The Tour Take | Tour de France Stage 8
1st – Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo)
2nd – Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal)
3rd – Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors)
Stage 8 was largely a repeat of stage 7; a long, slow, transition stage through the north of France. From Dreux to Amiens, the route was 181km long (50km shorter than yesterday thankfully). It was also Bastille Day though, with the roadside crowd getting into the French spirit. The sprint finish was the most chaotic we’ve seen so far this Tour; with several roundabouts and large corners coming in the final kilometres, and the final corner coming only 600m from the line.
Yellow – Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing)
Polka Dot – Toms Skujins (Trek - Segafredo)
Green – Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe)
White – Soren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb)
The peloton was also equally as unenthused to go in the break today as they were yesterday – the first attempt came from Marcus Burghardt, looking to take the pressure off his Bora – hansgrohe squad behind (not that anyone but Quick-Step Floors was probably going to do much pace setting. Burghardt was clearly waiting for someone to join him, but nobody did. So he pulled over to the side of the road, took a nature break, and waited for the peloton to come past, waving as they passed him.
Stefan Kung got up to similar antics, before a three-man break of Fabien Grellier, Laurens Ten Dam, and Marco Minaard established itself. With the three men building a handy lead, Ten Dam also decided a day in the break wasn’t for him and returned to the peloton.
So after 60km, we finally had our breakaway. They built a maximum lead of 6:00, each winning a KOM along the way and Grellier taking the Intermediate sprint. The two rode well together; for the Frenchman Grellier, it was no doubt a privilege to be in the break on his national holiday
The bunch was in no hurry to catch the two out front until around the 30km to go mark. Despite the best efforts of Grellier and Minaard, they weren’t able to stay away. They were finally caught with 7km to go, as the sprinter’s teams made no mistake.
The usual suspects had been on the front of the peloton for the majority of the day. QuickStep had worked hard, so too Lotto Soudal. Meanwhile LottoNL-Jumbo were at their most visible all tour, clearly buoyed by Groenewegen’s victory yesterday. Sky led the peloton through the outskirts of Amiens, trying to keep their overall contenders safe. The sprinter’s teams were just taking a brief rest though, as Dimension Data and FDJ hit the front with 4km to go. Lotto Soudal were also present, working for Andre Greipel, a previous winner in Amiens.
Philippe Gilbert was then sent to the front with 3km to go, attacking off the front and gapping the peloton as it rounded a big corner that almost folded back on itself. The move was in vain though as he was caught 1500m later by the rampaging Lotto Soudal train.
Lotto had run their race early though, and Greipel was forced to ride the coattails of FDJ. Peter Sagan was poorly positioned with 300m to go and took the decision to open his sprint early, hard against the barrier, with a frustrated Gaviria boxed in behind him. Gaviria took to using his head at this point, ramming it against the shoulder of Greipel, who wasn’t particularly bothered by the contact.
Sagan faded late though. While Greipel and Gaviria passed him, Dylan Groenewegen had timed his run perfectly, sprinting around the outside of his three opponents. He took his second win in a row; this one as dominant as the last. The Dutchman is now red hot after an inauspicious start to the Tour, and back to winning for fun, like he has been all year long.
40th - Richie Porte
46th - Heinrich Haussler
76th - Mat Hayman
92nd - Simon Gerrans
102nd - Mark Renshaw
109th - Michael Hepburn
128th - Luke Durbridge
156th - Damien Howson
163rd - Rory Sutherland
169th - Simon Clarke
The Movers And Shakers
Tomorrow is a big GC day on the cobbles, but today was a fairly quiet day for our overall contenders. A large crash in the peloton with 17km remaining brought down Dan Martin as one of its victims. He fell pretty hard, injuring his elbow and taking over a minute to get back on the bike. He lost 1:16 in the end, his chances for the podium taking a huge blow. Mollema and Fuglsang were also held up, but neither lost time in the end.
The Next Stage
Roubaix is finally here and this isn’t like many other years, where we’ve seen a sprinkling of cobbles. This is a mini Paris-Roubaix. The 156km stage finishes just outside the famous Velodrome and includes 22km of cobbled roads in 15 sections. For Roubaix buffs, this stage covers a lot of the sections found in the crunch section if the real Roubaix, like Mons-en-Pevele, Orchies, Bersee, and Camphin-en-Pevele. They’ll turn off the Paris-Roubaix route just before Carrefour de L’Arbre, and take a different route to Roubaix, covering one last section with 8km to go. It will be a brutal day, and multiple GC contenders will see their chances ride off into the distance.
The big thing when considering this stage is that many of the cobbled specialists won't be given carte blanche for the day. Greg Van Avermaet seems to have been given the Maillot Jaune for the week as a trade-off for shepherding Richie Porte tomorrow. Quick-Step Floors could have a number of cards to play including Roubaix champ, but they’ll also be helping Bob Jungels stay near the front. Sep Vanmarke will be charged with protecting Rigoberto Uran. Even Peter Sagan might have to wait for Rafal Majka. It certainly opens the door for a surprise winner like Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, or perhaps a cobble-adept GC man like Geraint Thomas. We’ll back Eddy “the boss” Boasson Hagen, who’s been working all week for Mark Cavendish and should now have the space to chase his own goals.
See you back at the social club,