperately jostle for overall position on climbs such as the grueling Alpe d’Huez.
Stage 10 goes from Morzine to Megève, stage 11 from Albertville to Col du Granon and stage 12 from Briançon to Alpe d’huez.