Kadri Wins Stage 8 of Tour de France
Blel Kadri (Ag2r-La Mondiale) has scored the first French stage win of the 2014 Tour de France. Kadri jumped into a daylong break and outlasted it and the maillot jaune group to win Stage 8, a hilly, 161-km ride from Tomblaine to Gerardmer la Mauselaine in 3:49:28. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) finished second at 2:17, and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) finished third at 2:20. Nibali remains the maillot jaune.
The stage began at a blistering pace. During the first hour, the riders covered 51 km. The peloton snuffed out a number of sallies before Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) and Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) got clear. Kadri, Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEdge), and Adrien Petit (Cofidis) joined the pair, and the quintet had forged an 11-minute lead over the Astana-paced peloton with 50 km remaining.
As the riders approached the end of the stage, rain began to fall. On the Category 2 Col de la Croix des Moinats, Chavanel attacked. Kadri caught his countryman and dropped him. At the summit, the Ag2r-La Mondiale man led the IAM Cycling man by 0:50 and the peloton, which Tinkoff-Saxo Bank led, by 4:30.
Tinkoff-Saxo Bank set a torrid pace. The team’s pacemaking dropped Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) on the Croix des Moinats and Jakob Fuglsang and Tanek Kangert (both from Astana) and Frank Schleck (Trek) on the Category 2 Col de Grosse Pierre. Schleck did claw his way back on, and Nibali clung to Contador’s wheel. Others who were dropped were Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol), and Laurens ten Dam (Belkin).
On the Col de Grosse Pierre, Kadri extended his lead, and on the descent it was obvious that he would win. He had plenty of time to celebrate, while Tinkoff-Saxo Bank eliminated some of the GC hopefuls.
On the descent, Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) crashed for the second time in two days. The American lost two minutes and fell from eighth to 16th on GC.
On the ascent to the finish, the maillot jaune group caught all of the break members except Kadri. Contador went to the front and started pressing the pace. The Spaniard dropped everyone except for Nibali, who stayed with him until the last 200 m. The Italian later said that he was in the wrong gear in the homestretch.
Contador said that his and his team’s show of force was intended to test the other heads of state. “I wanted to see how Nibali felt,” the Spaniard said. “It was a surprise to me that he let go of my wheel on the final 50 meters. I wasn’t one hundred percent sure if there was a rider ahead for the stage win. So I was looking at Nibali all the time, until I saw the finish line screen indicating two minutes and then I decided to try to gain some seconds.
“The team was extraordinary today and my legs responded well. We have to gain time every day, because Nibali is a great rider, like the rest of those in front of me. Today was not about proving anything to anyone; I was trying to make up time and test my rivals. Nibali is a rider that knows how to win the Grand Tours and combined with his advantage he’s still the favorite. He has 2:30 and that’s a lot of time.”
In the overall, Nibali leads teammate Fuglsang by 1:44 and Richie Porte (Sky) by 1:58. Stage 9 will probably not change this state of affairs. The hilly, 170-km ride from Gerardmer to Mulhouse will feature six categorized climbs, including a Category 1, but the summit of the last of these ascents will be 33 km from the finish. Stage 9 will be a stage hunter’s dream. Who will win? Jens Voigt (Trek)? Thomas Voeckler (Europcar)? Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!