Tom Dumoulin takes a sodden stage nine of Tour de France
Dan Martin tries to close gap on Chris Froome but defending champion holds firm
The Netherlands’ Tom Dumoulin won a sodden stage nine of the Tour de France. Photograph: Afp
Team Sky’s Froome, who took the yellow jersey in surprise style on Saturday, carries a 16-second lead into Monday’s first rest day after repeatedly snuffing out attacks on the 184.5-kilometre route from Vielha val d’Aran. His group of rivals is dwindling.
Briton Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange), wearing the best young rider’s white jersey, remains second overall after finishing 10th on the stage, six minutes 35 seconds behind Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin).
Froome finished 11th on the same time, with Nairo Quintana (Movistar) on his wheel.
Martin is third overall, 19 seconds behind, while Quintana is fourth, 23 seconds adrift.
Thursday’s stage to Mont Ventoux is likely the next key one for Froome and his overall rivals. Froome won on the Giant of Provence in 2013 en route to winning his first Tour.
The Briton’s Tour has been better than expected so far, while Alberto Contador could not have fared much worse.
Two-time winner Contador (Tinkoff) abandoned the race on Sunday, while sitting 20th overall, after early crashes and illness.
Already in the race lead, Froome’s Team Sky squad were content to allow a large breakaway group, without any genuine overall rivals, to form.
The escape group fragmented on the penultimate climb, the Col de Beixalis, as Team Sky set a furious pace behind and the peloton disintegrated.
Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) led the race over the summit, with eight others closely behind him.
The manoeuvring began in the valley before the 10.1km concluding climb.
Dumoulin made his move, surging clear of his escape companions, who could not keep pace.
Pinot (FDJ) and Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) led the early pursuit as torrential rain fell at the finish.
Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) joined Costa, the 2013 world champion, in the chase, but Dumoulin won alone. Costa won the sprint for second.
Dumoulin now has won stages at all three Grand Tours, after wins in last year’s Vuelta a Espana and May’s Giro d’Italia.
Behind them, Sergio Henao, Froome’s one remaining team-mate, accelerated and Martin followed him.
Porte bridged the gap, with Froome on his wheel. Froome then burst clear, with Quintana shadowing.
Porte caught the pair, then Martin and Yates also followed.
Froome had to respond to any acceleration, with rivals trying to break him. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Martin were the most aggressive, but Froome held on.
He followed a familiar wheel, that of former Team Sky colleague Porte, to the finishing straight, where Yates accelerated to lead the group over the line.
Contador was one of four riders to abandon on the day.