Dan Martin crashed on stage 9 of the Tour de France as dozens of riders hit the ground in crashes and no less than 22 of them said goodbye to this year’s race after abandoning as an aftermath of the incidents or due to the time cut.
Stage 9 of the Tour de France will have a special place in collective memory, but not for the right reasons such as a showdown between the yellow jersey contenders or a long-range attack, but for being one of the most brutal and unforgiving in the race’s history.
The stage was only 181.5 kilometres in length, but was packed with seven classified climbs, three of which were Hors Catégorie – Col de la Biche, Grand Colombier and Mont du Chat – for a total of 4,700 metres of vertical gain. The three monster ascents led to countless selections, but despite the fierce tempo on the double-digit gradients and the subsequent attacks on the tricky descents, Dan Martin was at all times in control, keeping his composure even when he was briefly distanced on the day’s final climb.
In a turn of unfortunate events, disaster struck on the final downhill of the stage, when Nicolas Roche’s team leader Richie Porte (BMC) lost control of his bike on a corner and crashed hard, taking Dan Martin with him. The Irishman had to wait for a new wheel and once he received it from the neutral service he started chasing the yellow jersey group, but another crash dented his hopes of making the catch by the end of this utterly chaotic stage.
Despite this second blow, the 30-year-old didn’t give up and after a getting a new bike from the Quick-Step Floors car, he joined a group that included Mikel Landa (Team Sky) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar), which he drove at a furious pace on the flat section leading to Chambéry, and remarkably finished only 1:15 down on winner Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac), in ninth place, after riding his heart out and showcasing his trademark never-say-die attitude.
“I was lucky when Geraint (Thomas) crashed, because his bike touched my handlebars, but my luck ran out at the end and couldn’t avoid Richie (Porte) on the descent. It was slippery under the trees; he lost his back wheel on that corner, went on the grass and crashed hard. There was nowhere to go for me. It was a bummer to go down again because I couldn’t break after getting a front wheel from the neutral service. On the plus side, I immediately joined a group and was soon flying over the descent. Gave everything there, rode with the other guys like it was a team time trial and tried to salvage as much as I could”, explained Martin after his amazing all-out effort, which sees him go into the second week of the Tour de France in sixth overall.
Luckily today (Monday) is a rest day for riders which will give them an opportunity to recover from a difficult day in the mountains.