The Team Trial records the 5th fastest member of the team to cross the line. Strong teams use all nine riders. The stronger riders protect the quicker finishers, so the fastest five cross the line first. All team members get the same time. It is an unusually late Team Trial, normally it’s earlier in the Tour, and on a flatter, less hilly course. It’s designed for teams to use all of their riders. Teams who have lost members due to crashes, such as Etixx Quickstep losing Tony Martin, or Trek losing Fabian Cancellara, are at a disadvantage. The stage is partly about speed, but also efficiency and optimum rider deployment.
BMC Racing, the current world champions, were favourites for the 28km Vannes-Plumelec Team Time Trial and recorded the fastest time, 32m 15s. Team Sky was a mere second behind: Movistar -4s; Tinkoff-Saxo, -28s; and Astana -35s. Vincenzo Nibali’s (Astana) poor start to the Tour continued at the Team Trial. He did not gain any time on his Yellow Jersey rivals.
Chris Froome (Team Sky) retains the Yellow Jersey; Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) is second, 12s behind. With BMC’s strong team trial, Greg van Avaemearts (BMC Racing) is now third, 27s behind. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) has dropped to 4th, 38s behind; Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) 5th, 1m 03s behind; Rigoberto Uran (Etixx QuickStep) 6th, 1m 18s behind. Of the early favourites, Nairo Quitana (Movistar) is 1m 59s behind, but gaining; Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) 2m 22s behind and slipping.
Entering the Pyrenees, the Big Four is now a High Five. BMC has deservedly delivered Tejay van Garderen into podium contention. He is a challenger for Yellow. The Tour is now about mastery of the mountains. There are eleven stages left involving 2,016 km of cycyling. Seven of the stages are in the mountains, where the Tour can be won or lost in a single day. The next phase is the Pyrenees, beginning with Stage 10, (Tarbes-La Pierre St. Martin) on 14th July, with a finish on the Col du Soudet (1610m).
Whilst the flatter stages are about the predatory skill of the sprinters; the mountains are about gladiatorial strength and stamina to thrive and survive. This Tour is most definitely not about sightseeing.
After 9 Stages
1. Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky 31hrs 34mins 12secs
2. Tejay van Garderen (US) BMC Racing +12secs
3. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing +27secs
4. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff – Saxo +38secs
5. Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff – Saxo +1min 03secs
6. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx – Quick-Step +1min 18secs
7. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar +1min 50secs
8. Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky +1min 52secs
9. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar +1min 59secs
10. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx – Quick-Step Same time
Grahame Carder is a sports enthusiast and former player from representative Schoolboy level, through University and most corners where he’s lived. Currently works as Consultant on Strategy and Marketing.