Calzati Wins Stage 8 of Tour
Sylvain Calzati (Ag2r) has won Stage 8 of the Tour de France. The Frenchman soloed away from five breakaway companions to win the rolling, 181-km run from Saint-Meen-le-Grand to Lorient in 4:13:18. Kjell Carlstrom (Liquigas) outsprinted Patrice Halgand (Credit Agricole) for second at 2:05. Sergei Gonchar (T-Mobile) remains the yellow jersey.
The stage began in cool, rainy conditions. From the start, the racing was aggressive. At 18 km, Unai Etxebarria (Euskaltel) attacked, and Jens Voigt (CSC), Samuel Dumoulin (Ag2r), Peter Weening (Rabobank), Wim Vansevenant (Davitamon), Ralf Grabsch (Milram), Cedric Coutouly (Agritubel), and Jose Garcia Acosta (Caisse d'Epargne) followed. After 27 km of chasing, T-Mobile and Lampre caught the escapees.
At 47 km, David Zabriskie (CSC) countered. Matthias Kessler (T-Mobile), Calzati, Mario Aerts (Davitamon), and Carlstrom followed immediately, with Halgand joining the break eight km later. At that point, the break led the Phonak-led bunch by 2:00.
At 63 km, the break's advantage maxed out at 7:30. Thereafter, the peloton cut into the escapees' lead gradually. The break did not cooperate especially well because Kessler sat on for T-Mobile and because Calzati soft pedaled.
Lampre and Francaise des Jeux replaced Phonak at the front. With 32 km left, Calzati decided that he could wait no longer and dropped his companions. Eventually, Carlstrom and Halgand began to chase, but the horse had left the barn.
With 21 km remaining, Calzati led Carlstrom and Halgand by 0:45 and Aerts, Zabriskie, and Kessler by 1:00. The peloton was 2:30 in arrears and eventually reeled in Aerts, Zabriskie, and Kessler. Calzati, however, spent the last three km celebrating his victory.
In the overall, Gonchar leads Floyd Landis (Phonak) by 1:00 and Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) by 1:08. Tuesday's Stage 9 will not change this state of affairs. The flat, 170-km run from Bordeaux to Dax will take the riders to the foot of the Pyrenees. It should end in a bunch sprint. Will Robbie McEwen (Davitamon) add another Tour stage to his collection? Will Tom Boonen (Quick Step) break through and win a stage? For the answers to these questions and others, check in at http://www.roadcycling.com/!