Chris Froome (Team Sky) held onto the overall lead of the 2017 Tour de France as Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) pipped Warren Barguil (Sunweb) to victory on a dramatic ninth stage in the mountains.
Barguil thought he had beaten Uran to the line in a reduced sprint among climbers including Froome, Fabio Aru, Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) and Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale), but the photo finish showed the Colombian had taken it by a tyre.
It’ll come as a bitter blow to Frenchman Barguil, who found himself among the GC contenders having been in the breakaway all day on the 181.5km stage that took in seven categorised climbs.
He had gone solo over the final climb of Mont du Chat before being caught on the flat towards Chambéry by his countryman Bardet, but in the end the final group came together to fight it out for the stage win in the sprint.
Uran had suffered gear problems in the final 20km, but was able to lead the sprint towards the line, with Barguil rushing up to his right hand side.
The Cannondale man was able to hold his speed enough and his bike throw was good enough to pip Barguil to the victory, with Barguil initially thinking he had taken it.
Froome was able to take third in the sprint to grab four bonus seconds on the line and extend his overall lead.
However, thoughts will certainly be with Australian Richie Porte (BMC) after he suffered a horrific crash on the final descent from Mont du Chat and was taken away in an ambulance.
Dan Martin (Quick-Step) lost time after being caught up in the Richie Porte crash, while Nairo Quintana (Movistar) finished with him having been dropped by Froome’s accelerations over the top of Mont du Chat, losing 1-15 to the yellow jersey.
Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) lost even more time after cracking on the final climb, and looks to have dropped out of contention for the overall.
How it happened
The day began uphill towards the first of seven categorised climbs and as expected, a breakaway tried to get away as soon as the flag dropped.
Unlike stage eight, which was a huge, drawn out fight for the break to get clear, 40 men were able to free themselves before the summit of the second climb.
Team Sky, once again controlling the peloton for Froome, were happy to let them get a gap, and after much fighting for mountains points, the breakaway was eventually slimmed down to a more manageable group on the first hors categorie climb of the Col de la Biche.
Behind, there was a blow for Team Sky on the descent off of the Col de la Biche as Geraint Thomas was forced to abandon the race after crashing and breaking his collarbone. Thomas, who won the opening time trial of the Tour, was second overall on GC at 12 seconds behind Froome.
By the time the breakaway were on the next HC climb of the Grand Colombier, Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo), Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r La Mondiale), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Warren Barguil (Sunweb) and Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) had gone clear towards the ascent.
With 72km left on the stage, Carlos Betancur (Movistar), Michael Matthews (Sunweb), Jan Bakelants (Ag2r), Daniel Navarro (Cofidis), Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal), Jarlinson Pantano (Trek-Segafredo) were then able to bridge back across to form the break group, getting a maximum gap of almost five minutes on the peloton.
Bakelants and Gallopin went away from the group after Matthews took the intermediate sprint points and hit the final climb of the Mont du Chat with 3-30 in hand on the yellow jersey group.
Gallopin was first to try his luck on his own, but after much toing and froing, it was Barguil that found himself heading to the summit of the HC climb alone with around 30km to go.
Behind, the GC riders began shedding the rest of the peloton and controversy struck with around 33km to the finish.
Froome, appearing to suffer a mechanical, raised him arm to alert the team car that he wanted a bike change. Fabio Aru then tried to attack, quickly distancing Froome but taking Quintana and Porte with him.
As Froome made his bike change, the Aru group then slowed up allowing the race leader to climb back.
With Porte trying his luck further up the climb, it was Froome that split the group with a stinging attack at 26km to go.
Contador and Quintana were the first to drop off, with Dan Martin also in trouble but able to clamber his way back.
Barguil was able to summit the climb with 25 seconds on the Froome group, with the race leader beginning the ascent with Fuglsang, Aru, Porte, Uran and Martin.
It was with 22km to go though that disaster struck for Porte, who appeared to hit the dirt on the left side of the road on the descent before being thrown across to the right and into the stone wall, taking down Martin.
The rest of the contenders were able to safely pass, though Uran damaged his gears trying to avoid the incident.
They successfully negotiated the rest of the descent to the flat roads at the bottom, where they eventually caught Barguil and a late attack from Bardet to set it up for a sprint finish.
The Tour de France heads into a rest day on Monday before resuming with a sprint stage on Tuesday to Bergerac.
Tour de France 2017, stage nine: Nantua to Chambéry (181.5km)
1 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac, in 5-07-22
2 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Sunweb
3 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky
4 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
5 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team
6 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team, all same time
7 George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-Jumbo, at 1-15
8 Mikel Landa (Spa) Team Sky
9 Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors
10 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team, all same time
General classification after stage nine
1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky, in 38-26-28
2 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team, at 18s
3 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale, at 51s
4 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac, at 55s
5 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team, at 1-37
6 Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors, at 1-44
7 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott, at 2-02
8 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team, at 2-13
9 Mikel Landa (Spa) Team Sky , at 3-06
10 George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-Jumbo, at 3-53