Tour de France 2021: Mark Cavendish makes the time cut as Arnaud Démare among those eliminated on stage nine

A brutal day in the Alps saw numerous riders eliminated ahead of the Tour de France's first rest day

Mark Cavendish on stage nine of the 2021 Tour de France
(Image credit: Getty Images)

An emotional Mark Cavendish was visibly grateful to his Deceuninck-Quick-Step team-mates at the end of stage nine of the Tour de France, after they helped him make it to the summit finish in Tignes inside the time cut.

Cavendish, who still leads the green jersey points competition, arrived at the mountain finish in the Alps along with team-mates Tim Declercq and Michael Mørkøv to beat the stage's time limit of 37-20 by 1-31.

>>> Five talking points from stage nine of Tour de France 2021

The Manxman, who was eliminated after missing the time cut on his last Tour appearance in 2018, finished the stage 35-49 after winner Ben O'Connor (Ag2r Citroën Team) and immediately embraced his team-mates at the 2,083m summit for guiding him through the brutal day.

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It was a second consecutive day of climbing in horrendous, rain-soaked conditions for the peloton, which had to tackle five huge categorised climbs over 144.9km. 

"This was one stage I was terrified of," Cavendish said after the finish. I’m emotional I got over it. I’m delighted I’m still on the race… But the worst part is there are many days like this to come. As much as I missed the Tour de France, I didn’t think of these mountain stages. 

"In the last couple of years, watching the race on TV, I was a bit jealous that Deceuninck-Quick-Step always got someone dropped to take care of their sprinter while, in my last participation, I was left to my own devices. Today 

"I could count on Tim [Declercq] and [Michael] Morkov to support me. I’m so humbled and physically broken."

Making it inside the time limit means Cavendish, who has surpassed all expectations by winning two stages already at the Tour, can look forward to a sprint stage when the race resumes after its rest day on stage 10. He'll then have to get through the double ascent of Mont Ventoux on stage 11 to get to two further sprint finish opportunities on stages 12 and 13.

Mark Cavendish on stage nine of the 2021 Tour de France

(Image credit: Getty Images)

He'll also face reduced competition for those sprints as well, with other riders out of the Tour after stage nine. Arnaud Démare and his main lead-out man Jacopo Guarnieri were eliminated after missing the time cut to Tignes, meaning Groupama-FDJ will need to refocus their efforts on stage wins from breakaways and helping David Gaudu further up the top-10 in GC.

Démare's fellow Frenchman Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels) is also out of the race after missing the time cut, though he was unable to feature in the sprint finishes in the Tour's first week.

Elsewhere stage three winner Tim Merlier abandoned the stage mid-way through, while his Alpecin-Fenix team-mate Mathieu van der Poel didn't even start as he turns his focus to mountain biking and the Olympic Games. It means the Alpecin-Fenix sprint train, which looked like the only competitor to Deceuninck-Quick-Step in the bunch finishes so far, is severely reduced and the team will now look to Jasper Philipsen to deliver a result in the coming flat stages.

The sprinters weren't the only abandons on stage nine; Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) called time on his Tour before the stage after suffering with injuries throughout the first week having crashed hard on stage three.

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Richard Windsor

Follow on Twitter: @richwindy

Richard is digital editor of Cycling Weekly. Joining the team in 2013, Richard became editor of the website in 2014 and coordinates site content and strategy, leading the news team in coverage of the world's biggest races and working with the tech editor to deliver comprehensive buying guides, reviews, and the latest product news.

An occasional racer, Richard spends most of his time preparing for long-distance touring rides these days, or getting out to the Surrey Hills on the weekend on his Specialized Tarmac SL6 (with an obligatory pub stop of course).