This Sunday, the ninth stage of the Tour de France lead the riders, like the day before, for a short stage through the Alps. Five climbs were spread over the 145 kilometers of the course, including the Hors-Categorie ascent of the Col du Pré around the halfway point, and a finish at the Tignes resort (2119 meters). This second and last day in the Alps also welcomed the first summit finish of this 108th Grande Boucle.
Once again, the attacks fired from the start in Cluses, Haute-Savoie, and the acceleration did not stop in the first hour, as many interested in the intermediate sprint located after the Côte de Domancy (2.6 km to 8, 8%) refused to let go. When it came time to tackle the next climb, the Col des Saisies (9.4 km at 6.2%), a group of forty riders had broken away, including Louis Meintjes, 21st in the general classification.
Several riders of the breakaway, interested in the polka dot jersey, fractured the leading group. Meintjes, in a second group of about twenty men, remained at a reasonable distance from the front of the race in the climb of the Col du Pré (12.5 km at 7.9%), however the cold and the rain, omnipresent for the last two days, got the better of many riders in the Cormet du Roselend (5.9 km at 6.6%) and its subsequent descent.
Meintjes, like the rest of the peloton, then fought under horrible weather conditions to reach the long climb to Tignes (20.8 km at 5.6%). The fugitive Ben O’Connor (Ag2r) won the race in almost four and a half hours. Meintjes crossed the line alongside teammate Lorenzo Rota, in 33rd position. His performance of the day allows him to enter the top 20, and to occupy the 19th place in the general classification on the eve of the first rest day.
After giving everything in this hard stage, frozen but combative till the very end, Loïc Vliegen did not manage to reach the finish in Tignes on time. Also affected by a sore knee, our Belgian must leave the roads of the Tour de France.