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TotalEnergies team's French rider Anthony Turgis cycles to the finish line to win ahead of second-placed INEOS Grenadiers team's British rider Tom Pidcock (C) and third-placed Israel - Premier Tech team's Canadian rider Derek Gee (R) during the 9th stage of the 111th edition of the Tour de France cycling race on Sunday. Image Credit: AFP

Troyes: Frenchman Anthony Turgis won stage nine of the Tour de France on the white gravel tracks through champagne vineyards after a long range escape on Sunday.

British rider Tom Pidcock was second after tailing Turgis but looked to be slightly blocked as he made a last-gasp bid for the line ahead of third-placed Derek Gee of Canada.

“That was wonderful,” Turgis said at the finish line in the city of Troyes.

“I’ve been close to winning for ages and to get one here is just great,” the 30-year-old added.

Overnight leader Tadej Pogacar attacked several times on a novel run including the dusty gravel for a first time on this race, but finished alongside his rivals for the title Remco Evenepoel and Jonas Vingegaard.

Pogacar voiced frustration with Vingegaard’s defensive tactics, claiming the defending champion was “scared.”

“It’s a shame me, Remco and Jonas didn’t go for it together,” said Slovenian Pogacar.

“I think it’s because of Visma’s tactics.

“Otherwise, we’d have been the three of us on the podium.

“They are scared of me and just followed,” the 25-year-old lamented.

Second-placed Evenepoel, 24, agreed with UAE Emirates’ Pogacar but was less disappointed.

“It’s a shame yes, we could have taken three or four minutes off the others,” said Evenepoel.

“I had a good time though, I enjoyed it.

“You have to accept other team tactics,” the Soudal Quick-Step rider added.

As France went to the urns in the second round of a parliamentary election hundreds of thousands of cycling fans turned out for the Tour on this first holiday weekend.

A shake up in the overall standings had been expected as the peloton tackled 14 rustic white gravel paths in the region’s celebrated champagne vineyards that produce over 300 million bottles of bubbly a year.

One of them was cracked open at the finish line by Turgis, who had been part of the long range breakaway from a group of one-day specialists.

In the overall standings the Slovenian two-time champion Pogacar leads Tour rookie Evenepoel of Belgium by 33sec while defending champion Vingegaard of Denmark is still third at 1min 15sec.