In his debut Tour, Nan Peters (AG2R La Mondiale) soloed to victory from the day’s break on stage 8 of the Tour de France, ahead of runner-up Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo) and third-placed Carlos Verona (Movistar). Today’s short but challenging stage in the Pyrenees also saw a shake-up on GC. It was a particularly bitter-sweet day for the French as Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), suffering from an injury sustained on the opening day, lost touch with the peloton on the penultimate climb. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceunick-QuickStep) and Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) were dropped on the Col de Peyresourde while Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Emirates) clawed back some of the time he lost yesterday. Despite this, no jerseys changed hands and race leader Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) hangs onto yellow.
Today we were in the glorious Pyrenees where the race finally came to life in the last 15 kilometres.
How the stage unfolded
The teams finally found the script for today’s 140km parcours from Cazeres-sur-Garonne to Loudenvielle, the first of this weekend’s Pyrenean double-header.
A break of a baker’s dozen formed early on and were allowed to build a pretty unsurmountable lead, though by the time they reached the top of the Col de Bales, Nans Peters and CCC’s Ilnur Zakarin were out front on their lonesome.
Spotting his rival’s achilles heel – descending – Peters went on to take his first Tour stage win, following on from last year’s maiden Giro d’Italia victory. He was also adjudged most combative. He was also awarded on Twitter the Thomas Voeckler facial contortions jersey.
Zakarin, faced with way too much descending (‘like a goat’), was never going to catch up with the French rider and in fact was overtaken on the run-in by fellow breakmates Skujins and Verona, to finish fourth.
Meanwhile, back down the mountain, it was a bad day at the office for Groupama-FDJ with first William Bonnet abandoning then team leader and French podium-hopeful Thibaut Pinot dropped from the main group on the Porte de Balès.
The group of GC contenders had been stuck together for much of the race, until with around 15km to go, Julian Alaphilippe ignited the battle on the final climb of the day. His short, sharp attack was just what was needed to blow the group to smithereens and set the race alight. However, it was LouLou’s last match as not only did his attack winnow the group, it winnowed him right out the back as well. But as ever, it was his swashbuckling style that changed the race.
Not one to give up, it was third time lucky for Tour debutant Tadej Pogacar after two earlier attacks by the Slovenian had been brought back, he finally broke free and made back half the time he lost yesterday, impressing a number of observers and reminding the GC contenders that you let this rider go at your peril.
Pogacar’s attacks, and subsequent moves from Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), one followed by Nairo Quintana, (Arkea-Samsic), had race leader Adam Yates distanced at times, but in the end he led what was left of the group of favourites across the line to stay in the overall lead. More joy for AG2R La Mondiale as a lively looking Romain Bardet clawed back a few seconds to move up into fourth on GC.
So, in a nutshell …
While it was great to see so many fans lining the final climb, where were their masks?
Some good news
The Last Word
Now… anyone for some more Pyrenees?
Stage 7 Top 5
1 Nans Peters (AG2R La Mondiale) 4:02:12
2 Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo) +0:47
3 Carlos Verona (Movistar) same time
4 Ilnur Zakarin (CCCTeam) +1:09
5 Neilson Powless (EF ProCycling) +3:53
GC Top 10
1 Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) 34:44:52
2 Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +0:03
3 Guillaume Martin (Team Cofidis) +0:09
4 Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) +0:11
5 Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) +0:13
6 Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) s/t
7 Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) s/t
8 Rigoberto Uran (EF ProCycling) s/t
9 Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Emirates) +0:48
10 Mikel Landa (Bahrain MacLaren) +1:34
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott)
Points jersey Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe)
King of the Mountains Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R la Mondiale)
Best Young Rider Egan Bernal (INEOS)
Most Combative of the Stage: Nans Peters (AG2R La Mondiale)
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Official race website: Le Tour
Header image: ©AFP/ Anne-Christine Poujoulat / GETTY IMAGES