Hernandez wins Tour de France ninth stage
Briancon, July 17:
Juan Mauricio Soler Hernandez of Colombia won Tuesday’s ninth stage of the Tour de France, with Michael Rasmussen of Denmark retaining the yellow jersey after the last Alpine stage.
The expected race contenders didn’t gain any ground on Rasmussen during the 159.5-km course from the Val d’Isere ski station to Briancon. But pre-race favourite Alexandre Vinokourov, who is nursing knee injuries from a crash, lost more time against the Dane.
The 24-year-old Colombian, competing in his first Tour for the newcomer Barloworld team, clocked 4 hours, 14 minutes and 24 seconds for the ride featuring three tough climbs, including the fabled Galiber and Iseran passes. “I’m really happy... Winning a stage is a dream,” Hernandez said.
Spain’s Alejandro Valverde was second and Cadel Evans of Australia trailed third, each 38 seconds back.
The last of three Alpine stages dealt a heavy blow to Vinokourov’s hopes of a Tour title. The Kazakh rider with Team Astana team had come into the stage 5:23 behind Rasmussen, and lost about 2 minutes more.
“I did what I could. The team worked well again... and tried to reduce the gap,” Vinokourov told France-2 TV. “It was another horrible day for me,” he added, before breaking into tears.
Overall, Rasmussen is 2:35 ahead of Valverde in second place, with Iban Mayo in third, 2:39 back.