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Tour de France Stage 9: John Degenkolb rules the pavé Greg Van Avermaet extends lead

A brutal day on Paris-Roubaix cobbles sees succession of big names crash, with Richie Porte out of the race

John Degenkolb, winner of Paris-Roubaix in 2015 and whose career was almost ended when he was hit by a driver while training for the following season, was back to his best over the cobbles today as he won Stage 9 of the Tour de France in Roubaix.

The Trek Segafredo rider beat overall leader Greg Van Avermaet of BMC Racing in a three-man sprint, with Belgian champion Yves Lampaert of Quick Step Floors taking third place  on a stage that took in 15 cobbled sectors totalling 22 kilometres over the 

Van Avermaet stretches his lead over Team Sky's Geraint Thomas to 43 seconds, but that will be of little comfort to BMC Racing, as their main overall hope Richie Porte crashed and abandoned just 7 kilometres into the 156.5-kilometre stage from Arras and Tejay Van Garderen also lost time.

The decisive move eventually came 15 kilometres out as the trio who would dispute the stage win got away from the front group, just after the final survivors of the day’s 10-man break had been swept up ahead of the penultimate section of pave.

Besides Porte, it might be easier to list the riders who didn’t crash rather than those who did, with sharp corners coming out of cobbled sections causing a succession of chutes.

Among the big names to hit the deck were defending champion Chris Froome, who came home in the first chase group, together with Thomas, as well as last year’s runner-up, Rigoberto Uran of EF Education First-Drapac, who lost more than a minute on his rivals.

The man who completed the podium last year, AG2R La-Mondiale’s Romain Bardet, experienced a day in which a succession of mechanical problems – beginning on the very first section of cobbles – left him having to constantly battle back to rejoin the group.

The Frenchman put in one the performances of the day, but with around 6 kilometres remaining his luck finally seemed to run out as he punctured yet again.

This time, isolated from his team mates, it appeared impossible for him to get back to the group containing Froome – although as it turned out, he managed to limit his losses to a handful of seconds.

Another strong performance came from UAE Team Emirates rider Dan Martin, battered from his crash yesterday, but who even managed to pick up a late bonus second today.

After tomorrow's rest day, racing resumes in the Alps on Tuesday with Stage 10 from Annecy to Le Grand Bornand.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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