Pinot Breaks Away to Win Stage 8 of Tour de France
Thibaut Pinot (FDJ-BigMat), the youngest rider in this year's Tour, has won Stage 8.
Thibaut Pinot (FDJ-BigMat), the youngest rider in this year's Tour, has won Stage 8. The Frenchman, who was added to FDJ-BigMat's Tour team when a teammate became injured, jumped into a break and then passed Frederik Kessiakoff (Astana) with 17 km left, holding off the peloton to win the rugged, 157.5-ride from Belfort, France to Porrentruy, Switzerland in 3:56:10. Cadel Evans (BMC) outsprinted Tony Gallopin (RadioShack-Nissan) for second, with the Briton remaining the maillot jaune.
Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan) made an early escape that included ten riders. Eventually, Voigt found himself alone, but Jeremy Roy (FDJ-BigMat) caught and dropped the German.
At 60 km, a crash occurred that took down three Spaniards--Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Jorge Azanza and Olympic road race champion Samuel Sanchez (both from Euskaltel-Euskadi). Sanchez suffered a broken collarbone and a dislocated shoulder and will probably be unable to defend his championship in London.
With about 80 km left, Kessiakoff caught Roy. Not long afterward, a 22-man chase group of which Pinot was a part formed. With 78 km to go, the pair led the chasers by one minute and the peloton by about two and a half minutes.
Steven Kruiswijk (Rabobank), Kevin de Weert (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), and Pinot made contact with Roy and Kessiakoff just before the Cote de Saulcy. Kessiakoff attacked on the climb and led the chasers by 1:17 with 37 km remaining and 1:05 with 30 km left. With about 25 km to go, Pinot and Gallopin set out after the Swede. At this point, the Liquigas-Cannondale-led peloton was at 3:26 and began to accelerate and shed riders.
With about 20 km left, Kessiakoff reached the Category 1 Col de la Porte, the last and hardest of the day's seven categorized climbs. Pinot dropped Gallopin and caught Kessiakoff with 17 km remaining. One km later, the FDJ-BigMat man breasted the summit 1:44 ahead of the peloton.
The groupe maillot jaune pursued the Frenchman and ate into his lead. The gap fell from 1:15 with 10 km left, to 0:47 with five km to go, to 0:35 with two km remaining. With FDJ-BigMat directeur sportif Marc Madiot shouting encouragement from the team car, however, Pinot dug deep and held off the pursuers.
In the overall, Wiggins leads Cadel Evans (Team BMC Racing) by 0:10 and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) by 0:16. Stage 9 will be a major test. The flat, 41.5-km individual time trial from Arc-et-Senons to Besancon will shake up the standings. Who will win? Wiggins? Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!