Succeeding with a slashing attack, instructions for use. On the slopes of the Col de la Croix, 62 kilometers from Châtel, Bob Jungels (AG2R Citroën) extricated himself from a group of 20 breakaway riders and never let up on his effort to win the ninth stage of the Tour de France, Sunday July 10, his first victory on the Grande Boucle.
And to think that his participation in the Tour almost wavered because of a stick in the muzzle… Positive for Covid-19 two days before the big start, Bob Jungels was allowed to take part in the partyon the wire, thanks to a “low viral load”. For those who doubted it, the AG2R Citroën rider quickly found a taste for panache. You had to have flair to embrace the wheel of Simon Geschke (Cofidis), first attacker in the Col de la Croix and new polka dot jersey. The German was then left behind on the descent, leaving Jungels alone in the lead.
In these conditions, you had to be strong to swallow the 15 ascent terminals of the Pas de Morgins. It was better not to gamberger too much, faced with the return of Pinot. The legs and the head held, and Jungels became the first Luxembourger since Andy Schleck (2011) to raise his arms on the Grande Boucle. “It’s one of my best days of the last ten years”savored the interested party at the microphone of France Télévisions. For AG2R Citroën, this is a consolation as team leader Ben O’Connor, fourth last year, has been suffering since the start of the Tour, after several falls.
On the other hand, the outcome of this stage inevitably takes on a bitter taste for Thibaut Pinot. After spending the afternoon in the right group of breakaways, the Frenchman attacked eight kilometers from the top of the last difficulty to try to get back to Jungels. But the Franc-Comtois probably waited too long to trigger his counter-attack. Even if he nibbled 1’30” seconds on the Luxembourger, the profile of the finish, almost flat, could not fully suit him.
The climber even finished fourth, ahead of Jonathan Castroviejo (Ineos Grenadiers) and Carlos Verona (Movistar). But the cruel ending in no way conceals the essential: Pinot is on its way. His stage victories in the Tours of the Alps and Switzerland were a first indicator. “It’s the first day where I have good feelings”confirmed “Tibopino” a few minutes after the finish. Relieved of the pressure of the general, this first offensive on the Tour should call for others, at the start of an alpine week.
The tenors of the general have themselves preserved for the next deadlines. Wedged in a peloton at a moderate pace, they let slip the twenty escapees, whose profile did not represent a threat, apart from Rigoberto Uran (EF Education-Easy Post), who was finally caught. Before the rest day on Monday, Tadej Pogacar maintains his 39-second lead over Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma), while Habs David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) remains fifth.