RENAZE, FRANCE, JULY 9 -- Adri Van der Poel of the Netherlands today won the 161-mile ninth stage of the Tour de France cycling race from Orleans to Renaze.
Erich Maechler finished in the bunch, but retained the overall lead.
Van der Poel of the PDM team successfully attacked at 12 miles from the finish, in a pack with countryman Theo De Rooy, Belgian Ludo Peeters, Italian Roberto Amadio and Frenchman Dominique Garde. Van der Poel sprinted ahead to cross the line first.
Many riders in the bunch fell along the narrow roads. The worst tumble, which occurred just after the attack, blocked the road and allowed the five breakaway riders to finish 1 minute 21 seconds ahead of sixth-place Guido Bontempi, who won the seventh stage. The pack finished 1 minute 31 seconds behind.
The hot weather caused the riders to slow down to 22 mph in the ninth stage, making it the slowest leg of the race so far.
Many riders were looking to conserve energy for Friday's 54.4-mile time trial from Saumur south to Futuroscope, the longest Tour de France time trial since the beginning of the 1950s. This time trial will have a major influence on the outcome of the race.
Time-trial specialists Stephen Roche and Sean Kelly, both of Ireland, will be challenging the yellow jersey of Maechler, not noted for his skills against the clock.
Futuroscope is a multi-acre business and technology center.