Sunday July 8th, 2012

Stage 8Belfort / Porrentruy

Start 13h15 GMT 2+

The oldest starts the attacking; the youngest wins- Bravo Thibaut!

Stage summary08.07.2012Stage 8- Belfort / Porrentruy

© A.S.O.

On a day with seven climbs including a brutally steep final ascent in Switzerland, the short eighth stage was expected to be an animated one and the predictions came true. The attacks lasted from start to finish. It began with an impressive display from Jens Voigt who seemed like the bionic man as he punched the pedals on his own at the front while a myriad of riders tried to get on terms with him but failed. On he went for the first hour, like an automaton on a mission but eventually his battery ran out. Meanwhile, back in the peloton there were some who dared take on the might of the Sky team, including the youngest in the race Thibaut Pinot. Slowly but surely, the FDJ-BigMat rider caught and passed every other escapee and, 500m before the top of the final climb he was in the lead. Once there, he wasn't going to surrender his chance of glory. And even with the closing bout of action from the likes of Jurgen van den Broeck and Cadel Evans, nothing could steal the hard-earned victory from Mr Pinot, the new darling of French cycling...

The oldest starts the attacking; the youngest wins the stage – Bravo Thibaut!
The progress report
The eighth stage was a 157.5km from Belfort to Porrentruy in Switzerland. It featured seven climbs – the cote de Bondeval (cat-4 at 20km), the cote de Passage de la Douleur (cat-3 at 32km), the cote de Maison-Rouge (cat-2 at 50km), the cote de Saigneilegier (cat-2 at 73km), the cote de Saulcy (cat-2 at 97km), the cote de la Caquerelle (cat-2 at 130.5km) and the col de la Croix (cat-1 at 141.5km). The intermediate sprint was in Les Genevez at the 107km mark. The sun was shining at the start and the temperature was around 24 degrees Celsius. Racing began at 1.16pm with 180 riders still in the race. The non-starter was Frohlinger (ARG).

Volley of attacks at the start
Right from the start riders started attacking and after 8km there were 11 men in a lead group that was 18” ahead. The composition of the largest escape group so far in the 2012 Tour was: Gilbert (BMC), Voigt (RNT), Perez (EUS), Millar (GRS), Riblon (ALM), Westra (VCD), Sanchez (RAB), Costa (MOV), Sorensen (STB), Chavanel (OPQ) and Curvers (ARG). The best placed of the escape was Chavanel who was 14th overall at the start of the day, 2'22” behind Wiggins. The only man to continue the move was Voigt who led over the two opening climbs. Others including Albasini (OGE), Riblon (ALM) and Mollema (RAB) tried to get in a counter attack but the peloton refused to let any of the chasers gain any advantage. The fast pace caused numerous riders to lose contact with the yellow jersey's group and the first big casualty of the speed was Gesink (RAB) who was dropped after about 30km of racing.
Eventually, at the base of the third climb, Voigt was joined in the lead by six others, including Peraud, Vichot and Kruiswijk but the peloton refused to let anyone just ride up the road.

Roy succeeds in establishing an escape: Sanchez crashes out
The oldest rider in the race was the only man who could stay ahead of the peloton for the first 40km but Kruiswijk (RAB) was able to catch Voigt on the third climb of the stage. Then came a move of 24 counter-attackers – including Valverde and Casar – and they caught the leaders at 47km. Sky was at the front of the bunch the whole team. Eventually, at 55km a group of 20: Moinard, Gallopin, Kern, Marzano, Nerz, Peraud, Cherel, Kadri, Moncoutie, Jeandesboz, Hoogerland, Valls Ferri, Caruso, Pinot, Kruiswijk, Mollema, Ten Dam, Kiriyenka, Sorensen, Kisierlovski, De Weert, Weening could break free. They were chased down by Roy (FDJ) who then went on ahead and, at the 60km mark he led the rest of the escapees by 18” and the peloton by 50”.
At 56km there was a crash that involved Valverde (MOV) and Sanchez (EUS); the rider who finished sixth in last year's Tour broke his collarbone and had to quit the race.

Roy and Kessiakoff race ahead
On the descent of the cote de Saignelegier Kessiakoff and Roy sped ahead of all the other escapees. This pair began the fifth climb with a lead of 30” on Kruiswijk and De Weert, and 1'00” on the other escapees. The peloton was at 3'30”. On the fifth climb the Swedish Astana rider left the Frenchman behind and began a long solo journey towards Porrentruy. He took the 20 points of the intermediate sprint and was 1'05” ahead of a group of 14: Gallopin, Kern, Nerz, Kadri, Moncoutie, Hoogerland, Pinot, Roy, Kruiswijk, Mollema, Ten Dam, Sorensen, Kiserlovski and De Weert. With 40km to go, Kessiakoff was ahead of the second group by 1'15” and 3'20” in front of the bunch.
Kessiakoff began the final climb with a lead of 55” on Gallopin and Pinot but it didn't take long for the youngest rider in the race (Pinot) to drop the RadioShack rider. Liquigas led the peloton to the base of the final climb but then Lotto-Belisol riders took over with Vanendert and van den Broeck setting the pace on the steepest climb of the stage.

Pinot earns a win for FDJ-BigMat
Pinot raced into the lead of the stage with 17km to go. He caught and immediately raced past Kessiakoff near the top of the final climb and he wouldn't be seen by another rider until after the finish. Lotto-Belisol led the yellow jersey's group for most of the final climb and then there was an elite selection of just nine men at the top: Wiggins, Froome, Evans, Menchov, Nibali, Zubeldia, Schleck, van den Broeck and Horner. On the descent Kessiakoff almost overshot a turn but by then he was out of contention for the stage win. Van den Broeck was bold enough try attacking the yellow jersey and this also prompted a brief surge from Cadel Evans but Wiggins always seem to have them covered. The defending champion of the Tour would finished second in the stage for a second successive day but he gained no time on his main rival in the race for the maillot jaune. Meanwhile, the celebrations for the first French stage win of the 99th Tour were started by Marc Madiot in the back seat of the FDJ team car well before the finish. He carried on like a man possessed, pumping his fist and screaming himself hoarse while, up ahead, Pinot calmly raised his arms in salute of an outstanding victory – one that will be remembered for a long time for this was the day that the young rider became a winner at the Tour de France.
Kessiakoff earned the lead in the climbing classification for his efforts today and Taaramae just defended his white jersey... and Wiggins, in fourth place, did all he needed to do to ensure he'll wear the yellow jersey in the time trial of stage nine.

Stage 8 Belfort / Belfort

All about the stage key moments

Jersey wearers after the stage 20

Classifications after the stage 20

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