Rui Alberto Costa Escapes and Wins Stage 8 of Tour de France 2011

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07/9/2011| 0 comments
by AP and Roadcycling.com
Team Movistar's Rui Costa breaks away from peloton and wins stage 8 of 2011 Tour de France. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Team Movistar's Rui Costa breaks away from peloton and wins stage 8 of 2011 Tour de France. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.

Rui Alberto Costa Escapes and Wins Stage 8 of Tour de France 2011

Portuguese rider Rui Alberto Costa won the eighth stage of the Tour de France after withstanding a late attack from Philippe Gilbert in the final climb Saturday, while Thor Hushovd kept the leader's yellow jersey.

Portuguese rider Rui Alberto Costa won the eighth stage of the Tour de France after withstanding a late attack from Philippe Gilbert in the final climb Saturday, while Thor Hushovd kept the leader's yellow jersey.

Costa waved his hands in delight and then punched the air as he crossed the line in 4 hours, 36 minutes, 46 seconds to clinch the first Tour stage win of his career.

"I knew I could get in the breakaway today. The team put me in the best position," Costa said. "I was lucky that I managed to hold on until the end. I'm very happy with this win.

"I attacked on my own at the end. I saw that my legs were good and that I could hold it alone. When it got to two kilometers from the end, I really worked hard and managed to reach my objective."

The race entered the mountains for the first time in the 189-kilometer (117-mile) trek from Aigurande to Super-Besse, featuring a sharp category 2 climb up Col de la Croix and a final climb of 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles).

Gilbert of Belgium made up a huge amount of time before crossing 12 seconds adrift, with Australian cyclist Cadel Evans finishing 15 seconds behind Costa in third place.

"I needed a few more hundred meters," Gilbert said. "The stage was very fast, there was a favorable wind. The last climb was very hard, I had to sit back down near the end of the line.

"The last 200 meters were very long, but I'll take a second place on the Tour de France any day."

Hushovd is still one second ahead of Evans and has been wearing the yellow jersey since his Garmin-Cervelo team won last Sunday's time trial.

Hushovd, who is not a renowned climber - although having improved his climbing abilities in recent years, was certain he was going to lose the yellow jersey before today's stage.

"Maybe I was a bit pessimistic," he said and continued "I didn't think I could do it. Another day in yellow, it's a miracle."

Alexandre Vinokourov closed to within 15 seconds of Costa in the last kilometer, but the Kazakh rider ran out of steam as he had no teammates to help him when riding for several punishing kilometers on his own.

Gilbert was fresher after sitting in with the main pack for much of the day's climbs. He overtook Vinokourov after launching an attack with about 400 meters left. Vinokourov finished in 22nd place as many of the pack swallowed him up.

"Vino is really very strong, I take my hat off to him," Gilbert said. "He deserved to win this stage."

None of the main Tour contenders lost any significant time and finished in the same time as Evans, as did Hushovd.

Defending champion Alberto Contador of Spain, Luxembourg's Andy Schleck and Evans of Australia -- both two-time runners-up -- tested each other out with mini-attacks.

Since Gilbert is not considered an overall Tour contender, they didn't feel the need to chase down the Belgian when he

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