Impey, out of Africa

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First African leader of the Tour de France, for two days in 2013, Daryl Impey became the second South African stage winner after Robert Hunter in Montpellier in 2007 as he outsprinted his last breakaway companion, Belgium’s Tiesj Benoot, in Brioude, the home of Romain Bardet who attacked from the peloton in the last climb but was brought back by Team Ineos. Julian Alaphilippe retained the yellow jersey after shining on the roads of his Auvergne region on Bastille Day.

14 riders plus Marc Soler in the lead

172 riders took the start of stage 9 in Saint-Etienne. Polka dot jersey holder Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) was first to attack after flag off but Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin) was first to make a gap for himself. Alessandro De Marchi (CCC) was forced to abandon after a heavy crash at km 10. Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe), Oliver Naesen (AG2R-La Mondiale), Ivan Garcia Cortina and Jan Tratnik (Bahrain-Merida), Tony Martin (Jumbo-Visma), Simon Clarke (EF Education First), Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott), Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Nicolas Roche (Sunweb), Jesus Herrada (Cofidis), Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal), Romain Sicard (Total Direct Energie), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) and Anthony Delaplace (Arkéa-Samsic) rode away at km 14. Marc Soler (Movistar) counter-attacked by himself and made the junction 1.2km before the summit of the very steep Mur d’Aurec (km 36.5) where Benoot gave Lotto-Soudal their 18th KOM victory since the start of the Tour de France (9 for Thomas De Gendt, 8 for Tim Wellens). Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) also attacked solo from the peloton and came 25’’ behind the leading group but couldn’t bridge the gap and waited for the pack.

Pöstlberger at the front with 42km to go

The deficit of the peloton was 8’50’’ at Mur d’Aurec. A time gap of 10’49’’ was recorded at km 47, after which Deceuninck-Quick Step maintained it just above ten minutes. Boasson Hagen won the intermediate sprint at Arlanc (km 92). Clarke was first to attack from the front group with 62km to go. Garcia Cortina did so as well with 45km to go but following his move in a non-categorized climb, Pöstleberger found himself alone in the lead 42km before the end while the peloton let the gap increasing (13’ with 30km to go, 14’ with 20km to go). The Austrian was caught in the last categorized climb of the day with 15km to go. Roche and Benoot attacked from the leading group reduced to seven riders. Impey came across and passed first at côte de St-Just with 13km remaining.

First South African national champion to win at the Tour

Benoot and Impey rode to victory 7km before the end while Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale), Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) and Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) attacked in the côte de St-Just but Team Ineos was prompt to bring them back. Benoot and Impey shared the turns to avoid the return of their former breakaway companions. Benoot took the initiative of launching the sprint but Impey proved to be the fastest. He’s the first rider to win a Tour de France stage with the South Africa national champion jersey. The last victory of his Mitchelton-Scott team was with Michael Matthews in 2016. – www.letour.fr

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