Laruns (France), Sep 7 (IANS) Tadej Pogacar led home a Slovenian one-two in Stage 9 of the ongoing Tour de France as compatriot Primoz Roglic moved into the yellow jersey after a pulsating second day in the Pyrenees.
The Slovenian duo was part of a deluxe chase quartet alongside Egan Bernal and Mikel Landa which swept up Swiss escapee Marc Hirschi with just over one kilometre remaining after a heart-in-mouth descent of the Col de Marie Blanque on Sunday.
Team Sunweb’s Hirschi put in a brave sprint after spending 90 kilometres on the front of the race, but Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) and Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) powered through to deny the 22-year-old a first professional win. The victory instead went to another Tour debutant, Pogacar, who moments earlier almost hit the deck when touching wheels with his compatriot in the sprint for bonus seconds over the top of the final climb.
Roglic, a winner in Laruns two years ago, took over the race lead after yellow jersey Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) was distanced on the Marie Blanque following a succession of attacks from the Slovenian duo and the white jersey of Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers).
Britain’s Yates came home in a second chase group 54 seconds in arrears to drop to eighth place in the general classification on the eve of the first rest day. Roglic now leads defending champion Bernal by 21 seconds after the Colombian missed out on bonus seconds over the Marie Blanque and at the finish, where he took fourth place ahead of Spain’s Landa (Bahrain-McLaren).
Frenchman Giullaume Martin (Cofidis) stays third but is now 28 seconds off the summit after he came home 11 seconds down in a five-man chase group that featured compatriot Romain Bardet (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Trek-Segafredo duo Richie Porte and Bauke Mollema, and the Colombian pair Rigoberto Uran (EF Pro Cycling) and Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic).
Hirschi spent most of the 153km stage from Pau out ahead after powering clear on the second of five categorised climbs, the Cat.1 Col de la Hourcere. At one point, the lone leader had a gap of four and a half minutes over the main field before some hefty tempo-setting by Roglic’s Jumbo-Visma train slashed the lead ahead of the all-important Col de Marie Blanque, where the expected fireworks blew up the race and turned the battle for yellow on its head.
Despite missing out on the win, Hirschi moved up to third place in the King of the Mountain standings, where he trails French duo Benoit Cosnefroy and Nans Peters (both Ag2R-La Mondiale) by 10 and five points respectively. On a quiet day in the battle for green, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) retained his lead of seven points over Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep) in the maillot vert race after both riders came home in the gruppetto.