Chris Froome and his Tour de France rivals had a welcome day off on Monday to lick their wounds and prepare for the next two gruelling weeks.
Sunday was a brutal, bruising and costly day for the Tour as a whole as five riders crashed out — including Australian contender Richie Porte and Froome’s team-mate Geraint Thomas — and seven more failed to make the cut-off time.
In one day, the Tour lost 12 riders having seen just five leave the race over the previous eight days.
With the Tour already losing Mark Cavendish to injury and Peter Sagan to disqualification, Frenchman Arnaud Demare finished outside the cut-off time on Sunday and will take no further part.
Marcel Kittel has already won three stages and will be favourite to claim two more in the next two days, his German compatriot Andre Greipel, and Norwegians Alexander Kristoff and Edvald Boasson Hagen perhaps the only two competitors who’ve shown any hope in previous sprints of beating him.
With 12 stages remaining, we take a look at the story so far.
Froome in familiar territory
Chris Froome has worn the maillot jaune for 35 of a possible 51 days of the Tour, dating back to 2015.
He donned the yellow jersey after Stage 5 and has steadily increased his advantage to 18 seconds. He’s been near-flawless up to now but the loss of Geraint Thomas as super domestique could leave him a little exposed.
Nairo playing catch-up… again
Nairo Quintana’s Tour debriefs over the years have tended to follow the same trend: stop leaving it too late.
The Colombian, though, is again in a position where he’s allowing Froome to gain time – 2:13 at present – on him and while he should claw some back in the mountains a week from now, it could be too little, too late.
Aru’s the arch-villain
Quintana and Alberto Contador may be struggling, while Richie Porte’s Tour is over, but Froome’s duel with Astana’s Fabio Aru is bubbling up nicely.
The Italian launched a cheeky attack on Sunday while Froome had mechanical issues and while both played it down as a misunderstanding, the tension will surely only rise.
Crash, bang, wallop
Porte’s crash was horrifying to see and robbed the Tour of one of their genuine GC contenders but came at the end of an opening phase of the Tour which also witnessed Thomas, Mark Cavendish, Alejandro Valverde and Ion Izagirre exit.
Stage 9 proved particularly brutal with 12 riders out of the race due to crashes and time cuts.
Contador fading fast
It’s sad to see such a giant of the Tour end this way but with each stage, the Spaniard’s powers are visibly slipping and he’s already 5:15 behind Froome.
Contador is stubborn, competitive and committed but it may not end up finishing this race, which increasingly looks like being his final Tour de France.
Sagan sent packing
Before all Sunday’s mayhem on the way to Chambery, this was the story of the race so far as
world champion Sagan was sensational disqualified after Stage 4 for elbowing Mark Cavendish during as they sprinted to the line.
It was a big call by the UCI to kick the Slovakian out as he remains cycling’s biggest superstar.
Kittel inherits role of sprint king
Sagan’s departure has thrust other sprinters into the limelight, in particular Quick Step’s Marcel Kittel and FDJ’s Arnaud Demare. German Kittel has claimed two stages and Demare one with the Frenchman also runner-up the two occasions his rival won.
Demare’s Tour is over after he missed the time cut on Stage 9 but with Michael Matthews, Alexander Kristoff and Andre Griepel in good nick, the race for the Green Jersey is wide open.
Yates is alright in white
A year on from twin brother Adam claiming the White Jersey as the best young rider of the tour, Simon Yates is following suit having led the Under-26 classification since Stage 5, while also sitting seventh overall.
UAE Team Emirates’ Louis Meintjes is his biggest threat but the South African is a full 2:58 behind and needs a big middle section of the race to keep the heat on the Brit.