The ninth stage of the Tour de France saw wild weather conditions, with Dutchman Tom Dumoulin coming out on top, while Britain’s Chris Froome remains in charge.Defending champion Chris Froome held on to the yellow jersey and eliminated several of his main rivals in the toughest stage in the Pyrenees of the Tour de France on Sunday.
Dutch rider Tom Dumoulin won the ninth leg with a solo breakaway in a hailstorm on the uphill finish, a beyond-category climb.
“That was a tough stage and the weather made it even tougher,” Froome said. “One minute we were pouring water over our heads and ice packs down our backs and the next minute there was ice falling from the sky.
“We were just trying to ride face down so the hail didn’t hit our faces,” added Froome, who took the yellow jersey with a downhill attack and stage win a day earlier. “It was pretty difficult out there.”
Part of an early breakaway, Dumoulin attacked with 12 kilometers remaining in the 184.5-kilometer (115-mile) leg from Vielha d’Aran, Spain, to Arcalis in the principality of Andorra.
“A few days ago if you said I would win maybe the hardest day in the whole Tour de France this year, I would say you were crazy,” said Dumoulin, who was sick last week. “But sometimes it all comes together and the legs were feeling good today.
“I’m a time trialist so if I have a gap it’s difficult to close it on me,” Dumoulin added.
Two-time champion Alberto Contador pulled out with a fever midway through the stage.
Among those who couldn’t keep up with Froome on the final climb were French favorite Romain Bardet, top American hope Tejay van Garderen and Fabio Aru of Italy.
Froome crossed 11th, 6:35 behind Dumoulin, right behind fellow British rider Adam Yates and immediately ahead of top rival Nairo
Quintana of Colombia.
“In the back of my mind I was waiting for (Quintana’s) attack all the way up the last climb,” Froome said. “I thought he was saving it for one big one. But that never came. I would like to think he was on his limit. It was a tough day out there. He just stuck to my wheel like glue.
“He seems to be going well but right now he’s not showing anymore than anyone else,” Froome added.
In the overall, Froome holds a 16-second lead over Yates, with Dan Martin of Ireland third, 19 seconds behind, and Quintana fourth, 23
“It’s a very open race at this point but I’m very happy to have the lead going into the first rest day,” Froome said.
Bardet is sixth, 44 seconds behind, Van Garderen is 11th with a gap of 1:01 and Aru is 13th at 1:23.
“We went through all states,” Bardet said. “In the valley, the heat was suffocating. Then in the finale it was apocalyptic.”
Monday is the race’s first rest day. Then there is one more stage in the Pyrenees on Tuesday, a 197-kilometer (122-mile) leg from Escaldes-Engordany, Andorra, to Revel, France. The three-week race ends in Paris on July 24.