Impey on a high as Alaphilippe stays in yellow
Daryl Impey won stage nine of the Tour de France from the breakaway as Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe kept the yellow jersey on Bastille Day.
South African Impey beat Tiesj Benoot in a two-man sprint after the pair had left their fellow escapees behind on the final climb of the 170.5km stage from Saint Etienne to Brioude.
It gave Impey his first solo stage win in the Tour, though he was part of Orica-GreenEdge's team time trial success in Nice in 2013 and a few days later became the first African to wear the yellow jersey in Montpellier.
"For me, from a Tour de France perspective, a stage win was something missing," the Mitchelton-Scott rider said. "I made quite a few breakaways in the past few years and finally, today, I got the win. It's fantastic."
That all happened some 16 minutes before the peloton crossed the line, having enjoyed a relatively sedate ride with the general classification contenders unthreatened and the sprint teams keeping their powder dry for today's stage 10 to Albi.
Romain Bardet put in an attack on the final climb but was comfortably closed down by Geraint Thomas' Team Ineos.
That kept Deceuninck-Quick-Step's Alaphilippe in the yellow jersey, 23 seconds ahead of Trek-Segafredo's Giulio Ciccone and 53 seconds ahead of fellow Frenchman Thibaut Pinot of Groupama-FDJ.
Defending champion Thomas remains in fifth place overall, 72 seconds off yellow.
Team Sunweb's Nicolas Roche had to settle for sixth on the day.
"They were killing me on the flats," the 35-year-old said. "There were a lot of big engines. The pace was high all day."