Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb) put in a huge ride on the ninth stage of the Tour de France to take over the lead in the mountains classification and was just narrowly beaten for the stage win.
A perfectly executed plan saw Team Sunweb with five riders in the day’s breakaway, with Barguil tucked inside the bunch ready to mop up any available king of the mountain points.
As the break neared the summit of the first Hors-Category climb, Barguil collected 12 points, followed by maximum points atop Grand Colombier after accelerating away from his breakaway companion. Barguil then found himself solo on the ascent of Mont du Chat, cresting the summit in pole position to secure the lead in the mountains classification.
The Frenchman continued to fight to the finish and after 176 kilometres in the breakaway he was still clinging on to the yellow jersey group in the final kilometre. Barguil unleashed all he had for the sprint, and in an incredibly close photo finish took second place. Barguil was also awarded the most combative rider of the day.
“Today was an amazing day for myself and the team,” explained Barguil after the finish. “We had five guys in the break which was brilliant. After Michael won the intermediate sprint the guys went full for my chances on day success and that gave me the confidence that I needed to climb at my best. On the Mont du Chat I did everything I could to make it to the top first and I was really happy to be able to do that. Of course it’s disappointing to not take the stage win, but this is the sport and we will continue to fight on.”
Team Sunweb coach Aike Visbeek added: “We went on the attack today with a sophisticated plan in an attempt to serve the goals that we have. The team did a perfect job having five guys in the break and with Warren feeling good we decided to protect him, work hard in increasing the gap and gather king of the mountain points. Warren did a really good race and the sprint was really close. We can be proud of the whole team and how they executed the plan today. Of course a stage victory would have been perfect, but the team performed outstandingly and it was a great team effort.”