The inclusion of two historic Tour climbs en route did nothing for those eyeing the Paris podium, the climbs of the Col d'Aspin and Tourmalet on Stage 9 were neutralized due to their distance from the finish. In fact, only 34 seconds separated the supposed mountain stage from turning into a bunch sprint. Rabobank's Oscar Freire led a 75-strong group home for third place.
Once again, the leader board remained at status quo, leaving Italy's Rinaldo Nocentini of AG2R La Mondiale to also enjoy his rest day tomorrow in yellow, with the Astana trio of Alberto Contador, Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer breathing down his neck 6, 8 and 39 seconds behind.
"The next few days are good for me, and I have a great team with me to help out, so I hope to keep it as long as possible," said Nocentini. "It would be a dream to get to Verbier (Stage 15) in yellow."
Stories, including cycling trip stories, for the Italian Cycling Journal welcome; contact email@example.com