Ben O’Connor won stage nine of the Tour de France from a breakaway to move up to second overall as Tadej Pogacar used a late attack to strengthen his already commanding advantage in the yellow jersey.
Racing in miserable conditions, O’Connor raced away from fellow escapee Sergio Higuita still with 17km of the final climb up to Tignes to go at the end of the 145km stage from Cluses, eventually winning the day by more than five minutes from Mattia Cattaneo.
The 25-year-old Australian, making his Tour debut, briefly threatened to take yellow from Pogacar given the breakaway’s advantage, but a late attack from the Slovenian once again underlined his clear status as the dominant rider in this race.
Pogacar took sixth place on the stage, 32 seconds ahead of Richard Carapaz, and now leads overall by two minutes and one second from O’Connor, with Rigoberto Uran the next closest challenger at five minutes and 18 seconds down.
The Ineos Grenadiers, including a revitalised Geraint Thomas after his struggles on Saturday, took up the chase to try to keep the pressure on, but Carapaz had no response when Pogacar put in an attack two kilometres from the top of the climb as he raced away.
“O’Connor was super strong today, really what a ride, and congratulations to him,” said Pogacar.
“I was scared a little towards the end to lose this yellow jersey but just before the end I accelerated to ensure I stay in yellow. I really enjoy this jersey.”