Poels had just back on but is struggling again.
There’s 70km remaining and the leading group are well on their way to the summit of the Col du Pré, with a nice collection of KoM points on offer at the top.
The weather is very reminiscent of the last time we were in Tignes for the Tour, back in 2019, when Egan Bernal went into yellow after the stage was shortened due to landslides on road.
We have another little shake-up at the front of the race, Quintana has been joined by Woods, Higuita, O’Connor, and Hamilton.
Wout Poels has currently lost contact and is about 10 seconds off the back of that leading group.
Meanwhile just behind we have the huge 24-rider breakaway group, which also contains Julian Alaphilippe, two minutes down on the Quintana group.
The peloton seems to be letting the breakaway go, as the yellow jersey group is now seven minutes behind the leading Quintana group.
Quintana has dropped Poels on the descent of the Col des Saisies.
Poels is looking nervous as he descends in the wet, the gap is about 20 seconds, but more than likely these two will come back together shortly.
We now have two riders leading – Quintana and Poels – who are about 23s ahead of the nearest chasers.
The second group on the road is just three riders, Woods, Higuita and O’Connor, with another seven riders in a group around 1-14 behind the leading pair.
The peloton (still containing the yellow jersey) are 5-51 behind.
A big fight for the KoM points on the Col des Saisies between Wout Poels and Nairo Quintana.
Poels looked like he’d comfortably made it clear of the Colombian, but Quintana put in a huge dig to bridge across.
But Quintana left his effort just a little too late, with Poels taking maximum points at the summit and extending his leader in the polkadot jersey competition.
Wout Poels, who took ownership of the King of the Mountains classification yesterday, has a small lead of a few seconds, but still it doesn’t look convincing. There are 45 points up for grabs in the KoM race remaining today.
The peloton, almost four minutes back, is being led by UAE-Team Emirates.
Sonny Colbrelli has collected the intermediate sprint points he wanted but he isn’t resting there. The Italian has attacked again, clearly fancying a day in the breakaway before tomorrow’s rest day. Nairo Quintana has since moved clear with Michael Woods, with the chasing group being led by Colbrelli up the second categorised climb of the day.
It’s a huge group out front and right now Julian Alaphilippe, free of his rain jacket, is at the head of proceedings. But a smaller group have still to dislodge themselves from the 40-odd riders who have an advantage of two minutes to Tadej Pogačar.
Our man on the ground Jonny Long has just informed us that the closer he and fellow journalist Peter Cossins get to Tignes, the worse the weather becomes. And he reminds us that the last time the race was meant to finish in the ski resort, it never made it due to a landslide caused by heavy rain.
Points classification standings after intermediate sprint
1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Deceuninck – Quick Step, 168pts
2. Michael Matthews (Aus) BikeExchange, 130pts
3. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Victorious, 106pts
Tadej Pogačar and the yellow jersey peloton are roughly 50 seconds adrift of a large group of between 40 and 50 riders. Will the break of the day come from this group?
The intermediate sprint is won by Sonny Colbrelli who stayed behind Michael Matthews before coming past the Australian to beat him to the line to take 20 points. And now we can expect a break to form.
Enric Mas, Movistar’s best-placed rider on GC at 5:15 adrift of Tadej Pogačar in eighth, has crashed. TV footage showed the Spaniard standing at the side of the road, but he has remounted his bike and is riding back to the peloton. He is sporting cuts to his left side.
The attacks keep coming but nothing is being allowed to stick. Right now, Michael Matthews is at the head of the race, targeting the intermediate points sprint that is fast approaching.
Colbrelli is an interesting case. He’s clearly targeting the green jersey and his strategy is to take points in these mountain days when Mark Cavendish is unable to keep with the pace. He has 86 points in the classification to Cavendish’s 168.
Latour, riding for Cofidis, is currently out front with Dan Martin of Israel Start-Up Nation. Just behind the pair is a group of nine, that also includes Julian Alaphilippe and Sonny Colbrelli.
There is an intermediate sprint next on the agenda, meaning it’s possible that the break will not be formed until after then. But Mark Cavendish, the leader of the points classification, has been dropped from the peloton.
At the summit of the Côte de Domancy, Pierre Latour sprints from the peloton to take the maximum king of the mountains points available, right under the nose of Ballerini and Sweeny who were just about to be caught.
Our leading duo maintain a small lead of about 35 seconds, the peloton being led by Team BikeExchange up the first KoM of the day.
Today’s stage is the first time we have seen defending champion Tadej Pogačar in yellow during a normal road stage of the Tour. Last year, he memorably claimed the race leadership on the penultimate day, only wearing yellow on the final, processional stage in Paris.
The first of five categorised climbs begins in earnest, the Côte de Domancy having an average gradient of 8.8% for 2.6km. Short and sharp, it’s like a British climb.
With 10km having been ridden, Davide Ballerini (Deceuninck – Quick Step) and Harry Sweeny (Lotto-Soudal) have a small advantage of around 30 seconds. The weather, like yesterday, is best described as unpleasant.
Stage nine has begun and already we have seen our first attack, Benoît Cosnefroy of AG2R Citröen going clear as soon as the race flag dropped.
Here is the profile of today’s race
There are five categorised climbs across 145km today, with the race finishing in Tignes. It is the first time this race that there is a summit finish.
Today’s race begins in just over 20 minutes. It’s set to be another exciting day, just 24 hours after Tadej Pogačar not only took yellow but also strangled complete control of the race. It will be interesting to see how his GC rivals attempt to reduce their already big deficits to the Slovenian.
Mathieu van der Poel has spoken about his decision to leave the race this morning.
Mathieu van der Poel ceded yellow yesterday and he will not start today.
Matthieu van der Poel tells eurosport gcn he will not start today’s #TDF2021 stage. He leaves to prepare for the #Olympics#eurosport #gcn @eurosport @Eurosport_UK @gcntweetJuly 4, 2021
Back in France and, much like yesterday, the weather is horrid in the Alps, with rain forecast all day, right up until the peloton arrive at the ski resort of Tignes, the day’s finish.
Away from the Tour de France for a moment, and Remco Evenepoel has been selected in the Belgian squad for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
Today’s stage kicks off about 1.10pm French local time (12.10pm British time) with the finish expected some time between 5.30pm and 6pm local time (4.30-5pm British time)
There has already been some pretty huge news this morning, as Primož Roglič has abandoned the race ahead of stage nine.
The Slovenian had been suffering from injuries he sustained in his stage three crash but has now finally thrown in the towel.
Read the full story here: Primož Roglič abandons Tour de France 2021
Hello cycling fans, Alex Ballinger here reporting from a very rainy south of the UK.
I’m sure there may be a few sore heads out there after England’s 4-0 over the Ukraine (no it wasn’t a dream), but get the coffee on and settle in for more bike racing action in France.
Here’s the profile from today’s stage – it should be another banger:
Today at the Tour: A huge mountain test over 144.9km from Cluses to Tignes, finishing with the 20.8km-long Montée de Tignes climb #TdF2021 pic.twitter.com/ojpJCPeR9XJuly 4, 2021