Vuillermoz Wins Stage 8 of Tour de France
Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r-La Mondiale) has climbed to victory in Stage 8 of the Tour de France. The former mountain biker jumped away from the lead group in the last km to take the rolling, 181.5-km ride from Rennes to Mur de Bretagne in 4:20:55. Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) finished second at 0:05, and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) outsprinted Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) for third at 0:10. Chris Froome (Sky) remains the maillot jaune.
Bretagne-Seche Environnement tried to escape at the gun, but at nine km, Bartosz Huzarski (Bora-Argon 18), Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling), Romain Sicard (Europcar), and Pierre-Luc Perichon (Bretagne-Seche Environnement) formed an early break. The quartet’s lead maxed out at 3:55 at 16 km, when Lotto-Soudal began to chase.
At the intermediate sprint at Gare de Moncontour (108.5 km), 17 riders got clear. They were Lars Boom (Astana); Jeremy Roy (FDJ); Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank); Lars Bak, Thomas de Gendt, and Andre Greipel (all from Lotto-Soudal); John Degenkolb, Roy Curvers, and Koen de Kort (all from Giant-Alpecin); Michal Kwiatkowski, Mark Cavendish, and Michal Golas (all from Etixx-Quick Step); Pierre Rolland, Bryan Coquard, and Angelo Tulik (all from Europcar); Frederic Brun and Pierrick Fedrigo (Bretagne-Séché Environnement). They caught the leading quartet with 69 km remaining.
Bak, Golas, and Huzarski surged away from the lead group. The trio led by a minute with 40 km left. A number of teams pursued, with Cannondale-Garmin and BMC doing much of the work. With 22 km to go, the break led the bunch by 0:30. Lotto-Soudal joined Cannondale-Garmin at the front.
Eleven km from the finish, Huzarski was dropped. Tinkoff-Saxo Bank went to the front. Two km later, the peloton reeled in Bak and Golas. BMC went to the front, but eventually Tinkoff-Saxo Bank, Orica-GreenEdge, and Sky joined the American squad. When the field reached the 2.2-km climb to the finish, no one controlled the peloton.
Tinkoff-Saxo Bank and Orica-GreenEdge led the ascent. Vuillermoz, Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEdge), and Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin) attacked, but Froome chased and the trio was caught just inside the one-km banner. Vuillermoz tried again and stayed clear. Martin countered but could not get to grips with the Frenchman. Behind, defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) fell off of the pace and lost 0:10 to his rivals.
Vuillermoz’s victory was part of a plan on his team’s part. The Ag2r-La Mondiale man was surprised and exhilarated at the finish. “It is just incredible, I did not think it could be possible,” the Frenchman said. “I just wanted to do my best today. I thought there would be better riders than me today. I wanted to surprise everyone and finally it happened. It was all or nothing for me today.
“The whole Ag2r-La Mondiale team made a big effort to get Jean-Christophe [Peraud], Romain [Bardet], and I in a good position at the beginning of the climb. I thought of attacking in the harder part of the Mur, I knew the end would be flat. When Froome came back I followed him in order to rest. I attacked again but I did not think l would be the winner.”
Froome was content with the day’s result. He and his teammates wanted to save energy for tomorrow’s team time trial. "Today wasn't really about extending that gap, more about looking after the gap I already have,” the Briton said. “It's 11 seconds so it's not a big gap. But the main race is still to come. We've got the TTT tomorrow, then the rest day before we head into the Pyrenees and the real race for the yellow jersey starts.
"We really did try and approach the stage quite conservatively as a team given in the back of our minds we have the team time trial tomorrow. That's really quite an important stage for us. That's a day where half a minute could be won or lost depending on how it goes.
"It's going to be tough, especially with BMC breathing right down my neck and Tejay [van Garderen] right there. But we've got a really strong group of guys for the team time trial and hopefully we can be up there with the best."
In the overall, Froome leads Sagan by 0:11 and van Garderen by 0:13. Stage 9 could change the standings. The rolling, 28-km team time trial between Vannes and Plumelec will end with an ascent of the Cote de Cadoudal. BMC is the world team time trial champion. Will it ride well enough to put van Garderen into the yellow jersey? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!