Tour de France: Woods wins atop Puy de Dôme as Pogačar gains on Vingegaard

Jorgenson denied long-range victory, Pogačar puts eight seconds into his rival

Clock16:46, Sunday 9th July 2023
Michael Woods wins stage 9 of the Tour de France

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

Michael Woods wins stage 9 of the Tour de France

The Tour de France returned to the famed Puy de Dôme on stage 9, with Michael Woods (Israel-Premier Tech) claiming the biggest win of his career atop the extinct volcano, before Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) pulled a little more time back on race leader Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma).

Woods was part of a 14-man breakaway on the final stage of the opening week, and produced a blistering comeback on the vicious ramps of the final climb to deny the USA’s Matteo Jorgensen (Movistar).

Jorgensen had gone solo almost 50km from the line, and looked set to take what would have been the biggest win of his own, younger, career, until he came undone on the upper reaches of the Puy de Dôme.

Woods, by contrast, was flying. Having started the final climb - 13.3km at 7.7% but double digits for the final 5km - in the third breakaway group, nearly 2:30 down, he picked his way through and made contact with Jorgensen an agonising 450 metres from the line.

He collected himself in the wheel for a few seconds, rose from the saddle, and soared clear. Jorgenson could only watch on, powerless.

Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies) produced a late dart to take second place almost half a minute after Woods had crossed the line, while Jorgenson’s heartbreak was compounded by the sight of Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious) passing him in the final 10 metres to snatch the final spot on the podium.

“I’m still having a 'pinch myself' moment. I can’t believe I did it. I’m really proud of myself, I’m really proud of my team. It’s really special," said Woods.

“I’m 36 years old, 37 this year. I’m not getting any younger. I’ve always talked about winning a stage of the Tour de France, and I’ve finally achieved it.”

Pogačar, Vingegaard, and the rest

Almost a quarter of an hour after the breakaway, the peloton hit the Puy de Dôme. What transpired will not rival the famous Anquetil-Poulidor shoulder-to-shoulder duel of 1964 but still played host to another enthralling chapter of the Pogačar-Vingegaard rivalry.

Having begun the fightback from his stage 5 defeat with victory at Cauterets the next day, Pogačar carried his momentum and chipped another eight seconds off his deficit, which now stands at 17 seconds.

Jumbo-Visma dominated the bunch for much of the day, but shortly after Vingegaard’s last man, Sepp Kuss, had fallen away, Pogačar lit up the Tour once again with 1500 metres to go. At first, Vingegaard was alive to it, but soon he lost a bike length, then two, three, four. It looked like Pogačar might’ve been about to land a critical blow, but Vingegaard rallied and held the gap at around five seconds. It wasn’t shoulder-to-shoulder, but it was still a remarkable sight the two of them effectively sprinting up a 12% gradient just a few metres apart.

Pogačar produced one last out-the-saddle effort on the final ramp to take the advantage to eight seconds. He hadn’t quite turned the tables, but he retained the momentum, while Vingegaard appeared happy to limit his losses, insisting the stages that suit him best lie ahead.

It almost goes without saying that no one else could follow the top two when they opened the taps, and the rest of the GC contenders appear to be involved in their own, separate, race for the podium. Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe), who wore the yellow jersey earlier in the week, was a surprise sufferer in the heat, dropping just over 2km from the top.

The Australian avoided cracking, though, and limited his losses to 23 seconds over Simon Yates (Jayco-AlUla), who finished as the best of the rest, 51 seconds behind Pogačar. Yates hit the line with an impressive Tom Pidcock, one of two remaining Ineos Grenadiers cards alongside Carlos Rodríguez, who was tailed off in the final 500 metres and lost nine seconds.

Pogačar’s teammate Adam Yates was next home eight seconds later, seven seconds ahead of Hindley. The damage was more significant for a number of other contenders, with Thibaut Pinot leading an ailing David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) to the line 90 seconds behind Simon Yates, and just ahead of Romain Bardet (dsm-firmenich) and Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious).

In the overall standings, Vingegaard has had his lead over Pogačar cut to 17 seconds, while Hindley remains third but now at 2:40. The Australian himself has a handy buffer, with Rodríguez at 4:22, Adam Yates at 4:39 and Simon Yates at 4:44. Pidcock moved up two places to seventh at 5:26, while Gaudu, Kuss, and Bardet round out the top 10.

A brutal end to the first week

The final stage of the opening week took riders 182.4km from Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat to the top of the Puy de Dôme, with three minor preliminary climbs on an undulating route into the Massif Central.

