Martin wins day, Froome keeps lead


BAGNERES-DE-BIGORRE, France — Irishman Dan Martin beat Denmark's Jakob Fuglsang at the line to win Sunday's ninth stage of the Tour de France, and race favorite Chris Froome withstood early attacks to defend the yellow jersey on another hard day of climbing in the Pyrenees.

Garmin-Sharp rider Martin and Fuglsang were alone to fight for the stage win, and Martin surged past with about 150 meters to go. It was the first Tour stage win for Martin, who is the nephew of 1987 Tour champion Stephen Roche and a cousin of fellow cyclist Nicolas Roche.

Froome had launched a devastating attack in the final climb to win Saturday's eighth stage and move nearly two minutes ahead of two-time Tour champion Alberto Contador in the overall standings and four minutes clear of 2010 champion Andy Schleck.

Froome preserved a comfortable lead over his rivals after the 105-mile trek from Saint-Girons to Bagneres-de-Bigorre in southwestern France took the peloton over four category 1 climbs.

The Briton's closest challenger is Spaniard Alejandro Valverde, who is 1:25 behind in second place. Contador is sixth overall and trails by 1:51.