Tour de France: Stage 8 and Froome shows his cards

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Chris Froome showed a hand of aces as his team helped prepare the way forward for Froome to go off alone and win the stage from his teammate Richie Porte

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Speaking afterwards, Chris Froome said “its been a very nervous first week until now but my team has done a fantastic job and we have come through this first week in a really fantastic position. To be able to repay my teammates today with the stage win and with Richie coming second, we could not have asked fo r more.”

“This is the first real GC day so to come up and won it with first and second is a dream come true for us so far. We were put under pressure there (Quintana) and this is only the first week and we still have two weeks to go so there is definitely going to be some hard racing to come now we have the yellow jersey which we’re going to have to defend.”

“I’m not worried though. I was always confident with my teammates around me and they did a fantastic job, Peter Kennaugh, Richie Porte, oh all of them, bringing us to the climb; we could not have asked for much more. It is such a good way to start the mountains for us.”

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Photo: ASO/B.Bade

Chris Froome blows his Tour de France rivals away on the first mountain stage

He was the favourite for the stage but before the final climb it seemed there might be contenders other than Chris Froome. At the finish of stage eight in Ax-3-Domaines, it would seem that there was only one man who can win the title at the 100th edition of the Tour de France.

The Kenyan-born Brit was so dominant on the final climb that no one else seems to have a chance. Of course, there are still over two weeks of racing ahead but so far, everything is going to plan for the Sky team. Not only did its leader win the stage, but the super-domestique Richie Porte came second and the pair are in first and second place overall at the end of the first day in the mountains.

Former champions of the race – Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck and Cadel Evans – all suffered significant time loss on stage eight finishing behind Froome by 1’46, 3’35, and 4’14, respectively. The Movistar team added to the show with an impressive attack by 23 yera old Nairo Quintana who takes the White jersey in his Tour debut, and his team leader Valverde was the closest rival to the Sky pair.

But this was a day when the favourites absolutely dominated and all others faltered… or at least were made to look as though they had. It was domination by one team and survival by the rest.

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Escapees Johnny Hoogerland, Jean-Marc Marino, Rudy Molard and Christophe Riblon. Photo: ASO/B.Bade

The race …
The official start of the 195km stage from Castres to Ax-3-Domaines in the Pyrenees began at 11.47am with 188 riders in the race. The itinerary included three climbs: the cat-4 cote de Saint-Ferréol (at 26.5km) followed by the highest point of the 100th Tour de France, col de Pailhères (‘hors category’ at 166km) and the category-one ascent to the finish. The intermediate sprint was in Quillan (at 119.5km).

The first successful attack came from Marino (SOJ) and he was quickly joined by Hoogerland (VCD) and, at 9km, Riblon (ALM) and Molard (COF) caught the two leaders. By 16km the escape was 5’40” ahead. The average speed for the first hour was 44.3km/h. The peloton was at 9’10” after an hour of racing. Orica-GreenEdge led the peloton along with some help from Sky. The second hour was slightly faster: 44.9km/h, and after two hours of racing, the escape was 7’55” ahead.

Riblon becomes the virtual leader

The maximum advantage of the escape was 9’40” at 40km. The most recent winner of the stage to Ax-3-Domaines, Riblon (in 2010), was the best placed on GC of the four in the escape and he was the virtual leader after starting the stage in 61st place, 4’49” behind Impey.

After 100km the peloton was at 6’40”… but this dropped steadily until the intermediate sprint when a big surge from Cannondale ate a chunk of time out of the break. Despite the efforts of his lead-out men, Sagan was beaten by Greipel for fifth-place points. Cavendish was seventh: the peloton was 4’35” behind the escapees.

Getting ready for the climbs…
With 63km to go, the Orica team retreated to the peloton and let three GC teams take control of the pacesetting. Sky, Movistar and Belkin led the peloton to the base of the Port de Pailhères. The average speed for the third hour was 42.7km/h. At the foot of the Pailhères climb, the four leaders were just 1’00” ahead of a peloton that was led by Belkin, Saxo and Sky.

KENNAUGH: “I seem to have been able to live up to the job I was asked to do which is great for the team and my own confidence. I was buzzing on the descent. I like them as much as the climbing.”

Riblon accelerated in the first kilometre, his former escape companions were caught by the peloton 40km from the finish. One of the first to be dropped by the peloton was Kadri (ALM). Gesink attacked the peloton with 41km to go and was soon 55” behind Riblon with the peloton was at 1’10”.

Although the speed of Lopez (SKY) eliminated many riders, it still included Impey but no other Orica riders. With 39.5km to go, Voeckler attacked and prompted no reaction at all. His attack wouldn’t last long but the team wasn’t finished as Rolland jumped ahead as soon as his team-mate was caught.

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Quintana on the attack. Photo: ASO/B.Bade

Quintana goes on the attack
The young Colombian from Movistar attacked with 37km to go and he quickly caught and passed Voeckler. Quintana would catch everyone, including Riblon, point to his rear wheel telling him to sit on, and only Riblon could match his pace… for a few hundred metres.

With 3km to go, the Movistar rider was in the lead alone. He would go on to win the ‘Souvenir Henri Desgrange’ whilst Sky had Kiryienka on the front until 3km to climb and then Peter Kennaugh took over. Victims of his pace included van Garderen (BMC), Roche (TST), Gesink (BEL) and Voeckler. At the top, Quintana led Rolland by 27”, Nieve (EUS) by 1’00”, Kennaugh, Porte and Froome by 1’05” and there were about 25 riders in the group that was led by that Sky trio.