The breakaway formed early, but had to work hard to establish itself. 14 riders made the move almost straight from the gun: Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost), Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious), Clément Berthet (AG2R-Citroën), Gorka Izaguirre (Movistar), Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar), Michael Woods (Israel-Premier Tech), Guillame Boivan (Israel-Premier Tech), David de a Cruz (Astana Qazaqstan), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Qazaqstan), Jonas Abrhamsen (Uno-X), Jonas Gregaard (Uno-X), Mathieu Burgaudeau (TotalEnergies), and Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies).

The group sailed clear and it initially appeared that everyone was happy with it but, once the gap had risen to a minute, things kicked off in the peloton. Soudal-QuickStep and Lidl-Trek had missed the boat and were particularly keen to get someone in there. Some big names started moving, before it turned into more of a case of chasing to reduce the gap. It came down to 45 seconds but then stalled and grew to 1:10. Mattias Skjelmose (Lidl-Trek) jumped clear but was marked by Alberto Bettiol, whose EF team were simply marking moves and not working with them. The net result was that the promising attacks were neutralised, and things settled down after 25km of racing.

At the early intermediate sprint in Lac de Vassivière, Abrhamsen eased clear of the break to collect maximum points, while green jersey Jasper Philipsen did the same from the bunch to take the last remaining point. By that stage, the gap was six minutes.

The first climb was the category-4 Côte de Felletin (2.1km at 5.2%), soon followed by the cat-4 Côte de Pontcharraud (1.8km at 4.6%), with mountains classification leader taking the solitary point on offer at both to extend his lead in the polka-dot jersey standings.

There wasn’t much action in the middle portion of the race, with Gregaard puncturing and Jorgenson stung on the head by a wasp, but things kicked off on the third climb, the cat-3 Côte de Pontaumur (3.3km at 5.3%). Boivin had issued a brief attack on the approach, and accelerations came towards the top - with Powless again collecting maximum points - but it was on the plateau beyond the summit that the endgame began.

Mohoric was the first to attack and for several kilometres the escapees - who collaborated so well at the start of the day - knocked chunks out of one another. The key move came by stealth, as Jorgenson slipped away on the right-hand side of the road with 48km to go. He wouldn’t be seen again until 480 metres from the line.

Having opened a lead of 30 seconds, Mohoric responded behind and made chase in a four-man group with Powless, Burgaudeau, and De la Cruz. They closed to within 10 seconds but didn’t work together to shut it down, and they proceeded to concede time on the 15km downhill that preceded the final climb, with De la Cruz dropping away entirely due to a mechanical.

Jorgenson flew down the descent and by the time he started climbing the Puy de Dôme (13.3km at 7.7%), he was a minute up on the Mohoric-Powless-Burgaudeau trio and 1:45 up on the rest of the break. Remarkably, that remaining unchanged on the opening 5km of the climb, and he gladly held firm on the flatter 3km section in the middle of the climb.

When the road kicked up in the final 5km, however, things changed. The road narrowed, the gradient intensified, and the fans disappeared. Woods quickly began his charge from the back, and made his way up to Powless and Burgaudeau, before moving clear of Mohoric, who’d launched his own pursuit of Jorgenson.

Woods was moving at far greater speed and he had the US leader within his sights inside the final kilometre. Contact was made with 450m to go and at that point the writing was on the wall.

Quarter of an hour later, Pogačar and Vingegaard sprinted up the mountain, producing a few minutes of high drama that leaves this Tour de France harder to call than ever.

Race Results

1

ca flag

WOODS Michael

Israel-Premier Tech

4H 19' 41"

2

fr flag

LATOUR Pierre

TotalEnergies

+ 28"

3

si flag

MOHORIC Matej

Bahrain Victorious

+ 35"

4

us flag

JORGENSON Matteo

Movistar Team

+ 36"

5

fr flag

BERTHET Clément

AG2R Citroën Team

+ 55"

6

us flag

POWLESS Neilson

EF Education-EasyPost

+ 1' 23"

7

kz flag

LUTSENKO Alexey

Astana Qazaqstan Team

+ 1' 39"

8

dk flag

GREGAARD Jonas

Uno-X Pro Cycling Team

+ 1' 58"

9

fr flag

BURGAUDEAU Mathieu

TotalEnergies

+ 2' 16"

10

es flag

DE LA CRUZ David

Astana Qazaqstan Team

+ 2' 34"

Provided by FirstCycling

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