Cavendish Takes Stage 8 of Tour
2008 Tour de France - Stage 8
Matt Cavendish (Columbia) has become the first two-stage winner of this year's Tour de France. Cavendish dusted the field in a bunch sprint to win Stage 8, a rolling, 172.5-kilometer run from Figeac to Toulouse, in 4:02:54. Gerald Ciolek (Columbia) finished second, and Jimmy Casper (Agritubel) finished third. Kim Kirchen (Columbia) remains the maillot jaune.
The racing began early. After a couple of abortive sallies, Stephane Goubert (Ag2r) and Laurent Lefevre (Bouygues Telecom) escaped at 35 kilometers. Goubert fell back, but Lefevre soldiered on. Behind, Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel), Jerome Pineau (Bouygues Telecom), and Christophe Riblon (Ag2r) pursued. At 52.5 kilometers, Lefevre led the trio by 1:30. Five kilometers later, Lefevre had 1:30 on the chasers and 5:00 on the bunch.
By 80 kilometers, the chase group was within 0:30 of Lefevre, who decided to wait. Three kilometers later, the chasers caught the Frenchman. The peloton was still 5:00 in arrears.
With 57 kilometers left, Credit Agricole joined Columbia at the front. Eight kilometers later, a crash at a roundabout took down several riders but all remounted quickly. At this point, the bunch was 2:15 behind the break.
With 20 kilometers remaining, the bunch led the break by 0:45. Continued cooperation might have netted a stage win for a break member, but the fugitives began to attack each other. Pineau attacked and took Tkurruka with him.
Behind, the peloton's pursuit finally got organized. Credit Agricole, Quick Step, and Gerolsteiner joined Liquigas at the front, and the pair's lead was down to 0:21 with six kilometers left. One kilometer later, it was down to 0:10.
With 3.5 kilometers left, Columbia took command. Quick Step took the field into the final kilometer, but Ciolek towed Cavendish to the front, and the man from the Isle of Man charged into the lead.
In the overall, Kirchen leads Cadel Evans (Silence) at 0:06 and Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) by 0:16. Stage 9, the first Pyrenean stage, will not be won by Cavendish or any other sprinter. Moreover, Kirchen might lose his maillot jaune. The 224-km ride from Toulouse to Bagneres de Bigorre will take the riders over the Category 1 Cols de Peyresourde and d'Aspin. From the latter, the riders will plunge to the finish line. The GC contenders should finish together. A climber who can sprint, such as Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) or Damiano Cunego (Lampre) could win. Who will prevail? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!