Froome climbing to victory and into the yellow jersey!
Sky was expected to star on the 8th stage and the team did exactly that. Rolland caught Quintana at the base of the final climb but lasted only a matter of seconds. Kennaugh led Porte and Froome to the foot of the final climb and once he peeled off, the Tasmanian took over the pacesetting. This eliminated the likes of Dan Martin (GRS), Andrew Talansky, Michael Kwiatkowski and eventually Cadel Evans.

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Richie Porte leads Chris Froome before the Kenyan born rider made his move and blew the race to pieces. Photo: ASO/B.Bade

Contador, Valverde, Kreuziger, Rodriguez and others followed the pace of Porte for two kilometres but once a small gap opened, Froome powered ahead and into the lead of the stage. Once it was clear his leader would not be seen again, Porte also accelerated dropping Quintana. The Sky pair would finish the stage in first and second place and take over the first and second positions in the overall rankings. Froome is in yellow jersey for the next mountain stage.

Nairo Quintana: “It is not a big drama for me to miss out today as it’s my first Tour de France and I’m here to learn. Now we will still try to win stages”

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Froome alone and with no challengers. Photo: ASO/B.Bade

Peter Kennaugh: “I’m pretty happy with my ride and also with how Froomey and Richie were able to finish it off there. For me, getting selected for the Tour was a big thing in itself and I was a bit nervous about how I was going to perform.”

“I seem to have been able to live up to the job I was asked to do which is great for the team and my own confidence. I was buzzing on the descent. I like them as much as the climbing.”

“What Chris has done is incredible. It’s so easy to commit to Froomey because of the way he handles everyone having respect for every single rider on the team and what their job is and every time we go out on our bikes, we give 100% to him because we know we’ll get 100% back from him.”

“He’s the most consistent rider I have ever met in my life. I have never seen him have a bad day all season. The way he goes up hills is amazing and the way he controls his effort. He’s very logical in the way he rides, he’s not emotional, and his attacks are very precise and he’s able to sustain that power all the time.”

Nairo Quintana: Movistar’s agressive little climber said “For this first mountain stage, I’m happy with my feelings. My legs were good, and I put them to good use with an attack. I thought about it – the stage win – for a moment. But I missed a bit of strength at the end and the Sky team is very strong, with Chris Froome and Richie Porte.”

“It is not a big drama for me to miss out today as it’s my first Tour de France and I’m here to learn. Now we will still try to win stages, and we must continue to attack. But mostly, I also like the white jersey, it’s a nice objective. It’s on my shoulders now, but I’d like to keep up to Paris.”

Result Stage 8
1 FROOME Christopher Sky Procycling 5:03:18
2 PORTE Richie Sky Procycling 0:51
3 VALVERDE BELMONTE Alejandro Movistar Team 1:08
4 MOLLEMA Bauke Belkin Pro Cycling Team 1:10
5 TEN DAM Laurens Belkin Pro Cycling Team 1:16
6 NIEVE ITURALDE Mikel Euskaltel – Euskadi 1:34
7 KREUZIGER Roman Team Saxo-Tinkoff 1:45
8 CONTADOR VELASCO Alberto Team Saxo-Tinkoff ,,
9 QUINTANA ROJAS Nairo Alexander Movistar Team ,,
10 ANTON HERNANDEZ Igor Euskaltel – Euskadi ,,
11 RODRIGUEZ OLIVER Joaquim Katusha Team 2:06
12 COSTA Rui Movistar Team 2:28
13 PERAUD Jean-Christophe AG2R La Mondiale ,,
14 BARDET Romain AG2R La Mondiale 2:34
15 MARTIN Daniel Garmin – Sharp ,,
16 TALANSKY Andrew Garmin – Sharp ,,
17 FUGLSANG Jakob Astana Pro Team ,,
18 ROGERS Michael Team Saxo-Tinkoff ,,
19 ZUBELDIA AGIRRE Haimar RadioShack – Leopard 3:04
20 KWIATKOWSKI Michal Omega Pharma – Quick-Step 3:27
21 SCHLECK Andy RadioShack – Leopard 3:34
22 ROLLAND Pierre Team Europcar 3:47

Overall
1 FROOME Christopher Sky Procycling 32:15:55
2 PORTE Richie Sky Procycling 00:51
3 VALVERDE BELMONTE Alejandro Movistar Team 01:25
4 MOLLEMA Bauke Belkin Pro Cycling Team 01:44
5 TEN DAM Laurens Belkin Pro Cycling Team 01:50
6 KREUZIGER Roman Team Saxo-Tinkoff 01:51
7 CONTADOR VELASCO Alberto Team Saxo-Tinkoff ,,
8 QUINTANA ROJAS Nairo Alexander Movistar Team 02:02
9 RODRIGUEZ OLIVER Joaquim Katusha Team 02:31
10 ROGERS Michael Team Saxo-Tinkoff 02:40
11 COSTA Rui Movistar Team 02:45
12 TALANSKY Andrew Garmin – Sharp 02:48
13 MARTIN Daniel Garmin – Sharp ,,
14 NIEVE ITURALDE Mikel Euskaltel – Euskadi 02:55
15 ANTON HERNANDEZ Igor Euskaltel – Euskadi 03:06
16 KWIATKOWSKI Michal Omega Pharma – Quick-Step 03:25
17 FUGLSANG Jakob Astana Pro Team 03:27
18 PERAUD Jean-Christophe AG2R La Mondiale 03:29
19 ZUBELDIA AGIRRE Haimar RadioShack – Leopard 03:30
20 BARDET Romain AG2R La Mondiale 03:35
21 SCHLECK Andy RadioShack – Leopard 04:00
22 ROCHE Nicolas Team Saxo-Tinkoff 04:10
23 EVANS Cadel BMC Racing Team 04:36
24 MORENO FERNáNDEZ Daniel Katusha Team ,,
25 ROLLAND Pierre Team Europcar 04:57

 

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