It was a brutal day of racing for UAE Team Emirates as they battled through stage nine with over 22 kilometres of cobbles to contend with.
General Classification contender Dan Martin, who had sustained injuries in Saturday’s eighth stage, stayed safe in the peloton peloton and finished 32nd.
The Irishman was carefully chaperoned to the front of the race by Oliviero Troia and finally delivered to the line with the main bunch after nearly three and half hours of chaotic racing.
After dropping down the GC table in Saturday’s race, Martin’s impressive effort allowed him to recover seven positions and climb up to the 24th spot.
He is now just 3 mins 22 seconds behind the yellow jersey leader Greg van Avermaet – a time deficit that can be made up when the Tour heads to the mountains next week.
Alexander Kristoff also finished in the main group with the Norwegian taking 11th spot and earning another eight points in the green jersey standings.
Commenting on the stage, Martin said: “That was incredibly hard and I have a new level of respect for the guys that ride Paris-Roubaix. It was an amazing experience and – in a strange way – I loved every minute.
“It would have been nicer without all the crashes, but at the end of the day my bike was faultless, we made it to the finish line and we’re still in the fight for the podium.
Even after the crash on Saturday, the team still believes in me 100%, so I have to give it everything.
“I stayed relaxed and composed, made sure I ate and drank before the cobbled sections and hung back when I needed to, knowing that the team would help me pick my way back to the front when the time was right.”
John Degenkolb won the Arras-Roubaix ninth stage of the Tour de France on Sunday ahead of Greg Van Avermaet as dozens of falls and multiple withdrawals made for a slapstick spectacle amidst clouds of dust.
Van Avermaet kept hold of the overall leader’s yellow jersey on a day when his team captain Richie Porte withdrew after a fall and the main contenders all finished more or less together.
More to follow…
After the ecstasy of winning Stage 6 on Thursday, it was agony for UAE Team Emirates‘ Dan Martin in Saturday’s eighth stage of the Tour de France as the Irishman was involved in a late crash that put him out of contention for another stage win.
Fellow UAE Team Emirates rider Alexander Kristoff finished fourth though, with Dylan Groenewegan (Lotto NL-Jumbo) winning the stage.
Stage 8, a relatively short route in Normandy covering 181km from Dreux to Amiens, was another stage for sprinters, giving Martin the chance to claim another victory until misfortune struck.
“Obviously I’ve felt better. But it could have been a lot worse. It was just a case of wrong place, wrong time,” Martin said, who dropped over a minute and arrived at the finish line with blood streaming from a wound on his elbow.
“There was a break ahead of us, someone moved across and took my front wheel away. I couldn’t do anything about it.
“I know the time loss isn’t the best thing, but the guys did a great job of bringing me back up.
“Thankfully nothing is broken, so now I need to focus on tomorrow’s stage, survive the cobblestones and then we’ll see how things are after the rest day.
“I’ve already won a stage and as I’ve said – anything else is just a bonus.”
Kristoff, meanwhile, was sixth across the line after holding his position at the front of the peloton to be a part of the final sprint.
The Norwegian gained two places though when the second and third-place riders, Andre Greipel of the Lotto Soudal team and Quick-Step Floors’ Fernando Gaviria, were disqualified for elbowing and headbutting in two separate incidents in the finale.