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Tour de France

Still sunny: Chris Froome holds on to yellow jersey in rainy ninth stage of Le Tour de France

Defending champion Chris Froome keeps overall lead as he eliminates several of his main rivals in the toughest stage in the Pyrenees, while Dutchman Tom Dumoulin wins the leg with a solo breakaway in a hailstorm

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 July, 2016, 12:40am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 July, 2016, 12:40am

Defending champion Chris Froome held on to the yellow jersey and eliminated several of his main rivals in the toughest stage in the Pyrenees of the Tour de France on Sunday.

Dutch rider Tom Dumoulin won the ninth leg with a solo breakaway in a hailstorm on the uphill finish, a beyond-category climb.

Part of an early breakaway, Dumoulin attacked with 12km remaining in the 184.5km leg from Vielha d’Aran, Spain, to Arcalis in the principality of Andorra.

Two-time champion Alberto Contador pulled out with a fever midway through the stage.

Among those who couldn’t keep up with Froome on the final climb were French favourite Romain Bardet, top American hope Tejay van Garderen and Fabio Aru of Italy.

Froome crossed 11th, 6:35 behind Dumoulin, right behind fellow British rider Adam Yates and immediately ahead of top rival Nairo Quintana of Colombia.

In the overall classification, Froome holds a 16-second lead over Yates, with Dan Martin of Ireland third, 19 seconds behind, and Quintana fourth, 23 seconds back.

The ninth stage featured five demanding climbs, including the finish in Arcalis.

On Team Giant-Alpecin, Dumoulin won the opening time trial in this year’s Giro d’Italia and wore the overall leader’s pink jersey for six stages before withdrawing midway through the race with saddle sores.

He also won two stages in last year’s Spanish Vuelta.

Approaching the finish line, Dumoulin turned around to make eye contact with his team director in a car behind him then, on the verge of tears, stuck his tongue out and raised his arms in celebration.

Rui Costa, the former world champion from Portugal, crossed second and Rafal Majka of Poland was third, each 38 seconds behind.

For the second consecutive day, there was an incident involving a spectator. George Bennett of New Zealand knocked down a fan blocking his way while coming around a tight turn.

Monday is the race’s first rest day. Then there is one more stage in the Pyrenees on Tuesday, a 197km leg from Escaldes-Engordany, Andorra, to Revel, France.

The three-week race ends in Paris on July 24.