D.eternal champion Tadej Pogacar kept control of the Tour de France on a second rain-soaked day in the Alps when an accident-filled opening week took its toll on rivals on Sunday.
Both last year’s runner-up Primoz Roglic and former race leader Mathieu van der Poel dropped out of the race ahead of the grueling 144.9-kilometer (90-mile) route from Cluses to Tignes on Sunday.
Australian rider Ben O’Connor won the ninth stage after launching a solo break with 17 kilometers to go. Sergio Higuita was unable to follow the 25-year-old when O’Connor lit the Col du Pr for last in Tignes. It’s his first win on the tour.
O’Connor finished more than five minutes ahead of Mattia Cattaneo in second place. Pogacar responded to a late attack by Richard Carapaz to defend his overall lead by finishing sixth., a little over six minutes behind O’Connor.
UAE Team Emirates driver Pogacar has a 2:01 lead over O’Connor before the first rest day on Monday.
Van der Poel kept the yellow jersey for six days, but gave it to Pogacar on Saturday.
“We decided with the team that the best thing for me is to leave the race and focus on the Olympics now,” said the Dutch driver after retiring.
Roglic crashed badly during Monday’s third stage in western Brittany and has been fighting ever since. The Jumbo-Visma team said the Slovenian driver would focus on new goals.
“We made the decision all together with the team, it makes no sense to continue,Roglic said.
Roglic performed well in Friday’s time trial, but suffered on the 151-kilometer (94-mile) route from Oyonnax to Le Grand-Bornand on Saturday, when Pogacar took control of the race. Roglic was already almost 40 minutes behind his compatriot before Sunday’s stage.
Roglic said he surprised himself in the time trial, but doubts returned on Saturday’s first mountain stage when he was in a lot of pain.
“It’s too much for my body right now and yes, I can’t race,” said the 31-year-old. “I’m disappointed. I didn’t plan for it to be the way it is, but in the end, I have to accept it.”
1. Ben O’Connor, Australia, AG2R Citroen Team, 4h 26min 43s
2. Mattia Cattaneo, Italy, Deceuninck-QuickStep 5m 7s behind.
3. Sonny Colbrelli, Italy, Victorious Bahrain, 5m 34s behind.
4. Guillaume Martin, France, Cofidis 5m 36s behind.
5. Franck Bonnamour, France, B&B Hotels p / b KTM 6m 2s behind.
6. Tadej Pogacar, Slovenia, UAE Team Emirates, at the same time.
7. Richard Carapaz, Ecuador, Ineos Grenadiers, 6m 34s behind.
8. Jonas Vingegaard, Denmark, Jumbo-Visma, at the same time.
9. Enric Mas Nicolau, Spain, Movistar Team, same time.
10. Rigoberto Uran, Colombia, EF Education-Nippo, same time.
1. Tadej Pogacar, Slovenia, UAE Team Emirates, 34 hours 11 minutes 10 seconds.
2. Ben O’Connor, Australia, AG2R Citron Team 2m 1s behind.
3. Rigoberto Uran, Colombia, EF Education-Nippo, 5m 18s behind.
4. Jonas Vingegaard, Denmark, Jumbo-Visma, 5m 32s behind.
5. Richard Carapaz, Ecuador, Ineos Grenadiers, 5m 33s behind.
6. Enric Mas Nicolau, Spain, Movistar Team, 5m 47s behind.
7. Wilco Kelderman, Netherlands, Bora-Hansgrohe, 5m 58s behind.
8. Alexey Lutsenko, Kazakhstan, Astana-Premier Tech, 6m 12s behind.
9. Guillaume Martin, France, Cofidis, 7m 2s behind.
10. David Gaudu, France, Groupama-FDJ, 7m 22s behind.