Froome Wins Stage 8 of Tour de France, Takes Yellow Jersey
Sky has blown open the Tour de France. Two of its riders, Chris Froome and Richie Porte, have taken the first two positions in Stage 8, the first high mountain stage of this year’s Tour. Froome won the 195-km ride from Castres to Ax 3 Domaines in 5:03:18. Porte finished second at 0:51, and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) finished third at 1:08. Froome is the new maillot jaune.
Today, the temperature was about 30 degrees Celsius, the highest that it has been in this year’s Tour. The heat did not dampen the enthusiasm of Jean-Marc Marino (Sojasun), who attacked at the start. Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil-DCM), Christophe Riblon (Ag2r-La Mondiale), and Rudy Molard (Cofidis) joined the Dutch road race champion, and the quartet led the field by 5:40 at 16 km. The escapees’ advantage maxed out at 9:40 at 40 km. Orica-GreenEdge and Sky paced the peloton, and the fugitives’ lead began to drop.
The day’s intermediate sprint at 119.5 km seemed to spark the serious hostilities. After the sprint, Sky, Belkin, and Saxo Bank-Tinkoff began to pace the peloton. At the base of the hors categorie Col de Pailheres, the break was 1:00 ahead of the bunch.
On the climb, Riblon attacked his companions. The peloton reeled them in. With 41 km left, Robert Gesink (Belkin) attacked from the bunch, and soon thereafter, Riblon led him by 0:55 and the bunch by 1:10. Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) bolted out of the peloton.
With 37 km to go, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) attacked. The Colombian overtook everyone and seized the lead. Pierre Rolland (Europcar) attacked out of the peloton. At the summit, the Movistar man led Rolland by 0:27, Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel-Euskadi) by 1:00 and the 25-strong peloton, which Sky was pacing, by 1:05.
Sky’s pursuit shredded the peloton. At the base of the descent, Quintana was only 0:22 ahead of the chase group. He waited for Rolland to catch up to him and then dropped the Frenchman at the base of the last climb when he could not ride at the Colombian’s pace.
Quintana need not have bothered exerting himself. The Sky-led chase group caught him with five km left. Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff), Roman Kreuziger (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff), and Valverde were dropped, as Tejay van Garderen (BMC), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), and Cadel Evans (BMC) had been dropped before them. Froome attacked, and Quintana could not follow. Porte took the Movistar man’s wheel. When the Australian sensed that Froome was away for good and that Quintana would not follow, he dropped the Colombian.
Froome forged ahead in an attempt to put as much time between himself and his rivals as possible. The Briton had plenty of time to celebrate a victory that put him into the yellow jersey and distanced him from his rivals.
In the overall, Froome leads Porte by 0:51 and Valverde by 1:25. Stage 9 will shake up the standings even more than Stage 8. The 168.5-km ride from Saint Girons to Bagneres-de-Bigorre will take the field over one Category 2 climb and four Category 1 ascents before a long descent to the finish. Will those who began the Tour as GC contenders recover from today’s shellacking and mount attacks on Froome? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!