Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) took his first individual Tour de France victory, winning from a large breakaway on stage nine of the Tour de France 2019.
After making the day's break, the South African managed to make his way back up to Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) and Nicolas Roche (Sunweb) after the pair had attacked in the closing kilometres.
Impey led Benoot out in the final kilometre, with the Belgian knowing he had a slower finish and so played his cards with an early attack before Impey rounded him with ease to take the victory.
The South African national road and time trial champion has a previous stage win on his palmàres, albeit a team time trial victory in 2013 for his Australian team, back then operating under the name Orica-GreenEDGE.
How it happened
Stage nine of the Tour de France was set up for a breakaway to succeed on Bastille Day, to cap off a tricolore of celebration after a great week for the French in their home Grand Tour. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) was in yellow, Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) the highest-placed GC contender, and a Frenchman crossing the line first in Brioude would likely send the nation into meltdown.
After yesterday's breakaway heroics from 'Mr Breakaway' himself, Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), many were
After Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Gobert) crashed in the neutral zone, Alessandro De Marchi (CCC) had a worrying-looking fall just after the flag dropped, lying face down on the side of the road, with an ambulance soon at the scene to tend to him.
A group of around 15 riders went clear before the sole category one climb of the day, the Mur d'Aurec-sur-Loire, with Marc Soler (Movistar) scrambling to catch up to the break including Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott), Oliver Naesen (Ag2r La Mondiale) Nicolas Roche (Sunweb) and Tiesj Bennot (Lotto-Soudal).
Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) was also caught out, making his dash to get across as Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) was caught short. Attacking the yellow jersey while he stops for a nature break is a big no-no, and when the Portuguese slinked back to the peloton after his failed manoeuvre up the road it is likely he was met with a few looks.
The peloton seemed happy with the selection, spreading across the road to stop any further attacks and allowing the break a gap of more than 10 minutes with 115km to go, signalling the stage winner would come from the group of 15.
Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) won the intermediate sprint with 75km to go, as the peloton swanned through French countryside, taking a day off after a manic first week of racing.
Simon Clarke (EF Education First) and Jan Tratnik (Bahrain-Merida) attacked the breakaway with 61km to go, looking to whittle the group down, with impey pipping Benoot to the summit of the Côte Des Guillaumanches.
After a few more members of the group attacked, stretching their legs and testing those of their immediate opponents, Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) hit the front and found himself with a gap over the rest of the escapees.
Ploughing on, he soon opened up a 20 second gap with 35km to go, heading up towards the minute mark after another 10km.
The remnants of the breakaway caught the Austrian on the Cote de Saint-Just with 14km to go, with Roche and Benoot going up the road as Soler stuttered.
Impey then made his way across to the front two with 12km remaining, before Benoot attacked 4km later, with Roche distanced.
Ten minutes behind, Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) attacked the peloton as they headed towards his hometown, with Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) and Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) following. Ineos reacted, and reeled them in fairly easily, crowning the first sighting of the newly evolved Ineos-train, which proved to be just as effective as ever.
Benoot and Impey held a 17 second gap over the chasing breakaway remnants heading into the last kilometre, with Impey leading out Benoot, both knowing the Belgian didn't have the pace to win in a sprint finish. Benoot launched early, and the South African came round him with ease to take his first Tour stage victory.
The bunch crossed the line 16 minutes later, possibly their easiest day on the bike so far in this year's race, with one more stage left to contend before the first race day.
Tour de France 2019, stage nine: Saint-Étienne to Brioude (170.5km)
1. Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott, in 4-03-12
2. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, at same time
3. Jan Tratnik (Slo) Bahrain-Merida, at 10 seconds
4. Oliver Naesen (Bel) Ag2r La Mondiale
5. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo, both at same time
6. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Sunweb, at 14s
7. Marc Soler (Esp) Movistar, at 21s
8. Iván García Cortina (Esp) Bahrain-Merida, at 1-50
9. Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Education First, same time
10. Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Arkéa-Samsic, at 2-42
General classification after stage nine
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, in 34-17-59
2. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, at 23 seconds
3. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 53s
4. George Bennett (NZl) Jumbo-Visma, at 1-10
5. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos, at 1-12
6. Egan Bernal (Col) Ineos, at 1-16
7. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 1-27
8. Rigoberto Urán (Col)EF Education First, at 1-38
9. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, at 1-42
10. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 1-45
Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1