Saturday July 6th, 2013

Stage 8Castres / Ax 3 Domaines

Start 11h45 GMT 2+

Boom: Froome blows the race to pieces!

Stage summary06.07.2013Stage 8- Castres / Ax 3 Domaines

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 blows in 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 Nairo Quintana who takes the white jersey in his Tour debut, and the leader Valverde who 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.

The progress report
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. 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.

Quintana goes on the attack
The young Colombian from Movistar attacked with 37km to go he quickly caught and passed Voeckler. Quintana would catch everyone and only Riblon could match his pace... for a few hundred metres. With 3km to go, the Movistar rider was in the lead. He would go on to win the ‘Souvenir Henri Desgrange'. Sky had Kiryienka on the front until 3km to climb and then 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 in 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 Martin (GRS), Talansky, Kwiatkowski and eventually Evans. 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 and no one could follow. Their Sky pair would finish the stage in first and second place and take over the first and second positions in the overall rankings.
Froome will spend his first day in the yellow jersey at the Tour de France in stage nine.

Stage 8 Castres / Ax 3 Domaines

All about the stage key moments

Jersey wearers after the stage 14

Classifications after the stage 14

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