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Lilian Calmejane wins Tour de France Stage 8 from breakaway

The Frenchman took a solo victory as Froome retains yellow on dramatic mountain stage that was a good day for the breakaway

Peter Stuart
8 Jul 2017

Frenchman Lilian Calmejane of Team Direct Energie took a fantastic victory atop the Station des Rousses, attacking from the main 8-man break of Stage 8 of the Tour de France.

Calmejane, who has previously won stage 4 of last year's Vuelta de Espana, attacked in the middle of the day's major climb, the Montee de la Comble de Laisia Les Molunes, and finished despite a last-minute cramp that looked set to gift a victory to Robert Gesink of Team LottoNL-Jumbo, who put up an admirable pursuit.

The day was populated by several failed breakaway attempts, and Calmejane attacked from the final most successful 8-man group. He attacked the main peloton atop the second climb of the day, bridging to the breakaway on the descent toward the final climb.

On the ascent, it was Warren Barguil who made the first attack and was tipped for the win. Calmejane and Gesink stuck in pursuit, and eventually toppled Barguil before Calmejane attacked alone from 18km to go, and rode alone to a solo victory.

The main pack came into the finish together, meaning there was no serious shake-up in the general classification.

How Stage 8 unfolded

A very warm day in Dole made for a interesting start to Stage 8, as Marco Marcato of UAE Team Emirates managed to break clear of the pack a few kilometres beyond the neutralization zone.

The move was joined by several others, including Edvard Boasson Hagen of Team Dimension Data, infamously losing out on yesterday’s win by 6mm, but the group was reeled in after 10km.

A second attack, featuring Greg van Avermaet (Team BMC), Sylvain Chavanel (Team Direct Energie) and Alexey Lutsenko of Astana managed to break clear with 170km to go. Chavanel has previously won a stage on the Station de Rousses on the 2010 Tour.

The second attack managed a 28 seconds gap before being reeled in by the pack after 15km. A further break featuring Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hanshrohe), Mathias Frank (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis) and Jasha Sutterlin (Movistar) proved to be the most decisive of the early kilometres.

A pursuing pack of nearly 50 riders took pursuit of the four leaders, resulting in a 3 minute 20 gap over the main peloton, headed up by Team Sky. A 13-man group attacked from the 50-strong pack at aorund 100km to go. At a similar time, Bernie Eisel suffered a crash but managed to get himself back on the bike.

Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Matteo Trentin (Quick-Step Floors) and Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb) joined the leaders, bridged over to the 13-man group, which headed over the first climb of the day, the Category 3 Col de la Joux, ahead of the main group and pursuing pack with 90km remaining.

At 87km to go, an unfortunate development was Arnaud Demare of Team FDJ fighting off the broom wagon, nearly 17 minutes down on the leading group.

At the 60km to go mark, the leaidng breakway was down to 8. It included Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Jan Bakelants (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Warren Barguil (Team Subweb), Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb), Matteo Trentin (Quick-Step Floors) and Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data). They headed over the 7.6km Cote de Viry in the lead.

Warren Barguil looked like a threat throughout, snapping up KOM points atop the Cote de Viry. A quick descent found the breakaway of 8 riders at the major climb of the day fairly quickly - Montee de la Comble de Laisia Les Molunes. WIth 11.7km at 6.4% it would be a challenge for the break to remain ahead, now having been joined by one further rider, Michael Valgran of Astana who bridged the gap between the two climbs.

Into the final climb, the break remained a pack of 8, but with a minor reshuffle – now dropping several riders but being joined by Lilian Calmejane, Nicolas Roche (Team BMC), Simon Clarke (Cannondale Drapac) and Robert Gesink.

Warren Barguil unsurprisingly made the first attack, and Robert Gesink managed to bridge over with Nicolas Roche to Barguil and Pauwels at the front of the race.

After a series of minor attacks from the front group, Frenchman Calmejane attacked with 18km to go, and it proved to be a sticker, as he hovered at 1miute 30 seconds ahead of the Yellow Jersey group all the way to the summit.

Gesink remained in close and admirable pursuit, only 10 seconds off Calmejane, as Barguil popped on the ascent and was pulled to the main pack.

Cramping up

At the summit of the Montee de la Comble de Laisia Les Molunes, things were looking good fro Calmejane as he had a 28-second lead over Gesink.

Drama erupted when a completely unpredicted cramp hit Calmejane on the final lump of the day, the mild ascent to Station de Rousses.

It all looked very dangerous for the Frenchman, and potentially very good for Gesink, but his form seemingly flashed back and he managed to keep his lead into the final kilometres.

Tour de France 2017: Stage 8, Dole - Station des Rousses (187.5km), result

1. Lilian Calmejane (Fra) Direct Energie, in 4:30:29
2. Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo, at 0:37
3. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Wanty–Groupe Gobert, at 0:50
4. Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing, at same time
5. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Orica-Scott, st
6. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana, st
7. Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Astana, st
8. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, st
9. Nathan Brown (USA) Cannondale-Drapac, st
10. Romain Hardy (Fra) Team Fortuneo–Oscaro, st

Tour de France 2017: General classification top 10 after Stage 8

1. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky, in 33:19:10
2. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky at 0:12
3. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 0:14
4. Dan Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors at 0:25
5. Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing at 0:39
6. Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott at 0:43
7. Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale at 0:47
8. Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo at 0:52
9. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 0:54
10. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe at 1:01