Tour de France (st. 8)
Frenchman escapes alongside fellow coutnryman Alaphilippe (DQT) -back in yellow-, finishes behind day’s winner De Gendt (LTS) while putting 20″ into main bunch including Nairo, Mikel and Alejandro Valverde.
A magnificent breakaway was rewarded with a famous victory for Thomas de Gendt (LTS) on stage eight of the 2019 Tour de France, a 200km route from Mâcon to Saint-Étienne. The beautiful mid-mountain course, with seven rated ascents and plenty of little, steep hills, saw the Belgian taking the better from a peloton chasing hard from well before the finish, which again witnessed attacks from top GC contenders.
Julian Alaphilippe (DQT) and Thibaut Pinot (GFC) took advantage from the flatter section after the ‘Bonus Point’ hill of Jaillère (Cat-3), 12km before the end, to put a gap on the main favourites. The duo obtained a valuable 20″ at the finish over the bunch, which helped the former don back the yellow jersey as the latter jumped onto 4th overall.
The Movistar Team finished with Nairo Quintana, Mikel Landa and Alejandro Valverde inside the selected peloton, which will surely see on Sunday’s stage nine another series of attacks and dangerous breaks en route to Brioude (170km). The ascent to Saint-Just (Cat-3 + Bonus) near the finish will offer the locals another great chance in France’s national holiday, the ‘Quatorze Juillet’.
Mikel Landa: “It was such a tough day – really high pace all day, a grueling stage, everyone was struggling near the end. Pinot has been doing great since the start of the race, he’s always been a rider to follow in Grand Tours and seems to be in excellent condition here. He gained some time on all of us and will surely be a big contender. In the end, there are still so many favourites in the mix, and before we get to tougher mountain stages like the Pyrenees ones, the group of candidates won’t be reduced and it will be harder to know which wheel you should follow when they attack.”
Nairo Quintana: “It was a very nervous day, with short, steep, power climbs. We tried to follow those wheels we were most interested in. Pinot continues to gain some time, yet it was against all other contenders this time. Surely Alaphilippe and him knew the route well – they might as well have raced in these roads since their youth stage, and knew they could take advantage from the final section. With those doubts into the GC group about who wanted to pull or rather follow wheels, they took advantage to put some seconds on us. The INEOS crash? I was some meters behind them, and was fortunate not to crash with them.”
Cover picture (c): BettiniPhoto