Today’s stage 8 was billed as the first real sort out in this year’s Tour with two big climbs coming at the end of 195 kilometres from Castres to Ax 3 Domaines. For the first 130 kilometres the course was flat with only a Cat 4 climb after 26.5 kilometres; the Côte de Saint Ferréol (368m) and an intermediate sprint in Quillan after 119.5 kilometres. After the sprint the race would tackle the Col de Pailhères (Cat HC at 2,001m), the summit was after 166 kilometres and then the finishing climb to Ax 3 Domaines (Cat 1 at 1,378m).
Tour De France 2013 Stage 8 Fly Through by globalcyclingnetwork:
A Very Early Break
As soon as the neutralised section was over; Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil-DCM) was up the road and he was eventually joined by Jean-Marc Marino (Sojasun), Christophe Riblon (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Rudy Molard (Cofidis). Over the little climb of the Côte de Saint Ferréol Molard took the 1 point and Orica-GreenEdge were marshalling their troops at the head of the peloton about 7 minutes back.
After a fast first hour of over 44kph the four leaders built up a lead of 9 minutes, but this started to drop little by little and as they passed through Cambieure with 116 kilometres to go the escape had 8 minutes in hand on the Orica-GreenEdge and now Sky led bunch. Highest on the overall was Ag2r-La Mondiale’s Christophe Riblon at 4:49.
Lampre-Merida’s Matteo Bono abandoned, joining team mate Adriano Malori who gave up the fight yesterday.
Through the feed zone in Cournanel with 102 kilometres to go and the lead for Hoogerland, Marino, Riblon and Molard was down to just over 7 minutes.
The End is Nigh!
The highest mountain on this Tour de France was closing in on the race and as the leading four riders passed under the sprint banner in Quillan, with 75.5 kilometres to go, their lead was 5:50. The Dutch National champion; Johnny Hoogerland was first over the line, but they were more interested in the fight ahead up the two mountains.
The Cannondale lead-out train was in full action coming into the town and it was André Greipel (Lotto Belisol) who timed his jump off the wheel of Peter Sagan to take 5th place ahead of Sagan and Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step).
Col de Pailhères
The Col de Pailhères (Cat HC) is 15.3 kilometres long with an average slope of 8% and the steepest section of 10.1% to its summit at 2,001 metres makes it the highest point on this Tour, just 1 metre higher than Col de la Madeleine on stage 19, making it the Souvenir Henri Desgrange along with €5,000.
Sky moved to the front of the bunch at 60 kilometres to go with Saxo-Tinkoff and Belkin close at hand, BMC were in the next row, while at the back, the peloton was stretched to snapping point.
The four in the front group were not giving up, but they were only leading by just over 2 minutes as they hit the base of the climb and 15 kilometres of suffering ahead. Through the wooded valley before the drama unfolded Saxo-Tinkoff, Belkin and Sky had the lead with Garmin-Sharp moving forward.
The escape knew that their time out front would not last much longer and they started to make tentative attacks, the first from Hoogerland, but they settled down on the false flat for the run up to the climb proper.
With 44 kilometres to go to the finish the lead was 1 minute and Riblon rode away from Hoogerland and Morino as Molard was dropped and soon caught by the fast moving peloton. By this point most of the sprinters had been left behind as had the KOM leader, Blel Kadri.
The Yellow jersey of Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge) was still riding proudly near the front of the peloton as David Millar rode on the front for his Garmin-Sharp team leader; Dan Martin. First attack from the peloton came from Robert Gesink (Belkin), he passed Hoogerland and Morino and headed off on the trail of Riblon.
Sky had decided they wanted to be in control and put all available riders on the front, this worked until Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) thought it was time to join in the action and headed up the road after Gesink and Riblon. Sky didn’t change their tempo and kept it steady, burning riders off the back, but Impey was still there. A bit farther on and Giro winner Ryder Hesjedal was in trouble and then it was Impey next.
