Hello and welcome to our live rolling blog from stage eight at the Tour de France, the 144.9-kilometer run from Cluses to Tignes.
Spare a thought for the peloton this morning who will awake in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of France, down in the southeast of the country, fatigued, some aching from falls earlier in the race and also during Saturday’s barnstorming stage, and a little shellshocked too. Although Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious) won the scene, Tadej Pogacar took the headlines with a ride that saw the 22-year-old crush the entire field with an exhibition of power and strength not seen since the days of Eddy Merckx or Bernard Hinault.
After starting Saturday’s stage, the first mountain test in this year’s Tour, 3min 43sec down on overnight leader Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), the UAE Team Emirates rider gained a massive 5min 12sec on general classification in the final 30km of the 150.8km stage from Oyonnax to Le Grand-Bornand. While taking the leader’s yellow jersey off, Van der Poel surprised nobody – the Dutchman was always expected to struggle to haul his large frame over three categories one climbs – the nature in which the Slovenian laid waste to those hoping to challenge for the general classification was savage.
Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Pogacar’s nearest challenger, maybe only 1min 48sec adrift in the standings. Still, the Belgian national champion can expect to lose more time during Sunday’s stage when the Tour, for the first time this year, goes above 2,000 meters in altitude. Likewise, although a competent climber, Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Premier Tech) may struggle at high altitudes. Which leaves those you may consider being Pogacar’s challengers.
Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-Nippo), who arrived as a dark horse for a podium spot having shown some good form at the recent Tour de Suisse, is closest to Pogacar at 4min 46sec, while Jumbo-Visma’s talented young Dane Jonas Vingegaard is next in line of the challengers. However, after crashing on Saturday, his 5min deficit may feel like an eternity once the Tour hits the col du Pré, the first hors catégorie climb of this year’s race, later today.
To his credit, Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) was the only rider able to go with Pogacar, albeit briefly, on Saturday before the UAE Team Emirates rider made mincemeat of the Ecuadorian who now trails top spot by 5min 1sec. The best of the rest – Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe, 5min 13sec), Enric Mas (Movistar, 5min 15sec), and David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ, 5min 52sec) cannot realistically expect to challenge Pogacar, which is, let’s be honest here, a little dispiriting.
It was a brutal stage in which a considerable grupetto of over 70 riders featuring Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) and Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) rolled over the line in Le Grand-Bornand a whopping 35min 1sec down on stage winner Teuns. As a result, Thomas and Roglic, who had hoped to challenge Pogaacar before them, both crashing in the brutal grand départ in Brittany, now sit 45th (36min 3sec) and 51st (39min 45sec) respectively. Their races are now over.
While the general classification may, barring any more severe crashes, be all but over, there are, thankfully, other races going on at the Tour. There are, of course, 13 more stages up for grabs and three jerseys other than the Maillot Jaune, the leader’s yellow garment, including the maillot à pois, the polka dot jersey, that Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious) holds as a leader in the mountains competition.
There was very little chance of note in the points classification, so Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick Step) will wear the maillot vert, the green jersey, for the fifth day at this year’s Tour. As the overall leader of the race, Pogacar also tops the young rider classification. However, Vingegaard will wear the Slovenian’s maillot blanc, the white jersey awarded to the best youngster, as even the rider some call ‘Pog’ cannot wear two jerseys simultaneously. For anybody that missed yesterday’s quite ridiculous stage, you can relive the exhibition ride from Pogacar / horror show right here.
With over 4,500m in vertical elevation over five categorized climbs, it is another massive day in the mountains that concludes the Montée de Tignes.
Here’s a look at the all-important numbers from those climbs and a breakdown of what points can be won in the mountains. But what about those who only have eyes for the green jersey?