December 5, 2022

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A solo attack by Luxembourg’s Bob Jungels has earned him his first Tour de France stage victory on the first Alpine finish of this year’s race, as champion Tadej Pogačar retained the leader’s yellow jersey after the ninth stage.

The 29-year-old Jungels, of AG2R Citroen, set off on his own with almost 65 kilometres remaining of the mountainous 193km trek from Aigle in Switzerland to the ski resort of Chatel les Portes du Soleil on Sunday.

Jungels had time to sit up and stretch out his arms before punching the air in delight as he crossed the line 22 seconds ahead of Jonathan Castroviejo and 26 seconds ahead of Carlos Verona.

It was another brutal day for Australia’s leading hope, Ben O’Connor, who, despite a torn glute, just battled on gamely, despite struggling off the back early on.

He eventually finished 27-and-a-half minutes down, and has now slumped to 86th overall.

Team BikeExchange-Jayco’s Nick Schultz is now the leading Australian on the Tour, lying in 39th overall after a 21st place finish on Sunday.

An emotional cyclist bends over to catch his breath after winning a stage at the Tour de France.
It was an emotional day at the Tour for Bob Jungels after a year of injuries and recovery from surgery. (AP: Yoan Valat/Pool)

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Jungels’s victory crowns a comeback after a year to forget. He struggled with back problems and then a head injury suffered in a crash at the beginning of last season, before missing the Tour and the Summer Olympics after surgery.

“It’s hard to say what I feel right now. I’m just overwhelmed to be honest. This is huge. This is what I came here for,” Jungels said.

“After a couple of years struggling, a very tough last year with surgeries and everything, also to take the victory this way, it’s my style of racing, my style of taking the victory.”

Pogačar and Jonas Vingegaard sprinted to the line, to gain three seconds over their rivals for the overall lead.

The Slovenian, Pogačar, remained 39 seconds ahead of his Danish rival but increased his advantage to one minute 17 seconds over 2018 winner Geraint Thomas.

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“The team is really, really strong. They showed each of them that they just keep getting stronger,” said Pogačar, of UAE Team Emirates.

“Today, the last couple of days also proved that we can control this race. So I’m super happy and proud.”

A cyclist in a yellow jersey rides comfortably at the Tour de France, with a line of his teammates riding behind him.
Tadej Pogačar is in control of this year’s Tour de France, with his UAE Team Emirates team giving him solid support on the road.(AP: Thibault Camus)

Jungels, Castroviejo and Verona had been part of a large breakaway that formed shortly after the first of four categorised climbs of the day.

Near the top of the penultimate climb, the top category Col des Mosses, Jungels attacked and was followed by Simon Geschke.

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