Nairo Quintana (Movistar) rode easily away from the bunch, caught Voeckler and passed him as if he was just going to the shops. Next the little Colombian rode across to Gesink and then left him also and headed off after Riblon.
Voeckler had tried too hard and was caught and dropped by the GC group.
Quintana was flying up the mountain and caught Riblon 5 kilometres before the top, easy as you like the Colombian signaled to the Frenchman to ride with him, this was not really going to happen, but he did manage to stick on Quintana’s wheel for a little time before he had to give up also.
The GC group now had around 30 riders; next to go off the front was Pierre Rolland (Europcar) with Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi) on his tail, Quintana at this point was 45 seconds ahead of the chasers.
At the top; the little Colombian Nairo Quintana (Movistar) took the highest mountain prize, 40 seconds later was Pierre Rolland (Europcar) and Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi) was just in front of the peloton at 1:03.
The 59 kilogram Quintana looked to be losing time on the descent, he was clocked at 75kph, but the gap was coming down as the bunch had gained 20 seconds as the Colombian passed under the 20 K’s to go banner.
Sky still had 3 riders on the front of the peloton, Peter Kennaugh being the man doing all the work, Froome, Contador, Rodriguez, Andy Schleck and Evans were all still in the lead group as was the White jersey of Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) as Nico Roche was managing to catch up with the GC group.
Ax 3 Domaines
Pierre Rolland caught Nairo Quintana as they passed through Aix les Thermes, out the other side of the town and Quintana rode away from Rolland to go for the final on his own. Richie Porte for Sky took over from Kennaugh and Rolland was caught.
The pace was too high for Cadel Evans, Andy Schleck, Joaquim Rodriguez and Dan Martin, the GC group was down to just five riders, Porte, Froome, Valverde. Kreuziger and Contador.
Porte put the pressure on as they caught Quintana and Contador was in trouble along with Valverde and Kreuziger.
Froome hit the front with 5 kilometres to go and he rode on with the stage and Yellow jersey in his sights. Porte left Quintana who was now with Valverde as Contador was with Kreuziger. Evans was struggling to stay with Schleck as Laurens Ten Dam got up to the Saxo-Tinkoff tandem.
Chris Froome was in his zone of suffering, but had 31 seconds on Porte with 3 kilometres to go, next was Valverde at 48 seconds and then the Contador group over 1 minute later.
The Contador group was splitting as it caught Quintana, Kreuziger had to guide his Spanish leader up the mountain as he was in a lot of trouble.
Chris Froome attacked the final kilometre to the finish, putting everything into his last effort, Richie Porte was next at 51 seconds, Alejandro Valverde at 1:08 and then the Belkin pair of Bauke Mollema (1:10) and Laurens Ten Dam (1:16). Kreuziger brought Contador in at 1:48 with the hero of the day; Nairo Quintana (the new White jersey) on their wheel. The others dribbled across the line counting their losses on the flying Chris Froome who now has the Yellow jersey and the KOM lead going into tomorrow’s stage.
Everyone lost time on Froome (obviously), Contador didn’t look good and Evans lost the most – although he did better than his teammate Tejay van Garderen who lost all GC hope. This evening the 100th edition of the Tour de France is looking more settled, SKY and Chris Froome are well in control but there are still two weeks of hard racing to come; keep it PEZ!
Tour de France Stage 8 Result:
1. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky in 5:03:18
2. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky at 0:51
3. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 1:08
4. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin at 1:10
5. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin at 1:16
6. Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:01:34
7. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Saxo-Tinkoff at 1:45
8. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff
9. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar
10. Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi.
Tour de France Overall After Stage 8:
1. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky in 32:15:55
2. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky at 0:51
3. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 1:25
4. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin at 1:44
5. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin at b1:50
6. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Saxo-Tinkoff at 1:51
7. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff
8. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar at 2:02
9. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha at 2:31
10. Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff at 2:40.