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Tour de France 2019: Thomas De Gendt goes long to win Stage 8 while the French take time on GC

Jack Elton-Walters
13 Jul 2019

Thomas De Gendt won the stage but Thibaut Pinot arguably had the best day on Stage 8 of the 2019 Tour de France

Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) won Stage 8 of the 2019 Tour de France after getting away in the day's breakaway and then going solo late in the stage. Despite the power of the chase, the Belgian maintained enough of a time advantage to cross the line first.

Finishing not long after the day's winner were Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) who had got clear of the group of favourites; Pinot looking to take time and Alaphilippe aiming to recover the yellow jersey - both objectives were achieved.

Despite a crash and bike change, Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) minimised his time loss.

Going hard all day on Stage 8

From the flag drop there were attacks, catches, counter-attacks and yet more catches until the breakaway finally got away. De Gendt, Niki Terpstra (Total Direct Energie) and Ben King (Dimension Data) got clear while Alessandro De Marchi (CCC Team) put in a solo effort to join them.

As the group of four notably strong riders began to work together their advantage went out over four minutes. However, Trek-Segafredo - the team of the yellow jersey Giulio Ciccone - took to the front of the peloton to keep the gap from getting much bigger.

Earlier in the day, it was confirmed that Tejay van Garderen (Education First) had not taken the start of Stage 8 due to injuries sustained in a crash on the previous day.

Aware that they would be hard-pushed to make it to the finish line in the front group, some key sprinters fought for fifth place at the intermediate sprint. Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-QuickStep) was the best of the rest but with the green jersey of Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) on his wheel the points gain was singluar.

The General Classification teams took charge of the peloton while many of the sprinters repeatedly lost and regained contact with the back of the main field.

At the head of the race, De Gendt continued to take maximum points at each summit. Pushing on for mountains points with 66km left of the stage, only De Marchi could go with De Gendt and the breakaway was halved.

De Marchi had a bit of trouble on a corner while descending but managed to slow down in time to softly bump into a spectator barrier rather than crash into it at full tilt. He then had to push on to get back on terms with De Gendt.

With that pairing back together and the time gap stubbornly staying at or above 3:50, it started to look like it could be a day for the breakaway to become a stayaway. Regardless, in the reduced main field it was Astana and Team Ineos who took it up at the front as the road continued skywards all the while further whittling down the peloton.

Sagan's efforts at the back of the main group were admirable as he refused to sit up despite repeatedly losing touch with the wheels in front. Fighting his bike and all alone, Sagan crossed the summit of the second to last classified climb within sight of the much-reduced peloton and was soon back in contact on the descent and made his way to the front ahead of the next ascent.

Drama for Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) with 15km to go as a heavy crash which saw someone's bike snap in two as the defending champion was involved in a pile up. Who the snapped bike belonged to was unclear: it was either Gianni Moscon's or it was Thomas's and he took Moscon's to finish the stage.

In the post-race interviews, Thomas confirmed that he'd landed on Moscon's bike but his own was fine and he continued finished the stage on the bike he'd started it on.

Thomas then burned through other domestiques to try and get back in contact with the group containing his rivals.

Thomas himself looked relatively unscathed and appeared to be riding quite comfortably as Wout Poels gave everything to drag him back into contention.

At the front, De Gendt had seen off De Marchi as he pushed on up the final climb in the hope of staying ahead all the way to a stage victory. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) made it clear that he's here for stages as he came almost to a halt on the lower slopes.

The French duo of Alaphilippe and Pinot went past De Marchi like he was stationary and worked together for their non-conflicting aims: Alaphilippe for the stage and yellow, Pinot to put time into his GC rivals.

Richie Porte, apparently here with hopes of an overall win, took up the chase for the benefit of Ciccone and the hope of keeping the yellow jersey within the Trek-Segafredo team. With so much going on, Thomas making it back to the Porte group was almost overlooked but his return meant that the group had less to gain from driving on and chasing down the attacking pair.

Thanks to disruption from QuickStep riders and a general lack of organisation in the chase, Alapinot - riding so well together it was like they were on a tandem - got further and further up the road. Despite their efforts, however, De Gendt maintained the gap ahead of all the chasers regardless of the efforts made by those behind.

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