Stage 8 of the Tour de France looked to be a real torture test as the riders faced four categorised climbs including the dreaded Col du Tourmalet, the Hourquette d’Ancizan, the Col de Val Louron-Azet, and finally the Col de Peyresourde. Many thought that last climb would make the difference in the GC battle but it was the descent where Chris Froome (Sky) took the race by the scruff of the neck to nab the yellow jersey and establish a 16-second lead over young Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) and 23secs over his chief rival Nairo Quintana (Movistar).
Rider of the Race
The rider of the race has to go to the gangly but agile Chris Froome. After attacking at the top of the Col de Peyresourde, Froomey set a blistering pace down the descent to the finish, opening a 13 seconds on second place finisher Dan Martin (Etixx-QuickStep), who led in the group containing the rest of the favorites minus Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) into the finish. Froome took maximum risk as he attacked over the top and then down the mountain, often sitting on his top tube and pedaling at the same time.
He used every bit of road as he pushed his chips all in. He lost a bit of time back to the chasers only after Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) came to the front to define the lines down the Peyresourde. It was clear that the GC favourites including Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Tejay van Gardener were not expecting such a bold and #panachetastic move from Froome on the descent – and seemed unable or unwilling to chase.
Observations and highlights
- Team Sky: In a overpowering show of strength Team Sky had five riders in the mix as the peloton ascended the final climb of the day. Especially impressive were Sergio Henao, Geraint Thomas and Mikel Landa. If Sky can maintain this kind of dominance over the next two weeks, a third yellow jersey for Chris Froome seems like a foregone conclusion. [let’s hope those teams actually put up a fight this year – Ed]
- Alberto Contador: Baby Blackbird struggled toward the top of the final climb getting dropped by the favourites including his own teammate Roman Kreuziger. Then on the descent into Luchon, Contador nearly crashed trying to avoid Wilco Kelderman (Lotto-Jumbo) who had rolled a tubular tire on his front wheel and hit the tarmac coming into a corner. Contador has been on the ground twice this week and it looks like Tinkoff is switching its GC ambitions to Kreuziger rather than continue to support Alberto.
- Thibaut Pinot: The fiery Frenchman tried to make a go of it today as he attacked with Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) and Tony Martin (Ettix-Quickstep) on the slopes of the Tourmalet but it was not to be as Sky and Movistar set a blistering pace to chase the trio down and then dropped Pinot handily on the penultimate climb. Many thought Pinot was coming into the Tour de France in top form but this first week in the mountains has proved otherwise. He did, however, win most combative rider of the day.
- Michael Morkov– No rider had abandoned at start of Stage 8 of the tour which was remarkable in and of itself but Michael Morkov (Katusha) became the first rider to to do so several hours into the stage. It is amazing that Morkov lasted as long as he did, considering he was suffering from an injury he sustained during stage 1. Chapeau to him for his #panache and sheer grit and determination.
1 Chris Froome (Sky) 4:57:33
2 Daniel Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) +00:13
3 Joaquim Rodriquez (Katusha) s/t
4 Romain Bardet (Ag2r) s/t
5 Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff) s/t
GC top 5
1 Chris Froome (Sky)
2 Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) +00.16
3 Joaquim Rodriquez (Katusha) +00.16
4 Daniel Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) +00.17
5 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +00.19
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey: Chris Froome (Sky)
Points jersey: Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data)
KOM jersey: Rafal Majka (Lotto-Soudal)
Best Young Rider: Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quick Step)
For full stage review: cyclingnews