Tour de France: Alberto Contador pulls out with 'virus' as Chris Froome retains yellow jersey

The 33-year-old is one of a select group who have won all three Grand Tours

Ian Parker
Andorre Arcalis
Sunday 10 July 2016 13:42
Alberto Contador was forced to pull out at stage nine
Alberto Contador was forced to pull out at stage nine

Chris Froome kept his cool through searing heat and violent hailstones to retain the yellow jersey heading into the first rest day of the Tour de France.

As Tom Dumoulin of Giant-Alpecin won the 184.5-kilometre stage nine from Vielha val d'Aran to Andorre Arcalis, Froome fought to retain the yellow jersey he seized in surprise fashion on Saturday.

The Team Sky leader will carry a 16-second lead into Monday's rest day after repeatedly snuffing out attacks as conditions became treacherous late in the day.

The stage began in glorious sunshine in Spain and the temperatures stayed sky high as they crossed into Andorra, but as they began the final climb to Andorre Arcalis a storm closed in and huge hailstones battered the riders.

"It was a tough stage and the weather only made it tougher," Froome said.

"One minute we were pouring water over our heads and putting ice packs down our back, the next minute we had ice falling from the sky with the hailstones and the temperature dropped to 10 degrees. It went from one extreme to the other.

"It definitely made it harder for us. It's great to still be in yellow after a tough two days like that."

Froome crossed the line with fellow Brit Adam Yates of Orica-BikeExchange and Movistar's Nairo Quintana, some six minutes 35 seconds after Dumoulin, and saw his list of rivals for yellow dwindle as others suffered.

Tinkoff's Alberto Contador abandoned 84km into the stage, having added illness to injury when he awoke on Sunday with a fever while still feeling the affects of two early crashes.

The Spaniard had actually attacked on the first categorised climb of the day, the Port de la Bonaigua, but once he had been caught he was soon in discussions with his team car before eventually climbing in.

"I was quite surprised to hear Contador got into the car today," Froome said.


"He attacked on the first climb and was up front so obviously he wasn't feeling too bad at the start, but of course he was still suffering with injury. It's a shame he's no longer in the race. With him it was only going to make it a more exciting race than it already is."

The 23-year-old Yates is second in the overall standings, 16 seconds back and in the white jersey as the best young rider. With Mark Cavendish still in the points leaders' green jersey, British riders hold three of the four leaders' jerseys with Frenchman Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) in polka dots as king of the mountains.

Yates has said he does not believe he can challenge in the general classification due to his time-trialling, but is happy to still be in the mix after the first week of the Tour.

"I'm still here for stages, I came to race for stages," the Bury rider said.

"I am doing good on GC but it's a background objective. I'm not too bad where I am and we have the rest day tomorrow. I'll rest up and see how the legs come out after."

As the likes of Fabio Aru (Astana), Tejay van Garderen (BMC), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) lost time, there was a shake-up at the top of the general classification.

Birmingham-born Irishman Dan Martin had led the favourites up much of the final climb and gave up only a couple of seconds to sit third, 19 seconds back, while Quintana closely marked Froome without making a move to go into fourth place, still 23 seconds down.

Chris Froome celebrates being handed the leader's yellow jersey

"I was just trying to make up time on some guys who had been dropped," said Martin, who attacked off the front a number of times on the final climb.

"I think Richie (Porte) was thinking the same thing. Nairo and Chris were just playing cat and mouse. They would chase us down and then just look at each other. There are some pretty strange tactics going on. I don't know when Nairo is going to make a move because he hasn't made a move in three days."

Froome was likewise waiting for a Quintana attack that never came

"All the way up to the last kilometre and into the last kilometre, I thought, 'He hasn't attacked yet, maybe he's saving it for one big move', but that never came," Froome said.

"I'd like to think he was on his limit but he just stuck to my wheel like glue."

Dumoulin attacked off the front of the breakaway on the descent of the penultimate climb, the Col de Beixalis, and then used his time-trialling skills to stay away.

The Dutchman has now won stages in three consecutive Grand Tours following victories in last year's Vuelta a Espana and May's Giro d'Italia.

"I didn't do much in the breakaway, just a few pulls so I was one of the strongest I guess," the 25-year-old said.

"I'm a time triallist and it's difficult to close on me. I was still afraid they would come back, I could feel my power going down and I was slowing down so I was a little bit scared, but no one came back and it was a really special day."


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