Ireland’s Dan Martin Wins Tour de France Stage; Froome Leads

Ireland’s Dan Martin won the ninth stage of cycling’s Tour de France yesterday as Britain’s Chris Froome kept the race leader’s yellow jersey.

The stage covered about 105 miles (170 kilometers) from Saint-Girons to Bagneres-de-Bigorre in the Pyrenees, over a course featuring four category-one climbs. Today is the first rest day in this year’s event.

“Every win is important and special in its own way,” of Garmin-Sharp rider Martin said on the tour website. “It was such an incredible day today because this team Garmin-Sharp shows such a team spirit. Some of the guys nearly missed the time limit because they gave so much for my victory. We decided this morning on the bus that I was going to try and win the stage and we’ve succeeded so it’s incredible.”

Froome, the pre-race favorite, took over the yellow jersey two days ago when he won the eighth stage, from Castres to Ax-3-Domaines, by 51 seconds and finished 1:45 ahead of two-time Tour winner Alberto Contador.

Yesterday, Froome kept top spot as Spain’s Alejandro Valverde of the Movistar team jumped into second place, 1:25 behind. Belkin’s Bauke Mollema of Holland is third, 1:44 back.

Saxo-Tinkoff’s Contador is in sixth place, 1:51 behind.

Movistar and Saxo-Tinkoff attacked during yesterday’s stage, the race’s first in the mountains. Froome’s teammate Richie Porte, who started the day in second place, was dropped early and finished 17:59 behind Martin. That left Froome isolated, but the British rider was able to keep pace.

“That was really one of the hardest days that I’ve ever had on a bike but I’m just happy to still be in the yellow jersey,” Froome said. “I was a little bit exposed there in the front group but I felt like I was riding quite within myself and I was happy that I was able to follow the biggest challenges.”

Tomorrow’s ride starts in Saint-Gildas-des-Bois and finishes 197 kilometers later in Saint-Malo. The 21-stage race ends July 21 on the Champs Elysees in Paris.

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